Friday, December 3, 2010

Return Celebration

Many of you are anxious to hear from the teens first hand! We have set up a great venue for this:

Saturday, January 8th, 2011
It will be held at the Salt Lake Public Library in their Auditorium
(210 East 400 South)
It will start at 3:00 PM and go till about 4:15 PM

Several teens will speak and each group will put together a movie/slideshow of thier experiences. It will be a great way to introduce potential YMAD teens to the program so please let the great teens in your area know about it!

Please be aware that the underground parking at the Library is NOT very accomidating and you are better off parking on the street.

I will be sending out an email as well! See you at the airport!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I know you are excited for your travelers to come home! Some of you have asked about the return flight info.

They will start there journey home Friday morning our time around 10:30 AM.

Delhi to Singapore Flight #407 (Singapore Air)

Singapore to San Francisco Flight #16 (Singapore Air)

San Francisco to Salt Lake Flight #6418 (United Air) Arriving at 8:29 PM!!

I can't believe they will be home so soon!

Kayla Orr

What I thought of India at the start of the trip…
I-Impossible to be clean
N-Nasty food
I-Intense, especially on the roads
A- Awkward… when you can’t understand what anyone is saying around you and always have Indian men’s eyes glued to you

Once I took time to truly open my eyes to see and understand this beautiful country….

I-Immovable hearts filled of happiness
N- Nicest people I’ve ever encountered in my life
D- Different culture, yet it’s so special in it’s own way
I-Intelligent people that learn quickly
A-Absolutely AMAZING!!

India can change you or break you depending on how you let it affect you. Yes, there are people sleeping on the streets that you’re walking on when it’s freezing at night. Yes, you see many different kinds of diseases and handicaps that you never thought even existed. Yes, there are people at every age begging at your feet for anything, and you know that most of the girls that look the age of your younger fourteen year old sister with a baby in their arms have pimps that will take whatever you give them. Yes, every wrapper you unravel you will find the garbage for on all the streets of India. Yes, you will think your family should pick out a grave sight for you every time you step foot out on the streets here (whether it’s in a vehicle or on foot). Yes, all the food you eat (whether you know what it is or not) will most likely have curry in it. Yes, if you are a female (especially with blonde hair) you will feel like a celebrity wanting to go into hiding due to everyone staring and trying to take pictures of you pretty much everywhere you go. Yes, I promise all this is true but I also promise that your heart will never fill so full of love and compassion. You can’t escape anything, but you can learn to love it.

You will love the people of India. When I say they are the nicest people I’ve ever met, I meant it! The people on the streets that are tucking themselves in to go to sleep on the cold wet ground are the ones telling you “Goodnight” when all you’re thinking of is crawling into your bed back at home. They have nothing yet they’re the ones greeting you on the streets first thing in the morning with the biggest smiles. People watch out for each other here, especially the drivers. When the road looks as if only one car can get pass well don’t think to soon… cuz I promise a big bus and an SUV will make it even with a 1,000 ft drop off on one side. The drivers always help each other out with the sounds of their horns. It literally is a form of communication here (especially when blinkers don’t exist). Indians are very hard workers and definitely learn fast, especially when it means their future. People have to work hard to fend for themselves. The children in the orphanages were very fast learners and we were able to teach them quite a bit, but they still taught us more. I know what it’s like to have a room full of students not listening to a word you say, or the frustration that comes when you want them to retain information, and understand a specific concept. But I do know the happiness that comes when a light bulb goes on in one child’s head, and then shortly after they all start to understand you.

I know what it means to have a heart full of love and service. Those kids served me everyday by sharing a smile, hug, or kiss with me, or filling a little hand slip into mine to help lead me up a steep hill when I wanted to give up. The people of India never stopped loving and serving me, and now I don’t want to stop either.

-Kayla Orr


So…. To most of the people in Shillai I am Shakira… a girl from the high school that we did the cultural exchange at told Nisha, our translator, that I looked like Shakira and I guess word got out in the village cause a couple days later a little girl came running up behind me screaming “SHAKIRA SHAKIRA!!!.... AUTOGRAPH PLEASE!” and handed me her notebook. It was the cutest thing, so I let her and a lot of the other people believe that I am Shakira haha.
It’s so indescribable though, everything that has happened in the time spent here. We left Shillai on Tuesday morning and I have to say that saying goodbye to the kids at my school was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Goodbyes are never easy, and this kind is even harder to explain. Those kids mean the world to me and I feel so lucky with the school and teachers I got to work with, everyone and everything in Shillai is amazing, even the spiders the size of my fist, the cow poop that you step in, and the food I’ve gotten sick from. I LOVE IT ALL! I just can’t even believe that what we came here to do is already over.. I want to go back to the beginning and do it all again, even the 14 hour flight. Mom and dad, I just might purposely get lost and stay here the rest of my life…. Just kidding. But really…. ANYWAYS.. there is so much I could say but I don’t even know how, and other people are waiting to blog…. oh but I did swim in the Ganges river, so incredible!
p.s. I want a fat, juicy cheeseburger so bad right now. K bye.

