Each time I look at photos or reminisce on my trip to India, I am reminded of how Great God is. Firstly, for allowing me the opportunity to explore another country, and secondly for all that I gained from the experience because it set me on a trajectory to getting closer to what I feel is my purpose. Whilst on my trip I journaled every night (most nights I was very tired from a long day of activities but nevertheless, I made the effort to write even a few things down) and this enabled me to remember all my feelings, observations, and particular instances that stood out to me daily. I am so excited to share some of them with you!
The aim of this service trip was to continue the initiative, started by the International Business Honor Society at FIU, by helping to economically empower women from a village named Bandhwari on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Along with the product development work with the women, our group was able to volunteer by teaching and doing activities with the children from the local school. I had the opportunity to work with a few of the girls enrolled in the Open University. These girls are so intelligent and had the desire to improve their English- so that is what we did for the time we were together. Along with trying to expand their vocabulary, I thought to myself that if I shared some life lessons with them, things that could inspire them and help them one day reach their goals and dreams, then I would have made a lasting impact. So I did just that, and the more I got to know them and showed them how much I cared to see them succeed, the more they opened up. I have always been passionate about the empowerment of women and girls, and this trip confirmed that I am the most fulfilled and happy when I am in one way or another working with or working to empower women. At the end of the 5 days we spent in the village, the girls gave me a special hand made Indian garment as a sign of gratitude for the time I had spent with them. This really touched my heart, and little do they know how much the time spent with them poured into me. It is awesome that these girls are getting an education and are hungry to learn, even despite cultural restrictions and economic hardships. Just think about how many women and girls around the world are sitting on untapped potential, waiting to be released, to be utilized, to be recognized... but can't.
Apart from working in the village, we visited some of India's famous tourist attractions which included The Taj Mahal (which is absolutely beautiful! Pictures do not capture the true essence of its beauty) Qutb Minar, Humayun's Tomb, Amber Fort in Jaipur and a few mosques. These handmade historical sights reveled in beauty; each of them unique and artistic in their own way. However, the activity that stood out to me the most and did not involve seeing the beauty of India, but rather the realness of India, was the Salaam Balaak Trust walking tour. The walking tour of Delhi was guided by previously homeless children, and they showed us what India was like through their eyes. Thousands of children in India get lost or run away from home every year, and as a result are left homeless to fend for themselves on the street. These children are now susceptible to drugs, prostitution, crime and the likes. The Trust takes children off the streets and onto the road to a better life through these guided tours. It hurt my heart to see the way these children lived, and seeing the world through their eyes made me reflect on my life and how much I have. The walk definitely changed my perspective on life and it was the highlight of the entire trip. It was as if I was seeing the movie Lion or Slum Dog Millionaire in front of my very eyes. We were exposed to conditions that the average person could not even imagine living in- but these street kids do. My hope is that as society, we never get so caught up with our daily lives that we neglect to see how many people in the world are in need, or even how blessed we are with what we have.
Overall, this was to date the best trip I have been on. India is so rich in culture and tradition, and the food was Sooo Delicious! I would love to do more service trips like this to various other countries. On the flight back to Miami all I could think about was how fulfilling this experience was. That I could have made even the slightest impact on someone else's life, and to be able to expand my views and perspectives on life, is invaluable.
If you have any specific questions about my trip, feel free to drop me a comment!