The house were we stayed quickly became our home. Every volunteer from a different place, with stories and experiences to tell, made it very easy for us to join in. The food provided was excellent, done by two cooks who were not only in charge of preparing our daily meals, but were so friendly that they even became like our confidents during the month. The coordinators in charge were very attentive, making you feel extremely safe.
The project is very well planned. It all starts with the Introduction Week. We got to see every detail in Goa, even a Hindu film. Namita, the coordinator showed us around Panjim, Goa´s capital. We visited Old Goa, took Yoga, cooking and even Hindu lessons! My favourite was our visit to the Spice Plantation, where I got an Elephant Bath, it was incredible. By the end of the week we had a real insight into Indian culture, and knew a lot about Goa.
Our week involved two programs, which we were able to choose. In the mornings I would attend the Slum Project. It involved teaching and playing with kids who are living in these slums. It is very rewarding to see how they progress during these weeks, as the first days made me very sad when seeing their living conditions. I had a very emotional experience with a young girl (12 years old) named Jyoti. Her family was from the North of India, however they lived in Goa during the monsoon period, making mattresses to sell. Therefore, the constant moving around prevented Jyoti attending school. I was shocked and very sad to see how little things she knew, but I therefore proposed myself to teach her something. It was hard, but by the end of the month, Jyoti knew how to write and spell her name, as well as how to say the body parts in English. I was extremely proud.
In the afternoons I would attend the Women´s Shelter program. Here you would spend time talking and playing with the women and young girls who lived there. It was good to see how they all had their ambitions and were prepared to fulfil them. Olivia, an 18-year old girl, had been working hard and had therefore been awarded a scholarship to pursue further education in Bangalore. It was hard to hear their stories, as many of the women had been abandoned or abused by their husbands. Us volunteers were there to help them, but I must say that many of the times the girls helped me. Those happy moods, that sense of community, ah we were all best friends soon. I really hope I can go back and visit soon.
It is the best experience of all!