Will Pittam

I’m saying this in advance: I’m sorry if any of this is weird because I just woke up and have no idea how long I’ve been out or where the heck I am :P. Right now, we’re on a bus from Rishikesh to Delhi, where we’ll be shopping and getting on a plane to go back to the good old U.S. and A. I’m excited to go back, but I’ve loved every second I’ve been here, and will really miss it. This has been a truly amazing experience. The kids we worked with are incredible and have so much potential. They are so bright, loving, and happy, and saying good-bye to them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I really hope our work here can lay a base for something that will change their lives forever. I’ve also come to love the rest of the people of India. They are able to live simply and help each other out. Opposed to the “Me, Me, Me” mentality of Americans, they have a mentality of “We, We, We.” Seeing that concept in action makes me want to live like that back home

This experience has been incredible and I’m grateful for everyone who made it happen from the Baird and Davis families, Raj, Rakesh, all the adult leaders, the translators, and all the YMAD kids. I love you all! . I’ve learned so much here, and my outlook has changed in many things. I’ve really come to love this country and want to come back someday. As our cricket buddies from Shillai would chant, “This is My India”

John Koelliker

After waking up at 4 a.m. this morning hearing Hindu chanting and singing, blasting throughout the city, I had a while to think about what this trip really meant to me. A week before I left I was asked how actually going to India would be any better than just gathering the supplies and sending them out there. This really bothered me because although I know this is an amazing experience for me, does it really have a long lasting influence on the kids? Before we got to Shillai I asked a lot of adult leaders and other kids what they thought, but I was still uncertain. After we left the schools on Monday, there was no doubt in my mind that we changed their lives forever.
Not only did they learn a lot but we gave them T-shirts, candy, cricket bats, school supplies, hats, socks, blankets, shoes, pants, shirts, and sweaters. However, we gave those kids much more than those material possessions. Our most important gifts to the children cannot simply be distributed in supply packages. The gifts that YMAD gives to children are personal and complex, yet the results are far-reaching. Without YMAD, those children are nothing more than a statistic, and they cannot reach their full potential. They cannot understand that there is another world out there. They cannot be given the foundation, confidence, or hope. And they most definitely cannot be known as individuals that were determined to escape poverty. And that is why YMAD is so amazing. We change the world, one smile at a time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

River Rafting

It is official; Your children never want to leave India! I guess they went on their river rafting extravaganza today. We thought it was going to be a nice float down the river...

Apparently it was way more fun then that! The kids said there were HUGE rapids and the view was amazing and they loved it! I heard that Chad made things even more exciting when he started throwing people overboard!

They are spending their last night in Rishikesh and will head to Delhi in the morning. Then they spend the night in Delhi and they are hoping to have a few hours of shopping time before they get on the plane home.

The internet has been too slow to upload any pictures but they promised they would post some when they got to Delhi!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The work in Shalai is complete!

At approximately 9:30 Tuesday morning the YMAD team left Shalai as quietly as they had arrived. No fan fare or press just a group of teens and some adults that have touched the lives of some children in a remote part of the world. All are in good health and in good spirits! Hopefully the memories of the past week will overshadow the long rough road home.

Making a difference is not about recognition, its about taking an idea that has the potential to impacts others and then being in action until the idea becomes reality! The ability to make a difference is inherent in everyones nature, but only a rare few transform that ability into reality. My challenge for you is to work at it until the world is transformed around you! Be the difference!

The Stars are Bright in Shalai Tonight! by Chad Thorell

Imagine a perfect day! For us, it was just that today! We had our divers pick up all of 40 kids from Khandi, our schools and bring them to town to go shopping. The kids arrived all bathed knowing that today was going to be special. We took the boys and girls into the market each of my team holding a students hand. It was so fun to have each child put on and sport their new uniforms with shoes and socks. They all looked so beautiful and were so happy! The entire time we were in the market the children were so orderly and behaved, it was unbelievable. When we were finished we brought he kids to the Guest house, were we are staying for some lunch.

We were greeted by the entire village upon our return to the school! The kids looked amazing! The parents were so proud of their kids. We seated everyone and I had the privilege of speaking to the children and teachers. I told them what and an amazing experience this had been for us to be guests in their village and to be able to work with these wonderful children. I spoke to the kids and told them to take there schooling seriously and to honor and obey their teachers. I choked up a bit as I mentioned we would be leaving tomorrow and how they would be in our hearts for ever.

After I was through we handed out all of our supplies for the school. The teachers were so excited to have paper and pencils and all kinds of supplies that are not generally available in the government schools. Cheers went out when we pulled out the new soccer ball and cricket set for the kids. After the schools supplies were delivered, we handed out personal items for the kids. We had bubbles, glow bracelets, parachute men, bouncy balls and a whole raft of other items my kids and wife had sent with me. We gave out the balance of the supplies we had to the women and mothers that had been watching our the past week.

When we were though, we all hugged and held each other. Tears were freely streaming from our team members, the kids the teacher and our translator. Hearts have truly been knit together. I wish I could better describe the experience!

The matriarch of the village, an elderly woman came up and asked our translator to let her speak. She had quietly been observing our program for the week. She told us how much this experience had meant to their village. I was touched when she said she would be praying for us every day for the rest of her life.

After the gifts, the tears and the speeches the children and the village followed us up the trail 20 minutes to get to the cars. I know I am leaving a part of my heart in this little village and I will never forget what they have given to me!

Tonight the power went out! India is full of surprises! The sky is crystal clear and the stars are lighting up in a way I have never seen it before. In my heart there is a feeling I have never felt before as well!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Megan Christensen

Tomorrow is our last day in Shilai and we are all depressed to be leaving! There will be things I will miss, and there will be things I wont be sad to leave.

First and foremost we will miss the children, they have stolen all our hearts. I will miss their greeting every morning “good morning madam.” I will miss our drivers. I will miss my roommates, we have made memories with prime late night chats; you become close fast when you have five to a bed. I will NOT the miss the toilet. Everyone has the runs and our toilet doesn’t flush. The food-cury cury cury… familiar food is what everyone is craving! Living out of a duffle bag is the last thing I won’t miss, I can’t ever find anything.

India Life-Scott Bringhurst

Well I never wrote a BLOG or even read one. It has been so crazy here! I never thought I would be here, and now I am standing on top of the Himalayas! I love it here; the people here are so kind and loving, even though they have never met you.
The mountains are huge and it so beautiful to look from the top, in the mornings to watch the sunrise, it is unreal.

