Friday, February 3, 2012

Tuesday December 27th, 2011

So you know that feeling…the one of being somewhere you have never been before.  Somewhere that should be completely unfamiliar.  Somewhere that should challenge your regular way of life. 

The scenery, weather, culture and language are all new.

And yet…you feel right at home.

This is what Chevuru village felt like.  From the moment we first stepped out of the car on the first day, I had a feeling that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Our small group of four volunteers fell into a loose routine:

The day began with breakfast at our hotel in Gudivada.  Traditional Indian breakfast (or peanut butter bread and granola bars for those with stomachs refusing to cooperate with curry) was delicious.  This was my favorite breakfast:

After breakfast, we embarked on our half hour drive to Chevuru.  This drive was one of my favorite parts of the day.  Gawking out the window at the unfamiliar, asking Ravi question after question, listening to the same CD of current Bollywood hits…it never got old. (Find out more about these two movies: Bodyguard and Business Man.)

When we arrived in Chevuru, the children immediately sensed our presence and hunted us down.  Many of the children were fortunately on Christmas vacation from school.  

After arriving, we were treated to a cup of chai made from the milk of a water buffalo.  Mmmm.  I miss that chai. 

And then, the work would begin:

Building walls, mixing cement, passing concrete, passing bricks, returning concrete trays.  Back and forth.  Back and forth. Much more on this later.

Then one of the best times of the day: lunch time.

After lunch, we would either work more, play with the children or visit the homes of villagers.  All of these tasks-we were repeatedly assured by Ravi-were equally important. 

Visiting the homes of villagers was impossible to avoid.  This is because the children would drag you there whether you wanted to go or not.  The opportunity to serve and give hospitality to people who will accept it gratefully is not something these people get to do very often.

As volunteers who traveled to Chevuru to help and give to those in need, learning to accept the hospitality without guilt was our own personal challenge.  How could we accept these gifts knowing full well that those giving have next to nothing?  

We had countless discussions among us four volunteers regarding this matter.  Ravi helped us by giving us the view of the people: joy at being able to give a stranger hospitality that would not be met with scorn.

For myself, it was an incredible feeling that doing something as simple as accepting a delicious cup of tea could be so meaningful to someone.

Sometimes the smallest gestures can truly carry the most meaning.

This gracious woman took us to her home and offered us coconut water. 
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