Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
It took planes, trains and automobiles to get Springville High senior Justin Calder to his Spring Break destination -- 40 hours of travel each way, to be precise -- and then the real work began.
Calder, along with 16 other Maple Mountain and Springville high school students, returned Sunday from a two-week humanitarian trip to Chamba, India, with Youth Making a Difference.
The project was the culmination of nearly a year of fundraising and training that enabled the students to cart in supplies, teach English classes and provide medical help to orphans and villagers in the Chamba area. Salt Lake City-based YMAD has made two such trips each year since 2005, but this is the first Utah County crew.
"The hardest part was leaving; I just wanted to stay with the kids," Calder said.
It wasn't just a question of foregoing a leisurely Spring Break -- YMAD members attended 15 leadership workshops over the past year to learn how to become not just eager but competent humanitarians during their brief visit.
"As soon as the light clicks on, and they get that they have so much to offer, they become brand new people," YMAD director of operations Eden Cowart said. Each student also rounded up his or her requisite $3,500 through personal and group fundraisers. "It's not one of those things where your daddy can just write a check," Cowart said.
The YMAD group stayed at a compound in Chamba, but split into groups to travel to four different nearby villages each day. Eliza Pullman, a Maple Mountain senior, spent her time at a public school in Raj Nagar, where she worked with mostly younger children. Between games of Duck, Duck Goose and Ring Around the Rosie, she helped teach English and math and conduct basic health screenings.
Part of the YMAD funds went to sending the young children to the dentist and optometrist for problems that would normally go unchecked, so the students learned to spot basic health problems that could be referred to a YMAD physician for further examination.
It's a lot to pack in to two short weeks, so everybody gets pretty attached by the end.
"When we walked up the stairs to the roof of the school [where they held classes], all the children were waiting at the top, and would bend down and touch our feet, then touch their foreheads; that's a huge sign of respect," Pullman said.
Springville senior Chaidee Woods also went to Raj Nagar, and couldn't go anywhere without a few admirers tagging along. Even when going for a jog around the compound, little kids attempted to race up the hills shouting "Didi" ("Sister") alongside her.
"I feel like we left them better than we found them," she said. "Hopefully we left an impression of what they could become -- to dream big."
The students were also able to bring hundreds of hygiene kits, newborn and safe-baby-delivery kits, fleece blankets, clothes and educational materials. These items are gathered year-round in conjunction with local Eagle Scout projects, youth groups and schools, Cowart said.
"We create leaders here in the U.S.," Cowart said. "They get a global awareness that they wouldn't have before. Whatever they take on in life, whether becoming doctors or lawyers or teachers, they have a sense of what service is and how it affects the people around them."
YMAD is always looking for donations, as well as willing applicants. Find more information about both at www.ymad.org.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Alex and I are now done with our Internship. Sad day. We finished it by going with the Utah Country expedition to Chamba. Those Kids are awesome. We had a great time getting to know them and all of the adult leaders. We’re very grateful that they let us join in on their team. We even got our names on the back of their T-shirts. Yeah we’re pretty dope. I’d like to give out some shout outs. Thank you Baird’s Rob, JoDee, Eden, Maria! Thank you Utah Country Team. Thank you Rakesh, Raj, Nisha. and Mr. Damhi. Thank you very much Family for letting me come do this! And everyone I forgot to thank, thank you too! We had a great 3 months living here in India! We did so much and didn’t really blog. I'm pretty sure we had the trip of a life time. Kullu, Calcutta, Pune, Delhi, Chamba and Agra. What a adventure we have had. Thank you again for this EPIC experience.
Oh yeah there’s one great life lesson I learned here that I would like to share with you. “Team Work Is Like No Work”
Nick and I are double-teaming this blog like it’s no work. I also want to thank everyone who read our blog. And we are much funnier in person compared to our blog, just in case you were wondering. Nick and I have seen many things this trip. Good and bad. But every experience we have had, have helped us grow into the men we are going to become. We are both excited to come home, but also very sad to leave our new home. People have been very caring towards us the moment we stepped off the plane. We have absolutely loved it here. This is something we are going to carry throughout our lives. Rakesh and Raj are two men that do amazing work for this organization. Without them non of this would be possible. I also want to thank my family. I left without anyone really wanting me too, but you have all supported me so much. YMAD, I think your pretty neat.
Monday, April 12, 2010
By Lana Groves
Published: Monday, April 12, 2010 12:29 a.m. MDT
SALT LAKE CITY — The orphans clung to the arms and legs of the teenagers from Springville who had been volunteering in India for the past two and a half weeks
Liz Bird, a senior at Springville High, said when the teens started to drive off, the orphans ran after the sport utility vehicles, not wanting the 17 teenagers to go home.