The first day was when it really hit me that I love India and its people. That day was the happiest I have ever been in my whole life. Everyday blows by, I don’t know what time it is or what day it is. Time doesn’t exist here for me. All I know is that I am living in the present and that I have no worries. My AUM BOY Raj, who I met at the airport and has been with us ever since, is my best friends and I am going to live with him this summer! I don’t want to come home; India is the best decision I have made in my life.

Tanner Higgins

All I can say is now I know for sure I AM from India. First I love the food, the spices are so great. Second, shopping for me is much easier because shopping is the same size. In fact, it is quite a self-esteem booster because I wear a size large! It is also a lot of fun to have the white kids be the minority and defiantly makes for some goo jokes.

India has been so far, it really makes you appreciate the simple things like; beef, warm water, milk, new change of cloths, a bed, but I think most of all, beef. India is simply amazing; the views of the Himalayas are unreal and just blow me away. Overall I have fallen in love with the people and the culture of India. This is an amazing experienced that cannot be fully described, but the feelings I have felt will last a lifetime.

You come from so far! by Sanjeev Thakur

This is my second experience with YMAD. I was a translator in Chamba last spring and now I am here in Shalai. I was recently married and am so grateful to be having this experience! I am becoming such a better person because of it. There is such a strong bond of love that surrounds YMAD. It is amazing I live in a country that should be taking care of its own and yet you find a way to come from half way around the world and are able to impact the children here in a way we can not! I have had such an incredible experience working with the leaders and youth from America. Thank you YMAD!

An Indians Perspective by Nisha Thakur

I have worked with YMAD for over a year, first in their ashram in Manali and then as a translator on an expedition to Chamba last spring! Now I am here translating in Shalai and my heart is so full of emotion as I think about what we have been able to accomplish and all of my new friends. We just finished a special meeting where we were all able to express our feelings about each other, our experience. There are lots of tears going around the group! It is hard to think that it will be over soon! I love Jodee and all of the other leaders and teens. I look forward to having this experience again!

Time! by Chad Thorell

I live in a world where time is everything. I look at my watch anticipating what is next, scarcely finishing one event to be off to another. In Shalai there is no time and I am so grateful! To live in the moment and enjoy each child's smile or really be with the YMAD teens brings so much joy! Something magic occurs when we can get out of our heads and into the moment! I feel a great sense of gratitude for all of those that made it possible for me to come to India! I will never look at things the same!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Phone Calls Home

I know many of you are anxious to hear from your kids! I just wanted to let you know that when JoDee asked the kids who wanted to call home, many of the teens said they did not want I don't want you to be surprised or mad (at me mostly) if your teen doesn't call. If your teen does call-yay!

I should be getting some more blogs soon! I can't believe they are half way done!

Cultures Come Together! by Greg Davis

We started out the day at the local high school attended by 1200 kids from around Shalai! When we arrive the students were sitting in an orderly fashion having their morning prayers. We did our songs and dances for the school and then the local students started their performance. Some of their teachers started picking our kids out of the audience and got them dancing on stage with the local students. By the end every one was dancing and having the time of their life! The energy was amazing! YMAD had a great time meeting the local students. This is the first time they had ever seen a foreign student let alone an American. The administrators and teachers were vary gracious the entire time.

After the cultural event the real fun started! We were able to get all 50 kids from the Daya School and bring them to town to get fitted for new schools uniforms. Each of our YMAD team took the hand of two kids and helped them out. It was crazy fun and the kids were so excited to get new clothes. We were able to find all of the pants, shirts & sweaters for the boys at the government shop. We had to have dresses made for all of the girls. We paid the local seamstresses some extra money so we could have them all by Monday. When I saw the boys get out of the vehicle sporting their new clothes, putting their chests out with pride, all I could do was smile. We are making a difference! Some of the shoes that we got the girls didn't fit and they had tears. That was remedied real quick! Shopping in Shalai is interesting. The market is about two blocks long, really not much there. My wife is a hoot! She keeps trying to get Tanner Higgins to stand behind the counters in the shops and pretend he is a local! We have two more schools that will get the same treatment on Monday! Its going to be awesome!

By the end of the day everyone was exhausted. We have been going so hard from early morning to late at night there has been little time relax or think of much else. Tonight we are going to sort all of the bags for the final distribution of supplies on Monday. Sunday we are going to relax a bit. We are planing to do our Thanksgiving activities and then let the kids call home!

We did have some technical problems tonight! The water was shut off to Shalai. It happens all the time, I have heard. We have a tanker truck standing by and just got a pump to fill the storage tanks. With a stroke of luck we might get showers!

Friday, November 26, 2010

No Walmart's over here! By Greg Davis

It was another stunning day in Shalai. Our team is all over teaching english! We decided as a team to get new school uniforms, pants, shirts, shoes and socks. In one of the schools we are going to put some benches so the kids don't have to sit in the dirt and snow. The village is small and just right out side of our compound. There is not a lot of selection in the market so we are going to have to get to Pontasahib. No Walmart over here! I dread the drive! It has been interesting to figure out the sizes of all of the clothing and shoes for the the kids but I think we have it! Some of the things we will get locally and I sent a driver to down the road to Pontasahib for some Rupees, way better than making the drive myself! Things are pretty inexpensive over here. Shoes are about two dollars. We can probably get the entire uniforms for five dollars. We think we can get the benches at a government supply store.

It is so interesting that the things we have control over are amazing like the cars, the food, the lodging, the schools, the work shops, the translators and our team. The challenge is to be able to deal with the surprises that come up! It is a good thing we have had Raj to help us out! WE have hit a good stride but the time is going by so fast!

All of our team are in good health and doing great! Tomorrow is the cultural event at the high school. It should be fun!

Rebecca Pace

ITS OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS! Since today is the day after Thanksgiving I can now listen to my Christmas music with out everyone getting mad at me.

