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W-UP Tour:
The Kick Off Meeting

The testimony of Giulia, coordinator of W-UP project and NoBorders Organisation.

For years I had been writing on my list of good resolutions for the coming year: to visit a faraway place for an experience that changes my inner self. When my colleagues and I received the news of our involvement in the W-UP project and our departure for India, we jumped for joy. 

Before I left, everyone told me that India is a difficult country; either you love it or you hate it, and I didn’t know which side I could take. 

I would have liked to travel slowly, to see the landscape change, but no! Boarding in Milano, stopover in Saudi Arabia (another world) and arrival in Delhi: the chaotic Delhi. Delhi is a place you can’t even imagine. A tuk tuk adventure through the traffic of the metropolis, animals in the street, markets, people, carts, smells, and thoughts. And then on a bus: we passed Ghazipur, a hill of rubbish, a dump as high as the Taj Mahal – one of the seven wonders of the modern world that I would visit later on my journey. Garbage is a big problem in India and one of the reasons we were brought there.

In India, where there are no passports or identity discs, and where religions counts for so much- except among those few who have crossed the ‘black water’ – I believe that a man wearing a saffron robe, or carrying a beggar’s bowl , or with silver crosses on his headgear and chest, could walk from Khyber Pass to Cape Comorin without once being questioned about his destination, or the object of his journey”.
Jim Corbett

We reach Bandh, a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, where Ruchi is located. Ruchi is an NGO that deals with rural development, sustainable management of natural resources, and support for self-help group actions, especially of the village women. 

At Ruchi’s we found many fantastic colleagues and friends with whom we shared ideas and ambitions on the W-UP project, which aims to bring attention and action to the huge problem of waste and to disseminate skills and techniques for upcycling (turning waste into a product of higher value/quality than the original). During the one-year project European and Asian countries involved will organize work camps where upcycling techniques will be practiced. The long term goal is to improve the livelihoods of local communities by equipping them with techniques to transform waste into valuable products. 

I fell in love with spices, with food that has to be enjoyed with the hands. I fell in love with the mountains and cultivated fields where people work hard, but peacefully. I fell in love with the people who are always ready to help or exchange a smile. I fell in love with the wonder I felt at seeing how one can live differently and more joyfully. I fell in love with the stories about culture, traditions and conventions. I fell in love with the temples because they have a mystical aura; there is something incomprehensible but finally you breathe deeply there and that makes you feel good. I fell in love with the peace in this country (outside the traffic, of course). 

Fortunately, my adventure in India continued for a few days. I was able to visit several places that I will never forget and I explored the Indian jungle where animals and humans coexist.

I will never forget India, I will never forget its colours, its sounds, its quirks, and its riches.

Giulia Maculan