"Next" Magazine Vol. 3 Fall 2016 - Page 15

“It hadn’t even been a month since we had returned from my first trip to India, where UK had partnered alongside the rural school for kids with special needs,” Baldridge said. “But I had seen a glimpse of the school, the needs, the lack of education and acceptance for these kids and I knew I had to get back. My teacher knew it, too.” “I am burdened because the situations that these families and their kids with special needs face in and around the village is a hard thing to swallow.” Baldridge graduated in December with a degree in special education, specializing in moderate to severe disabilities, and the offer of a job that would have kept her in Lexington. Instead, she took a leap of faith and made the trip to India, where she is staying in a rural village in the southern part of the country called Mayasandra. It is part of the state of Karnataka and is about three hours west of its capital, Bangalore. The school where she volunteers was created to provide a free education for students with special needs, who often are not accepted in “regular” schools in India. “My faith played a big part in me making the trip back,” Baldridge said. “I’ve been so blessed and loved back home, and I felt called and invited to share that with these families here in the village.” The trip has caused Baldridge to face many fears, but it seems her biggest is the fear of not making an impact during her four-month stay.  “I am burdened because the situations that these families and their kids with special needs face in and around the village is a hard thing to swallow,” she said. “While the community may be proud of the school, many of the people refuse to come close to the students it educates because they believe them to be ‘demented.’ The lack of support and education for these families and these kids is heartbreaking.” Every day, Baldridge asks herself whether she has done something that will, in the long run, impact the continued on page 35 | 15