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When it was time to bathe the residents each day, I always made sure I helped them move from their beds to the shower room as carefully as I could.But the long-term volunteers would operate as if we were running a factory, quickly lifting up residents, throwing their skeletal, naked bodies over their shoulders and practically slamming them down on the benches inside the shower room.Before long, I noticed that there were typically two different types of volunteers working at Kalighat.Most were short-term volunteers, those who stayed for 4 or 5 days or maybe a week.And when you’re surrounded by so much death, it is nearly impossible to remain unaffected.Much of my time, both inside and outside of Kalighat during those days, was spent contemplating this difficult subject.On April 9th, 2009, I leaned against a wall and watched a man die only a few feet in front of me.

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In addition, I cleaned their dishes, did their laundry by hand, brought them their pills and even gave arm and leg massages to those who were in desperate need of some relief from their constant pain.By the time I arrived, he had been in his bed, where all of these men remain 23 hours per day, for two years already and the tumor in his stomach was the size of a basketball.Yet despite his situation, he always smiled brightly when I approached him which in turn delivered a form of happiness into my life that I will forever be thankful for.On any given day there were approximately 15 of us volunteers at Kalighat and during my first two weeks, the atmosphere was such that I looked forward to every day of work.My favorite moments involved those that took place once the laundry was hung out to dry on the rooftop, once the dishes were all cleaned and we had time to sit down and chat with the residents.

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