I spent over a month working in the crèches and the Income Generation Programme at Deep Griha Society. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with the women and children at Deep Griha. Working with the organisation gave me a different perspective of India that I had not experienced before. This community is so diverse, talented, and wise. I learned so much from my experiences there and I couldn’t be more grateful to Deep Griha for what they have given me.
I first came to work with DGS through a UK based organisation, Development in Action, as an intern in 2015. During this time, I was involved with the income generation project, working closely with the IGP women to design a range of Christmas cards that were appealing to an international market. I loved my time in Pune, knowing that I would come back soon, and I did. In November 2016, I came back to work on a health-related project, targeting the crèche children. This gave me the needed push to decide to pursue a career in Global Health and Development upon my return to the UK. I feel privileged to have played a tiny part in the operation of an organisation that has helped so many people over the years and I hope that I will continue to visit DGS and the extended family that has been created.
I first came to DGS when I was very young, through the USPG Experience Exchange Programme in 1988. I had a truly wonderful time; Indian culture fascinated and enthralled me and the more I immersed myself in it the more I enjoyed it. However, the highlight of my trip was becoming part of the Deep Griha community and getting to know the founders of DGS who were totally dedicated to their calling, but still found time to be so helpful, patient and kind to their volunteers. Twenty three years later I got the chance to return to India in 2011. The first thing that struck me was how much Pune has changed. Thankfully, one thing hadn’t changed; DGS and its much needed mission to better the lives of the marginalised people from Pune’s poorest communities.
During my stay I lived in the City of the Child (COC) hostel and will always treasure the time I spent there. I spent quite some time chatting with the children after school. I answered their questions about the UK and they shared their stories and hopes for the future with me. Before I left, I spent a lot of time working at Deep Griha Academy, preparing lessons and collecting resources to make sure that I could be as helpful and productive as possible when I was in the school. The teachers were doing an excellent job already and I was able to work alongside them in order to make the planning and delivery of their lessons even better. It was a real joy to work alongside enthusiastic and interested teachers and with such lively and stimulating children. They may have learnt something from my visit, but I learnt a lot too!
I came to Deep Griha as an intern and three years later I was back at this organisation as an employee, that’s how enriching my experience at DGS has been. The first time I came here was on a 6 week internship, which was part of my undergraduate programme. Since I was studying media and communication, I was asked to handle social media and work on re-doing the website, this made me more than happy as I would be gaining practical knowledge and my work would benefit the organisation as well. My experience was even more joyful and educational as I was assisting Ms. Tanja Benz, a journalist from Switzerland who was working as the communications person at DGS.
Apart from the practical skills I developed, I had the chance to understand the grave issues that Deep Griha has been working towards eradicating due to the efforts taken by the NGO to educate each of their volunteers what they strive towards. This is done through field visits to all their centres and through interactions with the DGS team. My experience was even more wonderful and it didn’t feel like work because I enjoyed what I did here. The smiling faces of the children at the crèche and the hard work put in by every DGS member would make one remain positive and happy no matter what.
Throughout my time volunteering at Deep Griha, I have been awed and humbled by the sincerity of the staff. Inspirational and welcoming, many of them have become close friends. In stories and in real-life, I have seen the immense impact that Deep Griha has had on countless lives and the hope that the organization has instilled in so many people. I have seen the organization and its leaders hold onto hope, faith, humility, integrity and vision through challenges of all sorts—truly a rarity in today’s world. My experience was nothing like I thought it would be. As dual coordinator for volunteers and Wake Up Pune, it was often very challenging, but I honestly wouldn’t change any of it. Having seen firsthand such an impactful NGO in action, I have a better idea of what characteristics to look for in a community service organization I volunteer with. I do my best to still support DGS through initiatives like the Christmas card sales and I still consistently evaluate how I spend my time and money based on the values I saw lived out at DGS.
Finally, I hope that my scientific research (now at Stanford University and previously at Harvard University) is influenced by a deeper understanding of social barriers that prevent people from accessing healthcare, which I developed in Pune. I already knew when I came to DGS that I wanted to do research that would improve public health in the developing world, but my time with Deep Griha definitely cemented this vision and continued to propel me towards work developing a vaccine for malaria. My life’s purpose is to bring healing and hope to people who are dealing with medical, economic and societal challenges as Dr. Onawale and all of the employees at DGS do each day.
I volunteered at Deep Griha working to create and structure awareness sessions specifically in health related topics. During my time there, I met so many amazing people with great stories. I learned so much from them and they made working at Deep Griha a joy. The field workers and Dr. Prakash especially gave me a different perspective on how to approach my job, and I really appreciate that everyone took their time to help and guide me. Learning about different perspectives is one of the reasons I try to volunteer with different organizations, and I’m so grateful for what I gained at Deep Griha. Their drive to keep improving and keep expanding is something I plan to adopt into my own life.
I started my internship with Deep Griha Society as a part of the Internship programme at my college. While I have always believed that every experience carries with it an important lesson, the lessons I learnt in the six weeks at DGS continues to leave me with the utmost gratitude. As I worked with the field workers from the Aadhar Kendra Sponsorship Programme I learnt humility and generosity in the way they treat many children, looking after them as if they were their own. The students I interacted with at the Tadiwala centre and City of Child were true inspirations as their positivity, smiles and passion for life despite many hardships made me realize how any problem can be overcome with the correct mindset.
The support from every member of the staff and volunteers made me feel comfortable and pushed me to give my best. I hope that in the near future I am able to work with this wonderful organization again and help them in their mission, to achieve the beautiful vision that they strive towards.
We are Jérémie, Rubens, Paul, Pauline, Marie, Mathilde and Margot. We are students from the French Business School Audencia and spent almost one month with the children staying at City of Child, one of DGS’ flagship programs. In order to make City of Child (COC) self sufficient in terms of food production, we worked alongside the COC team to develop a tree plantation project that could improve the situation. We planted around 400 banana and papaya trees at City of Child. This was great, but being a part of the daily lives of the children at COC had the biggest impact on us. Their laughter and enthusiasm was contagious and gave us the strength to work. Our stay at COC was our first experience in India, but far from the last! We learnt so much from that project and we can only thank DGS for what it has brought to us.