The owner discussed the current issues he faces. The plantation operates with workers living on the premises in provided housing. If workers have children, their travel and textbook expenses are paid for as an incentive to stay here. He mentioned that he is facing labor shortages at peak times of the year. Many workers come from the north, and cannot place their children in local schools because of the language barrier, since each region speaks in a different tongue. Many of these individuals tend to leave after the season ends, looking for other work - usually in urban areas.
|Lisa '16 (left) and Victoria '16 (right) with two of the plantation workers.|
After our trip to the plantation, we were all eager to head over to the Dubare Elephant Camp before it closed. It was a risk worth taking, for as soon as we arrived, we were all in awe. We hopped on a boat and crossed the smooth river, finally arriving at the camp. The camp had no high fences or barriers, for they are not necessary. The numerous elephants, cows, dogs, goats, and sheep roamed freely in the wide-open space. We admired the elephants as they slowly walked around, even getting a chance to feed one named Goppi!
|Victoria '16 feeding Goppi.|
For me, leaving the camp was the most memorable moment of this trip so far. The sun began to set over the river. Children were playing in the shallow pools of the rocks, people were swimming, while others went rafting. Surprising us all, the elephants (their feet no longer chained) walked down to the river and began to relish in it’s coolness. We were in for a treat! They bathed happily, some playfully spraying nearby rafts. Cows and bulls slowly trekked into the water also, until only their head remained at the surface, swimming across the river together. The scene truly captured the essence of India’s unique culture – carefree and natural. The people live at ease with the world around them. I know in America, I would not be allowed to witness such beautiful interactions. As cliché as it sounds, we often forget to slow down and appreciate what is around us in America.
I am incredibly thankful for this day trip, for it taught me lessons that were directly related to ILR as well as cultural ones that I would never be able to truly understand through a course or textbook. I have gained life lessons and memories that will stay with me as I continue growing. I am very humbled to be a part of the GSL team and incredibly thankful to SVYM and ILR for providing us with these amazing opportunities.