Pay it Forward Friday-A Guide Like No Other

Feb 2012

This week for Pay It Forward Friday I am featuring our unusual and giving travel guide, Sancia who is based in Mumbai. She is enthusiastic, well read and filled with knowledge, but most of all, she is clearly committed to assisting her country in becoming a better place.

This photo is a perfect illustration of her exuberant personality. Getting into the spirit of things, she was supporting the local culture and having some good old fashioned fun!


Shortly after our arrival on Elephanta Island she started feeding crackers to the stray dogs. They are the scrawninest of animals and I thought she was just getting rid of extra food she had in her purse. Turns out Sancia is involved with an NGO who is working towards spaying and neutering the stray animals in the city. By feeding the dogs, they become less timid of humans and are easier to catch for the program. This continued throughout the day.

Street children are everywhere in Mumbai. Often sent out with a smaller child on their hip, they are a depressing site that tugs on your heart strings. Sancia immediately engages them in conversation and asks about their life. She rarely gives them money, instead walking over to the nearest cantina to get them something healthy to eat. Or she pulls out leftovers she has thoughtfully packed away and brought with her. I wondered why she was carrying such a large handbag, and then I knew. {your shoulders and schlepping are often on your mind when you hit 7 hotels in 14 days!}

Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty; she will ask children about schooling and stress its importance to the kids who inevitably come up and chat with us to practice their English or follow us during different parts of our walks. Encouraging those who answer that they are in school, this dialogue supports the decisions they’re making, while giving her clients an opportunity to see the hope and optimism in the eyes of India’s future. The activities we took part in were colored with comments and personal anecdotes. Sancia has a vast political understanding of all the complicated issues facing India; having the opportunity to be a part of her world for this short period of time was an amazing experience.