Photo Competition Results

First Place: Sam Lane

Judges’ comments:

“The image is a simple one and yet the text brings it to life and gives it complex significance.

 

A touching story. The shoes become a metaphor for simplicity and generosity. The author notes a constant reminder of importance of authenticity and perspective.”

 

Story:

 

For my NCP trip I visited India with a group of students. During my time over there I traveled across to Rajasthan where I went on a three day camel safari in Jaisalmer alone with my tour guide. Here is my story:

 

"This is a photo of my good friend, Napu. Together we spent the 3 days in the western desert of Jaisalmer on a camel safari together where he was my guide. Napu is one of the most enthusiastic, optimistic, hard working and resilient young men you will ever come across.

 

On our travels I asked Napu to show me his small village where I met his family. Houses are made from mud and water is pulled from a well. During our second night we sat in front of our fire on the sand dunes under the stars and I asked Napu about his life. He told me how his father passed away 3 years ago after being very ill for many years. As the only able working male in the family Napu has supported his grandmother, mother, and two sisters for many years now. Napu earns 2 thousand rupees a month as a camel driver (roughly $50). Napu speaks English relatively fluently through his many years working with tourists, though is illiterate and does not read nor write as his family never had the means to send him to school. Napu makes just enough to finance his two younger sisters education. Napu is 20 years old.

 

To give you an insight into his character here is a conversation we shared:

Napu: "do you enjoy your life Mr Sam?"

Me: "yes, of coarse. And you?"

Napu: "I am a simple man. I have no holidays, I work all year for my family. But I love the desert. It is quiet and peaceful. I am here, so I am happy."

 

I noticed that Napu had badly blistered feet which was confusing given he wore sandles. He told me that the sandles and the clothes he wears are his uniform; they do not belong to him. His boss lends them to him for work after which he has no shoes. He said that the only thing he was wearing at the time that he owned were his ear rings; given to him as part of a religious ritual at the age of 2. Napu has never owned a pair of shoes in his life.  We spent an hour on our final night learning how to tie shoelaces. After which I was honored to give him my shoes. To give you some idea, Napu had never heard of the brand Nike or what they did prior to receiving my shoes.

 

Napu never asked for a single thing from me while we were together. In fact, it took quite some convincing before he graciously accepted the shoes as a gift. I have to say that during my time in India I had been given countless enlightening lessons that I will carry with me forever. Meeting Napu had surely been one. I'm sharing this story because it is such a real exposure into how so many in our world live, and a deep reminder about how easy it is for many of us Westerners to lose a bit of perspective. I constantly tell myself to think about what's really important, what's necessary, and what's authentic because of this experience.

 

Absolutely, this and many other experiences like it during my NCP journey have shaped and changed me.

 

This is Napu wearing his first EVER pair of shoes. Safe journeys my good friend!