Saturday, August 20, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
My opinion of India may be a little skewed because just two hours ago we had to say goodbye to the sweetest most wonderful girls. One day I hope to see them again and build on the friendships that we already made. One day I hope to sufficiently express my gratitude to them for the love I felt and the lessons I learned. How you can grow to love and care for people in just 7 days is beyond me, but these girls deserve so much and ask for so little. It really was heart wrenching to say goodbye but I know the fun and enjoyable memories will without a doubt outweigh that low point.
Saying goodbye today was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In just a week of being here we’ve become some of the only family these girls have in their lives. While I was hugging them goodbye I just never wanted to let go. It was very emotional for all of us and I’m so sad we have to say goodbye, but I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here with these girls. They’re so incredible and I hope and pray that they will have good futures.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
So here we are again, blog number two. I don’t even know where to start with these sweet girls to be honest...Lets just say they’ve stolen my heart completely. I never knew it was possible to give so much when you have nothing to give at all until I got here and met these little girls. They're so humble and have so little but give so much. There has been no one moment that has made this trip for me but instead I get to take home all these little memories that have made this so worthwhile.
I can’t believe tomorrow is already my last day with the girls! I knew it would go by fast but it’s too fast, next time I come to India I need to go for much longer.
This week has been non-stop activity. We are with the girls from 8 until 5 and then the past few days we’ve had different things to do after the girls leave, like painting a classroom or going into town. It’s been constant excitement, but it can be kind of exhausting, today Warren even fell asleep while helping a girl braid.
Coming into India I had no clue what to expect. I had no clue if I would find that favorite girl that I would do anything for. If we would feel like we made a difference. If I felt like I helped someone at all. In one week I found that favorite girl I would do anything for. We made a difference. I feel like not only did I help one person, but 25.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Life as I know it has ascended into the world of selflessness and sacrifice. Here in Chamba, our days begin early with eager anticipation of making a difference in the lives of twenty-two adorable girls. It has been humbling to prepare and teach different skills to them; many are full of energy and require constant attention. It is such a joy to offer our time to them.
I really can’t believe that our time here with the girls is almost over. Tomorrow is our last day with them, and I am dreading saying goodbye so much. I already got a taste of it with saying goodbye to Poonam and Lata, the two girls from Kullu. For our last night with them, they helped us paint a new school building. We gave them some of our t-shirts to wear, and we had a big paint fight and dance party while we painted. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in my entire life as I did that last night just laughing and dancing with the two greatest girls in the entire world!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Even after countless hours of traveling to the opposite side of the world, it's still hard to comprehend that I am in Chamba, India. This developing country is so different on so many levels. Although I came here with the intention of teaching and service, these girls have truly performed the service of teaching me many things.
These YMAD trips to India are truly incredible! I love seeing the difference it makes in the lives of these girls and I can tell they love it so much when we come! But honestly, I will never be able to repay these girls for what they’ve taught and shown me about life. I’ve never seen such trusting, loving, and humble human beings in all my life.
I know I have been here in Chamba for the past week, however, it is just starting to set in. Deepoli, a young girl from temple ashram, led me up to the roof of the NHPC. The view from the top is breath taking. I can not explain scenery and I feel that I can not capture it in pictures. To the east and west the are lush green mountains and to the north there is a towering 15,000 foot peak. Nothing I have ever seen before. AMAZING!!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I’ve been here long enough that the days are beginning to blur together and my sense of time has almost completely vanished – exactly what I was hoping for on my second adventure to India. We started out with only a few girls but now have dozens. The girls arrive promptly to our home at the NHPC power plant, dressed in their best and ready for a full day of work (and plenty of play). Every day at the NHPC brings new experiences but the greatest experience for me came during our visit to town two days ago.
Stepping out of the airport into the thick, horrible smelling air was a “dream come true.” The sound of honking and people talking is such a familiar and welcoming feeling to me. It’s never felt so great to be back in India. I couldn’t contain my excitement! The drive through the Himalaya’s was magical. It’s not possible to even begin to explain the beauty of these endless mountains.
This place is a mixture between Jurassic Park and Avatar. It has been really cloudy and rainy which has made the lush mountains so mysterious. We had a six or seven hour drive to Chamba. The drive was absolutely amazing. It was a drive through mountain rain forests, amazing green terraces and tons of Indian villages along the way. Along the way we saw tons of monkeys, interesting Hindu men and an elephant.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
So… because I am such a poor writer - I have decided that my photos would be more effective than any words I could write, so here are a few photos that represent our trip so far.
