You don’t truly appreciate it until it’s gone!

“Ko te pae tawhiti whāia kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua ka tina.”

“Seek out distant horizons and cherish those you attain.”

The Mon-Fri rundown is going to be short and sweet. It was quite rough. Delhi belly got me good. Yet, I have some very important new appreciations.

  • You don’t appreciate good health until you are unwell and scared to get off the toilet because you don’t know when the next ‘wave’ is coming.
  • Access to antibiotics is a privilege. I am lucky to be able to afford the $40 doctor consultant and extra prescription cost.
  • People checking on you when you are unwell is absolute gold. Feeling supported and cared for is such a special thing. Love my PMSA whanau who helped me get medicine and checked in on me.
  • Having access to and affording safe drinking water. Needing to keep up the fluids, I am very fortunate to afford and have such easy access to clean (and filtered drinking water)
  • Books and technology. Being able to remain somewhat productive while being sick because I have access to these commodities.
  • A safe and comfortable environment to rest
  • Having an understanding supervisor that encouraged me to put my health first
  • Not relying on this work/internship to feed me or my family. The saying health is wealth was painstakingly obvious in Mumbai. Where if you got sick and couldn’t work that day you would not have the money to eat.

The week was quite challenging physically and mentally. Mentally I was worried a lot that I was letting my supervisor and organisation down, as well as, not making the most of this opportunity by being sick. However, I tried to do work from home but needed to realise that my ability to focus was affected a lot by being sick as well. 

The week was coming to an end, and I was slowly feeling better. Once I have regained enough strength to go for a walk me and my roommate went out to get some fresh air. Made me feel a lot better. I was still relatively weak at this point but going a bit stir-crazy, so changing the environment felt great. Luck was on our side as there was an arts festival/market just down the road from us. The art was focused on sustainability which was great to see. Also, there was a stall for organisations that helps people experiencing blindness to get work as masseuses. Best foot massage of my life. I don’t know the details myself, but there must be some connection between your feet and your immunity because I was feeling so much better after that! To finish an amazing evening off, Tash bought me this mouth-watering chocolate kulfi. Kulfi = is my favourite Indian dessert, you have to try it because the flavour is too good to even describe. Oh, I cannot forget we got to make mini pottery! Would love to do this more back home!

I was so grateful that I felt a lot better by Friday. This was significant because this was when we met with Minister Mahuta at the Taj hotel. It was such an incredible opportunity to connect with such strong women and incredible political figures. She and her team were so welcoming to us and genuinely interested in the work we were doing. We got to introduce ourselves and explain where we were interning. While I was speaking, I got quite emotional talking about Aastha Parivaar and the work they do. I have so much respect for the organisation and they mean so much to me. As well as, the women they support in the communities go through such horrific experiences. So crying while speaking was able to showcase that the minister was very supportive and said that crying shows strength – which was very empowering of her to share. It links back to the idea that being vulnerable is one of the strongest things you can do. If anything I was more frustrated in myself that I couldn’t quite finish what I was saying, but I think the message still got across (maybe even more so!). I loved getting to hear the rest of the PMSA whanau speak! Everyone spoke so well, and it was beautiful hearing the passion they have for their organisations.

The weekend bought even more once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We had the chance to visit the Dhavri slums. It was interesting comparing your expectations – the reality of what a slum is like. Of course, this slum is not representative of all slums, and this one is known for its business orientation and entrepreneurial success. In the slum and in the country as a whole, it is impossible to dismiss the work ethic of the people. Despite the slum’s entrepreneurial success being so well known, the working conditions for the people – for example, sorting plastic were horrible. In a small, low-lit room with no windows or ventilation, they are sitting for who knows how long, shifting through the plastic. We were taken aback when our guide requested if we could take a photo of the working men; they explained they didn’t want photos as they didn’t want to be put on google. Yet, the guide persisted in persuading them; we stepped in and said we completely understood where the man is coming from and continued the tour. Throughout the trip, we all tried our best not to exploit the people by taking photos of them going about their lives as a form of ‘poverty tourism’; it can be unavoidable in many situations to not get people in the photos. 

We visited the famous leather works, and many of us purchased items to bring back home. It was insightful to see the men processing the goat/buffalo leather and getting to see the behind-the-scenes process of how the wall was made. Made you reflect on all the items of clothing/material you own and how disconnected you are from the journey it has taken to come into your possession. Again, ‘ignorance is bliss’ because we don’t personally know what it has taken for our possessions to come into our hands – the labour, slavery or exploitation involved in the process. In a time where ethical eating and shopping is becoming more popular – how selective are we about what we choose to make ‘conscious’ decisions about?

Visited a mosque that was right out on the water and 2 temples! It’s a very enriching experience to see different places of worship and learn about the different faiths. Seeing the sense of community and connection, it creates for people. 

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