However, today was like Christmas for another reason. This morning we taught our English workshops at Daya and at the end of the day we passed out the school supplies to all of the kids! Everything we gave them they went crazy over. They could not believe we had so much to give them, and they were so careful with every little thing. They were excited when we sharpened their pencils and showed them how to glue feathers on their notebooks.

Giving the the kids at Daya gifts is one of my favorite things about India. The littlest things make them so happy, and they go insane over the stuff I take for granted. I am going to be super sad when we leave them because I love them so much and I know they love me too. It has been Christmas for all of us!

Kira Rogers

O. My. Gosh! This the most amazing experience of my life! I love iNdia!! IF i could just have a toilet that flushed and a real shower I would stay here for ever, oh an occasional burger. We wake up at seven in the morning, get ready and leave for our schools. I LOVE working with the kids at the schools! They are so beautiful and smart! Words can't express how much I love them and I have only been with them for four days. It so fun to teach them, and it is so rewarding watching them get it, there faces just light up and they are so proud of themselves. I love how excited they get over the littlest things, like high fives and taking pictures.

The other day made masks, and they all wanted me to take their pictures! It was adorable! A few days ago pop rocks and it was hilarious! They pretty much dumped half a pack in their mouths and then ran to spit it out once they heard the popping. I also love how much the kids have warmed up to us. I feel like I have known them forever and I feel like I know each of their personalities. Today we were practicing english on the white boards, and one little girl named Krishna (love her!) got a white board and started writing letters and numbers for me to say. It was so cute and every time I got it right she would give me a high five and got so excited. I love how happy we are making these kids and how happy they make us.

I feel so lucky to be part of this amazing experience and to be able to learn from these kids and people who have so much more perspective on life then I could ever have. They truly are amazing and are so greateful for everything. I love them and I love being here!!!!

JoDee's brush with fame!

It was another miraculous day in the Himalaya's! Last night we challenged the kids to put their game on and help the kids in the schools with their english! So much of the translation has to come from our interpreters and speaking english is what will make the most longterm difference in the kids children's lives we are working with. Our team is committed to helping the children over come the barriers that prevent the desire to speak english.

While our team was in the schools I took a three hour drive on the road from hell to teach some more newborn infant care works shops. Fourteen women crowded into a small room about six by ten feet. During the training I pulled out my lap top to show them a birthing video. They were amazed! My grand daughters image is on the desk top of my lap top and they wanted to hear all about her. I remembered I had a video of her birth on the computer and so I showed it to the women. They loved it!

After we were finished the whole village led me to the birth place of the great Kalai, a six foot famous India WWF wrestler in the US. I'll have to google him when I get home. The story is it that as a boy he was so big that one day his motor bike broke down so he put it on his shoulder and walked home. He was the size of Warren Porter.

We have all been so busy getting ready every day that we have had no down time. Tonight we are going to let the kids just relax. We have the big cultural exchange tomorrow morning at the high school. It should be fun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cragun's Real Blog

Dear Cragun's Family: Apparently Cragun started his blog, got up and left the computer to grab something and his adult leader thought he was done. He does actually know how to BLOG, and wanted you to know it was not his fault his last one was lame. Here is the real one:

Well since Jodee prematurely shared my blog post…

Oh Wow…Oh Wow…what an experience this has been. I am pretty sure 90% of my journal entries consist of the words; blown away, amazing, and holy cow…fitting for India. This, by far, surpasses anything I have experienced. I never imagined India to be in the condition that it is; the poverty astounds me and it has only worsened by the vast number of people living in such desolate conditions. It makes it so much more worth while being here. Despite their lack of amenities the people are full of happiness. I love it. It is amazing here in Shilai, every morning we wake up there is a perfect view of the expansive Himalayas. The kids at the school are wild, but so much fun. The school is situated at the bottom of a mountain village. We teach on a patio that is open on three sides with a perfect view of a river valley, the sky, and a multitude of terreces and roads lining the mountain. It blows me away. I couldn’t think of being in any better/cooler place right now.

Ode to India

by, Spencer Cook

Our time in India is not a waste,
But still it is better if we make haste,
To make a difference is what we seek
But we are left with one more week

The kids and their faces melt my poor heart,
Big brown eyes and smiles, don’t let me start.
When I sit on the roof and look in the sun,
Just think how fun.

I learned to work off my rear just for a smile,
But I finish and feel I have run many miles.
The joy of my soul breathes loudly tonight,
To leave these poor kids will be a hard fight.

I love these great mountains and the fauna that flows,
But I am gunna buy a shotgun to kill those freaking crows.
I plan on returning with out regrets,
I will come back for the better against all bets.

Steal candy from Warren, draw on Will’s face,
Push Jake into strangers, pee on Scotts Pillow Case.
This crazy adventure is nothing but fun
I wish I could spend it with every one.

Dear Parents!

Due to the fact that the kids were exhausted and wanted to sleep they will not be calling today! However they wish you a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING and wanted you to know that they are probably having a better Thanksgiving then you! They will call Saturday or Sunday (If they want to) when things slow down a bit.

Top Five Things You Didn't Know About India

by Maggie La Stayo

1. The drivng here is insane. They even cut off poilice men.
2. The bathrooms are holes in the ground…we call them squaters
3. The women in small villages can be married to multiple men.
4. Everything here is colorful-even the places with extream poverty are painted every color imaginable
5. Even though the people here have never seen people like us before, they are the most loving people I have ever encountered.

It may be cheesy to say, but this trip has literally been the best trip of my life. I never knew the impact that only two days with the children would have on me. I wish I could wake up every day and spend the rest of my life with them. They re the most joyous, beautiful, welcoming children you will ever meet. I will forever remember the look in their eyes and the light they have shown me. They are an inspiration to all of us, and prove that no matter what you have in life you can be happy as long as you try! Nameste!

