Monday, April 25, 2011

Lorin...Now that he is home.

Dear Mom,

Today is finally my day to blog! Now that the trip is almost over I have so much to talk about but only a paragraph to talk about it. First off I love you mom and miss you and the rest of the family. This trip has been truly amazing. I have built relationships with people that will last a lifetime. Leaving home was so hard and so is leaving the kids in Chamba, all of us ymaders were crying when we left the kids. I am currently going to Agra and we will see the Taj Mahal today! I would love to take pictures but my camera is not working! So I have had other people take pictures for me. It’s killing me, anyway I can’t wait to get home and share my experiences with you guys. I love you all and miss you! Also mom Jordan says hi.

McKell Flick

10 Things I Will Never Forget

· Dancing in the car with Liza, our amazing translator

· P I N K U (Our driver)

· Walking and shopping all over downtown Chamba

· Being at Mr. Dahmi’s resort/paradise

· Making up songs around the campfire at Dahmi’s

· The 5 hour hike – so hard but so worth it!

· One day, one of the girls at the school, Anusha, held my hand and looked up at me with the biggest smile and kissed my hand

· The party with our kids

· Doing the Macarena to Party in the U.S.A. with the kids

· Singing “One Day” at the train station

Me Chamba se pyar kurti hun

I love Chamba

Kelly Jensen

Just another day in paradise! Blake and I still have all of the YMAD kids accounted for, which is especially note worthy given the fact that we have now been on two over night train rides. So far everything has gone really well. No diarrhea, no malaria, no broken bones etc…

It was sad for the YMAD kids to leave their children that they have been working with. Lots and lots of tears from the Chumba children and the YMAD crew. (Yes Molly, I even cried) The YMAD kids are already figuring out a way to get back to India.They have all been amazing! Everyone has been a team player and they have become a tight group as they have all shared special moments together. I’m really going to miss seeing them every Sunday.

Our adult leades have been wonderful as well! Caitlin has done a wonderful job teaching the women about safe deliveries and baby cpr. The women adore her and always want us to stay and have “tea” with them, which we always do, No matter where you go in this world we are all the same. We just need somebody to sit and chat a while.

No Name

Even amongst the piles and piles of trash in India, I have been amazed by the beauty in this country.

1. The children waiting anxiously at the gate as we arrived at the ashrams.

2. Driving on the edge of the steepest cliffs overlooking hand plowed terraces

3. The village women loving “Pinky” and handling her with such care.

4. The strength of the women hiking up the mountainside hauling 30+ pounds on their head.

5. A family of four headed to the park all on one scooter.

6. Being invited to tea with the most gracious host and sharing the afternoon with the women of the villages.

7. Having a dum dum after a medical check-up always brings a smile.

8. Mastering the art of squatting after a few failed attempts.

9. Doing the hokey pokey and shaking it all about.

10. The simple jester of smile.

Thanks for everyone who supported us and made this trip possible!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Kids Made it to Korea, they on on the big flight home. Should be in SF any time now.

Here is the info for tonight!

Sunday, April 24 - United Flight #6418 from SFO Arriving at 9:42 PM!

Last round of pictures!

Update from Blake

We went to the Taj yesterday, had a great time! The hotel was great, it’s nice getting a clean shower and the meals were great! Agra was allot of fun for everyone.

We’re now on the bus traveling to Jaipur, the road side restrooms are wonderful (not), it reminds me of camping expeditions but the smells are much more pungent. Everyone is both excited to get back home but sad to see the end of the trip looming, we visit the Emerald Fort tomorrow and then head straight to Delhi and back home.

The group has been great, everyone works together, no serious problems, no one lost (yet). They’ve worked hard, played hard, and had as unique experience as you can imagine. I know each of the youth and leaders have grown allot from the experience. Seeing the opportunities we have compared to others is humbling and the opportunity we all have of positively impacting others is exciting.

Parents, you all would be very proud of your sons and daughters, I’m sure you will meet different people at the airport then you saw 2 weeks ago. They have all laughed (allot) together, worked together, cried together, grown to love the children they worked with together, become great friends and a great team. They have grown to love India and the people here, understanding much better the world we live in and a society that is so different from what they see in the America. I’m confident they will have a significantly greater appreciation for the opportunities we take for granted each day.