"They kept saying goodbye and 'See you tomorrow,'" Bird said. "Once they realized we wouldn't be back, they started clinging to us."
After 17 days spent helping 200 orphans and poor children in the villages of Himachal Pradesh in India, the teenagers from Springville and Maple Mountain High schools reunited with their friends and family Sunday night at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Dressed in traditional Indian garb, the teens returned with life lessons, including that you eat whenever you get a chance, extra toilet paper is a gift to be cherished and two weeks is enough to make a difference.
The group members were excited to see their family and friends after more than two weeks away, but sad to leave the new friends they had made.
"They're a really loving people," said Springville High senior Tiana Chambers. "The orphans will just go up and grab your hand and give you a kiss on your cheek."
Story continues below
Upon arriving in Delhi on March 27 after about 25 hours of flying, the teenagers were amazed by the differences they found being on the other side of the world.
"Only in India would you have to keep your arms inside the jeep because if you don't your arms will get hit by other cars," Lydia Scott wrote on the group's blog at www.ymad2009.blogspot.com/. "Only in India do boys hold boy's hands and girls hold girl's hands, but boys and girls never hold hands. Only in India am I having the time of my life."
The Springville teens met up with more than 100 teenagers from other parts of the world and 42 interns through the Youth Making a Difference program that empowers young people to become leaders and help those in need. The group helped provide medical assessments and delivered blankets, hats, gloves, vitamins, and medical and school supplies to about 200 orphans in India.
"I'm never going to be the same after (this experience)," Bird said to her family at the airport. "One of our main objectives was to fall in love with the kids. I kinda completed that within one minute."
During some free time, some of the group managed to go hiking in the Himalaya Mountains where they noticed the beauty on every corner, but were surprised at the amount of trash littering the ground.
"There's trash everywhere, no garbage cans," said Springville High senior David Lee Shaw. "It's amazing, people would throw their trash just off the cliff."
Mapleton High senior Trevor Swanson said even though he misses the children they taught, he's grateful to be home for a few reasons.
"It'll be nice to have your own bed and a toilet that flushes," he said, gratitude ringing in his voice. "It'll be nice to take a shower."
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Tired; tired of the food, tired of the smells. Tired of the noise, tired of relentlessness.
Excited; excited to see my family, excited to see Reshma. Excited for skiing, excited for my bed.
Sad; sad to leave people I now love, sad to leave color and beauty. Sad to leave the smells, sad to leave my new world.
Two weeks in any new country leaves you wanting. India has given me a new piece of life, added perspective in a world in constant struggle to remain the same while trying to embrace the new. I hope my experiences here in India with all my YMAD friends will continue to change our lives and lead us to become explorers, leaders and advocates for global appreciation and understanding. I hope we will never be satisfied with the “norm” or focus too much on our own little world. There is too much to see and too much to do if we want to continue to make a difference.
David Lee Shaw
Perspective is a waste to the pessimist, Hope for the poor, and a treasure to the wise.
Perspective is everything. It is what keeps us sane, or runs us to insanity. There is a choice of how we take in every situation, every event.
Positive or Negative
Good or Bad
The discernment between Reality and Illusion.
In Reality- you take the situation as is. You accept it, you re-plan, and you adjust.
When you are in reality, and you are accepting, you find it is easier to see the positive. In fact, you have already found the positive
In Illusion- excuses are made. Stories are conjured, and work is put off.
-The bus ride took an extra three hours how awful-
-The bus ride took longer, and I was able to see three hours more of beautiful India-
-I forgot my lunch-
-I was able to play with my kids for 30 more minutes-
-I ripped up my thigh chasing birds and slipping on bird feed-
-I have a really funny video of me slipping on bird feed-
Perspective is required for progression, one way or another, perspective IS required. It is the make or break of your experience in school
April 10, Last Day
Jaycee April 9
The reason I wanted to go on this trip was to experience how my life could be.
Because of this humanitarian effort, I need to keep serving for the rest of my life. I used to want to help people.
Now, I need to help people.
After seeing the miracles and hope in the ashrams we visited and joy of the teachers and the people here, I need to keep it up! All the kids in YMAD want to make a difference and I have a strong feeling that all of us will continue to make a difference.
We’ll bring the sweet spirit of service that we all had in India and
Take it to our communities, homes, and schools.
This humanitarian effort has made me change my future, myself and the rest of my life.
I can’t believe it’s almost over. It seems like just yesterday I was getting off the airplane in Delhi and thinking to myself, ‘What am I doing in India?!’ Now all I can think to myself is, ‘What am I doing leaving India so soon?’
