It was my first experience of volunteering. In fact, it was the first long term volunteering experience of my life. Naturally, i was very apprehensive about the whole programme and how i would be able to fit in.
All my fears and worries were unfounded. Right from my first interaction with the volunteer co coordinator Mrs Urvashi to the interview process, to helping me understand the entire programme, it was very seamless and professionally managed. Urvashi was on hand to help address every doubts that I had about the programme. Urvashi’s presence and involvement inspired a lot of confidence in me and my family leading up to my trip.
I started my volunteering in the middle of December, 2023. During my stay, I was treated with lots of love and respect by the people at this place. The school children and the children from Manipur are real sweethearts who always gave us a lot of respect and acceptance. Since the place has an active volunteering programme, I had the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other volunteers from various countries.
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I could participate in several Social, religious and cultural activities. For people who are new to Indian culture, volunteering here may be the best way to experience a mix of culture, tradition, religion and social aspects of India. Some of the highlights of my trip were the Mass wedding of 200 couples, Birding trip with children at Pariej wetland, Udaipur trip with the students, celebrating Kite festival etc. We were exposed to several charitable and social activities for the service of the society on an ongoing basis. We also had the opportunity to experience some local sight-seeing, Gujarati cuisine and traditions.
I was able to help out the students primarily in Hindi and English and life skills using a mix of audio, video, films etc to help them learn valuable lessons. The facilities are of the highest standard with the school, hostel facilities, library, playground, temple, volunteer guest house, Gaushala, elder care home etc located in the same premises. The campus is located off a busy highway, but the silence and solitude that you experience here is amazing. I was able to enjoy long walks, yoga, my runs etc without any hassle during my free time.
If I have to sum it up in a few words, i would say Jai Swami Narayan, an Unforgettable experience. I have left behind a piece of my heart and am carrying all the love and affection from the students with me as I embark on my next journey. I hope and pray that I am able to be back soon.