Thanks for sharing your sons and daughters, it’s been so much fun for Kelly and I to get to know them all this past 9 months, and particularly the past 2 weeks, they are such great youth, they have so much to give and their futures are so bright, they are amazing!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kirsten Montague

So this trip for me was as much a personal and sociological experiment as it was a humanitarian adventure. I signed up to take 16 American teenagers to a third world country for 2.5 weeks, make them pay their way, and watch them immerse there, all while thinking of where else their thousands could have gone. Shopping sprees, exotic spring breaks and electronics come to mind – things they could have chosen to spend this money on.

I watched them re-set a footbridge all day in the blazing sun, digging and hefting rocks to pile as its new foundation – to serve a man who uses his own resources to support the Chamba community and direct YMAD to the deepest corners of its need.

I watch as they eat scary food, meet sad people, go to places that are very very dirty, get themselves very very dirty…

I watch how they treat each other and their elders. I watch how dependent they aren’t on us. Watch them correct any behavior that was off, without being asked to. Watch them take initiative on every front.

I see impoverished children getting school uniforms, running water in their schools, medical attention, any attention, at the hands (financial and literal) of these young people.

They are the first generation not to know a world without Facebook, email and texting. Yet they have quietly lived without it.

Nobody has complained. They have to brush their teeth from canteens, take antibiotics that fry their skin, squat over holes for the restroom and carry their own toilet paper, eat curry for breakfast, and be on a constant schedule. They have never whined. Not even when they probably should have. They are appropriate with each other. They are not jaded by the world, but they’re not na├»ve within it either. Eight teenage girls, and no cattiness. Amazing.

They missed their Spring Break and prom to come here and do this. They got their schoolwork caught up in order to miss this much school. They played tirelessly with little schoolchildren and orphans in that hot Indian sun until their hands fried and tingled from Doxycyclene. They left their education toolboxes behind for the teachers, even if it meant them getting in trouble with YMAD (sorry, Eden).

I can write about India itself on my own blog – that’s just a side note. The other half of this wonder is the youth. This has been one eye-opening experience for me: these remarkable, bar-raising young people whose caliber far exceeds their peers’. They’ve been as much of a perspective-adjustment as India itself.

McKell’s sweet, patient mature demeanor buoyed my spirits and cheered me on when I felt uneasy or burnt out. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? When she smiles, it makes me wonder if someone just said something funny that I missed, but it turns out, that’s just the look on her face. What a jewel.

Erin charmed the locals and made everything a PARTAY! Little boys fell in love with her and she even got our stoic drivers to laugh.

Michelle deadpanned common sense into everything in her hilarious, good-natured way. I always looked for a chance to hear what was on her mind.

Kaya silently pushed forward and never got mad, even when my computer messed up her SD card (I would be devastated). She rocked her new Indian clothes and never made one negative remark.

Jenn danced with the kids and choreographed on the spot for the school kids at IRA. They adored her and she never tired of leading them in dances. I had to force her to take a break and get into the shade, and make her drink water, or she’d have melted.

Caitlin showed interest in everything and everyone around her, and criticized nothing. Even frustrations simply made her giggle. Her good attitude was an example to me.

Jordan did a rain dance when we were all overheated. It worked the next day, and that was good enough for us! She tried EVERYTHING that was offered, hikes, adventures, etc, and never got tired of it. I wished I could keep up with that energy.

Sara packed everything anyone could have needed, somehow fitting it into her carryon! She wins the preparedeness award – and saved the day for many of her companions. She may seem shy, but there was nothing she was willing to shy away from. She danced, sang, hiked, and led.

Tommy tried new foods everywhere he went. I’m his cousin , and I know personally how he has his preferences with food! He tried new stuff that was weird and scary. I was so proud of him. He had so many one-liners in Jenn’s quote book, he kept us laughing the whole trip. My personal favorite was when someone was reading out loud from the ridiculous side effects of some horrible medicine. He said “OK, maybe don’t list headaches, when one of your side effects is death.”

