Thank you so much for the grant money that was put towards this trip, it has been the best experience of my lifetime and I am so glad that because of you I had the opportunity to do it!
We started the trip by flying to Delhi in India which was an okay 7 hour flight and the weather there when we arrived was humid but sunny, definitely a change from the weather here in Britain! We stayed for a night in a hotel there and then travelled to Leh the next morning, which is up 3000 metres in altitude, this is where we had to spend our first 4 days acclimatising, here we visited Leh’s town centre and we all experienced for the first full time the change in culture here, it was very beautiful there and the weather was really lovely, the people in the markets were very friendly towards our group and as a group we all brought matching trousers!
The first half of our trip was spent trekking for hours through the day in very hot weather with a UV of about 14 at its highest, we camped at various sites through the mountains and experienced amazing views and the fresh mountain air, at the highest point, as a group we reached 5000 metres in altitude.
We spent a few days in one campsite and me along with a few others got the very first chance to complete the optical project for 25 people in a local village, this was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, the locals were so smiley and kind and although there were a few instances of miscommunication due to a language barrier, we were very lucky that there was a translator who was in the village on a holiday as her grandmother lived there who helped us massively!
We did a test called the rotating E test where the participant who was having their eyes tested would have a large E symbol that they would hold and rotate to copy the one that someone in my troop was pointing to on a chart, they gradually got smaller as you went down the page, the smiles on their faces when some of them could see properly, after most likely a long time with worsening vision were huge!
After the first half of our trip we carried on back to Leh and Delhi again and on to Agra where we saw the Taj Mahal and the Agra fort and we, as a group did our largest optical project, We camped in Agra in a desolate place near a large salt lake, it was absolutely beautiful.
We then took it in turns in our group patrols of about 6 or 7 people to go to the local village and test more locals’ eyes, we were welcomed and given chai tea and mint tea by the locals! Overall we tested over 100 people’s eyes and gave out over 90 pairs of glasses!! Whilst some of us were testing their eyes, others in my group, including myself on one day, were playing games with the children in the village, it was so easy to communicate with them even though we couldn’t speak any of the same language, we played with chalk on the ground and we played easy and simple games like hopscotch and taught each other clapping games like ‘the sailor went to sea sea sea’ that was a really lovely moment where we just bonded even though we were all a lot older than the children!
We flew back to England after almost 3 weeks away with new experiences of a culture way different to our own, i am so extremely happy that we had the opportunity, and I would love to be back there again to do it all over!
So, thank you so much again for this opportunity!