Deseret News Article

Springville teens return from 'life-altering' 17-day humanitarian trip to India
By Lana Groves
Deseret News
Published: Monday, April 12, 2010 12:29 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The orphans clung to the arms and legs of the teenagers from Springville who had been volunteering in India for the past two and a half weeks

Liz Bird, a senior at Springville High, said when the teens started to drive off, the orphans ran after the sport utility vehicles, not wanting the 17 teenagers to go home.

"They kept saying goodbye and 'See you tomorrow,'" Bird said. "Once they realized we wouldn't be back, they started clinging to us."

After 17 days spent helping 200 orphans and poor children in the villages of Himachal Pradesh in India, the teenagers from Springville and Maple Mountain High schools reunited with their friends and family Sunday night at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Dressed in traditional Indian garb, the teens returned with life lessons, including that you eat whenever you get a chance, extra toilet paper is a gift to be cherished and two weeks is enough to make a difference.

The group members were excited to see their family and friends after more than two weeks away, but sad to leave the new friends they had made.

"They're a really loving people," said Springville High senior Tiana Chambers. "The orphans will just go up and grab your hand and give you a kiss on your cheek."

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Upon arriving in Delhi on March 27 after about 25 hours of flying, the teenagers were amazed by the differences they found being on the other side of the world.

"Only in India would you have to keep your arms inside the jeep because if you don't your arms will get hit by other cars," Lydia Scott wrote on the group's blog at www.ymad2009.blogspot.com/. "Only in India do boys hold boy's hands and girls hold girl's hands, but boys and girls never hold hands. Only in India am I having the time of my life."

The Springville teens met up with more than 100 teenagers from other parts of the world and 42 interns through the Youth Making a Difference program that empowers young people to become leaders and help those in need. The group helped provide medical assessments and delivered blankets, hats, gloves, vitamins, and medical and school supplies to about 200 orphans in India.

"I'm never going to be the same after (this experience)," Bird said to her family at the airport. "One of our main objectives was to fall in love with the kids. I kinda completed that within one minute."

During some free time, some of the group managed to go hiking in the Himalaya Mountains where they noticed the beauty on every corner, but were surprised at the amount of trash littering the ground.

"There's trash everywhere, no garbage cans," said Springville High senior David Lee Shaw. "It's amazing, people would throw their trash just off the cliff."

Mapleton High senior Trevor Swanson said even though he misses the children they taught, he's grateful to be home for a few reasons.

"It'll be nice to have your own bed and a toilet that flushes," he said, gratitude ringing in his voice. "It'll be nice to take a shower."