In a small village of Southern India, there are smiles of all shapes and sizes with a never-ending supply of curry, roti, and naan. Volunteering abroad took me on a journey 15 hours east of San Francisco to a small village called Kolluru. The dirt roads are bustling with life including cows who roam free from shop to shop.
I was fortunate enough to spend eight days in the beautiful rural villages of this region, a place so remote you can barely find it on a map. Serious! Try and find Kolluru, India in GoogleMaps.
I volunteer for a start-up nonprofit called FOREFRONT, whose mission is to bring sustainable change to communities around the world.
This is my India Story:
We spent day one at the groundbreaking of our school. Upon exiting the car I was immediately greeted by children, all whom knew two words of English. At first I was taken aback and wondering where their parents were. Finally I realized that I already met these kids through photos from previous trips. I spent two years writing stories about these kids. They were the orphans whose stories I told.
Words cannot express the amount of joy I had interacting with these little girls and boys. Seeing their faces, teaching them things about my world, and them teaching me things about theirs. The language barrier was high but there’s something universal about a smile or in this case a tongue.
We spent day two at the opening of our water well about an hour south from the site of our school. We were greeted with flower petals, music, and a Hindu blessing.
It was beautiful.
A little background on this village, recently they experienced a fire that burned down 80% of their homes. You wouldn’t know that based on their smiles. The hardship they experienced seemed irrelevant to them. They had their families that was all that was important in their eyes.
It was a great honor to join local women in their homes, they showed us how to cook traditional Indian meals. We watch these five women crowd around a fire pit, smoke in their faces, and burning eyes to cook us a delicious rice and curried meal from scratch. And yeah…it was bomb.
The villagers gave us a traditional henna. In this community the more red your henna becomes the nicer your husband will be. Y’all know I let that henna sit on my hands for eight hours right?
We did crafts and a skit with the kids. In addition, we introduced them to hand-washing, taught them the importance of washing after using the restroom and before eating food.
The trip was life changing with the best parts being the small moments with people. Making kids smile, realizing the impact I’m making a world away, receiving a Hindu blessing, watching beautiful young bhangra dancers, and laughing with friends over a traditional Indian meal. These were the moments that made this trip one for the memory books.
If you want to learn more about FOREFRONT and the work that we’re doing in India click here.