There is happiness is all over the world. If you look for it.
Today I went back to the slum community that is newly developing a Manav Sadhna center. This community is so unfamiliar with volunteers and western looking people that you are treated like a celebrity when you walk by. Everyone wants to say hello. Everyone wants to shake your hands.
I went and sat in on the first young women's meeting in this slum. The girls are anywhere from 11 to 18. Some are married. Some are engaged (not by choice - these are arranged marriages). Some have children. None of them have enough of an education to find work. None of them have a skill set. They lack knowledge of the outside world. Manav Sadhna is trying to facilitate women's empowerment. They are trying to develop these young women's skill set so they can earn an income. They are trying to boost their self esteem.
These girls are happy. You can feel their joy in the room. They have nothing. They have no knowledge of a world outside of their slum and they smile. They laugh. They blush. They are so grateful to be inside this room right now. I'm so grateful to be in this room right now. India has something the rest of the world knows nothing of. India has something the rest of the world could use a dose of. India's happiness is so rich and sincere.
I introduced myself. In English of course. As I have done with every group or classroom I've walked in on. I told them my name was April. And why my name is April. The Gujarati people find my name hilarious. So it's a good ice breaker. I tell them I am from the United States and that I have been waiting my entire life to get to India. That I feel very fortunate to be here. That I think they are all an inspiration. I tell them that I think it is very important that they showed up today. And that it is very important that they continue to show up, and to empower one another. Sunil, who is he head of projects in this slum, translates for me. I'm unsure if what he translates is exactly what I say, but I believe they could sense my words through my voice and my energy.
There are too many experiences to keep up with. India is so full of life. The people are so welcoming. They are so welcoming it's exhausting. I've never said "hello" and "namaste" so many times in my life. I love it. Goodnight.