(Candace, Jack and our team in India that makes our beautiful beads for our "By Faith" line launching this Fall)
After delayed and cancelled flights, sleeping on the floor in the airport, and 43 hours of travel to get back home, we were exhausted but thrilled to get home to the babies and sleep in our bed!!! Here is what I have learned and memories taken back with me to always cherish-
1. India was nothing like what I expected!!! I was expecting to see a lot of poverty, children on the streets, filth and uncleanliness. While the living conditions are not what we are used to in the US, their standards are not ours and the way they view it is normal and it’s my view of normal that needed to be adjusted to their standards, not theirs.
2. Social media is more powerful than I thought. I asked one of our tour guides about “lost” children- the kids that live on the streets/runaways (as I was told to expect to see this and did not see any). He (and a few others) told me about a non for profit organization that has a Facebook page where you can take a picture of a child begging or living on the street, upload the pic to their page and tag where the child is and they will try to find them and help them to get back to their parents or in an orphanage at last resort. I can’t remember the statistics of how many children they had gotten off the streets however it was overwhelming. We had one child (12 yrs old) ask us for money the entire time we were there.
3. While I try not to value success by monetary items- I think it is common in America to think this. The people of India are more focused on success as a life balance of health and happiness. They feel that food heals them (the majority of the people I talked to had never been to a doctor nor had any immunizations), they consider it an honor to take care of their elderly (and family members fight over this honor), and families of many generations all live together peacefully.
4. I thought that Indian women are submissive to the men as I often see (in the US) the women walking behind the men. While this is somewhat true, the man makes the final decision for the household, the women control everything up to the decision. The men work and bring the money home to the women. In the households with multiple families it is the mom who receives the money from her husband and sons. She then will give the options for the family (which house they can afford, if they buy a car, etc) the man then chooses from her options. The mom grooms the daughter in law to eventually take over these duties. So while the husband is the head of the household, the wife is the neck that controls which way the head turns. job is a “family” job. Most jobs take 3 people- just like the dabawallas - one picks the lunch up from the household, one carries it on the train and another delivers it to the person then everything is reversed to get the lunch tin back home. Whatever profession the father is, the children are as well and this is passed down to the next generation. The families are very close and depend on each other for survival. The land the laundry facility I visited is worth millions on millions (dollars not rupies!) and they will not sell it as this will be taking away their children and their children’s children’s jobs. They value the family over the instant monetary gratification.
7. New Vintage has a small factory in India that does some work for us. I’m copied on emails however, Steph primarily interacts with the factory owner. I emailed him to let him know I was going to India and I would like to tour the factory and asked for recommendations on what to do. When we arrived, little did I know or expect, the factory owner had taken off work as well as his brother in law to give us a personal tour, he booked himself in a hotel to be close to us if we needed anything. I immediately emailed Stephanie and asked how much we had paid for the work at this factory as I was expecting it to be very high due to this hospitality. I was wrong. The factory owner considered it a privilege that we would come to his country and wanted the opportunity to show us around (see other references above on the values these people have). Jack and I greatly appreciated their time and personal tour.
6. Nothing on this entire trip even compared to the moment of walking in the door at home and Finn running, arms wide open, greeting me with a big hug and saying “I love you and I missed you a whole bunch.” Can’t wait for the little ones to wake up to hug them too!!!