Our September get-together group in Kundapur had a strong cultural focus. Volunteers visited the famed Murudeshwara temple and the beautiful beaches of western Karnataka.
Months away from home, in a country not of your own, among people and cultures unfamiliar to you can be challenging, if not difficult to handle. But the rewards are worth it: the intercultural exchange and self-exploration it facilitates can be life changing. In fact the voluntary sector works to not only bring about this change at an individual level, but also to bridge cultural gaps that strengthen solidarity among nations.
At FSL, it is this very transformation that we work to bring about in our volunteers, especially when they are placed in mid- to long-term projects lasting from 1 month to 1 year. Guiding them through the challenges of working in the social sector in India forms a major focus of our long-term volunteering (LTV) team. Every month, we organize ‘get-togethers’ (GTGs), so that volunteers have an encouraging space to share and evaluate their experiences. Read the rest of this entry
Volunteers raise awareness on sea turtle conservation at the Timi-Kurm (whale-turtle) Festival
In the year 2011-12, nearly 720 hatchlings* of the Olive Ridley sea turtle were released through sea turtle conservation initiatives mobilized by FSL India. For close to 8 years, our volunteers, local community members and conservation organizations in the area have been working together on the coastline of Udupi District, in the State of Karnataka, which forms the sporadic nesting grounds of these turtles. It is one of FSL’s oldest home based, self-funded projects.
While there has been much progress, there is still more to be done: the sad reality remains that only 8 nests* were recorded during 2011-12, along the 60 km stretch of coastline monitored by us.
It was the lowest number of nests found since 2007*. Read the rest of this entry
The summer camp volunteer team
On school days Shanthi (meaning peace in Hindi) Ashram is bustling with the sound of children going about their day-to-day activities. Located in Vijayadka village, Mangalore (State of Karnataka)* and home to some 65 students who reside there, the ashram works to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with a safe, nurturing environment that enables their education and future development.
The summer holidays in April provided an excellent opportunity for the ashram community to work on child-friendly infrastructural improvements. A group of our 13 long-term volunteers and 3 FSL staff helped them with this, working for close to 20 days to brighten its environment, saving the ashram thousands of rupees. Together, we were able to: Read the rest of this entry
Jodhpur by day
The picturesque city of Jodhpur, the second largest in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is known for its historical forts and palaces. One of our work camps (which last between 2 to 3 weeks) is set in Jodhpur, against the backdrop of the great Indian Thar desert. Our volunteer, Anna Novikova, writes about her experiences in the work camp.
I say it again: India is a fabulous country!
The end of August I have spent two weeks volunteering for [a] school in Jodhpur. It was [one of the most] cheerful moment[s] of my life. You see a lot of children there. They are very cute, energetic and curious. They are smiling and they ask many questions. The teaching process included educational games, songs, drawing and conversational English. The children were very excited to be learning English, especially through fun and interactive activities. Moreover [they] taught me too! I learned indian dance! If you give care and love to the children, they will give you love back. It is an incredible feeling to see their shining eyes and to share smile[s] I enjoy working with kids and being able to help [them] learn. It enlarged my experience of life, brought self-knowledge and, for sure, broadened my horizons… [the] educational process was rewarding for [the]children. I tried to do my best for them! Read the rest of this entry
Click on the picture to read the list of things Galina sent us.
Galina, one of the volunteers to our work camps recently wrote back to us, reminiscing about her experiences. She also sent us a ‘friendship map’, traditional Russian sweets and candies, inviting us to visit her in Russia. Thank you Galina! You are always welcome back!
My name is Galina, I took part in [an] FSL project in Kerala in January 2013. It was my sixth international voluntary experience and I want to say: it was THE BEST project I ever participated [in]!
I want to thank FSL for [the] opportunity to live in [an] amazing place in Kerala, to meet very nice people from India and other countries, to know more about Ayurveda and to discover the world of yoga.
We had the BEST camp lead[ing] team: Rahul and Vinoth! They were always available for us and [were] ready to help any time, with any questions. Thanks to them, our days were well planned and had a good ‘balance’ between work and free time, very delicious food and interesting cultural programmes. Thanks to [the] participation of coordinator Pratap in out camp, I knew more about FSL and [the] opportunities [it provides] for volunteers and decide[d] to continue my communication with FSL in the future. Read the rest of this entry
Recently, we had the great pleasure of seeing one of our volunteers from last year, Caroline Pilling, revisiting us at our office at Kundapura. She writes about what it was like to go back home to Germany after volunteering in India and the sense of nostalgia she feels whenever she thinks of her experiences here. Thank you Caroline for still thinking of us, and you are always welcome back!
‘On the 20th of July 2012 the last volunteers of my batch left India. It was very sad to leave the country which had become our second home. Now, one year later I am back to this incredible country.
In the meantime in Germany for all former volunteers the life has been going on. We had to face the beginning of studies or working and various duties when we came back to our home. For some of us it was little hard to get used to all of these challenges again. I think, everybody felt strange, when I sat in the train and nobody tried to speak with me. At the beginning in India, I was surprised by spicy food in the morning, I missed it when I came back to Germany. The [best way] to deal with [these] feelings is staying in touch with your buddies and talking about your experiences. Read the rest of this entry
It is said actions speak louder than words. On September 21, the joint endeavors of close to 600 local and international volunteers lay testament to this old adage. We came together to be a part of the world’s largest volunteering initiative to clean up waterways and the ocean: the International Coastal Cleanup. Our concerted efforts resulted in 11 tons of trash being collected in 1 day over 26 km of Karnataka’s coastline*. Read the rest of this entry
One of the activities of orientation week: going ‘on the field’ to project locations, in order to gain hands-on experience of the kind of work volunteers will be expected to do during their time here
The month of September saw another enthusiastic group of volunteers coming to India for mid- to long- term projects of 1 month to 1 year. The mix of 20, hailing from Germany, Spain and France will be working in various projects ranging from environment-related initiatives such as sea turtle conservation to educating children of migrant families in ‘tent schools’.
As with all of our long-term volunteers, their first week began with an orientation on India and Indian culture. This ‘orientation week’ is designed to address various aspects of volunteering in India and to provide contextual relevance to the work they will be doing in the months to come. This is particularly important as each volunteer will live with a local family that has agreed to host him or her and will encounter many cultural differences in their day-to-day lives. Topics such as ‘managing expectations and fears’, Indian lifestyle, Indian pedagogy etc. help prepare them for the months to come. At FSL India, we place special importance on safety, and volunteers are provided with guidelines to ensure their wellbeing. Read the rest of this entry