Many a times in my circle I have heard people say that you may not have a lot of ‘things’ but having a large heart & being grateful for the things you already have is really what makes you rich in life.
I finally understood the essence of that three years ago as I began working on sustainable waste management in a remote village of Uttarakhand after my graduation.
I learnt this lesson from a local named Kilburi from a small village known as Kuling.
I still vividly remember that day, Laura and I couldn’t hitch a ride to Kuling located 6km away from Lohajung, so instead we decided to walk. This was no ordinary day for the village. Just a couple of days ago Kuling had been struck by a huge cloudburst & landslides that tore away pieces cultivatable land from the locals, several houses developed cracks along with the school.
Laura and I visited that village, quite often for either cleanup drives or teaching at the school. This time we wanted to make sure the locals knew we were there for them in the good and the bad times.
One of our favourite locals was Kilburi, a divorcee and a mother of one had lost her field due to the cloudburst. We wanted to extend support in whichever we could at that point of time. In the meantime, Laura and I decided to teach at the school to help out the parents from their overly enthusiastic children, once we were done, Kilburi invited us for lunch while we further planned our next course of action.
We tried to decline the lunch request politely multiple times,however, Kilburi just insisted we must have lunch at her place. I was shocked, I insisted we go somewhere else since she wouldn’t have the resources to cook for so many people since she just lost her land. She wouldn’t leave us till we finally agreed.
Kilburi cooked us a lavish lunch, I tried to help out by cutting the onions and cut myself in the bargain. So I decided to take pictures to immortalize the events that happened that day. I was touched by Kilburi kindness and love showered especially on that day. Her daughter Rajkumari, her best friend Rukhami, Laura, Elizabeth, ( a German lady that moved to Kuling 19 years ago also considered a local resident) and I smiled as we gathered on the floor of the hut as we ate.
The sun shone brightly outside, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered to us was the joy that we created inside that hut. As we all ate, I looked up, and felt especially grateful to have met such beautiful people on my journey trying to create a more sustainable future for the mountain communities.