your dream inspires,
your face a memory,
your hope a fire,
your courage asks me,
what I'm afraid of...
your courage asks me,
what I'm made of...
and what I know of love"
- Sara Groves 'I Saw What I Saw'
I spoke with a new friend who had the privilege to visit Uddamarry for the first graduation from "our" school there. When I think of the faces of the students there, I always think of this song. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about I have quite the story, but I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.
In the fall of 2003, a bunch of young people and the adults involved with their group called Sud.Z (Sunday night 'Zoey' greek for life) in Norfolk, NE decided they wanted to put their money where their mouth was. They raised over $23,000 dollars to fund the building project for a school on the other side of the planet in a village called Uddamarry outside the city of Hyderabad, India. This crazy idea turned into a relationship that is still strong today, almost 10 YEARS LATER (I put that in caps because once that hit me I kinda freaked out a little). This group from rural Nebraska sent their first "team" to visit what was to become "their" school in rural India the next summer in 2004. I use the quotation marks around the ownership words because its not an ownership but certainly a commitment. Every summer there has been a team from Norfolk making the trek to Uddamarry. It was not until the trip in 2006 that the building project had been started. I had the pleasure of being part of this team and documented a lot of the work I saw on the new building with photos and videos. I felt like I lucked out because we spent our time with the children in the old school "building" which was nothing more than a converted barn and cattle stalls, and we got to see the new building our efforts helped to build. Teams have continued to go each year and this year many of the "veterans" and some new people had the privilege to visit for the first class to graduate (equivalent of high school) from our school.
My story with this little village school is a little more intertwined. But, I will try to tell that story later on. Suffice to say that I will forever have the images of these students' faces when they were children in my mind. Each time I remember where they would be if not for the school and the promise of education--in poverty, in slavery, or worse. This song captures how these memories inspire me along with many others. I saw what I saw in India, and it changed my life forever.