These women are talking to the Accredited Social Health Activist (the woman wearing blue) for their village. The ASHA provides health counseling to her beneficiaries and assists them in pursuing necessary health services.

It is my final night in India and I’m overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts. I left Jhalawar Friday evening and spent the weekend in Delhi with Cearet and her family. This is all so bittersweet. I really cannot find the words to explain how grateful and thankful I am to have been here and to have been granted access into the lives and culture of so many beautiful people and places. I am humbled, I am thankful, I am sad, I am excited, I am nervous, I am elated, I am confused.

This is a picture of the road and homes we would walk past daily to get to the market. Flooding from the monsoon spread quickly.

Everything is ending in a way that I would describe as “full circle.” I stayed in the same hotel that I spent my first nights in Delhi at. Having this weekend in Delhi before returning to the states has been really helpful for the transition out of rural Rajasthan. I found myself close to tears in a Starbucks, and paralyzed with overstimulation in a shopping mall. The gradual process of becoming reacclimatized to western culture is overwhelming, and I am scared of losing the intensity of my emotions and memories as I fall back into my routine and lifestyle at home.

The woman pictured in this photo is an anganwadi worker, and here she is providing hot cooked meals to children in her village. Anganwadi centers are similar to nurseries with an emphasis on nutritional services. The hot cooked meals are a service provided by the government to combat high rates of childhood malnutrition in rural sectors of Rajasthan. 

  I’ve been asked countless times, “so how did you like the fellowship?” and each time I freeze up and find the words escape my grasp. I enjoyed it greatly, and am leaving with the most meaningful and fulfilling experience of my life thus far. But there were still days where I struggled with the distance and differences of living in a place so different from what I am accustomed to and some days I found myself feeling nothing at all. I don’t know how to summarize the complexity of everything that has occurred. I have been processing a lot of my thoughts, feelings, and the things I have saw retroactively, and am still working to better understand and explain the intensity and complexity of my last 7 weeks.

The three women on the left are frontline workers that we interviewed for one of our case studies. They provide primary health care and nutrition services to the women and children in their village.

As I was leaving Cearet’s home, her father asked me “Chalein?” I asked if the word meant ready, and he replied that it was more of a “Let’s go!” My heart lifted and I explained how this set of words keeps reappearing in my life in different ways. It was a strange coincidence and Cearet and I agreed that the word had a positive and uplifting feel to it. As we hugged on the metro line and said goodbye to one another we repeated “chalein.” This ending feels much less scary and sad as I begin to look at it as the beginning of an opportunity to start giving more and contributing to the change that is needed in the world. I wrote in one of my earlier blog posts that I would describe India as “a lot going on.” I still haven’t found a better way to describe everything here and everything  that I’m feeling.   It’s very frustrating not being able to articulate where I am at right now,  but to compensate for my absence of words I have included pictures of some of the people I met and the context of such. As words fail me and I struggle with the end of this journey and my return home, I just keep telling myself chalein.