Tiana Chambers

Today was the last day at our ashrams. I, of course, was the first one to cry. I made it to about the third word when we were singing “everything” to our kids. I just broke down and started bawling. Looking at all their faces and thinking that this was the last time I would ever see them just set off the waterworks. Whenever I hear that song I will remember the time I spent with those kids, and how much they have changed my life.

After we sang to them we each said something to the group and had our translators express our thoughts to them in Hindi. Somehow I blubbered out through my sobs that I loved them and would never forget them. We gave them gifts and showed them the wall hanging we had made, and then it was time for final goodbyes.

A few touching moments that I will never forget during the goodbyes were:

A girl I had grown particularly attached to named Taniya came up. She was smiling and gave me a huge hug, then pulled back and began wiping tears off my face with her dirty hands.

The woman who ran the ashram came up to me and gave me a huge hug. I don’t think I’d ever even spoken to her before other than saying “Namaste” every day when we entered the ashram. She gave me the three tightest hugs of my life, pulled away, and then repeated this two more times with tears in her eyes. Another one of the women in charge came and slipped bangles on my wrists before pulling me into a hug. They were all telling me not to cry, while their own eyes were flooding with tears. It was interesting to me to see that these women, who we hadn’t really interacted a whole lot with, were sad to see us go, just from watching us in the ashram.

When I stepped outside the ashram I turned to give a few final hugs. One sobbing little girl grabbed on to me and wouldn’t let go. We cried together for a moment before finally letting go.

As we got into the car to drive away, I held up the “I love you” sign with my hand in the window. The little kids started running up and one by one holding up their “I love you” signs and matching them to mine. As we drove away I saw them all crying and waving to us from outside the ashram.

I’m still crying