There and back again

I have been back from India for about a day now. Perhaps the worst thing that happened to me was a bug bite which caused a mild allergic reaction in my left ankle. For the next three days, it hurt to walk or put pressure on the foot. It was bad at first since it was really weak. But the more I babied it, the worse it go. If I ignored the pain and stood, walked, distributed food, helping people and so forth, the pain went away temporarily. Eventually, I took off the wrapping and wore sandals for the rest of the trip. By the end of the trip, the foot was fine.

But if that was the worst, then the rest of the trip was simply amazing.

1. I spoke before a crowd of 1500 people.

2. Our team distributed medicines and food to a leper colony.

3. The men of the team went to a shelter for runaway children that normally frequent a rail station begging or trying to make some money selling small trinkets or attracting tourists with an offer to take a picture with a monkey. These are some of the poorest, dirtiest children of India. There is no one else they could turn to.

4. Our team ran a camp for over 1000 children, some of whom attend the public school started by the local organization called Harvest India. When our team was planning this camp, we were told approximately 600 children would come. So we prepared bracelets for 600 children. But when we arrived, we were told to expect 1000 children. We were at a loss when someone came up with the idea to make some out of yarn. Providentially, there was some yarn! Problem solved. Lesson learned – this is India. Things can change at the drop of a hat.

5. Our team dedicated 3 different water pumps on three different days. Although India is a very moist, tropical country, water is still scarce in some villages simply because of the lack of infrastructure. By drilling and building new wells, villagers do not have to walk so far to get water. Each pump is vital to each village.

6. Two of our teammates who were engaged to each other received a traditional Indian marital blessing. This involves rice and lots of turmeric spice.

7. We visited an HIV hospice where the doctors and nurses work to save or alleviate those suffering from this disease.

8. We celebrated New Years in India with plenty of fireworks.

All in all, going to India was extremely fun. True, we did have to eat with our hands but the meals were always colorful. I got to know my teammates better. When we are all in a crucible of stress while doing volunteer and other humanitarian work, we either sink together or thrive together. Happily, we all grew closer together and pushed forward despite our difficulties. Would I go back again? I don’t know.

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