Did you ever talk about your trip to India??? What was it like? Why did you go? Are there pics?
I was going to, but unsurprisingly I procrastinated, thank you for reminding me :3
First of all, lets summarise it by saying that those where the best nine days of my life by far and that I really miss it and I’d love to come back and volunteer for at least three months :D
It started thanks to my economics teacher, he organised many collaborative projects for the students to help different NGOs. We had a day where we organised a market in which we sold Fair Trade products for Kidenda and Fundación Vicente Ferrer(FVF), we usually had different people come talk to us about many different problems all around the world and the solutions that were being suggested or already enacted, and at some point we started selling callendars to raise money for a project in India by FVF. We managed to raise around 10.000€, and that was used to build a school in a small village called Cherlopali, in the area of Anantapur, in Andhra Pradesh. The students the previous year had raised money to buy 17 bicycles for girls that otherwise would have had no means of continuing their education past primary, and they had traveled there to visit their project and many others by FVF, so this year we were going to do the same.
And now the trip per se:
We visited many many projects in the little time we spent there, I think it was something like 20 or 21. It was amazing and inspiring to see how the NGO isn’t there with this kind of attitude like “Here we are, the rich white people who know what’s best for you taking pity of you and saving your poor asses”, but instead what they do is to provide the ressources for the native people to control them, to decide what they really need and use them the way they think is best, basically to be the agents of their own change (for example, 99% of their workers are Indian, not European). And well, that was kind of the “technical” part of the trip, now LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY FEELS :D
PEOPLE SMILE AT YOU AND WAVE AT YOU WHEN YOU PASS EVERYWHERE. I SWEAR, JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE A HUMAN BEING. I mean, yes, they have many discrimination problems in their own society, they discriminate against women, queers, dalits, etc., but we were in an area where the influence of FVF and their education in human equality was very strong, and therefore those problems were pretty weak. And I won’t be able to stress this enough, the best thing about India is its people. Every time we went anywhere we were welcomed by practically the whole town standing there, waiting for us with flowers and flower necklaces, marking us with the red dot between our brows and the two yellow kurkuma lines on our cheeks, dancing and taking our hands to dance with them, all smiles and kindness and warmth. I mean, I know it was because we came with the people from FVF and they’re really grateful for all they’ve done for them, but still, we’re just a bunch of students who’ve just sold a bunch of calendars, and when they thanked us they called us Gods for helping them. In Indian society they consider a God anybody who is a really good person and does a lot to help others, so it’s a little easier to be considered a God there than it’d be in any Western society, but it was still so unbelievably OVERWHELMING.
AND LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE DIGNITY AND ELEGANCE OF THOSE PEOPLE. When they talked about the work they did with the resources that had been given to them, when they talked about how they took care of the cows that had been given to the women to be the owners of the principal income of the family, when other women talked about how the people in their villages treated them with a new respect when they started working at the looms to earn their own money, how they’re the ones in charge of taking care of the sick in the villages that are too far away from any hospital, how they talked about the second opportunity that had been given to them when they were sexually abused and forced into prostitution and repudiated by their families, how the disabled people were receiving the help they needed and a good education and the chance to work, how kids where receiving a good education, ALL THAT FUCKING PRIDE IN THEIR EYES. EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO CRY IN A CORNER BECAUSE IT WAS SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.
AND LETS TALK ABOUT INDIAN KIDS. I’m not specially a kids person, I can play with one and make faces at them, but it’s not really my thing. BUT HOLY SHIT MY DUDE. I swear Indian kids were so fucking amazing I wanted to steal one and bring them home with me. One day we visited a centre for kids with cerebral palsy, we entered, we seated around the kids that were seating at the centre and we heard the caretaker’s explanation about the kind of things they did there. And then the kids started singing the songs they had learned for the visitors. Two of them were in Spanish, one in Telugu. I cried hearing the ones in Spanish. The lyrics of one of them were something like this: Together we will win (as in, vanquish the adversity), Together we will win, I firmly believe in my heart that together we will win, No matter what comes our way, Together we will win. And then when they finished their songs we just dropped to the floor and started playing with them. They were so sweet, you could see that some of them couldn’t react the way they wanted to and their muscles twitched in strange ways and some of them needed a longer time to react to your presence and your attention, a few of them were tied to a wheelchair and couldn’t even move, but they were just so happy to be playing with you, and they hugged you, and they laughed with you, and they showed you their toys, and ASDHBDBHJABJVFG my heart melts at the memories :’) We also visited many schools, and the kids were equally as happy, and they surrounded you in groups or thirty at a time, all of them screaming at you “Hello, what is your name? Hello! Photo please!” and tried to shake your hand, and it was overwhelming and you couldn’t even walk, and it was a bit surreal and hilarious to be honest XD And when I managed to get into the car the window was rolled down and they kept shaking my hand through it and asking for my name and for “Photo please!” and a group of girls started pinching my cheeks and saying “You’re so beautiful!” “You’re so cute!” and I was laughing and saying “Thank you!” and also a bit like WTF? and then the translator from the foundation explained me that they were really curious about my skin tone because, since they’re from a rural isolated area, most of the white people they’ve seen in their lives appear only on TV, and it really caught their attention. Another day we visited an orphanage for kids with AIDS, and as soon as we got off the car a bunch of kids run to us and hugged us so unbelievably tightly, and they didn’t let us go all the time we spent there, I always had a kid on my lap or around my waist, and they were all so sweet, it really hurt to say goodbye from the car as we left :’)