It has truly been an amazing experience. One I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I have learned a lot; like don’t write your name in Hindi on your arm in henna, and don’t make faces at monkeys -they growl, seen a lot; like the TajMahal, the Amber Fort, and the market in Jaipur, and done a lot; like riding a camel, an elephant, and an Indian Jones Jeep. There have been some unpleasant experiences: using a public squatter, some pleasant experiences: seeing eager faces of children as you walk into their school, and some interesting and unforgettable experiences: eating street food, making pipe cleaner bracelets, and falling off the edge of a hill straight in to stinging nettle.
But I would do that over again and more just to see the kids at IRA and Sahoo one more time. The love I have felt during this whole trip is a love I used to think didn’t exist. I love it here, I love the person it has helped me to start becoming.
My feelings for going home are rather mixed because of this. But now, because I have felt this love I’ll never let it go. I will carry this for the rest of my life and for that I am eternally grateful.
Thank you to everyone and everything that has helped make this trip the greatest experience of my life… so far ☺
Tiana and Alexa with a little help from their friends:
1. Bring lots of toilet paper! A roll + to-go packs out the whazoo.
2. You can never have to many wipes. They don’t necessarily have to be individually wrapped.
3. Use the buddy system.
4. Always be positive. No one likes a negative Nellie.
5. Late night laughs are so worth it. You have plenty of time to sleep while traveling to your many destinations.
6. Learn the Hindi translations to what you are teaching. Also learn key phrases like share, be quiet, listen, etc. Take the time to go the extra mile to learn commonly used phrases such as what is your name, where are you from...etc.)
7. Nail polish parties are the bomb.com. The kids in your ashram will love them too.
8. Always have a hoodie handy.
9. Be prepared for the Kalsuin pooeys…they will come. Nothing a little Imodium and a little TLC can’t fix.
10. Bring shoes that can give you cool tan lines.
11. Bring good hiking shoes!
12. Bond with everyone. Tight like spandex.
13. Shop at DI. You never know what you’ll be able to trade for some stretchy pants.
14. Bring lots of snacks. Sweet healthy snacks are a great break from fried starch. Trail mix and dried fruit are highly recommended.
15. Instant oatmeal saves you from breakfast French fries.
16. Don’t be afraid to try street food! Best food you’ll have.
17. Bring Febreeze, you never know if you’ll be stuck in an SUV that smells like vomit and urine for 6 hours.
18. Fall in love with your orphans. Even though it’s hard to say goodbye its worth it.
19. Straighteners will blow up if you plug them in. Don’t even bother bringing them.
20. Make sure someone brings an iHome. Wall chargers are a must.
21. Don’t bring any jewelry you want to return home with you – You won’t be able to resist giving it all away.
22. Drink lots and lots of water!
23. Maaza mango juice is a gift from heaven. Slice looks similar, but is not the same!
24. Never pay full price for anything.
25. Use the bathroom when you can. Same goes for eating.
26. Discover the beauty of squatters and bucket showers.
27. Embrace the dirt and stench.
28. Mini battery powered fans are a necessity.
29. Practice a number of wash and wear 3-minute hairstyles before you come.
30. Make sure at least one girl (or boy) can French braid. P.S. Eden is pro.
31. Bring sea-bands and Dramamine if you get carsick. Dramamine must be taken an HOUR before driving.
32. When they give you blood thinners for the airplane-take them.
33. Embrace veg food!!
34. Always RUN to the Mo-Mo shack.
35. Sleep as much as you can on the plane
36. Bring good make up—you may not be particularly interested in any of your team, but there could always be interns. (We found this out the hard way)
37. Learn to ignore—you can’t buy everything.
38. “Have a good time, don’t be a good time.” –David & Austin Averett
39. Be outgoing! Your comfort zone is worthless.
40. Expect the unexpected.
41. Bring a bag or satchel… backpack sweat marks are nasty.
42. Never fall asleep when henna is going on in the room.
43. Don’t be surprised to be called by name when it is written in Hindi on your arm.
44. Don’t believe anyone that tells you that you can buy all your souvenirs in Jaipur.
45. Don’t worry, be happy.
46. If the interns tell you something tastes good, make them buy one first.
47. Carry your journal everywhere you go. Every time you have a chance, write!
48. Bobby pins, bobby pins, bobby pins!
49. “Rabie free is the way to be” – Lydia? Nick? Alex? Who really came up with this quote????? We want the truth! ;)
