Alumni Spotlight: Donald Smith

Donald Smith is a 55 year old salesperson from Connecticut, USA who has never been to Asian before volunteering in India with Volunteering Solutions.

Donald Smith - Volunteer in India

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Volunteering Solutions in India?

Donald: I read many good reviews by people who volunteered with them and was persuaded by them. I am glad I used them as my experience was extraordinary and wonderful. They took care of all of the details, I saw the sights, I volunteered in a small school, the kids were great, I ate well, I met lots of people, it was great. They did everything they said they would.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Donald: I did the 2 week Delhi special and one week in Palumpur. Personally I preferred the Delhi experience, I am a city boy, Palumpur was a little slow for me, Very rural, rougher. My day in Delhi started with an early shower, breakfast prepared from scratch by the Nepalese cook Shankar, a very nice fellow, fifteen minute auto rickshaw ride to school,two hours at school, I bought lunch at Nathu's Sweets, air conditioned, friendliest waiters on earth, cost about two dollars us, then walk back to school until four o'clock, then home do whatever you want or do nothing. Weekends see Taj Mahal, tombs,temples mosques, markets, palaces,arches,zoos, etc. Your tour guide Dheeraj takes care of everything, really dedicated fellow. See monkeys,camels,snake charmers, etc. I could go on.

What made this experience unique and special?

Donald: For me the students at the okhla II school were absolutely adorable and unforgettable. I will be going back.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Donald: I will be going back, the people got under my skin in a big way. Unforgettable. The opportunities for doing worthwhile things, the opportunity to serve others is so great there. I think about it every day. Be warned however you may be shocked by what you see there. You will see beautiful eight and ten year old children literally rotting away on street corners,begging, and the sheer volume of them means there is very little you can do about it. It is sobering. I lived well in India, they do not.

Things to think about, I was lucky, didn't have to share room or bath as there were not so many volunteers at this time, you may have two to six people in a room, not a luxury hotel. The good news is you will be surrounded by wonderful people, no shortage of traveling companions, very safe environment, particularly for young girls. It is hot during the monsoon, hot hot hot, don't go then. I think a mosquito net is a good idea, people going in and out let in the little fellers.

In closing I highly recommend The Delhi trip, you will have a blast.