While watching a video about Me to We trips, India Woll decided she wanted to do one. So, she did.
Woll and her family then found themselves in a rural village in India over the winter holidays, building part of a school – specifically the stairs.
“Almost every day we got to work on the site with pickaxes and shovels and rocks, and we made cement out of sand and water,” said Woll, who goes to Bloomfield Hills Middle School, which has a Me to We club.
Once the school was completed her family attended a ceremony to celebrate. Woll said it had all the kids at it, and they were given a marigold necklace, a significant item in Indian culture.
The evening consisted of dancing, music, and prayers.
“It felt really special. It’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done before,” Woll said.
The project was part of Woll’s bat mitzvah project of giving. “Once you turn 13 you’re responsible to do good deeds,” or mitzvahs, said Woll.
While some kids probably pick more local community service projects, Woll got to travel to the other side of the world.
During her time in India, Woll not only worked on the school but was able to spend a day with a local woman and help with her chores.
Woll said they helped her get water from a local well, which Woll mentioned is not close by. They all took turns carrying the bucket on their heads, the way it’s done every day in India. Side note: it is apparently very, very heavy.
That wasn’t all they did that day. There was cooking with the woman in her one-room home as well, and help with a crack in her wall.
“The houses, the walls are made out of cow poop,” Woll explained. “One of the walls was cracking on her house so we got to help her put cow poop on her wall.”
Inspired by her recent trip Woll, an avid rock climber, hopes to set up a climbing shoe donation at the Planet Rock she attends.
When she was bouldering at Hampi – a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top bouldering sites in the world – Woll noticed kids trying to climb without climbing shoes. She wants to change that.
“They would climb a lot better if they had climbing shoes,” she said.
Getting to meet all of these different people was Woll’s favorite part of the trip, and she learned a lot from them.
“I think we learned that it doesn’t really take much to be happy,” she said. “You don’t need a lot of things – you just need friends, family, and love.”
Even though her trip wasn’t that long ago, Woll is eager to do the other youth trips Me to We offers in Ecuador and Kenya.
That isn’t all she’s working on. Woll had recently met with a member of the Bloomfield Hills Food Service Department when we spoke. Why? She’s trying to get them to use sugarcane lunch trays instead of the current styrofoam ones.
Woll said the schools are going to try to switch by the next school year.
When asked if she had any idea what she wants to do when she grows up, Woll said no before hesitating and changing her answer.
“I might want to own a climbing gym and help people,” she said.
Seems like she already has a head start on that second part.
Photo: Laurie Tennent