My Volunteering Experience in India
Following up from my previous blog where I mentioned about my intentions of volunteering in India, I have now returned after spending 3 weeks in Dharamsala based in the Northern part of India. I had an absolute blast with all the kids mainly teaching them how to use computers and basic English. I also spent a great amount of time with lots of volunteers who came from various parts of the world.
My main base was in iSpiice house in a small village called Sidhbari in Dharamsala. As Dharamsala is in a mountainous region, it was very beautiful and magical. I was involved in two projects a day. The first project was in the government school and the second was helping in either the Slums or Women’s Empowerment.
Teaching in the School
In general, all the children were so keen to learn and interact with all the volunteers. My first day at school was very interesting. I was given a computer class with 15 5-6 year olds. All of their subjects in school were taught in Hindi apart from one English class, so their level of speaking and understanding English was very basic. They were all so happy to meet us and were eagerly waiting to find out what we were going to teach them. The first session was a chance to be introduced to the class which helped gauge what they were good at and what we could help teach them.
From the second session, we started teaching them. The main subjects were computers and English. Kids being kids, they got bored easily, therefore I loved planning the session to include a warm up activity, such as a little game at the beginning then followed by showing them pictures and videos to keep their interested and finally, closing the session with another game, singing and dancing, etc.
Volunteering in the Slums
Teaching in the Slums was altogether a very different experience. Mainly, all the boys go to Hindi medium school and all the girls mainly help in household chores so their education level is next to nothing. We taught children on one of the floors of the building which was under construction. It was much better to split the kids into small groups so it was manageable for the volunteers. All the teenage girls needed extra attention as they had no education whatsoever…mainly teaching them basic English.
The boys were more interested in computers and learning about the world outside India. The younger children loved their drawings, paintings, arts and crafts and basic English. They just loved playing around with all the volunteers.
Jyoti was my favourite child. She was the happiest child I have ever come across. These kids don’t have much to look forward to in their lives but they are still very happy and were always laughing and so accommodative. We built up a strong relationship with them as well as a few of their family members who used to come and sit with us from time to time.
We had mainly teenage girls in these sessions. All of these girls attended school and had good computer skills and spoke basic English. They were mainly keen to know more about our life, what’s life like outside India, what can they do after they finish school. I was mainly showing them
how to create their CV’s, how to upload them on Job boards, and how to make sentences to help them talk more confidently in English with others. One of the girls, Darshini was very creative and was keen to do Nail art and Henna Tattoos on us and she was very good at it! However; it’s a shame that these girls can’t really think of taking their creativity further as their families have limited resources. It’s a big thing for the parents that their daughters have some basic education.
My evenings during the week were used up in spending time preparing for the class the next day. However, it was definitely worth it!
Overall, my volunteering has been a great experience for me. It has helped me realise a few qualities in me which I wasn’t aware I had until now. As I speak Hindi, it helped me to connect more with the kids and get involved in their conversations.
I shared a house with 10-12 other volunteers and realised how flexible everyone can be including myself, especially knowing how little these kids have and how happy they are with limited resources!
It was very hard to say goodbye to the children as they became a part of me for those 3 weeks. Given an opportunity, I would definitely like to go back and help out wherever possible.
I would like to say a special thank you to John Mohan, our CEO of Fusion Global Business Solutions who helped in sponsoring my stay at iSpiice. It was an emotional 3 weeks and I am happy that I have been able to help these kids even if it was only for a short period. Every little helps!