While day two came early with the time change, day three came even earlier. To catch the 6am flight to Ahmedabad, we were up at 430 am and in a taxi by 445 am. The one hour flight was quick and easy.
We were treated at the airport by meeting our driver for the next three days. His taxi is decorated with love and good blessings. There is no price to pay at the end, only what you have in your heart. It took a couple of days for us to figure out how much to pay, enjoying all the laughing and driving we did with him.
Our first stop was the Gandhi Ashram. We walked the property early morning and saw first hand where Gandhi and his wife lived for 15 years (see above). The Ashram is located on the river, incredibly well kept by the Gandhi trust and many birds and dogs live on property. His personal room was modest with only a white pillow and pad, a table for writing and the spinning wheel for cotton that Gandhi invented. We were treated to a private tour of his living quarters and we even got to try the spinning wheel.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/pCtduuZfdjc” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
As we were leaving the Ashram there was a small dog curled up on in the dirt area. I asked our hosts if we could approach and pet the dog. They strongly discouraged us. Being pet lovers that Michelle and I are, we just softly said hello to the dog and that was all he needed. He jumped up and ran right over to me. He melted into my legs. As I began to pet him, we sang and talked. This was a loving sweet dog. I would take him home if allowed. We stayed for quite a while, because if we stopped petting him, he would talk louder and wag his tail harder, for he did not want us to leave.
We headed to the school in Ahmedabad that Morgridge Family Foundation had funded. I was excited to see the school and meet the children. Always blown away by the freeway system here, the constant honking and weaving driving seems to work for this country. Driving to the school, is like driving into the country. We experienced more animals and less people. More mopeds and bicycles and less cars. Quickly you could understand that the school is the center for the town. Our funds through YUVA Unstoppable provided clean water, a safe environment and now toilets, and privacy for the girls. We were greeted by the entire school. This was a Saturday and all the kids had been asked to come to school during a Diwali holiday – and they call came. We were all blessed with a red dot on our forehead. There were photographers, videographers, the school drums and hundreds of children waiting to meet us to thank us.
We got to see and feel the school’s transformation. We were greeted with more thank yous and blessings from the children. They made us woven necklaces, like the cotton at Gandhi’s Ashram, they made us handmade cards, they performed a dance for us and sang, and they were just wonderful kind children. Amitabh spoke to the kids in their native tongue and the kids were inspired. When the children got to ask me questions, the first young girl said why do you care about us? I responded, “that Amitabh shared the conditions of the school, and that the girls had no bathrooms. Many girls drop out of school every year because they cannot hold their pee all day. That is a tragedy, and I felt a calling to help. We invested in the kids and in Yuva Unstoppable as we believe in both programs. I told the girls they can grow up and go to college. Many had not heard that before, but they are hearing it now for the first time and I hope they start to understand they can be anything they want to be if they work hard and get a good education.”
They painted our logo on a couple of walls, and I can tell you how proud I am to be a partner with Yuva Unstoppable, they are changing lives, one school at a time. The ripple effect for the school has been noticeable. With the improvements that were done with MFF funds, clean water, private bathrooms for girls, updated bathrooms with washing sinks for the boys, and an overhang in the public space where the kids eat lunch and dance, the state immediately approved grant money for new flooring for the entire school. Then another donor to Unstoppable wanted to do something with us, so she funded pallets of shoes for the children, noticing on her site visit that none of the children had shoes. It took two hours after we left to get all the kids fitted properly, but they all left with a brand new pair of shoes to wear to school. The school had new paint, new bathrooms, new clean water area for washing and cooking, and a new outlook on life. When we left the principal cried. He said all these years he has tried to get local rich Indians to come to his school. Now four people from America fly halfway across the world to meet him, his kids and see his school first hand. This had moved him and he will be forever grateful.