Recently we (editors of ZD) were privileged enough to travel with Me to We to Delhi and Rajasthan, India. We spent the beginning of the trip 2 hours from Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan, in a village called Barind. We stayed in beautiful and spacious tents in the Caldwell Leadership Centre. We had a view of a small lake with luscious greenery and daily visits from lizards, monkeys, and colourful birds. The mission of the trip was to help build a kitchen for a local primary school that Me to We had built. We were there for nine days, and we were in the community each day. I experienced so many beautiful and unique sights and feelings while I was there, so I will highlight just a few.
We got to do a “Day In The Life” with a local woman. She was a beneficiary of Me to We, mom of two kids, and lived 300 meters from our build site. She was so gracious and humbled to have us in our home. All 25 of us circled around her house, about the size of a typical Canadian’s bedroom. It was on the second story of a townhouse shaped building, and had a view of all the other second story homes in the village. It was dark with few windows and the fireplace lit the room. The first question she asked us was “which of you are married?” Most of us were 15 or 16 years old. She was shocked when our facilitator and translator, Rhana, replied “Nobody is.” She then told us about her daily life, how she fetches water twice in the morning, and twice at night. They don’t have running water nor a toilet, so she goes to the mountain when she needs to go to the bathroom. She got married very young, moved in with her mother and father in-law, and had kids shortly thereafter. She explained that she is happy because she has her kids, and she even saved up to buy them a television, as they would stay up late at their friends house watching TV.
Another highlight of the trip was just being on the build site with the local schoolchildren. A lot of them wore the same clothes everyday, with rips and dirt, yet were the most cheerful people I had ever met. Some appeared as young as 5, while others appeared to be 7 or 8. Two of my favourite girls were named Khilasse and Lolita. They were shy when we first met them, but they quickly warmed up to us. Every morning I saw them, my smile was so large it hurt my face, but at the same time, I would get teary-eyed knowing these girls don’t have the same basic opportunities that I do, and likely will not be able to reach their full potential. At the same time, my heart warmed knowing that they were grateful for everything they had, including each other.
Rajasthan and Delhi were such magical places, and I am counting down the days until I can return. The people were welcoming and so excited that we got to experience their beautiful and unique culture. The spices lived up to all of the hype that I had always heard, I was overwhelmed by colours and sights, but I’d say the biggest sensory experience for me was the beauty of the people that lived there.