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A desert-being initiative

On our wild adventure into the vast lonely desert Sumar had taken my friend and I to visit the isolated sandstone villages, to collect camel food (guar gum) and to wells where we had observed five men operate a traditional “pulley” system to extract the precious water. We had trotted over the dunes for several hours each day, though admittedly many of the best hours were spent slurping freshly brewed goats milk chai, nibbling hot-off-the-pan chapatti and curiously questioning Sumar on desert life.

Over this memorable time we’d learned that Sumar can speak four Indian languages and dialects fluently, a considerable amount of Japanese and the fundamentals of several European languages, grâce à tourisme. He speaks English with great eloquence and an impressive vocabulary yet, of course, his “camel tongue” is nonpareil. Ironically, Sumar is completely illiterate in every language and even has difficulty in reading numbers.

As one cup of chai leads to another, in the traditional Indian manner, Sumar and I shared our stories, our knowledge and our dreams. I remember Sumar sharing his dream with me that one day he wished to have his very own camel. I cannot fully explain why, but every aspect of Sumar had touched me and I freely felt inspired to share his dream: that one day Sumar should have his very own camel.

Just nine months after my previous visit I returned to India. On January 1, 2014, Sumar bought his very first, his very own, camel. With funds that I had raised from family, friends and my own personal contribution it had finally been made possible.

Sumar had bargained aggressively and was fortunately able to buy the same camel that I had ridden on my first visit to Jaisalmer, “Captain” – we were both exuberant! The bond between Bedouin and camel should not be underestimated and it was so clear that their years of touring the desert together had created a strong and respectful relationship. All of my expectations had been exceeded.

From here onwards I intend to help Sumar generate business with the help of Captain, by offering these wonderful tours to visitors of India. I’d like to one day have a Mrs and Baby Captain, but, for the immediate future, my dream is to raise funds in order to send local Indian children to school.

Not one person in all of Sumar’s extended (even by Indian standards) family can read or write and this is just one family of hundreds in the region that I am currently targeting.I face difficulties in reaching Sumar when not in India, due to his illiteracy, and communication is proving to be troublesome. However, I perceive this as further incentive to assist in not only his education but also for the generations around him which without the help of this initiative may never have an opportunity to go to school. In a country where the divide between rich and poor is becoming bolder and wider at a disproportionate rate, an education is essential, and the ability to speak English is extremely favourable.

For less than $20 USD a child can go to school for a month.
For less than $1 USD a child can go to school for a day.

I will be returning to India in April 2014. I will spend an indefinite amount of time there to make the arrangements for sending children to school, and to teach Sumar the basics, in order to ease our communication challenges. One day he’ll be whizzing around Gmail. The number of children that I am able to make these arrangements for will be determined by the amount that I am able to raise and the amount that I am able to personally contribute. I hope that, in the three months until April, I’ll be able to secure a minimum of three children enrolled for a year’s education.

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