This is a friend I met while walking around at the market in Chamba. When I asked him if I could take his picture he got very excited.
I had forgotten some of the luxuries of India since I was last here, but I have been adequately reminded of them already. One of them is the fantastic squatters; another is the gigantic spiders. I will forever have the image in my mind of James screaming like a little girl and Jeff running straight into Ben as a spider chased them. I think that all of the Indian people here at the NHPC think that we Americans are crazy! But that is beside the point…
Monday, August 8, 2011
The Top Ten Things in India So Far
1. Meeting the three enthusiastic Indian men on the train to Panthakot who then tried for the better part of an hour to teach me Hindi and lets just say when I said goodnight it took another half hour because they were set on teaching me to say goodnight and I'm sleepy in Hindi.
2. Seeing my good friend Raj.
44 hours of traveling, months and months of preparation, fundraising, workshops, rickshaws etc. but we are finally here and it has already been worth every sacrifice. Words will never due justice the amazing adventure it has been just to get here to the little village of Chamba. The Indiana Jones SUV ride along the Himalayan cliffs was as close as I have ever felt to death. To say that the mountains tower over us would be an understatement. Instead of trying to describe how wonderful this place is and how much I love these girls, I will just relate a quick experience.
I’M IN INDIA!!! It’s taken two plane flights, a bus, a train and a taxi but after 44 hours of travel we finally made it. This place is incredible. I fully anticipated a whole new culture, a new language, and new people but I could never have expected this.
We finally met the girls from the Ashram yesterday (the 7th) and were able to spend the whole day with them. We taught a few of our workshops, played soccer, ate lunch and spent the afternoon getting to know them better.
Well after almost 40 hours of non-stop travel we have finally arrived safely to Chamba. What a great feeling it is to be back here. Even if this is premature to say I can confidently declare that the very best part of my trip was being reunited with my girls from Kullu, Poonam and Lata. Two years ago I was able to spend four months with these brilliant and beautiful girls. They were in our home for girls that we started
It amazes me how so much time can pass but when you reunite with memories and people it’s like no time has passed at all. I am not going to lie… I was super nervous to come back to India because I didn’t know if I was ready to reconnect with some memories and experiences but just seeing those two girls and erased all of my anxiety.
Woke up to find that I was not in my bed in good ol’ Utah, but was sleeping in a bug sprayed sheet with my head on my travel neck pillow, and did I mention I was smiling. Smiling because I am able to spend time in this insanely gorgeous country.
The past few days have been more overwhelming and more mind-boggling than anything else in my life. And I have loved every minute of it. Two hours on an airplane from Salt Lake to Chicago, fifteen airplane hours from Chicago to Delhi, bus ride from the airport to the train station, a ten hour train ride, a six hour bus ride and WE MADE IT!
After 44 hours of plane rides, a night train, and a beautiful car ride through the Himalayas, we reached the NHPC in Chamba where we’re currently living and working with the beautiful and smart girls.
Today is the second day we’ve worked with the girls and it’s so exciting to get to know each one of them and see their personalities more and more as they become more confident and comfortable around us. Currently we are working with about 7 girls because not all of them were at the ashram when we arrived and the rainstorms have prevented them from coming on time but hopefully the rest will make it soon. But it is nice to get to know a few girls really well. I love dancing and playing with the girls, and watching Warren teach his education workshop with so much enthusiasm and mess up every girl’s name, nothing makes me smile and laugh more.
Finding the words to describe what I’m experiencing is beyond me; no composition could paint the scenes of the last four days. After traveling for 19 hours, we stepped off the airplane in New Delhi. There, I was instantly enveloped by the humidity of India. The intrinsic scent came with it. From there we took a bus to our train station, where we boarded the night train for 8 hours. It was there, scrunched on the top cot of a northbound train, that I realized the next two and half weeks would be very much different than life at home. That occurred to me again while staring at a hole in the floor for a toilet. Balance becomes an important skill on a rocking train. From there, we hopped into cars and drove up the mountain to our destination in Chamba. Here, surrounded by the lush Himalayas, I now wake up every morning in awe because of its beauty.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Right now a group of college students from all over Utah have created an expedition of their own! Many of them are former YMAD participants, and some new faces as well! They will be teaching English and Life Skills to the Girls at the Temple Ashram in Chamba. We look forward to hearing about their adventures!
Posted by Eden MaRee at 9:43 PM