10 Things I am Grateful for on Thanksgiving

by Matt Lewis

1. Beef
2. Soap & Toothpaste
3. Toilets that flush
4. Shoes
5. Classrooms with lights and desks
6. Beef
7. My Bed
8. Being able to be in the Himalayas
9. And the awesome kids who live in them!
10. Beef

The NEVERS of India by Katie Thacker

1. I never want to ride on airplane again. Too bad I have to do it next week. (I did find out that Tylenol PM is a life-saver on planes as well as a comfy shoulder).
2. I NEVER want to be the one who does not sit by the window when you drive through India-it is so amazing here.
3. Please NEVER make me eat airplane food again. While on the subject you should just ease your way into India food. You will get clogged up to your throat.
4. Please NEVER make me pack so much…(MOM!)
5. I have NEVER cried so much.
6. I NEVER stop smiling.
7. The Himalayas NEVER cease to amaze me.
8. A good bucket bath NEVER goes out of style.
9. Translators are NEVER not handy.
10. I NEVER want to say “good bye.”

Life Half Way Around the World

by, Kaitlyn Van Hoff


Everything here has been amazingly awesome. I can’t even handle it. Days have been flying by even thought they are fun filled. I love them all-the kids are so unbelievably cute I can’t even stand it. I love them all and don’t want to leave. Here are something’s to know about India.

1. Freezing cold showers feel like you are living in an igloo (if you even shower)
2. Curry, Curry and more Curry
3. Late night laughs
4. Flushable toilets??? I think not!!
5. Journal entries that are 6 pages long
6. Close bonds
7. Kids are quite adorable
8. DAYA!
9. Himalayas are BEAUTIFUL
10. Shilia-we made history!

The kids are the cutest things ever. I want to take them home with me. They are so grateful and eager to learn. They always have smiles on their faces and they are jumping on us to play and dance. The three days of traveling and loosing our bags was worth it! I couldn’t ask for anything more…I can never stop smiling. Thank you to everyone who made this possible for me! I LOVE YOU FAM.

New Place-New Adventure

By, David Cobabe

Well I don’t know what to say to make people happy… but this has been the most life changing experience of my life. The kids here started out really shy, but now that we have been there a few days the kids are warming up to us. They hold our hands, and run up to us when they see us. Man it is so great! And the best thing is that because of these kids, the plane, the bus, and the SUV rides were worth it - even though they were the worst!

Oh -and Mom-that dry shampoo did NOT work in my hair, it makes my hair stand up like a mow hawk; so that was a great idea… Also packing the extra cloths in my backpack was useful, because I was missing my bag for a few days.

Well I hope this makes everyone happy because really; not to be mean; I don’t care about the BLOG. I am having the best time of my life!!

P.S. Michael thanks a million for letting me go instead of you, because it has meant a lot!

The BEST Birthday in the World

by Becky Perry

I had the most incredible birthday of my entire life. I am pretty convinced that nothing will be able to top this day. There are 18 things that I loved about it.

1. I got to spend my 18th birthday in India-how many Americans can say that…quite a small number!
2. I woke up to a gorgeous Himalayan sunrise!
3. People to sang happy birthday to me at breakfast, lunch, and dinner in multiple languages…thank you Warren.
4. I got to hike in the Himalayas -these mountains put Utah to shame. It reminds me of Emperor’s New Groove… these mountains really do sing.
5. I almost fell off a cliff.
6. I made history. I was one of the first white people these people have ever seen. Pretty dang freaking cool.
7. I got to meet the most AMAZING Indian children.
8. I am pretty convinced that I ran a marathon while playing “Duck Duck Goose.” I got chosen every time. What can I say…I was in high demand!
9. I spoke Hindi fluently. Not really, but I did speak my first Hindi words.
10. I got to experience the frustration and love teachers have for their students.
11. Every single one of my 39 kids sang Happy Birthday to me. They yelled HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECKY over and over. It was hysterical. I cried.
12. While the kids were walking home from school they were still singing “Happy Birthday to Becky.”
13. I got to hike Himalayas with the kids to get home after school. All the lazy Americans had to take breathers because we were not nearly as in good of shape as our students.
14. The cooks made me a Birthday feast!
15. I saw Warren Porter with his shirt off…Warren and Scott Pole Danced for me and in the process almost took sown the food tent.
16. We had the coolest Hindi celebration: I stood in the middle of a circle of all my YMAD friends and every one went around the circle and said things they liked about me. This is the best YMAD group ever, they are soooooooo nice.
17. Everyone gave me a beautiful set and bangles and an amazing traditional Indian shirt…thanks Kayla.
18. I already said this, but … I WAS IN INDIA FOR MY BIRTHDAY. No big deal.

Building Bridges! by Greg Davis

I have been to India several times and have always taken for granted what goes on behind the scenes to make this program work. Not only is there the responsibility for the kids and adults but also the public relations with the community. Because there has never been a group of foreigners in this community before, there are endless onlookers. Their curiosity has been interesting to handle.
Because YMAD has relied on another partner NGO for some help in this area and miss representations on their part, I have had to be a bridge builder! When these people find out who we really are and that we are here to make a difference with no hidden agenda, doors have opened!

We are building relationships with those we are hear to serve! It is so fun to watch it all unfold. It never ceases to amaze me what can happen when we roll up our sleeves and get to work. All of our youth and leaders have been amazing. I can't think of better ambassadors for the US! We could never have made this trip this far with out the cooperation and support of everyone!

I am overwhelmed with the Beauty! by Brian Thomas

India is awesome! In fact beyond description! My job on the team is logistics and support. I also am learning to be a cinematographer! Its a bit out of my league but I am having fun! Looking through the camera all the time I have come to love how visual this country and people are. Every where is an image or photo!

