One Big, Happy Family - Maggie LaStayo

Maggie Photo #2 Well the Mountain Girls are officially done and are currently on their way back to Tesla.  After some very interesting and new experiences, whether good or bad, it was a week unforgettable to us all.  Knowing the amount of changes and shock that they encountered simply to just come and learn English is astonishing to me.  They became sick and weak; anxiety seemed to be getting the best of them, yet they never showed any signs that they were unhappy.  It became aware extremely quickly that nothing was going to stop their determination and pure happiness when they were with us for those eight hours each day.

As expected, I had a few girls that really reminded me of why I love India and why I continuously come back.  There was a girl named Babli, twenty-one years old, and an absolute genius.  From day one she was the jokester of the group and wasn’t nearly as shy as the rest of the girls.  She has a unibrow that will just melt your heart, and the sweetest pair of glasses with a giant crack right on the front.  Even when I would find myself distracted and not focusing as much as I should have, she would continue to work and write complete paragraphs and stories and all I would need to correct would be simple grammar.  I know that no matter where she is, no matter how small the town is, she will become that Police Woman she dreams to be and nothing is going to stop her. We spent a lot of time together over our short time with the girls, and I knew saying goodbye would be just as tough as it always is.  She was aware the entire day of what was going to happen; we would be saying our final goodbye and most likely never see each other again.  We spent some time trying to come up with some ways to stay in contact, but realizing the reality of the situation Babli told me “if it is meant to be, we will see one another again”.  And I completely agree, but regardless of the outcome, we will be best friends and nothing is going to change that.

I gained a few bracelets, some cute photos, lots of good laughs, some scares and proud moments, but most of all I am leaving with something that beats everything materialistic, 23 new sisters, and memories to last a lifetime.

Watching our team tear up and say our goodbyes, I finally understood what James has always felt when we come to the end of our trip.  Having the opportunity to be a leader and watch our team grow and bond, I have never felt as happy as I did watching everyone understand what YMAD is all about.  Those bonds will stick with us all for life, and an experience like this is there is nothing that can change the memories we have all created here.  The Mountain Girls were nothing but amazing, and I wish them all the best in their lives.  I am so thankful for everyone who has been a part of this expedition, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Operation Hanuman was a success, and I can’t wait to travel the next few days with some pretty incredible people.