Simona Skandro, a long-term volunteer (LTV) from Germany has been volunteering at Aruloli Home for Girls, an orphanage in the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu. She has been volunteering since September 2013, and will be completing her term in July 2014. Following is an account of her time spent so far.
“After finishing my school in Germany I decided to go abroad, far away. India sounded interesting to me whenever I heard of it. And I admit that despite having already spent 6 months here I am still fascinated by the things I see:
The traffic that is SO chaotic, but rarely leads to accidents!
The animals in the streets: dogs, cats, pigs, chicken, goats and -of course- cows! They seem to have a relaxing life here…
The tiny shops of 4 sqm that sell more than 1000 things!
The numerous temples and impressing monuments, and of course the people: women in colorful saris and men in skirts, many walking barefoot! What I like about South Indians is their honesty, relaxed attitude, their tolerance towards animals, their family values and their love for children. And the culture! It is amazing how little Tamils are influenced by the Western lifestyle. They keep on eating with the hand, wearing Indian clothes, listening to Tamil songs and watching Tamil movies.
I enjoy many aspects of Indian culture, but above all I enjoy my project. I work in Aruloli Home for Girls, an Christian institution that offers shelter to orphan girls and those whose parents cannot afford to take care of them. Here they are supposed to study in order to have the possibility to go to college later. My task is to spend time with them whenever they are at home, which means before and after school, on the weekend and during holidays. Primarily, I am there to teach them English and help them with their studies. Apart from this, I show them exercises, plait their hair for school, help them to tidy up and wash their clothes and pray and attend mass with them. On weekends or during holidays we use the time to paint and draw, play games together, go out to the ground, sing English songs or play on my flute.
My voluntary service is organized by FSL India. After arriving from Germany, it provided us an “Orientation week” that prepared us for our upcoming time. Besides, there were two more seminars during the year that helped us to exchange experiences, problems and ideas with each other. My FSL-Coordinator contacts me regularly and meets me every month in my project. I am happy to be with FSL, because it helps me to understand the Indian culture and mentality better and it supports me whenever there are conflicts or misunderstandings.”At the same time, Aruloli Home became a second family to me, because I don’t only work but also live here. I feel very comfortable, because not only the girls, but also the nun sisters with whom I stay and work are very affectionate.”