It is hard to believe that just two weeks ago we arrived at CRHP, jet lagged and disoriented. I remember stepping off the bus wondering what I had gotten myself into. What our group did not know is that we would leave CRHP with great friendships and knowledge that we could apply to whatever we choose to do in life. CRHP is such an amazing organization. They have touched so many people’s lives by empowering women to bring about change in their individual villages, providing safe water and proper sanitation practices, bringing vital health care to over 300 villages in Maharashtra, as well as working with important social issues. Their comprehensive model has been implemented in several other countries, such as Venezuela, parts of China and Africa, and even places in the United States! One reason they have been so successful is because they have such dedicated staff who truly care about making a difference. Whether it was Shaila, our translator who stole our hearts, or Meena, the preschool teacher and our neighbor while we were at CRHP who has one of the biggest hearts that we have ever met, or even our night guards who sat outside of our room every night to ensure our safety and always would greet us as we passed; there was not a single person at CRHP that we had contact with that we did not form a special relationship with. Many of them gathered to send us on our way to Pune and a few tears were shed as we waved goodbye.
All 17 of us made our way to Pune in three jeeps. One jeep contained all of our luggage, some of which was strapped to the roof, the other two jeeps we rode in. We stopped at the “Smile Stone” rest stop, which was actually a very decent stop, and was very similar to interstate stops in the U.S. It had a restaurant, convenient store, and restrooms. To our surprise there were emus on our way to the restroom! There was also a beautiful garden in the center of all of the stores. Once we reached Pune we stopped for a nice lunch before we headed to our hotel. Lunch was at a very nice hotel, and the food was delicious. Soon after, we joined the Pericleans at the Samarat Hotel. Some of us spent the rest of the afternoon/evening relaxing while the rest of the group went shopping.
Our time at CRHP has been a truly amazing experience, and we were all sad to leave. I know I will apply what I have learned at this program to my life in South Carolina. As we left behind great memories at CRHP, we are excited to see the more urban cities of India, including the Taj Mahal.