As I sit on our little patio this morning in Rajpur, I’m reminded of just how blessed I am. I am also reminded that you can find beauty in almost anything. Our apartment is tucked away under Chhaya café, and gazes out toward the Himalayans. Every morning, I wake up to the sun rising over the mountains to slowly awaken this precious little town. Outside I see monkeys climbing from tree to tree, listen to hundreds of birds chirping, and hear the women upstairs begin to prep the café for the day that lies ahead. I sit peacefully as a spectator of what is already happening.
This, I think, describes what we are afforded to do here in Rajpur with JOYN. We get to work alongside men and women who already have the skills, knowledge, and know-how to make beautiful products, and we get to marvel in the beauty of their creations. Melody, Rikki, and I learn from some of the best artisans we’ve ever seen and are overjoyed to connect them with you.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from our community in Rajpur:
Prahalad, our block printer, has taught me about provision and love. He has a glow that lights up his face and works so hard to be the sole provider for his family of 6.
Rajkumar, one of the street youth, has taught me about transformation. Just 6 months ago he was heavily addicted to drugs and lived on the streets. Today, he is our best youth block printer, has become the leader of the group, and he recently saved enough money to buy his own bicycle!
Manju, one of the ladies at Chhaya, has taught me about joy. There isn’t a day when I don’t see her smiling, laughing, or enjoying her time spent with friends.
Nam, our Production Director, has taught me about selflessness. He has a heart that actively seeks to help others. He truly desires to serve those around him, and shows love in the most tangible ways.
Bimla, our didi, has taught me about hard work and grace. She comes to Melody’s house everyday to clean and cook dinner. She is one of the funniest people we know here in Rajpur. She also never stops working, never complains, and never goes without a smile, regardless of the chaos that often ensues around her as people come and go.
These people that you help employ by supporting JOYN are some of the finest I’ve met. They have hearts bigger than India itself and are seeing real transformation in their life because they are gaining purpose through work. In some ways I really am just a spectator, having gained the opportunity to watch and learn. In many ways now though, after spending just over 3 months here, I’m humbled and grateful to call these people close friends, mentors, and influencers in my own life.