The first day in India has been incredible. We arrived at the airport at 4 in the morning and then finally the Mahindra UWC at 6 in the morning, where we were fortunately able to sleep until 11. We then toured the beautiful campus, were introduced to the program and work we will be doing in the villages, and met the Akshara kids.
The highlight of the day was visiting the villages and seeing, observing, and asking about their lives. It was truly magical when Anna and I were given a “tour” of the village by two beautiful 15-year-old girls.
We were invited into one of the girls’ homes and saw their 3 cattle and ox, went to the many colorful temples, and learned to dance -bollywood style. We still have a far way to go with the dancing but rest assured I will grasp it by the end of the week.
This bull was one of 4 that livedin the basement of Pratiksha’s house. Apparently it is a sign of wealth to house your cows in your home because it shows that you keep what is valuable close to you and is a sign of respect to the animals.
The buildings you see behind are part of the local highschool that many children in the valley attend. The classrooms consisted of modest blackboards and wooden desks and chairs. The manure from these bulls are used a fuel so shortly after they left an older woman ran behind and scooped up the manure, covered it in dirt, and carried it on a cardboard plate back to her house where she dries it in the sun to create large “chips”
There were of course many shocking factors, but with poverty that is expected. The day has made me think over what I have, and do, take for granted; sanitation, health, personal space, school, and frankly my rights as a woman.
The thing that hit me the most was that there was trash- EVERYWHERE. At first I was almost induced to tears from the seemingly hopeless situation, but after a while I got used to it- unfortunately (in this case) humans have an incredible ability to adapt to their surroundings. Luckily, steps are gradually taken to solve the problem, and by the time we left 6 trashcans had been erected in both villages we were working in.
Despite many of the unsettling factors the beauty, sense of community, and spirit of the children we met has left me awe-struck, grateful, tired, but above all, happy.