After waking up at 4 a.m. this morning hearing Hindu chanting and singing, blasting throughout the city, I had a while to think about what this trip really meant to me. A week before I left I was asked how actually going to India would be any better than just gathering the supplies and sending them out there. This really bothered me because although I know this is an amazing experience for me, does it really have a long lasting influence on the kids? Before we got to Shillai I asked a lot of adult leaders and other kids what they thought, but I was still uncertain. After we left the schools on Monday, there was no doubt in my mind that we changed their lives forever.
Not only did they learn a lot but we gave them T-shirts, candy, cricket bats, school supplies, hats, socks, blankets, shoes, pants, shirts, and sweaters. However, we gave those kids much more than those material possessions. Our most important gifts to the children cannot simply be distributed in supply packages. The gifts that YMAD gives to children are personal and complex, yet the results are far-reaching. Without YMAD, those children are nothing more than a statistic, and they cannot reach their full potential. They cannot understand that there is another world out there. They cannot be given the foundation, confidence, or hope. And they most definitely cannot be known as individuals that were determined to escape poverty. And that is why YMAD is so amazing. We change the world, one smile at a time.