A Wonderful Way to Begin

What a day. This was an amazing way to begin our trip in India – and we couldn’t imagine the things that were in store for us today. First let us start with probably the most important item of the day – David Hircock has safely arrived in Delhi. We had been told that he missed his train, but as it turns out we were only told that so we wouldn’t worry. In reality, his train was hijacked by gunmen last night a few stops before he got on. Obviously the hijacking caused a delay and quite a commotion here in India – it was front page news in all the newspapers and on all news networks. Are we nervous that we’re going on a train tomorrow? No, not really. David assures us that after last night’s incident, the trains are probably safer now than ever. That’s what we like to think.

As we were driving to the Mukti Ashram, the group was overcome by the sights they were seeing outside our tour bus. The poverty and the chaos are indescribable. It makes you understand why it’s so important that we help make a difference for people here. Amidst the chaos was a sight that lifted everybody’s spirits – an elephant walking down the middle of the street amid bustling traffic. Apparently elephants here are highly regarded and used in festivals and wedding ceremonies. He commanded respect not only by his size but by his significance.

Elephant in Delhi street

Elephant in Delhi street

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the day was our visit with children rescued from India’s mica mining industry. These children are now in the care of the Save the Childhood Foundation, founded by Kailash Satyarthi and his wife, at the Mukti Ashram outside Delhi.  Here they are educated, clothed, sheltered, rehabilitated and in most cases returned to their families.

Mukti Ashram entrance

Mukti Ashram entrance

The mica mining industry is notorious for child labor practices and with David Hircock’s guidance, Aveda has been working to help change industry practices so that child labor can be eliminated. We’ve been working with the Save the Childhood Foundation to support their efforts to rescue children from mining and establish “Child Friendly Villages” where they will be protected from child labor. As part of Aveda’s Earth Month campaign two years ago, our Global partner, Global Greengrants Fund, made a grant to Save the Childhood Foundation specifically to help rebuild and install clean water wells in nine Child Friendly Villages – this made our visit today even more meaningful. We expected to see children beaten down by society but instead we saw children filled with hope, strength and love. A shining example was Mohammed who just two weeks ago was rescued from a mica mine. His goal used to be to learn how to read bus numbers. Now that he has been rescued, his new goal is to become a doctor. Other children spoke about becoming judges, electricians, and working to eliminate child labor forever.

Children in Ashram Classroom

We were so proud of Rochelle who spoke to the children on behalf of our group. After arriving on her first trip overseas and away from her husband and children, she was emotionally overwhelmed by the ride to the hotel. She was the last person we expected to be able to keep a dry eye and speak to these children without breaking down.

Rochelle speaks to the children

Rochelle speaks to the children

Rochelle speaks on behalf of our entire group when she says the children’s strength inspired her and gave her hope for a better future for them and for us all. While she didn’t cry, everyone else was in tears…except the children who laughed, sang, spoke, performed for us and danced with us.

Children dancing

Children dancing

We’re extremely glad David is safe and we loved seeing the elephant, but it is the children that we will all remember most from this day.

The Aveda group at the Ashram

The Aveda group at the Ashram with Kailash Satyarthi and his charming wife.

Happy cow outside the Ashram

Happy cow outside the Ashram

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10 Responses to “A Wonderful Way to Begin”

  1. Kathryn Whittington Says:

    Aveda Earth Month trips are life changers! Very best wishes to you all.

  2. Diane Says:

    What an incredible journey!
    I am thrilled to share a peek into your amazing trip, and so proud of all of you for what you did to be able to be there. Can’t wait to hear the stories!
    Discover, enjoy and keep sharing ;o)
    Diane

  3. Kristie Castenada Says:

    OMG!!! This is sooo AMAZING! WOW- I can feel the energy through your posts…it just reminds us all of why we do what we do…It’s the real life soil to bottle story! Thank you for making a difference!!! Special congrats to Rochelle for rising above her fears and realizing that others would benefit from her strength and determination!

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Sincerely,

    Kristie

  4. Karen Listgarten Says:

    Thanks for a great read. If we can’t be there, this is the next best thing. Keep the postings coming and make the most of this fantastic experience. We miss you and wish you safe travels.

  5. Brenna Proczko Says:

    Kudos and cheers for the notes and pictures. It’s so great to have tangible evidence of the fruits of our labors, and we wish continued wonder and safe travels for your entire group. Keep up the documenting – it’s lovely to share the trip with you.

  6. Susan Zimmerman Says:

    This is eye opening and fills me with pride in what Aveda (and its fine people) are doing to improve the world. A special hello to Katie Galloway – great to see this!

  7. emmanuel rey Says:

    Dear all,
    Thank you for keeping us informed of your trip. It is such a joy to see that you are exposed to so many emotions and discover another side of life on the other side of the world. As Blaine is getting colder we hope that you store some of these sunny memories for us when you come back. Thanks for delivering a message of hope and understanding on our behalf. This is the reason why we work so hard.

    Best,
    Emmanuel

  8. Rachael Says:

    All I can say is…WOW…thanks you guys

  9. Beth Ann Says:

    So glad to hear the trip is going well! Thanks for posting the updates, especially the photos! Wishing you all an amazing experience and looking forward to future posts as well as your stories when you return! Take good care!

  10. Autumn Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Looks like a very powerful start to what is sure to be a memory-making trip. I hope you all are doing well!

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