And then there are Ganesh and Bamala, and these two kids deserve their own paragraph. We were at a place where women who had been abused and forced into prostitution etc. were given the chance of learning a job and make their own living out of it. We hadn’t started our visit yet, we had just have lunch and a friend and I left the canteen to walk around a little bit. Two kids were playing nearby with some sticks, and we approached them. One of them, the boy, started to talk to us in Telugu and apparently he was telling us about something “this big” that they had found, judging by the gestures of his hands. we smiled at them, and at some point I told them in Spanish “Sorry, I don’t understand a word you’re saying” and at that point their expression changed and they started crying and running towards one of the buildings. My friend and I laughed and followed them slowly. The kids were holding to their mum’s saree and their mum was pointing at us and smiling and talking in a reassuring tone, pushing the kids a little in our direction as if to tell them to play with us. The boy stayed outside, but the girl went inside with her mum. The boy kind of hid behind a column that was there, except he wasn’t really hiding because the column was way too thin for that, and both his huge ears and his eyes stuck out of each side of the post. I approached him and started playing with his ears, and he kept sliding to the floor to move out of reach while laughing. when he was completely on the floor I started tickling his belly and he started rolling away while I followed him walking on my knees and palms, always too close but never actually able to catch him, until he reached the wall and stood up and started running in the other direction. He started playing with the metallic mosquito net of the door while he told us stuff in Telugu and my friend and I just sat there on the floor listening to him and smiling, even if we had no clue what he was talking about, because the kid was cute as hell. At some point he licked the metallic net XD A moment after that I stood up quickly and caught him by surprise, and he was already trying to run out of reach but I took him in my arms and carried him with me to sit on my lap on the porch. He kept telling us stuff, and at some point he gestured to my friend’s shoes and then to his own feet, apparently asking why they were different, so my friend took one of his shoes off to show him that they were the same. He called his mom to ask her something about feet, and then he pointed to a wound my friend had in one of his toes, and when his mom explained he started softly touching the wound with his fingers, as if to heal it ^^ Every once in a while we kept calling her sister to play with us as well, but she was too shy. I told my friend I totally wanted a photo with this kid, so he took his camera and took one of us, and then I took one of them, and then I showed the kid how the camera works and I’m telling you, letting a kid who has no access to cameras play with one is one of the most hilarious things you could do. The kid took many terrible photos of the tip of his finger blocking the objective and of pieces of floor or ceiling or windows or a dog XD Then I took him with me inside the building and I guided his hands to take photos of the women working there and of his sister. We were still playing with the kid and the camera when our teacher and one of the translators told us that we had to go back to the canteen to listen to the explanation of the woman who ran that place. As we were leaving the kid was yelling something at us, and my friend asked the translator what he was saying. She told us that he was saying “Goodbye, sister! Goodbye, my sister!”, and right there in that moment I swear I fucking melted into a puddle of adoration for that kid. We saw him more times afterwards, because while we were visiting the place we came back to the building where they had been, and in that moment they were playing around one of the cars, but as soon as his sister pointed at us he screamed and came running to us with a huge smile on his face. And finally when we were leaving that building they told us to get into the cars, and waved them goodbye smiling, and even his sister waved back with a smile, and I thought that was it, but the cars took us to a building that was literally not even 100 metres away, so at one point we saw the kid walking down the road to where we were, and basically he kept being his cutie pie adorable self until we left for real.
Also, other mention worthy stuff. One day two friends and I had gone to the bathroom and while two of us waited for the third one in the room next to it, a woman with short hair came in. She smiled at us and we smiled back at her, and she took our hands and said something we didn’t understand, then she told me by gestures to turn around and she started doing something with my hair. My friend told me that she was braiding it and laughing and enjoying herself like a kid, and that it was adorable to watch. When she finished she put a rose in my braid and she kept smiling and taking my hands while a thanked her. Another day, when we were visiting the village where the women had received the cows, when they finished with their explanation they asked if someone wanted to try to milk a cow, and I was the first one to volunteer and it was funny and weird as hell, and I found out that it is actually a lot more difficult than it seems XD Then lots of people started dancing and they dragged all of us in to dance with them:)
Also, when we visited our own project, the one we raised the money for, the welcome was one of the most incredible ones we had had until then, and when the welcome ceremony was over and they asked who wanted to say something, as it was the tradition there, I even dared to stand up and thank them for being such beautiful people and make us feel welcomed and happy wherever we went, and that I wished them the best of lucks. And it was amazing to see the beginning of the structure of what will be the school some point next year:)
And all of that is just a little bit of the stuff I’ve got to say ONLY about the people, but not only the people was amazing there. The food, the culture and their traditions and beliefs, their clothing and aesthetic choices, their temples, all those colours everywhere, all those different smells, the heat, the apparent chaos on the streets, the landscapes, EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WAS AMAZING.
And well this turned out a lot longer than I expected at first, and I didn’t even begin to grasp the surface, but I AM SO FUCKING PASSIONATE ABOUT INDIA, I COULD TALK ABOUT THIS FOR YEARS.
And yes, there are photos, but I still have to sort through them and make a selection to upload here, so whenever they appear, if I manage not to procrastinate it, they will be tagged “India” and “My photographs”, so you’ll be able to find them there.
And woah, thank you for your question, darling, I LOVE TALKING ABOUT THIS, NOW I’M HAPPY FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK :D