Sarah Hargrave ’09 had never even thought of going to India before this summer. It wasn’t until she spoke to a missionary from the country that she decided it was the perfect place to make a radical change in her life.
“I fell in love with the incredible things these people were doing for India,” explains Hargrave, a psychology major and double minor in child advocacy and education, whose extracurricular activities include 3 Miles Lost and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
“I wasn’t nervous going into India,” she explains. “I was just really excited to be put outside of my comfort zone and into another culture.”
So, from July 6-20, Hargrave took part in “Hope for India,” a multi-faceted program that helps women, children and families living in poverty-stricken areas of India.
“I was in Chillakallu, one of the poorest villages in India,” Hargrave says. “At first, I struggled with questions like, ‘Why does this poverty exist?’ and ‘Why do I have an abundance when these people have nothing?’” “I felt overwhelmed and guilty about this, but I eventually realized that everything that I have is a blessing; I’m not supposed to be unhappy about the gifts that I have. It’s my job to share my blessings with others.”
And she certainly did.
“Hope for India is a program with four different ministries: the orphanage, the sewing project, women at risk and the water filter project,” she explains. “I worked with orphans, widows and at-risk women through this program,” Hargrave says, referring to the oppressed and often abused women she helped as well as the orphaned children she played and connected with. Despite the poverty and hardships Hargrave witnessed, she was inspired by the strength of the human spirit.
“In India, people value the good things in life – relationships and love and laughter – and it’s beautiful to see them so full of hope,” she says. “The things that give them joy are intangible and far more important than money or possessions. Seeing these people being so happy, even though they had nothing, was humbling.”
She continues, “I encourage people to go out and see the way that most people live in this world. Until you see it, and realize it, it’s not real. It’s a part of reality now for me.”
Another trip to India may be in Hargrave’s future. “I left a little piece of myself in India, and I want to go back and be reunited with the women and orphans with whom I made such a connection. India is a special place for me now.”