Currently: Trying my darndest not to think about the fact that I only have a week left so I keep enjoying every moment!
It was blue! Recap: pink city (Jaipur), golden city (Jaisalmer), and now the blue city (Jodhpur). They really like their J-names here in Rajasthan don’t they? Jodhpur is another desert city along our path towards Mumbai. It’s been listed as one of Lonely Planet’s most extraordinary places to stay, so it was another worthy stop on the itinerary.
Rewind 110km. We took a little detour to the small desert village of Setrawa. This region is remote and home to a women’s empowerment center called the Sambhali Trust. Founded in 2007, this nonprofit operates sixteen projects around Rajasthan to disrupt the cycle of poverty so often seen in rural areas within India through education and skills trainings. They fight against inane belief systems, like ones that argue domestic violence against women is justified for things like “poor cooking” and “leaving the house without permission.” If you can believe it, 55% of Indian men and 50% of Indian women stand by that previous statement. From after school programs to sewing training to language courses to self defense classes, it combats discrimination of caste, gender, and economy. We arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon and were warmly welcomed by three teachers and a roomful of children aged 4-16.
A short introduction and tour later, we spent some time just hanging out and getting to know the vibrant personalities within this little haven. Under the shade of an old tree, we sat in a huge circle playing duck duck goose. Giggles and laughter replaced words and sentences. It’s wonderful how something as simple as a smile or music or games can be so universal! After a delicious homemade lunch, we had a little henna party. Henna is another skill taught here that girls can use to earn a little extra income, so we happily offered our hands as blank canvases!
While they were chattering in Hindi, we couldn’t understand much but still caught on to the authenticity of the relationships. Their friendship is one of family. You could see it in teasing comments and lighthearted laughter. It was a wonderful few hours and I’m so happy that this organization exists to provide the space and time to flourish children and women into their full potential.