Taking A Leap Of Faith

by | Mar 31, 2019

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.
– Margaret Shepard

Last month, we were at the Induction training of India Fellow and during the 20 days, five days were dedicated to Rural Immersion. A day before this module started, Anupama, the co-founder of the program and our co-ordinator, told me that your first visit to the village is always memorable. I looked at her confused as I had never been to a village before. As a part of an academic project, I have done a study about a village where we collected data related to the number of houses, services available nearby and predominant architectural features. But here, we were asked to visit the place and have fun with no agenda for the first day. This was completely new for me.

Clueless of how things will go and having a team of co-fellows with whom I had interacted the least, I began my day. We were the last ones to leave the campus and my first perception formed about my group was not great. Being in the role of a facilitator for the rest of day, it was my responsibility to coordinate better. We were already late and there was no intention to reach the village on time because the focus had shifted to hitchhiking and saving money. A part of me was getting anxious but at the same time, I wanted to trust them and for once, leave everything aside to just have fun.

Being a task oriented person it was difficult for me to not take things seriously. We walked several kilometres, ran behind trucks and lorries, asked for lift and tried to convince random people to drop us to the village. At the end, a mid-day meal driver going the same way, dropped us to the school in the village.

As I stepped in, little girls came running and touched my feet. This was their gesture to show respect to elders. I was shocked and overwhelmed at the same time. This was unusual yet big. The school teachers were extremely welcoming. They allowed us to interact with the students in 7th grade. They were all excited to see four of us. For about an hour, we managed to indulge the children in a few activities and tried to get a sneak peek of the state of education in the village. The rest of the day was spent roaming in the village, talking to people, sitting under a tree, relaxing, clicking pictures, walking on the farms and getting to know each other better.

All this while, I noticed that most of the local residents were hospitable and even interested in knowing what we were doing in their village. But some of them were reluctant to talk to us, which I later figured belonged to the lower caste. While spending time with them, I sensed a feeling of distrust in them for people who do not belong to their village.

After spending 3-4 hours there, we were hungry and hence, started looking for food options. There was no hotel or an eating joint as people prefer to eat at their homes. Tourists or other outsiders, usually did not come this way. Lata*, a kind lady offered us some food as she figured that we aren’t going to get anything else. Even the next day when we went back, she fed us with the authentic ‘Rajasthani’ food. Together, we helped her in making ‘Makki ki rotis’.

During a conversation, she got emotional while telling her story about how her young children in cities far away, don’t like to take her responsibility. She also talked about the lifestyle of people in the village. The love and affection we got from her was an overwhelming experience for me. Out of respect, I felt an urge to touch her feet and did that to take her blessings.

At that time, I was completely resonating with what Anupama had told me and was really joyful. The fear and apprehension that I might not be able to mingle with the community vanished completely. I was now more hopeful and confident of my decision to join the fellowship. For the first time, I had found myself free from making any perceptions or judgements about anyone and being okay with not having any sort of clarity about the task. Just like that, I learnt to make friends, trust people, share, be open and take a leap of faith.

*Name changed to protect identity

Cover Image: Snehanshu Shome, 2018 July cohort

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