Today I was at a school and our team was doing medical exams. Some of the local people were just watching us. An older women was close by and I kept looking at her and thought to myself how great it would be if I could capture her image. A bit later one of the teachers asked if we could give her a medical evaluation, so we did. I got the courage to ask If I could capture her image and she brought a young woman who could have been her daughter over and I got my photo! When I showed her the image she just started laughing and was so happy! A bit later she pointed out a man who I assumed was her husband sitting on the wall watching as well! She nudged me over and wanted me to get his image as well! It was done!

We are having the experience of a life time! I am so grateful to be here!

My School Rocks! by Megan Davis

Every time I come to India the Children capture my heart! I have been working is a school with 51 kids from 1st to 5th grade. The first day we had to walk at least 30 minutes to get to the school. When we came in the classroom all of the kids saluted us and said in their best english, good morning Mam! My heart melted and I couldn't stop the tears. The kids in this place have nothing by our standard, but have so much more! We made bracelots in one of our activities and the kids would take them off and put them on our wrists. They have a hard time remembering my name and frequently call me sister! I love that! I can't help but notice their little feet with toes poking out of the socks, or no socks or shoes that have been worn so long they hardly have soles. We have been asked to make a needs assessment. My vote is for school uniforms and shoes and socks.

San Jeev is our translator! He looks like John Travolta and is a blast to have around. He has been married for 11 months and is so amazing to work with. I asked him if he wanted kid and and he lit up! He said he wants lots of them and is grateful to have this time to work with children.

Warren Porter on our team started this game all of the kids in our school love, called the roller coaster. He is a big boy and these kids are so small! He raises his hand high above his head like when you ride a roller coaster and screams! The kids have all started doing it! Its histarical!

Teaching New Born Infant Care! by JoDee Baird

Today we had fourteen mid wives attend our training set up by a local Indian health worker! These women had never had their hands on a Recessa Annie doll to practice or learn current techniques. Hands on training is not the norm in this part of the country and it was so fun to teach them how to hold the the baby properly after delivery and the important steps necessary to clear an infants airway. Every one loved their turn holding the doll. An elderly women was having a hard time giving breaths to the doll to get is chest to rise. I finally figured out it was because she had no teeth and couldn't get a seal on the dolls face. We all had a good laugh!

At one point I asked a women her husbands name and she did not respond. Later I found out that in this rural tribal patriarchal society that it is not proper for a woman to say her husband name out side of their home.

The whole experience was remarkable and I couldn't have successfully completed the training with out Nisha my translator. She is so amazing! The women were so grateful for all of the safe delivery kits and new born supplies we were able to deliver to them. Upon leaving all of the women came up to me and handed me a handful of rice and then knelt down and touched and kissed my feet. To be honored in this way was an experience I will never forget. Today I felt a sisterhood and kinship with women half way around the world in a way I never have before. Words can't describe!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This place is amazing! by Megan Smith

Shalai is so beautiful! I can't believe how loving and excepting the children are in our school! My team of youth are the best! Just being here has been well worth the year of preparation! I look forward to new adventures every day!

My first medical exams! by Greg Stewart

It was our second day in the schools and I had my first opportunity to do some medical assessments! I checked a ten year old boy that had a cataract in one eye so bad he couldn't see the eye chart! We completed 55 exams on kids that seemed to mostly be in good health. Our youth have been so awesome! The weather today was spectacular! I love this work! The name of our expedition is so fitting, Operation Asha, meaning hope. Hope the flight ends, hope we get our bags, hope we don't die on the roads, hope we make it to Shalai, hope we don't get sick. Now all I can think about is I hope I can make a difference!

Touched by the children! by Chad Thorell

India is an amazing place! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how loving and caring the children are. On my first walk down the mountain to the small school I was going to work in with my team I was met by a young boy. I held out my hand and he grabbed it with out hesitation and led me to the school. An instant connection was made with Sagar my new friend. I was over whelmed when we were greeted by thirty screaming children, so excited to see us. I had always thought I was making this trek across the world to help some poor kids when in reality it was they who are changing my life! I want my family to know how much love them an how I wish they were sharing this experience with me.

On Top of the World

By Jennifer Thatcher

I don’t even know where to begin! This trip has been absolutely amazing and I constantly feel like I am in a movie because everything seems so unreal. If I could describe the village we are in with movies I would say the villages are like the ones in the Emperors New Groove with the mountains from Mulan.

As we drove up, the people stared at us like we were movies stars and I got a taste of what it would be like to be famous. Today was out second day at the schools and I don’t even know how to describe how what an amazing experience it was. I am in the Daya School and have about 18 kids in my group. These kids are the happiest I know. When we walked in the first day I almost started to cry when the kids saluted us and said "hello" in english. When we teach them their eyes are wide with interest and you can tell how much they want to learn.

On the first day we were decorating masks with feathers, Jewels, stickers and buttons. When they were all done we asked them to clean up-some of the kids began scraping off the thing they had just decorated because they thought they could not keep what they just made. Can you believe that!? They are not used to being given any more then the very little they already have!

I wish I could describe every moment or copy all the pages from my journal. It is a wonderful experience and it has been so humbling for me. These kids will teach me more then I could ever teach them.

15 things we are grateful for after being in India

By Samantha Collins and Brynn Orton

1. Flushing toilets
2. Hot showers or even just showers
3. Long bumpy rides with best friends
4. Our country that cares about education
5. Luggage
6. Translators who make it possible to communicate with the children
7. Laxatives….hahaha
8. Toilet paper
9. Women’s rights (they wont let us play cricket)
10. Clean cloths with no holes
11. Red meat
12. Garbage cans
13. Traffic laws (speed thrills that kills)
14. Oatmeal my mom packed us for breakfast
15. The friends we have made from this experience

PS. We are celebrities here and we like it!

Warren's Really Really Good Blog

8 incidents where people made fun of me:

1. Every single day I hit my head on every house and hut.

2. I started dancing and one thing led to another... I ended up pole dancing in the food tent. Not realizing my strength the pole started to tip and the tent almost fell down. I landed right on my face.

