Joy of Togetherness

 “It’s Niswarth tradition that after Seva Cafe, we play these two songs” Mr. Mundra informs our group. I’m standing on the small wooden stage, looking past the table and chairs of the cafe, and at the volunteers we had met just hours before, laughing and joking with us. The beginning cords of “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson starts blaring out of the speakers behind me, and immediately awes and giggles fill the air. A few members of our group were sitting on the edge of the stage below me, one of them I knew well before the trip, and the others I have grown fond of in the pat few days together. I step down and sit on the cool wood, and wrap my arms around them, and we begin swaying with the music. A line forms behind us, copying our movements, and the other kind souls around us do the same. It seems like hundreds of voices belt out the lyrics of the song and a warmness runs through from my head, heart, and hands. The lyric, “Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their need?” reaches my ears and my chest tightens like laces on a shoe and my eyes fill up with water like rivers in a monsoon. While pulling my people closer to me, I sing the lyrics louder, as the sweat dripping down my face is replaced with tears.

            In this moment, I felt as though I belonged. I have been searching for people in my life who hold such value in loving and caring for others as I do, but it’s rare to find it. With this rarity, comes a forgetfulness of these values. I have been searching for a reminder that love is not lost. This trip has embodied those values, with Manav Sadhna’s message, love all, serve all. The visit to Seva Cafe was a summary of everything I have experienced thus far. Seva Cafe is a restaurant that is based completely on volunteer work. Everyday, people come in and cook and serve food to whoever walks in, for no charge. Children from the Riverside school came to visit, who were our age, and we had gotten time to know inthe two days we spent there. Sanchi, who we spent two days with in Manav Sadhna, came as well and brought children from the school so they could have a nice meal. The spirit of all the volunteers is so pleasant to be around, because they serve just because they love it. They earn nothing in return but the smile on people’s faces, and that is enough. These people love so unconditionally, and they were able to form such a strong relationship with our group by recognizing we are not different, despite growing up in separate cultures. They welcomed us based on the fact that we all have a love for service. At the end of the night, all the volunteers ate dinner together, and the others taught us a dance as well, to welcome us into their culture. Even though we just met that night, we treated each other as if we had known each other for years. In the closing of the night, the songs we sang were a perfect summary of what the Niswarth program stands for. I felt so much love in my heart for the people on this trip, who have been so kind and open to me, and the other volunteers as well. I was living in the joy of togetherness, and it felt magical.

-- Lucy