I had high hopes for our second day in the village, and all I can say is that this trip has surpassed every expectation I held over the course of this summer. All of the hard work and our perpetual grind for the sake of philanthropy has finally begun to pay off, and I couldn’t be more proud of this organization.
We started the day off quite early due to jet lag and continued to refine our initiatives game plan, preparing and re-preparing all of our research and mission materiel for our entrance into the village of Naga Valadia. Our research surveys took the utmost priority, as it was imperative that we finished them in order to effectively conduct the pilot study for the efficacy of our literacy initiative. It took more than a few hours to finalize all the paperwork (in particular, translating the surveys into both Gujarati and Hindi) and to debrief every single member of the mission squad on procedural policy, but we were immensely satisfied with the results.
Following a quick breakfast filled with Indian staples native to the region (puris, paranthas, and masala omelettes), we finished our preparations and went on our way to touch base in the village. We arrived shortly before noon and immediately began our research, splitting into three autonomous teams with at least one Gujarati speaker in each. To be honest, I had faced the prospect of meeting the villagers with a slight amount of trepidation, as it was my first trip to the operational home field and we had no idea how we would be received.
In all honesty, I needn’t have worried at all. The villagers were incredibly cordial, and due to our constant presence maintained in the village via our RISHI liaisons, many of them remembered both us and our work from the last two initiative trips. Indeed, upon conducting a few hours or rudimentary research, we found that many of the villagers (elderly though they were) were highly interested in becoming literate – an incredibly fortuitous start to our mission. We duly selected a few for our pilot study and proceeded to establish the groundwork for both our tobacco and our literacy projects.
Yet the best part of our day was seeing the sheer excitement on the faces of the children who thronged around us, so impressed were they with our presence and the entrance of foreigners into the village. In fact, we were compelled to distract them so as to be continue unobstructed with our work!
This first day in the village has been eye-opening, to say the least. To see the foundation laid for our grassroots projects is a satisfying feeling that cannot be replicated, and I look forward (more than ever) to the work we have cut out for us in the days ahead.