by Rahul Masson
Day 1 starts off early, with jetlag, but full of excitement as we are about to go into the village and reconnect with the villagers for the first time in a year. Sahit is readily anticipating seeing the village for the first time and being able to recognize the people, famous landmarks, and land from all the video footage and documentation from last trips.
As we enter the village, the first thing we do is meet our main village contact, Leelu Ben, whom we have been kept in contact with throughout the past year for updates about how our previous initiatives were holding up. She was quite friendly and happy to see us again and took us for a walk around the village. Leelu Ben also informed us that the location we had previously planned on using for the dental camp was no longer available, thus we had to switch to the village library instead. Every trip always has twists, turns, and unexpected adaptations, but this keeps us on our toes to make sure that our initiatives are sustainable and able to work through different situations and circumstances.
Along our short tour, we met several villagers, who were excited to see us; several even remembered us from last year! The tour helped us get reorientated with the village, and Sahit, who had never been before, got to see a beautiful lake and river behind the village. After returning to the village, we met with Geeta who had previously helped us distribute tobacco alternatives for our tobacco initiative to update her on the new additions to the initiative.
After making our presence known, we spent the afternoon visiting historical landmarks near the village. The Bhadreshwar Temple, a 2600 year old temple of historical importance for the Jain religion, was especially fascinating to visit. While we were there, a bird pooped on Avi! I told her it was good luck, as if the gods were blessing us for visiting the temple. Later we visited a nearby Shiva temple that the villagers would often visit. Visiting local landmarks helps us connect with the villagers since it shows that we are interested in their locale and what their life is like.