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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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JASNE KROONEMAN
Norwegian

Care for Orphans Project in Madurai, India

         

Mazhalai Illam (‘home of orphans’ in Tamil) is the place where I discovered how it feels to be completely satisfied and how to deal with absolute happiness. Although it may sound as if I exaggerate, I assure you this is the way I felt while working as a volunteer in beautiful, hectic, dusty, ancient and very special Madurai.

Despite the fact I had been in India many times before, it was an eye-opening three-month-stay. Before I started as a volunteer, I had been in India many times. I already knew the situation poor Indians live in and I had often seen Indians suffering from terrible diseases. But still I was completely off the map when I entered the Orphanage the first time.

I didn’t expect that some of the kids were mentally and/or physically disabled. The fact that some of the kids were found in a temple, church or just aside the road turned my awareness of these aspects of life into a feeling. No longer it was a logical consequence of a combination of different causes, it was a very sad and unbelievable situation; how could someone ever leave such a lovely child? Believe me when I tell you all the kids are absolutely gorgeous!

Every morning at eight o’clock, I was picked up by the driver at the volunteer house, and while we were listening to very loud Tamil songs we drove through the – just awaking – city. These drives made me happy as I knew I would be able to help the staff with feeding, washing, dressing, and – especially - giving attention to the children.

After a tiring but satisfying morning the driver would bring me home, a nice moment as well, knowing that I would spend the rest of the day with the other volunteers: very special, open and friendly individuals!

I had a great gap year and it made me decide to study Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of non-Western communities. I love India. I hope you’re going to appreciate it as well! 

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