50. Enjoy every day, adore every hour, Love every minute, treasure every second.
We can’t believe it’s our last day. We are so thankful for this opportunity, it’s been amazing
I can’t believe this trip is almost over. It has been the longest and the shortest two weeks of my life. We have seen and experienced so many things while we have been here, I don’t even know how to explain them in words. The only way to translate them to you would be either telekinesis or you would have to go and experience it for yourself. Although Jaipur has awesome shopping, it has been my least favorite part of this trip. The people here broke my heart. Seeing a family in the street or a mother holding her baby, a daughter with a sist the size of a fist on the back of her head, or a young boy with an expanded skull, begging for something that they think we can give them. It kills me. I wish there was more that we could do for these people. It’s a sick world we live in, but seeing this has only put more fuel in my fire to help these people live a better life. As Ghandi said
“A small body of determined spirits fueled by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”
I know now exactly why I am here and why I am doing what I am doing. I am so very grateful for the many blessings that I have and for the opportunity to come to India to make a difference. Making a difference makes me feel good and I am never going to stop.
Before I left on this trip, I was working hard on doing my make up work so I could take what I personally thought to be a vacation in hopes to recharge my batteries. Of course, it was too good to be true, but I received something even better – the desire to do the best I can, not only for myself, but for the children I bonded so closely to.
After seeing first-hand how crappy the conditions of living are and how selfless the people really are, it’s hard not wanting to do something for them. My perspective now stands, that it’s a shame and a slap in the friends’ faces we have met if we didn’t go on to live our lives to the fullest. I hope people on this expedition feel the same as I do, to continue to live life making a difference knowing the difference between home and India.
I have been on my fair share of exciting trips in my life, but this one tops them all (no offense to the family). My eyes have opened and I can truly say looking back on life before this trip, I have changed for the better and hope to never forget the feelings and experiences I have had on these past two weeks. It’s sad to think this is most likely my last day in India, but I can’t wait to get home to live my new life.
So I am sitting here wondering what in the world I should say. There is so much I have learned on this trip that it is hard to put into words what I am feeling and thinking about the whole experience. I have learned that poverty doesn’t affect happiness. The children I worked with were just as happy, caring and accepting as any child. Another thing I learned is how bright and willing to learn the Indian youth are. They understand that the only way to turn things around for them and their community and country is through education. I am honored to have been able to have this chance to experience this once in a life-time opportunity. Thank you to all that have helped me get here!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
A friend of ours, who travels a lot, told us that for every hour time difference of the place you have been visiting, it takes that many days for your body to recover. Well, there is a 12 and 1/2 hour time difference between India and Salt Lake City. That means that it will take your teen 12 days to get their body and mind back. (I think part of your body particles remain over the ocean before they catch up to the rest of you). I know from lots of travel to India that it is almost 12 days, to the day, before I feel normal. Be paitent with your teen when they are pacing your house at 3:00AM. Or, when the teacher calls and tells you that your child is asleep in their classroom. (Which has happened, by the way) It takes at least 12 days to process the experince they have just had. Be patient, they have been forever changed, however their bodies with get back to normal, eventually.
Thanks for having amazing teens!
Friday, April 9, 2010
Some of the best things the US has going for it is open space to run around in. My Aunt came from Romania to visit and she was kind of flabbergasted about how big all of the houses are and that she could drive for five days and still be in the same country with no boarder crossings, I know how she feels now. One thing I have really missed while in India is the ability to go outside and go running, the pollution and overcrowded population here kinda sucks.
One thing I will miss once back in the states is the attitude of the people who live in Chamba. I’m especially going to miss being called Dee Dee, which means sister in Hindi. I loved when ChaiDee, Joselyn and I were running up Diarrhea Hill when three of the cutest girls attached themselves to me, started calling me Dee Dee and tried to run with us. They were so cute and I really wish I spoke Hindi so I could understand what one of the girls were saying. A lot of people here speak English because they learn it in school and watch Hollywood movies, it’s really nice when you meet someone and they can mostly communicate with you.
There are good and bad things that come with leaving India, like giving Liza, Neesha and Sanjeeve my last hug goodbye and leaving all of our kids. Either way I’m coming back a different person than who left for India two weeks ago.
p.s. And I love all of the YMAD kids so much! Thanks to their parents who let them come to India with me.
It’s hard to believe that we’re on the final stretch of this incredible journey. In less than a day we’ll be traveling back to homework, obligations, and petty inconveniences so common in America today. For my final blog, I thought I would share just a few observations I have made throughout my travels in India.
