Akansha Roy, Unbound communication center liaison in India, and Steve Taylor, Unbound sponsor, contributed information to this report.
For the past 18 months or so, Steve Taylor of Virginia and his sponsored friend, Nathasha from India, have exchanged countless letters. In a previous blog post, Steve and Nathasha expressed how they feel like family, even though they had never met.
Well, they still feel like family, but they can finally say they have met one another!
During the Unbound October awareness trip, Steve traveled to Hyderabad, India, to visit Nathasha.
On the way to her home, Steve reminisced about their letters. His eagerness to finally meet such a dear friend was obvious.
“My anticipation of meeting Nathasha wasn’t like meeting a stranger. It was with a comfort of meeting someone I knew well and cared about very much,” Steve said.
As they neared the neighborhood Steve recognized Nathasha waiting for them. Nathasha led her guests down a narrow lane to the home she shares with her grandmother, uncle and younger sister.
Steve had inquired in a letter about cultural greeting customs before they embarked on the trip. Nathasha had assured him she and her family were comfortable with the hugs and handshakes from her American friends.
“The hugs with the family were better than anything I could have anticipated,” Steve said. “It sealed the ‘family’ bond.”
Steve was enthused by the love the family possessed for one another. He said her grandmother was the pillar of strength and her uncle was hardworking.
After a prayer, Nathasha and Steve discussed Nathasha’s future plans of becoming a nurse, and Steve shared photos of his home and family. He brought along gifts for Nathasha and each member of her family, including treats for her dog.
In turn, Nathasha’s sister, Akansha, prepared a delicious meal for their guests. There was the famous biriyani (rice cooked with marinated chicken with 32 spices), fried fish, curry and roti (Indian bread).
“The trip provided the opportunity to have a context for the cultural influences that are difficult for sponsors to understand but which directly impact the hopes of our sponsored friends,” Steve said.
As they toured the house, Steve was filled with curiosity about Nathasha’s life. He knew she wanted to learn to play the guitar, but wondered why she had not chosen this as part of her sponsorship benefits. Nathasha, instead, pragmatically chose to buy a sewing machine, so they might earn some additional money from tailoring.
“My sister is very creative and she is the one who operates the machine,” she said.
The visit was an opportunity for Steve, the family and staff to talk about a future free of poverty. It was then that Steve decided to sponsor her sister, Akansha, to further help the family.
Steve had a glow on his face as he left. He thanked Nathasha and her family for their hospitality. As they each said their goodbyes, the smiles on their faces were genuine.