The Caste System Confounds Me

After my visit to Roshni, I felt like I have now experienced India. The country I imagined and the life changing experience I anticipated but couldn’t prepare for emotionally. I finally understand why celebrities go to foreign countries and adopt children—it’s hard to walk away. All of the children I met had parents who loved them; they were just desperately poor. This kind of experience makes you want to reevaluate your own life and made me very introspective. I am suddenly asking myself questions like; Do I really need to live in a house with 4 toilets? Do I really need 4 closets full of clothes—probably made by kids like these? Do I really need so much excess and what is all this excess doing to my soul? I know I want to be more thoughtful about every aspect of my life, I want to be a good role model for my daughter, my family, my friends. I want to be a good steward of our earth, our resources and be more responsible about what I eat, what I wear and who made it and where it came from. This has been a journey for me for a few years now but this trip has become the catalyst for real change. I am not going to wag my finger at anyone or their choices, I will simply choose to change my own life for the better and hopefully, make a difference.

I suddenly want to go home and pack boxes full of clothes and school supplies for these kids. It would only cost me about 2 weeks worth of groceries to make such a HUGE difference in their lives. Imagine living every day dependent on the generosity of others? I wonder if this becomes a way of life or creates a burning desire to make a change to your circumstances. However, when you are born into such a low caste, do you even have hope of something different or do you simply accept your reality and make the best of things? I honestly wonder which it is…  My ignorance about the caste system frustrates me and now I’m eager to learn about it more than ever before.  One of the girls in the “school” was clearly very bright but she hardly has any hope of ever living up to her potential because of the family she was born into.  She is low caste, she lives in a stick village with barely enough food to eat and donated clothes but no promise of a good education or even a chance at a career because of her place in society.  It confounds me.

I think about all this as I eat lunch in my hotel room; then I shower and rest before Yasen picks me up at 5pm for dinner with his family. I am looking forward to meeting his children.

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