Volunteered: July 2011 - September 2011
Programme: Creches/Balwadis, Wake Up Pune, DISHA, City of Child
I heard about the Deep Griha Society through ‘Development in Action’, a British charity that facilitates the placement of young people with a variety of NGOs around India, of which DGS is one. I applied to the Deep Griha placement because I admired their extensive and successful range of programmes, and was looking for an opportunity to work with both children and adults.
With so many different things going on at Deep Griha I found scope for an interesting and varied timetable. Having had some experience working in a nursery context before I decided to spend many of my mornings assisting in one of the balwadis the Tadiwala Road centre and I consider this as one of my main duties whilst at Deep Griha. In the afternoons however there was also time to assist with some of the other programmes as well as conduct some English lessons with Deep Griha staff. One of my main responsibilities was probably assisting with the organisation of ‘Melava +’, a matrimonial event for people living with HIV and AIDS organised by DISHA and ‘Wake Up Pune’. Along with another volunteer, Camilla Biggs, I planned and organised a series of activities which would (hopefully!) help ‘break the ice’ for participants on the day. It was not without its challenges, especially with having to contend with three-way translation at one point! However it was a very rewarding experience and it was great to see it all come together on the day! Moreover, a flexible timetable also gave me the opportunity to see first hand some of the inspirational work of the DISHA team with the Tadiwala Road community and beyond. Such insights into other aspects of Deep Griha’s work are something from which learnt greatly and feel extremely privileged to have been given. I would encourage any other volunteer to branch out beyond their own tasks as the warmth and welcoming nature of all of Deep Griha’s staff is something that greatly enriched my volunteer experience. One of my most rewarding and enjoyable experiences during my volunteering was spending a few weeks staying at ‘City of Child’, a project about an hour out of the city of Pune. Combining our stay there with an ongoing craft project, we organised a Christmas card making session, along with other craft activities. Getting to know both children and staff there was something I’ll never forget.
It’s difficult to narrow down a specific achievement, except for a general sense of pride in my time as a whole with such a wonderful organisation and the many mini (and some maxi!) challenges I overcame during my time adjusting to life and work in India. I feel privileged to have been part of such a dedicated and inspiring team and certainly learnt a lot from my experience.