Posted on | July 23, 2012 | No Comments
Change is all around us.
I’ve always tried to avoid it, whilst always wishing it would happen, but when it’s forced on you, what you had before doesn’t seem as bad. Having worked in digital for the last 9 years, I should be used to change, since the digital landscape is ever evolving.
In the last few days I decided to change my life again,slightly, and add a third realm to my existence, by moving to another country. Whilst still on my quest to work abroad, ideally in the Northern Americas, I decided while I keep searching and freelancing, I would also try to give back, so I’ve come to volunteer in India.
I’ve long since wanted to volunteer abroad, and now seemed the time presented. Landing in India and feeling the intense heat was overwhelming to say the least and stepping off the place, I was not ready to what the New Delhi airport had to offer. Marketing campaigns parallel to those I’ve been seeing in New York and London, it seems India, is not far behind its counterparts, with mobile ads and digital call to actions plastered everywhere, the typical scenes of print ads are long gone and digital has arrived. But Delhi was not my stop and as much as I’d like to engage and learn a little more about the digital climate, my calling to come to India, is based on taking some time and engaging myself to try and serve.
Three hours north of Delhi, I arrive in a much changed, small town of Vrindavan, famous for being the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the entral God to many Hindus. I have had the honour to visit Vrindavan, twice already, where I stayed a few days each time. The town has developed full fold, with many new apartments and roads, but I hours later I’d soon discover the tiny alleyways and beautiful temples of the town, cows wandering the streets and the unique smells, flavours and mood of this town.
I’ve decided to come and volunteer at a school- Sandipani Muni, which is part of the Food for Life Program. The program started years ago and offer nursery, primary and secondary schooling to both orphans and the poorest children in the town. There are almost a few hundred children, all of whom receive two fresh meals, schooling in Hindi and English and also after school activities ranging from musical and dance classes for free. The FFL team also feed local widows, maintain and take care of cows and have several garden projects daily. Most of the work carried out is paid for by donation and the difference it is making is paramount.
I’ve been here a few days already, and aided in the nursery, where children are washed and fed everyday, and taught basic English and maths skills. I’ve also been preparing dictionaries to accompany reading materials and have taught my first reading class. I hope to bring some learning’s to parts of the digital infrastructure, for example the website and other programs such as grant writing which is core to raising funds. The school also has a computer class, where basic Word and Excel are taught as well as CSS coding.
I see this little town at the onset of a digital takeover, the internet has arrived and mobiles are in full use – it seems there is only one way to go and the children hold the change in their hands.
Volunteers have come from all over the world to help, recently I met a few students from Hawaii, who had come to teach nutrition to the children at the school and give them more information on how a healthy diet can improve them physically, mentally and empower them to achieve their goals.
I hope to be able to give something valuable to the school during my time there.