“Just a Little Honk and Your Golden”

Another favorite quote from my group that describes the technique used by local drivers for maneuvering blind hairpin turns on narrow mountain roads…

We spent our last night in Chamba and are headed for the station to catch a night train to Delhi. So many images, smells, tastes to try to commit to memory. Above all of the foreign, exotic and new sights, there are two memories that I want to keep crystal clear: One is of the children at Kalsui. Seeing their happy faces with big brown eyes full of love. Feeling little hands braid hair and tuck themselves into mine. Hearing my name “Zenny!!” shouted in excited voices, Malka, Buhmica, Sangira, Shalu…These kids are so open and joyful. The simple things bring a genuine smile to their faces. I want to remember to be more like this when I am home.

The other memory is of last Sunday afternoon with my group. While all of the other YMAD groups painted a mural at the NHPC, ours had some unfinished business to tend to. The interior walls of the one room school where we had been working with the Kalsui students during the week were in serious need of paint. The blue walls were flaking and faded. They absorbed the light from two bare bulbs creating a dark and dingy atmosphere. Matt T came up with the idea to paint the walls a cheerful yellow to brighten it up and make it look cared for. Greg was skeptical and wondered if it could be finished in time. Greg asked us to create a plan that would show him how such a large undertaking could be completed within this limited timeframe. Matt’s passion and enthusiasm were contagious. Our entire group became committed to this. They convinced Greg that it could be done if we all worked during our day off. With Erika’s help, Matt, Caleb, Andrea, Zippy, Chloe, Zach and I were able to finish the walls with two coats of fresh paint, sweep the floor, and organize the shelves. It looked great!

The next day, we were greeted by happy kids and appreciative teachers who were enjoying their clean bright cheerful classroom. The finishing touch was applied when we hung educational posters that Matt had bought in Chamba Town. What a great team! I’m glad that I had the opportunity to work with such a positive group of kids! They did a great job and were always a pleasure to be with.

Caleb with his easy, casual personality offered help often without ever being asked; Zach with his easy smile and eagerness to jump in and do the heavy lifting as well as offering comic relief; Andrea with her desire to work hard and tirelessly without complaints; Chloe who gives 100% effort to any undertaking; Zippy who offers ideas and solutions and happily supports others when they choose to go in another direction; Matt who remembered EVERY DAY to load the bags on the car, unload them, and carry anything weighing over 100 lbs for anyone without ever being asked… I’m happy to report that these kids respected one another and got along wonderfully despite being together for hours each day! I love the kids on my team! Big shout out to Megan and Greg for being the unbelievable dynamic duo who tirelessly made this expedition an extraordinary life memory for so many people!