First of all, the people of India are so much happier than I thought they would be. It’s amazing! Ask anyone who has been in the car with me, and you’ll know that I spent a lot of my travel time looking out the window and waving at the local people as we passed by. It may sound weird, but it was such a rush to see someone look up with a confused look on their face, then see that confused look turn into a beaming smile of pure joy when they realized you were smiling and waving at them. It was so cool! These people have so little temporally, yet they have so much more in their hearts than many of the great political leaders and businessmen of our world today. The amount of love the Indian people have is so evident and so incredible. They are truly inspiring!
Another thing I’ve learned from the Indian people is that life doesn’t have to be complex to be complete. A typical family in Chamba will start the day early, high above the actually city in a humble home. After tending to the animals and wheat fields, the family members will carry whatever goods they have to sell down the dirt trails to the main city, a distance of between 5 to 10 kilometers each way. If they can afford it, the kids will go off to school while the parents tend to the small store. After spending the day in the city, the family will return home to spend time together away from the busyness of the city. We got to spend a night at one of these homes, and they are so peaceful. The way the Indian people live is so simple, and yet they manage to be so happy. I wonder how life would improve in America if we could learn to concentrate more on relationships, and let everything else fall into place.
We came to India to teach, but in reality we are the ones who have been taught. This has truly been the experience of a lifetime, and I feel sad leaving, but I can now return home with a new resolve to focus more on the important things of life. Thank you to everyone who has made this trip possible, especially my mom and dad. I love you all so much, and I am looking forward to being back. All is well with the YMAD clan, and we’ll be seeing all of you soon.
India has brought so many surprises. I really didn’t know what to expect, or exactly what I had gotten my self into when I signed up for the expedition. One thing I was not expecting was all the traveling we would do. Just getting into India we rode on four airplanes and stopped in three different countries, but it doesn’t stop there. We have been on planes, trains, and cars all over India.
Riding on the planes was my least favorite way of transportation. Each time we got on a different plane the ride seemed like a never-ending ride to the ends of the earth. We were basically playing a game of chase with the sun. Stuck in one long Saturday. Going to India made it even harder. No one wanted to just sit there in a plane. We had started one of the most amazing adventures. Most of us got a lot of sleep, or caught up with the latest movies. Each seat had a T.V. on the back, with lists of games to play and movies to watch. But eventually after so many movies, sitting, and plane food, you get sick of it. Arriving in India we took a sleeper train from Delhi to Pathonkot. The train was one of my favorite ways we traveled. I liked it better than the plane; although the plane did have a nicer toilet. On the train, it was a hole in the floor. The train was nice to fall asleep on. It had a nice rock and steady sound to it. The SUV’s we rode in were insane. Driving in America will be so boring now. These drivers have almost no rules. Horns are how they function in India. They use their horns for every thing. It’s just a way of life here. No one is bugged by all the loud noisy horns. Ridding on the streets here is like one huge rollercoaster like at Disney land. Hard stops to narrowly miss bikes, dogs, cars, cows, children, and big busses. Sharp turns to maneuver through the street venders and cliff roads. They are definitely not boring. The six hour car rides all seem like two hour car rides.
I love India, this has been an experience of a life time, and I will always remember everything that we have done here. Love you all, and see you all Sunday!
I never would have thought I could do so much stuff in such little time. We have done some of the hardest work that never felt like work, it’s amazing how that happens. Leaving the kids at Melah was hard but it felt right, we did all we could do for them. Although I was so sad leaving all of the people that I grew to love deeply, I knew that it was the right time to leave; but I do miss them terribly. I will forever think of them and all of the amazing things I learned from them. Since we left I have gotten to ride in GIANT balls and roll around, ride a horse, cross a river on a bucket bridge, go see the Taj Mahal, and have a real shower, which was very much needed. I still have so much to look forward to, I get to go shopping today, I get to ride an elephant and possibly a camel.
I don’t want to leave this place; I have fallen in love with the people, the culture, and everything in between. I am convinced everything is better in India, well almost everything. I had no idea I could have such strong feelings for a place I have only known for only two weeks. I feel homesick for a place I haven’t even left yet.
I came into this expecting to have an amazing experience, and those expectations were met plus so much more than I ever thought I would ever be able to get the pleasure of experiencing. I have seen so much happiness from people who have close to nothing, however I have also seen so much sadness and sorrow; but not nearly as often.
There is so much emotion in my heart, far too much to express, I don’t know if I will ever be able to explain how much love I feel for this place, especially Chamba. I know a good portion of my heart will always reside in Chamba.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Today we arrived in the most “insane” town that I have ever been in. We are now in the city of Agra where the TAJMAHAL is located. Our bus driver had a difficult time locating our luxurious hotel, (which makes me so happy.) that has a real toilet, and a bath tub! The color of the water is questionable, but for India, I think it’s as clean of water that India has to offer.
