After completing my grad program at UC – Berkeley, I took a gap year to pause, unplug and rediscover myself. I wanted to put my business and engineering skills to a good use while I travelled around the world. Traveling, teaching, staying at orphanages and working with different NGOs has helped me develop a broader perspective in many areas of life.
If you are planning to go on a volunteer program abroad, you have to keep in mind that spending a few weeks at an orphanage or an NGO will not make a permanent impact or a sustainable difference. However, it will definitely transform you from within and give you an idea of the real situation at the grass root level. To me, this experience helped me gain valuable experience in terms of practical implication of different policies before starting an NGO, United World Foundation, in India.
At Lasting Blessing, our role was to teach Kindergarten level Math and English to the kids and to help out with other daily tasks. As we spent more time with the kids and the local teachers, we got to know the kids as well as their families on a personal level.
We started noticing that some of the kids weren’t playing during the play time. After speaking to one of the teachers, we found out that some kids came from extremely underprivileged families. Their family members worked as labourer at local farms who got paid a very low wage on daily basis. On days when there was no need for labours, the families would have no daily income and sometimes they could not manage to have daily meals. How can a child play or participate in other activities when he/she hadn’t had dinner the night before?
We asked one of the teachers if we can help out in any way. She mentioned we could provide them with enough flour and cooking fat for a month or two which they can use in case they do not have any other food to prepare daily meals. Although it was a short term solution, all the volunteered pitched in since it was better than doing nothing at all.