Nate was a good sport and led me out of the crazy Chokhi Danhi festival area when I was totally lost. Seems like he always got crammed in the back of the jeeps with his long legs, and I don’t know how he did it!

Corbin was the kid-magnet. I’ll never forget the children running up to him and mauling him with their creations, thoughts, and affection – almost knocking him over. They adored him every day of school. He was so good with the kids and their lessons. He carried my bag for me without being asked and saved the day with his extra teacher-gifts (we were running short).

Cody faced his fear of spiders in the biggest way, and he laid down the most impressive raps from the back seat of the jeep. Who thinks that stuff up off the top of their head?

Mike McQueen (I mean “Lightning”) is Cody’s rapping competitor. I could listen to the two of them and just shake my head the whole ride home. I loved how when we took goodbye pictures upon leaving the NHPC hostel, everyone stood on their toes next to him in pictures to avoid looking like little gnomes.

Cobabe is SLC’s youngest import (I’m the oldest) to the YMAD Utah County chapter. He chugged and puked the most Limca of the group. I believe his peers were impressed. What impressed ME, though, was his ability to scare off the most persistent street merchants and beggars, by sidling up to them and spazzing out in his “third gender” antics. It rescued several of us from the pestering, cuz those street people disappeared once he turned it on. When groups of people go years without bathing and wander the city with their toddlers wearing no diaper or shoes…it takes something really special to freak them out. Michale Cobabe is that something.

Lorin hadn’t been on a plane since he was little, and survived 24 hours of flying crammed into about a day and a half. We all think he’s ready for his wings.

Chase – so mellow, so easy, so funny. If you listen closely, his little comments he makes so quietly when others are bellowing, are the funniest things. And if you’re not listening, you miss them. And his super cute smile stands out in all our group pictures.

The parents of these young people should be proud and satisfied. All I would want as a parent would be to see hard work pay off in this way - with contributing, conscious, sensitive, progressive, intelligent, flexible, honorable, sweet young adults coming from all those years of parenting. Congrats, folks, and thanks for sharing your kids with us.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jason Cowdin

This trip has been awesome! How can you not enjoy the fresh mountain air each morning as you drive to a school to help kids that have so little. It was hard to leave IRA Public School where my team along with Kirsten’s team was assigned. When we left the school I knew that we had done some good and I knew that each one of us had grown from the experience and examples of the children and teachers.

Being an adult leader has been fun and I have enjoyed seeing the group come together. I have asked myself a few times if I would have put in the time and effort to come to India on a charity mission when I was a teenager and I am not sure if I would have. These are good youth and they really have made a difference.

I am doing good and everyone is healthy. Mom don’t worry, we have everything under control and will be home soon!

Here are some pictures of team CTR in action. Thanks Mike M, Chase, Erin, and McKell.

Jennifer John

Being one of two mothers on this trip, I would like to share a unique perspective. There have been many life changing experiences, images in my mind and heart wrenching sights that will last a lifetime. These teens have probably shared the majority of them. The one thing I have gained a deeper appreciation for is how blessed our children are and how thankful I am for the endless opportunities which are inherently theirs. I take for granted that my children’s basic needs are met on a daily basis with little or no sacrifice. They are privileged to have a free and generous education from talented and educated teachers and staff. That is what makes me the most sad for the children that I see here…they may be secretly talented in one way or another or mini Einstein geniuses but because of their circumstances and the place which they live, those hidden abilities will, most likely, never become a reality because there are no real opportunities for them to thrive.

Our children’s futures are bright and anything they dream can become reality because of the opportunities that are waiting. I’m so impressed by the dedication these young adults have shown the last year to make this experience a reality. I know it has changed their lives. I hope that they will never forget the sights, sounds and smells that are here and, along with their future full of promise, make helping and serving others a life-long pursuit.

A poem my Dad shared at Thanksgiving keeps coming to my mind…you may have heard it before but, after being here, it takes a new and more personal meaning for me.

I’m thankful for the taxes that I pay

Because it means that I’m employed.

I’m thankful for the mess to clean after a party

Because it means that I have been surrounded by friends.

I’m thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug

Because it means I have enough to eat.

