It's been a week or so...
Some of you have noticed our rather conspicuous absence during the past week. Jess and I thought it was about time to explain our lack of communication.
We have been looking rather in depth at our future, at least the coming year or so, and are trying to reach some decisions. Last week we took a trip out to a Delhi suburb where we spent 2 days being hosted by GrapeCity, a software development firm, as I (Jake) was looking into the possibility of working for them for a year or so. The trip went very well, we were treated exceptionally, the staff were wonderful people, but we are still undecided about the job and how it fits our long-term goals.
We were then back at the Ashram for only one day before we took 3 days out to go visit a new compound that is acting as a boarding school for disabled children. We knew it was not in a big city, but we did not realize what we were getting into. After 8 hours on 5 different buses and another half hour ride in a 4-wheel drive truck, we arrived at ASHADEEP. 30 minutes from the nearest town. No public utilities, no pollution, no cars, surrounded by individual agricultural families and small villages.
As much as I love the work here at Sewa Ashram, I have never felt more instantly at home within an organization as I did when we showed up at Ashadeep. The name Ashadeep is made from two Hindi words, Asha and Deep. Asha means 'hope', and deep is a small clay bowl filled with oil and used as a lantern. Lantern of hope. And they are.
Set on 100 acres of land, Ashadeep hopes to be completely self-sustaining in about 4 years. All of those little brick circles are guarding baby mango trees. Can you imagine what that will be like in a couple of years? They will grow all of their own organic food, produce their own power, pump and filter all their own water, recycle all of their waste, produce their own gas, and do it all for one amazing reason. In a recent survey of 50 surrounding villages to Ashadeep, there were more than 400 disabled children found. Ashadeep is already a boarding facility for nearly 100 children, all disabled, and they hope to act as a boarder for many many more children as well as a school for them and all the surrounding village children. Medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, exercise, school, vocational training, medical education, skills development, everything is included on their compound.
(Jess and I got to learn some Hindi sign language.)
It was incredible. It felt like peace. It felt like hope.
There was passion as well as structure.
There was mentorship as well as vision.
There was compassion but it had healthy boundaries.
Now we are trying to build Ashadeep into our future plans. We truly desire to work with them and help them move forward as well as learn from them and gain tremendous experience. We are just not sure how to do it. Please be thinking of us in the coming weeks and month or so as we have many big decisions to make regarding our future, finances, moving countries, etc...
(He is an artist, but I think he could be a boxer.)
The basic setup is that Jess has to go to Michigan for a wedding, which we can do. But if we both go, we will then need to earn some more money before continuing on. Should we go back to the US, work there, then come back to India? Should I take a job in Thailand or Korea or China for the next year and work/learn there before returning to work in India again? Should we even come back to India?
But even as those questions press us and start to choke us with anxiety, they quickly fall away when we remember why we are here.
Just a day after returning from Ashadeep we spent 2 days in Delhi. One of those days was a meeting with a cool young couple from the US who are living in Delhi and working with street kids. They were just good people, refreshing conversation, and fun companions.
The next day we were able to go and visit the adoption agency / orphanage where Rumi and Reshma were placed after they left the Ashram. They were really doing well. Reshma was eating much better, and had even moved on from just a bottle to spoon feedings. She was plump and healthy looking. Rumi looked very good as well. He had already started walking, was much healthier, but still had his sad little face constantly contorted into a look of fear. I am confident that constant love can pull him out of that state, but it is still hard to see him like that.