More than just a smile


The sun was starting to set, the weather was changing from hot to a slight breeze of cool air flowing over the hills north from the river. I was walking as usual absorbing the environment around me when I came to about 10 meters from two older looking women perched on small stools selling their products out of giant woven baskets.  I instantly smiled as I thought to myself wow look at their faces. What history, and past experiences they must have witnesses and here they are today. I new it would be a great frame to capture for a photograph, but it became more than just a photograph, I felt connected to talk to them.


I just loved this little moment in time.

As I walked closer I fell in love with their skin and their faces. Not the lust kind of love but the love for humanity and the will to survive. These women regardless of who they are or where they were from had energy that connected to mine. I took this picture but then stopped snapping and just smiled and walked up to speak to them.

Was this their hobby? Were they needing this money to survive? Perhaps a little of both. Who knows? I asked but we couldn’t translate each others words, they spoke Burmese, so instead we smiled at each other, laughed and I walked away paying 40 Baht/about 60 cents for a bag of nuts and a good feeling in my heart.

Is volunteering worth it?

Some days I wonder, “where am I again”? And remember; wow, I really made it out here to India! I grab a bite to eat and then get ready for the day. I walk about ten minutes to the volunteer office where I get an assignment or just decide what to do that day. Afterwards I walk to hail a bus, jump on the bus, and it takes a good 30+ minutes to get to the slum areas of where I volunteer.


A great picture full of smiles.

For that time I’m squished in a cramped old bus that rattles as if it’s on the last run. The bus ride cuts through town until I request to be let off at a railroad crossing near the slums most homes are squished up against the tracks and are nothing more than bricks and tin roofs. I cross over the tracks and walk about 15 more minutes to the activity center which happens to be a small three by three meter room in a rundown area of Jaipur. By the time I get here, I am pretty exhausted from the air and noise pollution as well as the everyday hustle. It’s exhausting just getting there.

A part of me knows it’s for a special cause. It’s a cause that really can’t be explained in just writing about it, but a cause that is more of an understanding for my own knowledge. Perhaps it’s for me to see what it is like on this side of the world in this community. After that long journey, I come into the area where the after school center is set up and I see these faces. The faces of kids and adults who are so happy to have someone come to their community to help them learn and grow. That is when I know the long journey to get here is worth just enough to see smiles like these. My time here is limited, my time on earth is limited and I simply can’t help everyone nor can I stay but I do hope to share the spirit and experience with other would be travelers and volunteers.

“Embracing diversity is one adventure after another, opening new paths of discovery that connect an understanding to caring, listening, and sharing with others who are different than ourselves.” 
-April Holland