By Milly Branflick
Staring at the sunrise, I reflect on our time in Pancheshwar. I’ve experienced a lot of highs and lows here – saying that figuratively and quite literally. From hiking 2,500 ft. on my first ever hike to swimming in the beautiful Saryu River, I’ve come to really enjoy my time here in Pancheshwar. It started off as a low, though, as I was against being here at first in the heat only wanting to go home to my family. But I’ve grown to like it here – waking up early to hear the rush of the river and Jenny, one of the camp dogs, barking.
This group of people has really helped me make it enjoyable by listening to me and to each other all the time or even enjoying a little bit of competition in volleyball. And if there was one thing I’ve learned for sure in the past week it was from Lucia on our hike. She kept telling me I could do so much more than I think I can. She kept telling me that my doubts and concerns were all in my head and I just needed to think I could do all of this and embrace it. I needed to believe I could.
Lucia’s wisdom and many of the other things I’ve learned also came from watching the people of Pancheshwar in their day-to-day lives. From walking up a cliff in 29 degree Celsius with a UV rating of 13 (EXTREME) to working in their fields while also trying to look after sick cows and opening up their arms to a group like ours, these people really have me thinking.
Praveen (Panna) has also taught me a lot about strength and perseverance. He acts within himself and is always very kind and caring no matter what. When Panna injured his chest in a friendly wrestling match gone wrong, he remained calm and collected. He never complained or asked for attention. When we decided to take him to the hospital to get an x-ray, Praveen was quiet and acted as normal. When we got there the people welcomed him in and guided him through his visit. I was intrigued by how everyone worked together even in that moment and was reminded of Lucia and our first hike.
It is comforting to know that people care, to be around people like that. Praveen taught me to accept the situations that come as they come. I’m looking forward to seeing the differences between Agora and Pancheshwar, but I suspect that togetherness will be a common denominator.