Now accepting applications for the Fall 2022 teen expedition. Applications are due March 6, 2022.

It’s a Big Ol Land Full of Countless Dreams: By Braden Hudspeth

November 26, 2018 - 2018 Operation: Azadi

It’s a Big Ol Land Full of Countless Dreams


Happiness ain’t out of reach. Especially here. I’ve had the best times of my life here, and learned the most valuable lessons. I can’t even express the love I have for this experience. All I can say is that it is 100 percent worth doing a third time.


A year ago I was here in Chamba confused as to what I had gotten myself into. Today I’m here in Chamba once again, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. I had some doubts when I was preparing for this expedition. The second time is quite a different experience, some things are so much harder, and it’s hard to see the outcome of all your work. The experiences Ive had here are like none other that I’ve had. Some experiences are life changing and I feel like I’ve been on both sides of those experiences. Saturday we went around to all four schools for the cultural exchange and that’s one of the greatest experiences you could have. I had the special opportunity to return to Kakiyan, which was my school last year. A moment I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, and it was all that I had hoped for and more. I ran up the road as far as I could and eventually found myself walking up to a school that seemed to be yelling Braden, Braden, Braden! All week I had hoped that the kids would remember me, and I had a small sense of fear that maybe they wouldn’t. Boy was I wrong. It’s mesmerizing to me that a year later those kids remembered me so well. I mean, I only spent 7 days with them, and they treat me like I’m a big deal. I think that is a major nod to what YMAD is all about. For me, it’s been such a sense of fulfillment while I have been here especially at my old school.


Nell gave us a quote about freedom and I’ve been thinking about the word freedom ever since. Our operation name, Azadi, means freedom in Hindi, something that I didn’t have much of an opinion on originally. After the experiences I’ve had, I feel like freedom is a whole new thing. Perhaps it’s not screwing around in my Jeep, or riding bikes whenever I like. I think the purest form of freedom is the freedom of thinking. As I looked at those kids on top of the school yelling my name, I thought to myself the possibilities that are out in the world for them. India is the home to creativity in my mind. Things here are so much different than what I have at home, and that’s brought out a whole different side of me. I wish everyone could have these experiences, but most importantly I hope the kids I’ve interacted with have seen a brighter outcome for themselves as I have through their love. The kids at Dulla and Kakiyan have forever changed me. I’ve never felt more free than I do today. 


Operation Azadi has been one of the greatest things I’ve been apart of. Everyone is so supportive of each other and so aware of what they are doing. The Green Team #greenmachines is basically the dream team. I’m so grateful for everyone on my team and for the effort they put in for each other and the kids. It all creates such a magical experience, one that I could never imagine. Nell said that I didn’t know crap, and that couldn’t be more true. Everything from the drive to school to nights around the fire, I’ve learned so many new things. It has been the best time of my life!


India is a majestic place. Everything here is weird in comparison to my world. People are small, roads are small, hills are huge, and love is not restrained. The people terrace mountains as far as the eye can see, and paint their homes the most vibrant colors. Something just feels better here. The landscape is that of your best dreams, farther than your mind can wonder. The people make the culture even better. Something I didn’t notice until recently is that Chamba is actually a small town and everyone knows each other. Our driver stops almost everyday to shake hands with a bus driver and say Hi according to our translator. The culture is so focused on community, and it’s great to be in this awesome land.


The YMAD girls are something special and I am super grateful that I have had the opportunity to know them. It’s rare to find the kind of love that Brooke has for them and it’s super fun to watch. I’ve had so much fun playing games and learning to love like they do. Today was our goodbye to the girls and it feels a bit weird we won’t see them again. At least this trip.


Something I focused on today was people. I noticed a lot of people just sitting, or looking. Something I personally don’t do a lot of. I always seem to get caught up in what I have to do, and don’t make time for what I need to do. When I get home I am going to try my best to do some more looking, because there is something out there that needs to be taken in. I don’t what to be the person that just goes through the motion but lives a life that I can be proud of. I am so thankful for what this place has done for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes.


Live, Love, Give



Leave a Comment

Say Hello

Questions? Want to help us? Drop us an email!