I’ve been having a great time for the last three weeks, volunteering at Sristi Foundation. It has been one of the most rewarding volunteering experiences I’ve ever had, and I really recommend that anyone interested in volunteering should seriously consider doing so with Sristi.
Here are my five highlights of the last few weeks:
- Working with Karthik. All those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting and working with Karthik will know what I am talking about. He is so enthusiastic and genuinely dedicated to the work of Sristi. He is also incredibly pragmatic and great at sharing his learning with volunteers; I’ve certainly gained a lot of insight into how an organization works from him.
- Living in a rural village in Tamil Nadu. The ‘pink house’, where volunteers are based is very basic accommodation, but provides a great experience – much better than a lackluster hotel in a tourist hot spot! The neighbours are very welcoming and friendly too!
- Meeting the parents – during my time we had a great celebration with the parents of the members at Sristi Village. It provided an excellent opportunity for parents to experience how well our members are flourishing and gaining skills at Sristi Foundation, meet with staff and volunteers and input their ideas into how Sristi can grow. It was so nice to be hugged by Arun-Kumar’s mother when she arrived, so thankful and emotional she was!
- Building a compost loo is certainly one of my highlights! Compost toilets are water-less toilets that also produce great quality compost for land. The idea is you do your business in a bucket, add in sawdust and ash and when the bucket is full, leave it for one year and let it compost properly. When it is properly composted and dry, you can safely use it on the land. As well as providing an extra toilet to an always growing village, it also is a great way of saving water. I really enjoyed learning about different composting systems and will certainly take this learning to other projects I work on in future.
- Teaching English. I have worked for a few years as an English as a Second Language teacher with a variety of people. Sristi asked if I would lead some English lessons for the members at Sristi and I agreed. It was a great challenge as I have never taught English to disabled people before and it stretched my skills, but was really enjoyable. Rather than ‘book learning’, we focused on verbal communication skills using drama techniques. It really helped me to get to know the members, and there’s nothing as heartwarming as someone having a conversation with you, building in the language you have taught them!
For anyone wanting to volunteer – I heartily recommend considering Sristi Foundation as a place to come. For more info, get in touch: sristivillage[at]gmail[dot]com