I will never forget the way they welcomed me. I felt home very fast.
My experience with AID INDIA was very rewarding, on my very first day, I arrived early in the morning and found the children of the Island Of Hope Home preparing for school. I will never forget the way they welcomed me. I felt home very fast. The children were very excited, so as the management !
The first meeting with the children can be a bit "intense", as they are 64, and they want to speak to you, touch you, show you that they are here, all at the same time !! But then you learn to know everyone of them, and you don't want to leave !
My « job » was to bring the children to school around 8:30 am, then we had all the day to try to find a way to raise money for the home, cooking, reading, have a walk in the little and nice city etc. At 4:30, we went to pick up the children, and at that point, this is crazy for you until time bed, 9 pm ^^ Usually, we played a little, combing hair, drinking tea, helping them with homework, until dinner time... It takes 2 or 3 days to get used to this craziness that comes with 64 excited children, but Mrs Tangham is also here to help you ! The cultural difference is ok, I thought it could have been worst^^ As a girl, I had to hide my shoulders and legs, otherwise the little girls told you nicely « Be careful sister, we can see your legs ! », girls and boys don't play together, it was difficult for me to accept, I even scolded at some boys because they didn't want to play with girls, but this is how it is. The most important thing I remember was the joy that reigns in this place. Most of the children have been through very difficult situations, they are far from home and don't see their family, but still, they are full of life, smiling, playing, dreaming, living here as a family, always helping each other. I saw some tears sometimes of course, always dried by a hug...
After one and a half week in this lovely home, I took the way to Sathankulam, and the Ave Maria School, in which there is also a home for children. The life of a volunteering is very different there. We lived in a house with the other volunteers, a car came to pick up everyone around 10 am to go to the school and we came back with the school bus ! I didn't stay long enough to settle a project with the children, but with Angus, the other volunteer who was with me in Island Of Hope, we assisted Tom, who was giving english lessons, by playing word game. I had a lot of fun !! The school is very different from what we know in Europe ! The children are disciplined, all the classrooms are opened, the teachers are friendly, everyone is smiling, there is a lot of mutual assistance ! Children were very happy to assist to the class, they put a lot into the games we proposed... Again here, we made mixed team at the beginning, but fast we stopped because of the problem of communication between boys and girls. Indeed, they didn't speak to each others, one told me it was the rules of the school, but it don't know much about it. Some form are not mixed, and I think it's not really a good thing, because there are some level differences between boys and girls. But again, this is a cultural issue that extend to all India.
All the people I've met in the NGO were amazing! Very friendly, ready to anything to make you feel good, the children were extremely well surrounded. I'm very happy to see how is the school in this country where education is the key! Wherever you come from, whatever you do, feel free to come here, your only presence will be a big thing for the children ! You will never forget it !