First impressions: Week One in India

by Tabitha Kidwell

I can’t believe I have already been in India a week! Whenever I go to a new place, I feel like time is simultaneously slipping away and lasting forever. The days are so full of new experiences and surprises that they fly by while seeming longer than normal. In the same vein, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot but haven’t done much of anything. Everything I’ve done is small but very important: meeting people, getting cell phone service, figuring out how to bargain with a rickshaw, learning to say “what’s your name?” in Marathi. If I do one or two things a day, I’m making important progress towards living comfortably here for a few months, but it feels like I’m not making any progress at all.

In any case, it has been a great first week! It helped that I had good guides as I began to explore. There are 11 other international volunteers staying at the Deep Griha house at the moment – from Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, France, and Poland! Some of them have been here as long as two months, and some will be here the remainder of the time I’ll stay, so they are a ready-made community of really lovely people. As often happens in intense experiences, I feel like I’ve known them much longer than one week!

Besides the other volunteers, Deep Griha as an organization has provided a great community. Within the first two days I was here, I had already sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” at a pre-school, gotten a dance lesson at an after-school program, and drank tea with aunties in an urban slum. I’ve been amazed at all the good work that Deep Griha is doing. The organization was founded in 1975 by Dr. Neela Onawale and her husband, Rev. Bhaskar Onawale, as a medical clinic. Dr. Neela saw that many of the patients were suffering because of malnutrition or misinformation, so the clinic expanded to offer nutrition and health education services. Many of the mothers that came in wanted to work but had nowhere for their children to go, so they opened a nursery. Some women who wanted to work had few skills, so Deep Griha began to sponsor women’s empowerment groups. As needs in the community came up, the organization did what it could to help, and Deep Griha is now amazingly multi-faceted, with projects addressing women’s empowerment, child development, healthcare, education, AIDS awareness and prevention, and family welfare. They are making people’s lives better, little by little, step by step, year after year. I learned about Deep Griha through my church’s ongoing partnership with them, and I am thrilled to be able to report that our sponsorship is helping accomplish amazing things. My heart is full of happiness at the moment, and I think this cheesy housing complex billboard explains why:

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I really feel that I am just where I need to be at the moment. So many factors have played a part in my being here: First Community Church’s involvement and the grant they gave me to come; my experience with teacher development in Indonesia; the fact that I have a free year before starting grad school. I feel like the fact that I am able to be here at this moment in time is a small and magical miracle. Still, it is tiny compared to the miracles that Deep Griha is performing everyday. I feel honored to just be a part of it all, doing whatever I can do to help, little by little, day by day. Hopefully, after ten weeks, that will amount to something very meaningful!

**Want to help, too? Consider donating to Deep Griha here: http://deepgriha.org/index.php/get-involved/donate/online-giving-centre I know of few organizations that will use your donation more meaningfully!**

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One Comment to “First impressions: Week One in India”

  1. Glad to hear the first week of living in India is going so well, Tabitha!

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