Ryan Lamb '12
Many people visit India to see interesting sights such as the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Others go to learn about Indian culture and life. However, there are parts of India which most tourists don’t see. In March of 2013, Ryan Lamb ’12 chose the road less travelled to the unseen India. He served as executive assistant to the president with Operation ASHA after graduating from Hilbert College.
Ryan studied political science at Hilbert and was impacted the most by his advisor Dr. Andrew Kolin. Ryan credits Dr. Kolin with helping him to think critically and see the world at more than just face value. He also encouraged Ryan to see that he truly wanted to make an impact in the world and make a difference in people’s lives. This, along with the courses he took at Hilbert, such as, civil liberties and human rights, is what ultimately led him to accept a job working with Operation ASHA.
Operation ASHA is a non-profit agency based in New Delhi that provides medical treatment for tuberculosis (TB) for affected people living in the slums and rural areas of India and Cambodia. Ryan was able to have this opportunity through an Indian friend who knew he wanted to do something for others. He was then able to meet and arrange his service term with the president of Operation ASHA when she was in Buffalo. He moved to New Delhi where he stayed with a native for 11 months.
One of Ryan’s duties was to take reporters and government officials to the ASHA clinics, located in the slums, where TB patients can go for their daily medicine and regimens. He showed them how the clinics work and the process by which patients receive treatment. “I met with the Finance Minister of India and was also fortunate enough to meet some other high ranking people,” Ryan said.
The most surprising thing to Ryan during his time spent there was the conditions in which the Indians lived. “The poverty, it’s unreal. These slums are like the size of towns,” Lamb said. “These people live in shanty cardboard box houses and it’s really sad.” With the way India’s caste system is set up it does not allow for poor citizens to be able to get out of poverty. Ryan had to learn to adjust his own lifestyle while living in New Delhi which gave him a new appreciation for basics, like clean water. “The amenities were like a luxury,” he said. “You couldn’t drink water out of the tap. A lot of the living there was really difficult.”
Ryan’s experience in India added a whole new dimension to his life. “I enjoyed experiencing first- hand helping out people and making a difference rather than just sitting at home thinking about how I would like to get involved with something like that. It’s actually going out and doing it. I was able to travel quite a bit. I was all over India and I went to Thailand, Dubai, and Nepal,” he explained. “It really impacted me and it’s a life- changing experience that’s for sure. You get to see the world in a whole different way.”
Although no longer living in India, Ryan continues to keep ties with Operation ASHA. He hopes to get involved with some non-profit programs in Buffalo, NY. His goal for the future is to travel and live overseas investing his time helping others.
If you would like more information on Operation ASHA or apply for a fellowship please visit http://www.opasha.org/ to learn more.