Sarah volunteered at our project in Jaipur, India, as it’s a country she’d always wanted to travel to. Not only did she find helping the community rewarding, but also found it was a great chance to learn about the local culture. As a result, volunteering is now something she strongly recommends.
Here, she tells us about her time volunteering, why she chose Volunteer Invest and how she connected with one of the children at the project through piano skills.
Can you tell me a bit about your volunteer experience in India?
I went to India to volunteer with Arms Around the Child to volunteer with kids with HIV/AIDS and I stayed with a family whose mother was the founder of the NGO so I would go to the project every day. It was a lot of fun and a great chance to learn about India, its culture, the people and the kids at the foundation. I wanted to teach so just helping the kids, being with them really and really embracing their way of life was such a rewarding experience for me and I like to think it was a mutual thing.
What made you decide to go to India as a volunteer?
I always wanted to go to India. I was also at a stage in my life where I had just come out of education and having always been interested in volunteering and helping others, this opportunity with Volunteer Invest just seemed perfect.
Would you recommend volunteering to other people?
It helped me in so many ways. I think a part of me before I went thought maybe it could help me in life, to point me in the right direction or give me some answers but I didn’t think it would change me as much as it did. Volunteering will change you and especially in India. As soon as I stepped off the plane, it was completely different from anything I had experienced. I think everyone should go regardless of what stage they are in life – there’s no way you can come out of an experience like that and not feel you have a better perspective of the world.
What did your day look like when you were volunteering?
I would go with the founder of the project to spend time with the kids and it was easy to fit in as they had a very set routine. Essentially you just adjust to their activities, help them read, play with them and then do yoga or help with the accounts of the foundation and all that work that goes on behind the scenes.
Can you tell me what your reasons were for volunteering?
I knew it was going to be a big decision in terms of who to volunteer with as there are quite a few options. The thing that struck me the most about Volunteer Invest was when I found out all of the fees go directly to the charity which is perfect because you want to make as much of a difference as possible so to hear that my money was going straight to people who do this wonderful work made me realised this was the perfect choice. When I got to know the founder and the reasons behind her work it really hit home how right I’d been to go to this project in India and that’s exactly what you want from volunteering.
Would you make any recommendations to potential volunteers?
You only need to come with the right type of motivation and an open mind! Oh and bring a journal so you can write about all the amazing experiences you’ll have!
What were your expectations?
I had done some research but only enough to be comfortable with what I was about to do which was enough for me. There’s no reason you wouldn’t feel comfortable going there so I was just happy for the chance. I felt very well looked after and completely secure. I felt like I was part of the family who I was staying with which was great.<%