Friday afternoon in Yellamanchilli, a whirlwind 2 days with 2 to go and then I make the trip home. We arrived Thursday morning at 9:15am into the Visak airport and took breakfast there in the airport then made the hour drive to New Life Children’s Home so we could drop our bags then off we went to dedicate 2 bore well projects in areas being served by SHEBA which is one of our partners in this region of Andhra Pradesh. Both of these projects were to benefit the Dalits or Untouchables and our time with these folks only lasted 30 minutes in each place due to the lateness of our arrival and the heat.

At each site you could see the joy and happiness in their eyes and faces when the water came out of the newly completed well and I was once again reminded of the value of bringing clean water to a people in a village who have been marginalized and oppressed for just being born.

Upon completing these 2 projects we drove to the NASA offices in Tuni where we met briefly with Dr. Premdas and enjoyed a short visit before we needed to move towards our final 2 project dedications which were in a more interior place than the 2 SHEBA projects. After about an hour’s drive and with the sun setting we arrived at our 3rd project and were greeted with garlands and too much fanfare. I was able to share with them about the donor who generously gave and yet wanted to remain anonymous. I took quite a few photos and the kids their really enjoyed their photos being taken and seeing immediately what they looked like. The adults got in on some of the action too and after serving us snacks and coconut water we left for our final project as the sun set behind the mountains.

The last project of the day took place in the night sky and thankfully there was a young man who agreed to hold up a light attached to the end of a 7 ft long pole and throughout our dedication and sharing time he was our sole source of light. I made it a point to recognize him for without his willingness to serve us in this way our dedication would be limited to whoever had a cell phone with a flashlight app and in this crowd there were probably only a few, certainly not enough to light up our entire group. We spent a little bit more time in this village as there was no dedication to carry out after this project, just dinner to attend to and with all the snacks and coconut water being served I wasn’t hungry and neither was Dave.

Sleep couldn’t come fast enough for me as we had been up since 5 so when the clock struck 10 I made sure I was in back to the offices of NASA with my head on a mattress and a sleeping pill in my system as jet lag is still affecting me even after 6 days.

Today is almost over, and I’m unclear as to everything we did though I do remember our meeting with a group of lepers who live next to the NASA offices. I was able to share with them and encourage them to continue to live their lives to the fullest despite being afflicted with leprosy knowing that their struggle in temporary and their future is secure. These folks are a wonderful bunch and it’s neat to see their joy being displayed when they interact with us.

Sometime this afternoon I was able to spend time with Sony and Sowyma who run Light of Love Children’s Home in Tuni and once again I was reconnected with a little guy named Elijah which they gave him a short while ago however his Telegu name is Dhumpa which in English means Potato. When I saw him this afternoon he was holding hands with another little guy his age, (3) and they looked adorable, so I decided the other boy should be named Chip. Not sure if the Indians appreciated my humor but I thought it was brilliant.

Ending the day with volleyball back at New Life Children’s Home. We were able to fit in 5 games before bed. It’s 9:30pm and we just finished cleaning up and now to go for our dinner. I think it’ll be a late night. Having fun though.

Tomorrow some meetings and a medical camp which was funded by one of Wells for Life’s donors who is a partial owner of a pharmaceutical company, with his help were able to conduct a medical camp in a village where we hope to have 200 – 300 villagers receiving basic medical care, care they otherwise wouldn’t be afforded because they lack the means to receive it. Huge thanks goes out to Pharmco Ventures for their support in our efforts to make a difference in holistic measures within the rural areas.

Tuesday, March 18 – Valsad

In Valsad and we leave around 7am for a quick bite of breakfast then an hour and half drive up to the tribal mountain region where 5 places are waiting for our arrival and project dedication. Yesterday we the Holi festival which is Hindu festival of color and sure enough most places you looked the people had splashed color on things and themselves. While we were driving to Valsad I saw some kids with small balloons which apparently were filled with a liquid mixture of color and of course they were throwing them at anything and everything they could much like tossing water balloons on a hot summer day. Thankfully we never were a target and just enjoyed the spectacle however when you hear the how and why of the festival, the true root meaning it loses its color and you realize how much bondage still exists spiritually in this part of the world.

Last night we dedicated our first project at a Tamil church. Small congregation of people with a small plot of land and like most places no direct access to water on their premises or even that nearby so they asked for water and we were able to provide it. Due to the nature of the need we felt it best to install a submersible pump motor and the church collected funds for the syntek tank and for the concrete stand that would support it. The church people also were able to collect enough funds to lay a cement floor throughout the courtyard and remove all the dirt area which when the monsoons would come would create a huge mess.

After sharing a bit with the people inside the church we moved outside to begin the dedication which was simple enough event, pull the cord so the cloth moves away from the dedication plaque then walk over to the electric panel box flip up the fuse switch to bring the power to the unit then hit the green button to turn on the pump.

The water then flows quite heavily through the 1 inch PVC pipe into the baptismal. Because the project was just completed a few days back they didn’t have a chance to plump everything but the general plan is to bring the water into the syntek tank which is resting on a platform about 10 feet off the ground and then have gravity feed water to the taps for the people and to provide water to the baptismal when necessary.

From this place we drove to a girl’s hostel and spent about 30 minutes with 20 College age girls encouraging them and hopefully inspiring them to greater things. We had a great time with them and only wished we had more as they were eager and excited to have some white visitors who took the time to be with them.

Today, more projects and more driving. Excited to see what awaits us and only wish I had slept last night.