As we were driving around town, I saw a cage full of chickens. A man bought a chicken from the cage, and then he and the shop owner put its neck on the chopping block, and then you know the rest of the story…. After seeing what happened to that poor chicken We all witnessed a completely nude man just standing there in the middle of traffic. I’ve decided that everything goes here in India, and there is no “normal” anymore. It’s just total chaos on the roads. All the drivers just blow their horns ALL THE TIME and do whatever they want. It reminds me of the bumper cars at Lagoon, only I haven’t seen a accident yet.
Seeing the TAJMAHAL today was incredible. All the YMAD kids were having such a great time walking around and talking to people from all over the world. Blake and I were just commenting to each other how wonderful the kids have been. They all survived another overnight train ride. The train station in Deli is overwhelming because of the extreme poverty that is all around you. It’s incredible dirty, and way smelly, but the YMAD kids deal with it, and never complain, they just “cowboy up” and keep going.
Can I just say how lucky we are to live in the U.S.A. I have loved visiting India, but the living here is so hard for so many people that it becomes overwhelming to see the suffering. It makes me want to be more grateful for the life that I have been given.
Here is evidence that the YMAD Spring 2010 Team made it to the TAJ. They did the "Ho Down Throw Down" at the Taj and received a standing ovation. Don't worry, it was caught on video. How many teens get to do the "Throw Down" at the TAJ? That is a memory they will never forget. They are spending the night at a nice hotel in Agra. Hot showers, clean beds. They are in heaven. Then tomorrow they are off on another adventure.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Today was an amazing day for the group at Sahoo. Being the last day we had with the kids at both Ira School and the Sahoo ashram. Many of the YMAD kids, if not all, have grown attached to their kids and after the day was through there were many conversations about how cute everyone’s favorite child was. Through the excitement I had some time to reflect on the days events. For my expedition team, we had the unique opportunity to take part in a cultural exchange at Ira school. The preparation put into the performances must have taken countless hours. As I looked back at the dances the kids performed for us, I remembered the deep respect that not only the kids had for us, but the adults as well. Even if I had not taught a single thing to those kids, I believe that respect would still be there. You could tell how much these people appreciate the work that we are doing in India. As the great Mr. Dahmi (one of our contacts in Chamba) stated it is a great honor to do service because not only are you helping the people in need but it also pays respect to the Gods. I don’t know if that was necessarily the case or not today with Ira, but I do know that all my efforts in this expedition payed off at Sahoo. Saying goodbye to the mere 18 boys in the orphanage was one of the strangest sensations ever. These Muslim boys had nothing to give me but they understood why I had came and that I was leaving them. These kids have been known to be very aggressive and rowdy because they are tribal boys, but you know, seeing their eyes when the time came to say goodbye was too much. I just melted. For some people these kids would be too much to handle, but because our group worked hard with them and never gave up, the connection and what I think to be love showed through in the end. If I felt that sensation for just a split second, that would make all my efforts worth it.
One of the first things anyone will say to you when you go to India is, “be careful for those stomach bugs”; but this didn’t apply to me. I’ve had close Indian friends for over 3 years and in that time I’ve learned to eat all sorts of Indian foods and sweets, I actually have grown to love Indian food and it’s wide array of spices and flavors; therefore, I was totally prepared for anything India had to throw at me, so I jumped right in.
Well . . . somewhere near the beginning of our journey all of my preconceived notions about how my body would confront India rapidly changed when I soon became one of the FEW people to get sick . . . and I’m an “adult leader”. I am now feeling better again but my arrogance and lack of respect for the powers of India introduced me to the downside of Karma.
I’m thankful that I had an amazing and bittersweet last day with our kids. It was a wonderful surprise that our beautiful students cared for the adult leader too. I guess Mother India has mercy and forgiveness in her heart as well, either that or finally some good Karma is creeping back into my healthy being.
p.s. thanks for watching out for me J Swiss.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Honesty in Chamba
Today we went into Chamba to see the town and shop, etc. While there Libby decicded to buy some bananas, so we went up to the guy and Libby asked for five bananas and the man said 50 ruppees. Our adult leader, Beaver (aka Parker,) told Libby to barter down and so she tried and tried she said “40” and the man said no, she tried to go somewhere else but the man would not budge on his price. So finally Libby just gave him 50 ruppee, we took the bananas and walked off. About 2 or 3 minutes later a man came running up to us and yelling.
“15” he said. “5 bananas for 15 ruppees!” and he gave Libby 35 ruppees in change. We were all shocked that someone would not take advantage of us and just keep the money anc cheat us stupid Americans, but he didn’t. The people in Chamba are very honest and I really respect that.
