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. 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.
05Once the meals were ready, all the kids would come in one by one, wash their hands and line up for their rice, beans and milk. Kids would also receive their daily vitamins and gummy bear treats once they finish their meals.
After lunch, it was play time for the children while the volunteers cleaned the kitchen. Some of the kids joined the volunteers and helped us clean up as well. To them, cleaning up was just another fun activity.
As we spent more time with the children, we got to know them better and tried to understand their daily lives and family backgrounds. Many of the kids had a very harsh upbringing. Some had been sexually abused and some had been exposed to drugs and guns at a very early age. It makes you wonder where we have come as humanity when a child does not get a chance to experience a “normal” childhood filled with joy and innocence.
At the soup kitchen, these children got a chance to play with other kids, have nice warm meals and temporarily forget about their daily problems.