Mark Macey-for his Mom

I am a stranger in a strange land. India finally exists for me in such a completely tangible way. The affect of finally realizing where I was and that these people, this place, and this poverty actually exist is mind blowing. The first big surprise was the smell when we arrived at Delhi. Everyone who had gone to India previous to me said that the smell of the entire country couldn’t be described. They lied. It smells like burning tires and cinnamon.

The drive to Nishtha was awesome, and when I say awesome, I mean awesome, and I don’t mean really, really good or the kind of awesome you think a nice car is. I mean awe. Complete and terrible awe serves the poverty I saw justice, nothing else. I prayed, hoped, begged that there would be nothing worse than seeing a young mother and her two children picking through trash, dwellings that most friends and family I have wouldn’t dare step into, or a little girl pushing a rickshaw down an infinite amount of road with not another person in sight. But, it did get worse.

Today, we walked through our villages. We were followed like stars. The people were generous, and we were invited into many homes. I gazed on endless rows of run down huts. I realized how raw life is, what an ugly thing poverty is. I glanced and dared not stare at a shriveled, emaciated woman who gave me the warmest and most vital smile I’ve yet to receive.

Despite all this, I feel satisfied, more so than I’ve ever been. The children I’m working with never cease to inspire and make me jubilant. My friends here and the leaders of YMAD and Nishtha grow closer to me every second I spend with them. I’m trying hard not to crush on any of the girls, but to the fathers, no promises. I think I’m growing accustom to the smells around here. I think I’ll miss them when I leave even the tires and cinnamon.