Maria: Now that you’ve said your goodbyes to your school children, what will you never forget about them?
Trevor: I will never forget their adorable little faces. I also will remember how they would always call me brother whenever they wanted me to help them. They are just so cute all around.
Maria: Describe Chamba in 5 words or less.
Trevor: Dirty, friendly, busy, beautiful, and delicious. Dirty because there is trash everywhere and it is very smelly, friendly because everyone is so nice and welcoming, Beautiful because the Himalayas are breathtakingly gorgeous, and delicious because the street food is so delectable, especially the momos.
Maria: What is the first thing you’ll do when you get back to America?
Trevor: I will hug my parents and then go to eat some kind of real food that includes meat! We have been so deprived of meat these last weeks. Everything is vegetarian. I want some meat that is not curried.
Maria: If you had to listen to one song on repeat this entire trip, which song would you choose?
New Soul by Yael Naim. It is a good song and it reminds me of when we sang it with our school kids. They could not really sing it and it was really funny, but it was really cute.
Maria: Everyone knows you have the best team. Why do you love us so much? ☺
Trevor: My team is so cool because we just get along. We are so chill and just laugh with each other. We are so cool! Also because Eliza’s laugh is “sexy” and our intern is awesome. The other intern is cool too but he is not in our group.
Maria: Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences these past couple days?
Trevor: I love it here! I love teaching little kids and I already miss them so much. Tomorrow we head to Agra. I will also miss Chamba. This trip is almost over and we are almost home. Love you all! ☺
I began to write this entry yesterday and it included only the words “With only one day left in our ashrams,” that is as far as I got. Since that time last night I did not think so much could change in my life. Tiana’s blog entry pretty much sums up the day. Kalsuin still the best ashram, no matter what anyone tells you. Other than that, I can’t even put my thoughts in to words, so I won’t.
Sorry to be so short! <3
Today was the last day at our ashrams. I, of course, was the first one to cry. I made it to about the third word when we were singing “everything” to our kids. I just broke down and started bawling. Looking at all their faces and thinking that this was the last time I would ever see them just set off the waterworks. Whenever I hear that song I will remember the time I spent with those kids, and how much they have changed my life.
After we sang to them we each said something to the group and had our translators express our thoughts to them in Hindi. Somehow I blubbered out through my sobs that I loved them and would never forget them. We gave them gifts and showed them the wall hanging we had made, and then it was time for final goodbyes.
A few touching moments that I will never forget during the goodbyes were:
A girl I had grown particularly attached to named Taniya came up. She was smiling and gave me a huge hug, then pulled back and began wiping tears off my face with her dirty hands.
The woman who ran the ashram came up to me and gave me a huge hug. I don’t think I’d ever even spoken to her before other than saying “Namaste” every day when we entered the ashram. She gave me the three tightest hugs of my life, pulled away, and then repeated this two more times with tears in her eyes. Another one of the women in charge came and slipped bangles on my wrists before pulling me into a hug. They were all telling me not to cry, while their own eyes were flooding with tears. It was interesting to me to see that these women, who we hadn’t really interacted a whole lot with, were sad to see us go, just from watching us in the ashram.
When I stepped outside the ashram I turned to give a few final hugs. One sobbing little girl grabbed on to me and wouldn’t let go. We cried together for a moment before finally letting go.
As we got into the car to drive away, I held up the “I love you” sign with my hand in the window. The little kids started running up and one by one holding up their “I love you” signs and matching them to mine. As we drove away I saw them all crying and waving to us from outside the ashram.
I’m still crying
Monday, April 5, 2010
I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day at our schools and ashrams. This time is flying by and my heart is breaking that we can’t stay here longer! My team and I are just starting to fall in love with these sweet little children. Suraj, our down’s syndrome child who loves playing with stickers and telling us the colors. Sahil and Ishika who, for the first time this week didn’t cry today! Dhruv who has the CUTEST face you’ve ever seen. Arzoo who is so spunky and excited to participate. Adil, one of my favorites because he’s a know-it-all and eager to learn. Subham who is quiet but wise and always lets other people win. Vishwash, who’s buck-teethed smile melts our hearts every single time. You should see him play duck duck goose! Poojah, even though we met just once, she’ll have a special place in my heart as a soul sister.
My team has decided that hands-down we have the best kids and they were definitely worth the wait. I need to come back to this place.
To all the parents out there: your teens are amazing!! Whenever people asked what I was most excited about before leaving for India, I would tell them I couldn’t WAIT to spent time with my teens and make a difference with them. They’ve been so much fun. I’ve literally laughed til I cried more than a handful of times. My team especially (Trevor, Chaidee, Eliza and Shea) have made every day better than the last. I love those guys! It will be so hard to leave Chamba!
