Vanakkam! My name is Lena and since 6 months now, I am living as a volunteer in Pondicherry, in the state of Tamil Nadu, in a ladies hostel.
After spending the first half of my 11 months volunteer service in an NGO for community development, called Thulir Uthavi Karam Foundation, I decided to spend the second half in a school for disabled people, the Sharon Special School, where I started about 2 weeks ago. I deliberately used the first half of my year in India to spend a lot of time in Pondicherry and in the project, in order to settle in as well as possible and to get to know the everyday life and culture.
This time was very challenging due to the amount of work, but nevertheless, it was marked by some success and learning progress. My main task was to help the students with their homework and preparation for tests in the evenings, after school. Because of their thankfulness and our interesting talks and funny jokes together, I enjoyed this work very much. During the day, me and my co-volunteer in the project also maintained contact with a home for the elderly and with some local schools for cooperating. Our biggest success there was to open a library for the students, which was a huge event for the whole organisation.
Having arrived in the new project, my task now is to teach the younger children to read, write and speak, to engage with them through painting and handicrafts as well as in sports, for example dancing together. From the very beginning, I was really well received and I feel totally comfortable. Although the work is not always easy due to the language barrier, it is still a lot of fun and gives me a lot of energy due to my impact in the learning progress of the children and their joy of life.
After a long time full of emotional and health problems, I have now settled in very well and am super happy with my current situation. I have learned to love the local people, who are always and everywhere friendly and helpful, and take care of each other, and also the food, especially the rice. I am beginning to explore the country more and more and have meanwhile, even got used to the traffic and the many people. I have made a lot of interesting experiences and am definitely looking forward to many more in the next 5 months.