3. I went to the market and bought what I thought was a nice scarf for my sister. It turned out to be cheap cotton and only worth 10 rupees. I paid 100 rupees! I am a sucker.

4. I tried to scare the Indian men to get them go away from our house. I did this by running naked in my boxer briefs. But it didn’t work because they stayed… and ended up wanting more!

5. Today I was leaning back in a plastic lawn chair and it broke! Once again I landed on my face.

6. On the day that I poled danced I sang "Happy Birthday" to Becky in Thai; which turned out to be "Happy Birthday" in English with a very creative accent.

7. After spinning, twirling, and playing with little kids my arms were all red. I told everyone it was an "INDIAN burn."

8. I was holding Raveena a little Indian girl. I guess I made her nervous because she had an accident on my shoulder and I ended up smelling like urine all day. But it's okay; she gave me a hug and told me something in Hindi that I didn’t understand, I decided it meant: ”I am sorry.”

From Eden: Two more "Warren" stories told to me by Greg Davis...Only Warren.

1. Warren decided that Will Pittam was sleeping too well. Apparently Will can sleep anywhere and wont wake up. Warren got a sharpie marker and wrote "I am a moron" on Will's forehead. He told everyone how funny it was. Much to everyone surprise when Will woke up they realized Warren had spelled it wrong and now Will has "I am a MORMON" written on his head!

2. All the kids were getting Henna tattoos on their arms (don't worry henna is not permanent) and shoulders. Our translator Nisha, who has worked with us for along time was doing the artwork. All the boys wanted "tough stuff" like arm bands and cool words written in Hindi on their arms. Warren decided he wanted "Warren Porter" written in Hindi across his arm. He was very proud of it. They were out in town and Raj our Indian director asked Greg Davis why Warren had "Harry Potter" written across his arm. I guess "Warren Porter" got lost in translation and Nisha had heard the famous wizard. Wow are tough now!

Dear Mom:

by Kayla Orr

I am alive and….I POOPED, for the first time yesterday- thanks to Jodee’s Magical Meds. Of course like predicted I got sick, but I am healing quickly!

By the way: I am not coming home. I am spending the rest of my life with the orphan children and I will marry one of the creepy India men who sit outside my window at night and stare at me everywhere I go. I Love you, and break the news to the family when it is an appropriate time. I don’t want them to drown you in their tears.

Cragun Liston

Oh wow. Oh WOW. And I hope family even knows there is a BLOG.

You know you are in India when...

by Jake Bardsley

When you see monkey running on top of buildings.

When everyone stares you down and takes pictures of you on their phone.

When people pee openly in the streets.

When most men are holding hands or riding motorcycles together.

When people litter wherever they want.

When on the only law is… the biggest car wins!

When you see the best smiles from children.

When it looks like a construction site everywhere

You know you are in India when you realize how lucky you are to have a home a car and a cell phone. I love you family!

Other Shades

By Benji Shepherd

India is so amazing. We have been here for a few days and I would not change these experiences for anything. I absolutely love the food, look, and children here. This morning we woke up and looked out the window to see 10 monkeys just wondering through the grass. I am having so much fun with the kids. There is one boy named Shashin and he is absolutely brilliant…but totally evil. He really liked my sunglasses so today he came to school wearing his own pair of sunglasses to be like me! It made my day! Then… WE PLAYED CRICKET. It was so much fun. We are going to start a club. I really love this place and don’t want it to ever end!!

Chandler Morton's Life Changing Trip

It has only been several days since we arrived in India, and I have already have had life altering changes because of the experiences. I have fallen in love with the little children in our schools and orphanages. It is amazing to see their happiness and joy when they have so little. It has been such a humbling experience for me. Even though I miss certain things like my parents cooking, a good shower, and especially my family and friends. It has not effect my ability to work with the kids. I have always loved little kids and this only makes me love them more. This trip is going by so fast I really don’t want it to end. These kids are amazing the culture is so cool and their happiness is humbling. No pictures or words can describe what I have seen or felt or the experiences I have been through. I LOVE INDIA!!

My Top ten moments in India so far.

by Lauren Woolsey

1. The journey into the Himalayas was amazing, the mountains make our mountains in Utah look like tiny hills.
2. Meeting the kids in the schools. They were shy at first, but they are so smart and eager to learn.
3. Getting close to all the YMAD kids-there is never a dull moment.
4. Our luggage getting left behind. This may be weird but it was so amazing to get a fresh pair of cloths after 5 days of traveling!
5. Driving though Delhi-it was dirty, busy, and just plain overwhelming-I could not take my eyes away for a second.
6. The Food. I am unbelievably grateful for the amazing cooks-the food is so good!
7. The time we stopped in a tiny town. We were stared at like aliens. (Which we basically are here)
8. Driving. There doesn’t seem to be a speed limit... and honking the horn seems to be a friendly way of letting someone know you are speeding up to the side of them quickly.
9. Our first time playing with the girls in out ashram in Shillai.
10. Watching Warren play Duck Duck Goose with the kids at our schools.

This has been such an amazing experience I am having the time of my life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Pieces of Good News!

One of the questions always our minds is can YMAD continue to produce the same results over and over again! After a year of planning and especially when you go to a new area we are always wondering, will the teens this time find the magic in the experience like in the past! I knew from the vary beginning we had an exceptional group of youth and it has been confirmed again as we have followed the progress of the expedition and the difficult time it has been to get to Shalai! When I heard over the phone from our team leaders today about the first day and the experiences at the schools and ashram, I knew all of our hard work was going to pay off! The magic of India is starting to take shape!

