By Mckenna Toston
My name is Mckenna Toston. I am a 21-year old female journalism student at City College. I work as a nanny in San Francisco, and I live in an apartment in the Sunset District with four roommates. I am about to embark on a three-month journey through India. By myself.
I’m doing it for the change in perspective. For the challenge. For the thrill. For the story. And for the opportunity to spread my love to the children at an orphanage called “Blossom” in Virudhunagar, South India.
I heard about Blossom through an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It connects travelers with volunteer opportunities around the world, primarily on organic farms.
Originally, I just planned to work on the farm. But when they told me they also ran an orphanage, I asked if there would be an opportunity to work with the children—and there was. I start volunterring there in mid-February and plan to stay there for 3 weeks. There are 22 children on site, and I will be teaching them basic education, like reading and writing.
My plane landed in New Delhi on Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. local time. Until recently, New Delhi—India’s capital with a population of roughly 13 million—wasn’t on my radar.
Then, a few weeks ago, when a local female medical student was gang raped, beaten and robbed on a bus—and then died from her injuries less than two weeks later—I was forced to face reality.
I am about to travel in a country—all alone and as a woman—where rape and other forms of sexual harassment are seldom punished.
This is my experience as a solo female traveling in India—the day-to-day differences, the good, the bad, the inspiring, the frustrating and the downright confusing.
All I’ve brought with me is a backpack, three pairs of clothes, a sleeping bag, towel, some toiletries, my NetBook laptop and $600. And, of course, my acoustic guitar.