Veronika in India

To get to India we crossed the border of Nepal and got to the place called Gorakhpur. This was one of the worst experiences in my life. Rubbish, dirt, dust, excrements and unhealthy looking cows and dogs, trying to chew metal wire and plastic plates, were everywhere. The smell was unbearable. Every place you go to people are staring at you with their mouth open without any shame. We were confused and lost. Had to stay there for one night to catch the train to New Delhi the next evening. Only one hotel had a room for three people that was not occupied. It smelled like fungus, bed sheets were probably not washed since the opening of the place, rats and cockroaches left their footprints everywhere. I consider myself as quite strong person who can handle all types of conditions but bathroom in that place was truly terrible.

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After one day and one night spent in Gorakhpur we finally entered the train to New Delhi. Dark wagon with six beds on a right and two on a left side. Each of them full of people. When we found our seats, it appeared to be that they are occupied by other passengers who were claiming that they also have tickets for the same seats. So only after couple of minutes of intense discussion and several more people involved, we finally could lie down and have some rest.

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In Delhi we were hosted by a very welcoming Indian man. Showzub spoke fluent English, had running hot water, electricity in his house and a maiden who was cooking for us almost every day. It was much, much better then everything we were expecting and it felt like a gift from the universe after all that we experienced before in the train and Gorakhpur.

In Delhi we visited fascinating temples and massive monuments of architecture, talked to people of different religions as well as tried all sorts of local food.

After entering New Delhi we also visited the headquarters of Humana People to People where we met several people. Matus was one of them. He is responsible for DIs who are coming for the projects in India. He is such a warm person. He helped Sona and Oskars with their documents, told us about good places to visit, showed us some local sweets and fruit. He was looking after us so well that we felt really welcomed.
We stayed in Delhi a bit longer then were planning because of the visa that I was making in an embassy of Malawi. But after all the official duties were done we could continue our journey.

Our next destination was Jaipur. We were staying in a guest house of Humana People to People that is located not far from the city in a place called Jagatpura. There were several local teachers who were living with us during those days.

There are two Academies for Working Children located in Jaipur. During the first day we visited AWC Jagatpura. It was very colourful, clean and nice school. Students were so curious since we entered however all of them behaved very well and left such a good impression on us.

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In the evening the same day 55 children and 8 teachers from both schools were going to a two-day trip to Agra. This trip was organized with the help of DIs from our school and Alina’s team was the one that fundraised the money to make this event happen. For most of the kids this trip was the biggest in their lives as they had never left Jaipur. They felt really excited and happy about it. I really wanted to join them for this trip and share this experience and after talking to some of the teachers, it became possible.
At 8 in the evening all the people gathered together next to one of the schools and around 9 we were inside the bus going to direction of Agra.

The atmosphere in the bus was so surprising for me as all the teachers and many students were dancing, jumping, singing and laughing all together. It seemed like everyone felt so free, happy and united. Amazing. It went like this for several hours until we reached the hotel where we could stay over the night.

In the morning everyone was getting ready and I could see that teachers and students are putting their best dresses to look good for such a special event.

Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri were so impressive. The places truly beautiful and inspiring. I am so thankful I could visit Agra together with all those children and the teachers. Everyone was very friendly and carrying. There were always people around me concerned about my well-being and comfort.
After the trip I made an interview with the teachers and several children. I was asking questions about their impressions, difficulties that they came across and about the things that could be improved, about the things they learned during this trip.

We spent one more day in Jaipur together with Sona and Oskars wondering around the Pink City and the Amber Fort. Incredible ancient places that left a lot of impressions.

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After Jaipur me and Sona went to Vrindavan, the city of 5 thousand temples located not far from Mathura, the place where Lord Krishna was born. We were staying in a place called Vrinda Kunj which means The Forest of Vrindavan. Vrinda Kunj is a spiritual place, there is a Krishna temple, a beautiful garden with sacred plants and flowers and a guest house where we were living for more than a week. To stay here we needed two pay contribution fee of 10 dollars per week. For this money we were getting delicious vegetarian meals, hot shower and a nice room to stay.
Vrinda Kunj ashram was started by a spiritual guide, Swami Paramadvaiti, who has founded many eco community ashrams, especially in South America. Vrinda Kunj has a lot of environmental and educational projects around Vrindavan and every day we could contribute to the projects by several hours of work. During this week we went to the local rural school, were cleaning gardens of ancient temples from rubbish as well as participated in sacred river’s Yamuna cleaning accompanied by a street action that was aiming to raise the awareness of people about the danger of plastic and importance of protecting environment. We were also asked to make one lesson to the community of Vrinda Kunj. We gathered all the people who were interested on the roof of our guest house, told them about our countries and our school and after were showing how to make beautiful lotus flowers from paper napkins that you can use for decorations and big soap bubbles that you can entertain children with. It went very well and left a lot of positive emotions.

Vrinda Kunj has a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, people are friendly and always smiling. It was so incredible to be in such place for over a week. It was a bit sad to leave after making new friends and getting used to the place but our journey is not finished yet and who knows how many new exciting things are waiting for us on a way…

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