The second piece of news I received today is, YMAD is now fully registered as an Indian NGO. To some that may not mean much but to those of us who know how difficult it is to get his designation in India, its amazing! I can't say thanks enough to our partner Rakesh Maskara and his family for helping us make this a reality. It has been a difficult road. We now can do more to help the kids in India and run a fully transparent program, something that has proved difficult in the past! This single event has the potential to completely change YMAD's future!

Wednesday Morning

So it is Tuesday night and I am snuggled up during a huge blizzard while my friends in India are just packing up their things for another day of work...they at least have good weather. I was able to talk to a bunch of kids and I will do my best to let you know how they are all doing. First of all-EVERYONE is doing great and excited to go back to the schools. If I do not list your child below it is because they were not near the phone when I called.

Jennifer Thatcher: She is working in the Daya school, and when they arrived for the first day of work the teacher had helped her class prepare a little phrase that they all said in unison. She could not understand what they were saying, but she understood the last word...UTAH. She was so overwhelmed by her current location and how hard she had worked to get to this tiny school that she burst into tears....the good kind.

Cragun Liston: I did not talk to him but His leaders were amazed at how well he worked with the young children, he had no problem getting down on his hands an knees to be with them.

Becky Perry : "BEST day of my Life! Indian kids sang 'Happy Birthday' to me-for my birthday. Went hiking in the Himalayas-for my Birthday. Had a Hindi birthday circle-for my Rocked."

Kayla Orr: Went into town with Greg Davis to get Becky Perry a Birthday present. Came home with over 50 Indians following her. This village is so remote they had never seen a white girl, let alone a blond one. People kept touching her hair and wanting to be right next to her. Everyone was well behaved but they had to call the guards to come lock the gates to keep them away from her. She is an Indian celebrity.

Brian Thomas: took a ton of great footage and feels so blessed to be in India. He said he kept looking around and thinking.."this is amazing, I am in the Himalayas, surrounded by monkeys, amazing people, and I am working with incredible teens." He said he was so glad to be a part of it all.

Spencer Cook: "I am fine mom. I am having a great time. A dog came in our room."

Will Pittam: "HUMBLING! I think Americans are Jerks!"

Katie Thacker: "I can't poop! But I am NOT EVER coming home!"

Scott Bringhurst: "Best day of my life-I can't even describe it in words"

Warren Porter: Realized quickly that the young kids would repeat anything he would say to them. His favorite thing to get them to say was "AWSOME!" and "OH MY HECK". I can just imagine giant Warren yelling at the kids and having them yell back to him.

Jake Bardsley: "Best day of my Life" he said the kids at his school all greeted him with a big "good morning" in English and the girls in the ashram all danced for them. He also wanted to let his mom know he is not sick...yet.

Chad Thorell: Was walking down the hill and passed a little boy. Chad waved at him, and the boy turned around, held Chad's hand and led him down the hill.

I know none of these stories are long or very detailed; but these small glimpses into their world paint an amazing picture! I will do my best to keep them coming.

A few other things

Every night the kids have a meeting to tell about their day. They talk about what worked and what didn't. Today was a good day! One group told about how the road was closed to their school and they had take another road and then hike down. The hike was over 45 minutes long and the teens were wondering if they would ever find their school. When all of the sudden they turned a corner to find 30 screaming children running towards them! They were overcome with emotion and excitement. All the teens expressed how this was one of the best days they have had and you could tell that after a few really hard days of travel they were in much better sprits!

We should be getting more blogs via telephone tomorrow.

Update from JoDee before her phone died.

The teens went to the orphanages today. They said it was the best day of their lives, they said they never want to go home. We will send more blogs by phone as soon as we can. Everyone is happy and healthy. We are unable to get an internet connection to post pictures. We will post pictures next week when we get to Rishikesh.

15 things I’ve learned so far by John K.

1. It is possible to push start a bus.

2. There is no need for lanes, blinkers, stop lights, or rules while driving.

3. My friends and I were born to drive in India.

4. I have yet to see an accident or female driver.

5. Goat cheese should probably not be used on Dominoes Pizza.

6. Men in turbans on your airplanes, does not mean it will get hijacked.

7. I should have put more things in my backpack, considering I will not get either of my duffle bags for at least 3 days (we have the duffels now).

8. Wearing the same underwear for 5 days is not that bad.


10. Gretta said it was ok to cry.

11. I almost cried when I found out I missed our double overtime state championship game.

12. I love hamburgers and steak.

13. They do have ping-pong in India.

14. Indians are better at ping-pong than you might think.

15. I miss you all, but I am having a blast. India is amazing!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New day!

It is funny to think that just as we are winding down for the day our friends in India are just getting out the door. Wish them luck today! It is their first day working in the schools with the children, everything they have worked for comes to life! They are short a few supplies and may be sharing some cloths, but I know they are so excited to be doing what they have dreamed about. These little school kids have no idea that today is going to be an awesome day at school!

Our group is splitting up and working in three government schools. One called "Kandi" with about 35 kids, one called "Sundrani" with 25 kids and one called "Daya" that has 50 children. They will be spending the morning at the schools and then in the afternoons they will all meet with a group of 50 young girls ages 12 to 15 who live together in a boarding house, or "ashram."

I can't say exactly what their experience will be like, but I can recall my first time entering a small school in India filled with young children who had never seen a group of Americans before. It is magical! I am so jealous of them!!

Operation Asha Reached Shalai!

Operation Asha has arrived in Shalai! The final stretch of the road was slow going as the team crawled up the canyon to Shalai. After 70 hrs of grueling travel everyone is in good health and optimistic about working with the children of Shalai. This community falls with in the top 50 poorest areas in India. All other NGOs have avoided the area because it is out of the way! Our team met their translators for the first time and enjoyed a great dinner together. The internet reception has proved difficult at this location so we are still trying to figure out how to post the kids blogs. The bags that didn't make the flight cleared customs yesterday and are on the way to meet up with the team tomorrow.

Some pictures!

Sitting and waiting...something they are getting good at :)