I’m thankful for a lawn that needs mowing and windows that need cleaning

Because it means that I have a home.

I’m thankful for all the complaining I hear about the government

Because it means that we have freedom of speech.

I’m thankful for the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot

Because it means I’m capable of walking and blessed with transportation.

I’m thankful for my utility bill

Because it means I’m cool in the summer, warm in the winter and have light when the sun goes down.

I’m thankful for the lady behind me in church that sings off key

Because it means that I can hear.

I’m thankful for the pile of laundry

Because it means I’m surrounded by family.

I’m thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day

Because it means that I’ve been productive.

I’m thankful for the alarm that goes off in the morning

Because it means I get to live another day!

Author Unknown

Thanks YMAD for providing this experience that has helped me gain a deeper appreciation for all the opportunities and privileges that I have been so generously blessed with…

Jennifer John

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Update from Blake

We have arrived back in Delhi and are now on the road to Agra. Everyone is sleeping on the bus, just like last year, the train was interesting as ever!!

Our time in Chamba was great, everyone got along great, they worked hard with the children, and there were many tears on leaving the schools.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Images from Blake

Corbin Cutler

Driving In India

Of course, you say, of course he talks about driving in India. Not about any of the sights or any of the schools or any of the adorable little children. He talks about driving. Well duh. If you know me at all you’d have been expecting something like this. Yes, I’ll talk about some of the other stuff too, but I want to focus on the driving and the craziness that is the streets of India.

First off, I just want to warn everyone back home if I start driving on the wrong side of the road, honking at everything I see, using my windshield wipers instead of the turn signal, it’s because of the driving habits of India. The driver is on the passenger side of an American car, they drive on the left side of the road, the horn seems to be a signal of greeting and “hey, look at that” or “hey, look at me”, and the turn signal is on the right side of the steering wheel. Just saying, if I start driving funny, I blame it on India.

And now for the fun amazing things. I’ve been going to a public school here in Chamba for the last week and the kids are amazing. We started out with only 30 or so the first day (there was a holiday going on. There always seems to be some sort of holiday going on…) but now we have almost 100 kids showing up. All I can say is it’s a good thing we have two groups going to this school to split up the kids. As much as I love them all I’m pretty sure I’d be overwhelmed if I had to manage 100 kids. Or even 25 because we split up the kids between every YMAD teen. Today is the last day I get to see my kids… I’ll miss Rohit and Sangum (I probably butchered those names, but that’s how they’re pronounced). I’ll post pictures of them.

And yeah. The mountain views (it’s all mountain views. We are in the Himalayas after all) are pretty much amazing. Every time I look out the window of the car we take to the school I am amazed at the beauty of the mountains. There are random little houses going all the way up the mountains pretty much wherever I look. Terraces too. Just one more reminder that I’m not in America anymore.

So pretty much I am having a blast and enjoying myself immensely. The shopping here is so much fun (and if you make fun of me for saying that I will probably strangle you). There’s so much neat stuff everywhere. And even though the vendors rip us off immensely, bartering to get the price to even half of what they say the first time is a feat that I am extremely proud of. And yes, I still have money. I haven’t spent it all. Jeez… ye of little faith.

I am still alive, breathing and all that good stuff. I love you all.

Oh, and I haven’t seen any elephants yet. And I got some Indian artwork done on my arms. Hahaha :)

Caitlin Beach

Today is our last day in Chamba. First I have to say how beautiful this place is. It is funny because one moment you are caught up in the surroundings and how peaceful and beautiful the scenery is, and the next you are trying to side step all the garbage everywhere. It really is hard to describe how it is here, its so different from the states. Here people will swerve to avoid cows, but honk and almost run over little kids walking by the road. The kids in my school are great, every morning we are greeted by them waiting in two lines. They are so well behaved, until we start playing this slapping game. Dad It is like the tie trick, only you slap the side of their face. And no, I did not teach them this, although everyone in our group thinks I did. My favorite thing is just playing with the kids. They love to learn new games, and love to teach me Indian games. My favorite so far has got to be Co-Co. Even though I’m still not all the way sure how to play the game right, I still just run and laugh when they laugh at me at playing wrong. The game involves crouching down in a line and trying to catch the person in front of you. This explains why my legs are so sore. I use them a lot. Between crouching to pee, playing Co-Co, endless games of Duck Duck Goose, and all the hills and stairs used to get to people’s homes they are right worn out. I don’t know how the people here do it. I defiantly have a greater respect for the people and not to take advantage of driving everywhere

Very much Love!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Erin Goodman

Among all the things I’ve held here in India here is a list of my favorites!