Namaste to all of you…see you soon!
I was listing to one of my wise friends in Chamba talk to the YMAD team. He mentioned our aura, or the light we give off to those we come in contact with. He commented on how much his family and staff liked working with YMAD because of the aura and energy we bring to Chamba. Real energy is generated by serving others and that energy is transformed into our aura. Have you ever been in the presence of some one and just felt better by that association?
Ok here's what you should know about blogging in india:
1. Nothing that can be said or written would do any justice to what is actually being expirenced in this amazing and beautiful place, the people culture and places we live and see each day are quite simply UNDESCRIBABLE!
2. Time is of the essence. It only takes 5-10 to write a Blog, but in India in the mist of the hymalayan country side 5-10 min is all the time you need to have a LIFE-alterering moment. It is the time it takes to walk throught the ashram and be greeted by the young eager children running to your side. It is the time it takes to witness life in it purest and simplest form. It is the time it takes to look around at the beauty around us and just let in soak in!
3. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Or so they say, as they always ask for us to include them in these "blogs". However i can asure u that the view through a lens is only a glimps at the wonderful life that is constantly in motion around us. The culture is differnt in the most amazing ways and i can only hope that we capture every moment to its fullest potential!
In short I don't really know what to say about this expidition other than it has already proved to be the single most rewarding descision i have ever made and in one short week i have fallin in love like i never knew i could, to the people of India, the YMAD kids, (inparticular team friction, love you guys.. "team friction asemble!!!...zzzzzzzzz "), and my fellow leaders who are all SO amazing and have been the best support and the best of friends!
Three things I've learned in India:
1. A jeep can fit into spaces you thought were only meant for scooters.
2. People can be so happy with so little.
3. I can fall head over heels in love with a little girl in one day.
I love the driving here! The thing I'm most afraid of is falling asleep while driving in the U.S. because there are two laned roads with side walks and you won't hit any animals because they are either tied up or on a leash. Monu, our driver, has a nick name: Ice man. no matter how close we come to hitting a holy cow or launching off a cliff he never changes his facial expression.
Everyone keeps saying "One more day with ouir kids :(" and I want to punch them! I just fell in love with Shivari today and tomorrow I will say goodbye, probably for forever.
Many of my experences have a bittersweet taste.
The driving is terrifying and awesome at the same time.
I have come to love twenty two children who I have to say goodbye to in less than twenty four hours.
Plus many more...
Sunday, April 4, 2010
My name is Basanti Thakur. I live in a small rural area called Tissa in the village Janwas in Himachal Pradesh, India. I have attended school up standard class five and now I have just completed class 10 privately. I am 19 years old and have a mother, father, sister and and two brothers. I am the third child in the family. My family are farmers and have cows and sheep. They also farm wheat and maize (corn). We are dependent on the rain for our crops. Eighty percent of the families in my area live in one room Kachha houses. During the Winter we bring the animal inside with us.
Before meeting YMAD I had never imagined that some one from so far away could be interested in helping my community. I am so grateful I have been able to have this great learning experience. I hope YMAD comes again soon!
After touring a local doctor’s small two level hospital I have quickly come to the realization that in America we are spoiled with luxury. The room that stood out the most in this tiny little hospital was the one marked “Endoscopy Room” scribbled on a piece of paper and posted on the door. The health care workers here are equipped with the bare minimum and yet they see patients. They only ask for what there patients are able to pay and all the while they have wide smiles on their faces.
I have now spent close to 7 days in Chamba, India and its surrounding rural towns and I have never been welcomed with such warmth and hospitality in my whole life. I never imagined people could live with such few possessions and yet be so joyful and passionate about life. Along with the help of Kelly I have taught clinics to midwives and health care workers on the ins and outs of resuscitating babies and preventing complications in the mothers following delivery. We have had an incredible show of women and have been so touched by how much they appreciate it and come from miles away just to attend. Following these clinics we have also been assessing all of the children in the orphanages... and sometimes every member of the village that decides to show up that day. Unfortunately, there is only so much two people can do and we have not been able to treat everyone there. It is quite heartbreaking but part of the reality of this type of humanitarian work.
I have loved every minute of my trip here and cannot wait to return (hopefully not before I have snagged myself a beautiful Indian man… they are gorgeous)! Also, the distinction between mommy and nurse has completely faded for every single YMAD kid. It’s alright, I still love them and their disgusting runs! For example, I have already been interrupted four times while writing this blog, three times for diarrhea cases and once for a nasty skin rash!!! Oh the joys of being in India with 17 high school students ☺