In January 2006 I boarded my first train in India. It was a ride from Bangalore to Anantapur. I had no reservation and that day I discovered that in India you have to book the trains well in advance, so I traveled in the unreserved compartment, which is popularly known as "general compartment". The car was packed, and the conditions were precarious, but the ride was fun. It is an experience that I remember very well. Since then I have taken many trains in India.
That time I was going to Anantapur to visit the Fundación Vicente Ferrer and to meet for the first time the girl I was sponsoring there: Baby Syamala.
Reaching Anantapur and seeing the results of over 40 years of hard work of the foundation was overwhelming. Getting to personally meet Vicente Ferrer was one of the greatest experiences of my life, as I have already told in this blog, but the purpose of this post is to explain the story of the above photo.
One of my days in Anantapur I went to Sunampallivaripalli, the village where Syamala and her family lived. It was a remote village near the border between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. When I arrived everyone in the village came out to greet me. I spent the morning with the family of Syamala in their humble thatch-roofed house, and I was talking to them through an interpreter who spoke Telugu. It was a beautiful experience. All the village children sang and danced for me. I tooked the photo just before leaving (Syamala is the smiling girl on the left).
During the last ten years I have visited this family several times, we have shared many stories, and now I even know the husband and daughter of Syamala, who is already grown up!
I printed this photo when I returned to Spain that time, and it has been accompanying me until today.