1. -The hands of the little kids. I can’t even explain to you how freakin cute these kids are! I’m going to try to take some home!

2. -My camera, I love taking pictures and everything here is so beautiful. And I have taught these kids well, they are pro at taking pictures!

3. -A cricket bat! Turns out it’s not to easy!

4. -Limca!!!! Best drink ever!!!

5. -Dancing in Pinku’s car (that’s not really holding something but moving your hand nevertheless!)

6. -My Hena!!!!

7. -Indian food!

8. -All the rocks and grass I held to keep balance on our hike!

9. - The rocks we moved to build a bridge! (yeah we built a bridge no biggie!)

10. -And last but surely not least the letter from my parents! I love you guys!

So So pretty much this is the most amazing journey of my life and I really don’t want to leave! Everyday is the greatest day of my life!!!

Michael Cobabe

Things You Would Like To Know

Everything is great, Raj also known as Daddy has been great and has taken good care of us all. Chugging limca is not the best thing to do unless you are feeling like you need to clean out your stomach because not only did I win but I also threw up the most as well, and everything just keeps getting better I have a tramp stamp,several hearts with peoples name in them such as Nisha’s (Bardsley don’t be mad at me but Robin is out of the picture just so you know), David I got the letter, DON’T WORRY I’M LEAVING WITH NO REGRETS OF NOT DOING!
Tell Warren I have a special thing just for him that he would laugh about for ever because everyone else has because its somewhere on my body.The rest of the trip has been amazing, today was the best because we got the letters and the amount I got was kinda crazy, while everyone got one I was given five, and Annie when I first touch the letter I thought Raymo sent yours, Also David up on asking if you haven’t asked yet because I have a great idea and I need to be home for it to happen, but if you have asked no worries, Also everyone needs to know that at the school I found the greatest saying “Arise awake and stop not until the goal is achieved,” And I think you should know David and Me are very similar I had to get the “HANDEL BARS.” The last thing you need to know is that Dad somehow unknowingly I have been doing what you told me since the day we left and I will also follow it , Miss ya.

Nate Raine

Bricks and other Things

To say I could imagine half the things over here would be a lie. I couldn’t imagine going or being anywhere that wasn’t the US… but everything here is well, different. We have garbage days. That may not sound like much or very special, but that weekly truck that comes out to take away the slightly smelling garbage is very sorely missed here. Take the garbage from the pantry, throw it on the lawn for a week (continually adding trash) then have all the neighborhood animals come relieve themselves. Then imagine the smell permeating everything. Nothing in the US can prepare you for that.

If you can ignore the smell, India is incredibly beautiful, the Himalayas are better than any picture book, the driving is not only safer and more relaxing (even though they really don’t have any rules), and everything here is, well, dirt cheap.

We are in cars for extended periods of time, and coming back from Mr. Dhami’s (which by the way is one of the coolest places on the face of the earth) so as such lots of topics come up, many of which are really funny.

And I quote Tommy, “Is America really the land of the free? I mean everything is just so relaxed here, they park bikes on roofs, and can we do that in America? I don’t think so. They can leave a pile of bricks wherever they want! Sometimes I just want to have a random pile of bricks! Can we have that in America? I don’t think so! Can I fit four people on a scooter? No! I want a waterfall of trash, but will they let me? No, and sometimes I just want to lay on the horn the entire time I’m driving, but really that would be like flipping everybody off. They say America is free, but America isn’t really free until I can have a Pile of Bricks wherever I want!” (a pretty good representation of what we are going through)

(It may not be funny to you, but at the time it was funnier than Hot Rod)

Despite the smell, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else in this world.

Miss you all, we’ll be home before you know it