All trips provide their share of fun, challenges and learnings. My trip to Ahmadabad was no different. I had never been to Gujarat earlier and in fact I had never stayed in a primarily Gandhian style ashram before. The place was beautiful and green and very tastefully designed. We were busy in meetings the whole day but did get a chance to see a bit of the city when we went out for dinner one night. Food till then, in the venue, had been interesting because it was plentiful but rather simple. We usually had khichadi and curried brinjals everyday, to the extent that one participant from another NGO actually asked whether the institute grew brinjals within the premises!
I did get some insight into the food issue, when I read a placard on a wall in the canteen. The breakfast was late by an hour and we all were very hungry. Since there was nothing else to do but sit in anticipation in the canteen, my thoughts wandered and I was looking sleepily at people and windows, when suddenly, I saw a sign which explained the khichadi-brinjals. A placard, boldly displayed in the very large canteen, read quite simply: “More Dishes, More Diseases”.
Hmmmm that having been established in the canteen on day 2, I was happy to invest my energy in other pursuits. I met some very interesting people, saw a few documentaries, discussed work ideas and got to know other NGOs’ internal systems and policies. All this helped me understand and revisit some of CHSJs policies and the rationale behind them.
I was happy to be in Ahmadabad. I had wanted to be a part of the orientation programme and meet the volunteer who would join us for a period of 10 months. I was prepared to learn about the organisers and the work they do. I also thought I would get to know about the other CSOs where the volunteers will be placed. Luckily, I learnt more. This year is becoming a huge experience in learning the importance of ‘community’ and the support it provides. What Bhimtal threw at me with a huge punch, was again reaffirmed in this trip to Ahmadabad. Meeting with all the volunteers and being a part of this orientation, made me realise that community support is so essential in being able to achieve one’s goals, overcoming set-backs and in eventually aiding self actualization. I saw the AJWS community and their level of intimacy and also the support they provided to each other. Now, I have brought the volunteer into my community- I hope we both can learn from each other and be sources of inspiration and growth.
By Lavanya Mehra, in Ahmadabad for the AJWS orientation during 29- 31st October, 2012