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India: Teaching English & Community Development
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India: Teaching English & Community Development

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

I have had a wonderful trip

Hi my name is Will Le Heuze,a 17 year old student who had just finished his first year of A-levels, and I decided to do some volunteering overseas. I had had quite a few assemblies at school with different volunteer companies but volunteering journeys stood out the most for what I want to do. So I booked everything and was put in touch with Geetha, we exchanged a few emails, about how I was getting to the hostel from the airport and what I should wear, which was very comforting especially as I was young of age and hadn't traveled alone before.
After landing down in Kochi airport, I was getting a little nervous, but after getting through security and collecting my bag, there was a man with a sigh saying my name and volunteering journeys, which was a relieve. He took me straight to the hostel for my first encounter Geetha and her team. They totally understood the condition I was in and just showed me room and let me go to sleep. Once I woke up, around 3pm there time, they had prepared some food for me and Geetha sat me down with another new volunteer and gave us an introduction presentation, she then gave some suggestions on what we should do on our day off to make the most of our time I time in India. So Lucy (the other new volunteer) and I found ourselves on a river boat in the back waters of Kochi, the following day. Geetha also booked us in for a trip to Munnar tea plantation which was stunning.
During my time volunteering in Kerela I switched from the pre-medical programme to the teaching English programme, which again Geetha and her team were very supportive and helped as much as they could. The overall accommodation as been great with breakfast and lunch included (even if they were a little spicy), nice western style rooms and great communal area to just chill out with the other volunteers. However there has been a few negatives in the terms that that the showers were cold and the beds hard, but if all the negatives I can say about my trip to Kerela I believe I can safely say I have had a wonderful trip and would thoroughly recommend to anyone willing to volunteer abroad.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Finding the light in Kerala

Kerala, was always going to be the highlight of our 5 weeks in India, I just knew it, and guess what? It didn't disappoint me. When I say we found the light, I mean that in so many ways. Literally, the light was soft and the sunsets were spectacular as the sun dipped below the skyline over the Indian Ocean. Figuratively ,the light was everywhere, it radiated from people, drew us into cafes and shops, and then tumbled us back out onto the unhurried pedestrian roads for more adventures and laughs in this beautiful city.
We arrived at the VJ house late at night in mid-March after a tough couple of weeks in Kolkata, ready to get stuck and have an adventure while we worked with the Women's empowerment program. Kerala though would have none of that, and after meeting our glorious girls, Geetha, Medhu and Gina, and four other volunteers early on Saturday, we began a weekend that seemed to go on forever! Food is a big part of life in Kerala, and Gina is a superb cook, spoiling all volunteers at breakfast and lunch. It seemed important to enjoy your weekends, and every effort was made to ensure everyone had plans in place to do just that. We opted for a trip down south to the backwaters, but not on a houseboat, instead visiting Philipkutty Farm, and feasting on the truely inspired food, cooked by owner Anu, and her family. Riding back on the bus, the light did magic tricks again, or maybe I was just blissed out on what may be the best food I have ever eaten!
OK, we did start work on Monday, but true to their word, the staff here make sure you are well set up as volunteers with time to plan, and a cupboard full of resources. We mostly paired up, as everyone knows that it's more fun that way, and headed out to the various sites, ours being the women's empowerment class.
I am yet to be convinced that we as volunteers give more than we receive, as every day with VJ, I was challenged and every evening I reflected on how much I had learned, ( or how much light had shone on me!) However meeting these amazing women, 6 each morning, and another 4 each afternoon, I felt that it really mattered to them that we had come to spend time in their world. As many of them had tertiary degrees, ( Kerala has the highest literacy in India), and good English, we involved them in lesson planning, and ended up focusing on speaking. We worked towards doing presentations by the end of the week, and had many laughs, shared food, and all around enlightenment!
I loved every moment everywhere in Fort Kochi, and am so glad I found the light!