Alumni Spotlight: Anna Marsh


After breaking her back in a car accident meant that Anna Marsh, Coventry UK had to take a year out of University where she was studying to be a midwife, she knew that she wanted to make the most out of her unexpected gap year and go travelling. On the final leg of her 8 week trip after volunteering in Tanzania and China, Anna joined us with Volunteering Solutions for a Cultural Orientation and Language week in Delhi and then to Palampur where she volunteered in a Maternity Hospital.

Why did you pick this program?

Before the accident, as part of her degree there was an opportunity to complete an 'elective placement' to experience maternity services in any country around the world and it was when researching for this that she came across the Volunteering Solutions Indian Palampur Maternity program.

Then when her circumstances changed, Anna knew that her combined childhood fascination with Indian culture (from watching one too many Bollywood films on the movie channels) and passion for midwifery meant that this program was a must. After hours and hours of browsing around other programs and companies and reading endless wonderful reviews of Volunteering Solutions all over the internet, she took the plunge and booked it.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Her one piece of advice for friends thinking of going abroad? "Just. Do. It. Take the plunge. Dare yourself. You will learn and discover so much about yourself as well as having a fantastic time and meeting some amazing people from all over the world. You may even surprise yourself."

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

For those planning to visit the program, she recommends to prepare yourself for a medical culture very different to that is expected in Western society. Some practices, including accepted levels of cleanliness and hygiene, are comparably basic and some may find a little shocking. However, all of their practise is done with the best intentions and they are very eager to learn from your Western experiences as well as teach you some of the theory behind their own practices.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

When asked about her favourite moments in India, Anna will tell you there are too many to mention but that highlights include very nearly meeting the Dalai Lama (he had left only earlier that morning), visiting the Taj Mahal in authentic Indian outfits and the time that a monkey stole the sugar bowl off her table at a restaurant!

As a woman travelling alone, how did you find travelling in India?

When telling even the most experienced traveller that she was visiting India alone as a 20 year old girl, she was met with negative reactions and even fears for her safety. However, after stepping out of the doors of the airport, she immediately felt at home. She experienced no feelings of negativity due to the fact that she was female and felt very welcomed by the local people who sincerely just wanted her to have a nice stay in their beautiful country. She was well advised by the staff at Volunteering Solutions as to safe travelling and not to travel alone at night but merely applied the same precautions as you would travelling in any foreign city and had a wonderful, safe stay!

How did you family feel about your travels?

With concerns only for their baby daughter's safety, her parents were initially very wary of her plans to travel abroad. However, after reading through the predeparture information provided by Volunteering Solutions with them and showing them the credibility of the program and company, they were far more supportive. In fact, before she left she was given only two rules by her Mum - not to die and not to get a tattoo! She is pleased (and relieved!) to announce that neither rules were broken, although there may a tattoo to commemorate her trip on the horizon...