As I sit back in our London office looking across at my smartly dressed colleagues busily preparing PowerPoint presentations for client meetings and conferring in hushed tones about “deals” and “deliverables” on important conference calls, I can’t help feeling that my mind-broadening, eye-opening, life-changing experience in India is something I should be sharing through more than just a blog. I wonder do people realise what an amazing country is lying just a flight away from here?!
India startled me in so many ways with its vibrancy and intensity, the constant thrum of life going on down in the streets and up in the offices of the cities, the assualt of colours and smells as you turn each street corner dodging the roaming cows and begging children, and both the cramped and dingy and then wide open spaces filled with temples, industrious stall holders peddling everything from sugar cane juice pressed through enormous grinding machines, to live chickens, padlocks, and all manner of souvenirs, and all against the backdrop of architecturally beautiful crumbling stone monuments.
Looking back at my travel journal is the only way I can really believe those first feelings I had of apprehension, being in a country I knew so little about and my slow piecing together of what I’d learnt about India through the Naandi Foundation and the reality that faced me on arriving one night into the sticky heat of bustling Mumbai in late October.
One of the biggest highlights of my trip (it’s impossible to pick just one), has been meeting the Naandi support workers, community activists, travelling field workers, and academic tutors in different parts of the country and working under different and challenging conditions. It has been truly humbling to see the quite selfless investment these highly qualified educationalists are giving to change the course of so many young girls lives, and in reality the future of India. I’ve seen at first hand how Project Nanhi Kali is about empowerment and setting up the future parent generation of the country to act responsibly towards the schooling of their own children. I remember asking one of the field workers, all bandaged up after having fallen off his motorbike for the second time that month as he was bouncing down a pot-holed filled road on the way to visit an Academic Support Centre, what the best thing about his job was. “Having spent weeks negotiating with her parents for her to go back to school and then finally seeing her sitting here in the classroom with a smile on her face, I know that I am making a difference to her life. That is a great feeling!”.
Well the least I can do is my part in sponsoring that girl or another like her, and giving a young girl the best chance of a bright future.