Care & Conservation in India
At the beginning of July this year myself and a group of students from a school in Sussex volunteered their time to do a combination of care and conservation projects in India. When we finally arrived at Trivandrum airport we were met by Harry from projects abroad who, in order to get us to our final placement, introduced us to our first Indian experience; India driving, a tribute to the Indian logic which you simply have to love for its pure craziness! On our way to our first placement, a girl’s orphanage, we stayed in the projects abroad offices which gave us a nice chance to refresh and recoup. Whilst staying here we also had the chance to meet other volunteers who were staying there before proceeding to other placements, which was interesting to see what other people were interested in and what they were doing.
When we eventually arrived at the orphanage we were first treated to a welcoming ceremony and got a chance to meet some of the younger children who were adorable! Following this ceremony we were treated to a huge lunch in which we were introduced to eating with our hands, a technique which some picked up pretty quickly and others still haven’t managed! Once we had settled into our rooms we began work. Our task for this week was to build a volley ball court and a badminton court within the grounds of the orphanage, all of which was done with Indian tools and the never failing Indian logic! Although it was hard work and very tiring we managed to have fun with it and it was easier to get on with the work then relax afterwards with a group of people we knew and were comfortable with.
The week was not spent solely working however; in the evenings we did manage to go on some cultural visits such as the massive temple where we got blessed by an elephant, plus trips out to dinner and swimming pools when the weather was very sunny. A definite highlight of the trip were the chances we had to play and chat with the girls, rounded off by a sports day where they had the chance to use the just finished courts, painted the night before!
That same afternoon we left to spend the weekend in the mountains where it was much cooler; we even managed jumpers at some points! This weekends served to be much appreciated relax time where much of it was spent piled on a bed watching movies and filling up on snack food! Although we did also go out on an early morning riverboat trip, saw a traditional Indian dance show and a highlight for everyone was the elephant ride. So once we had all purchased our coordinating Indian trousers and cleared the hotel of all their chips, we returned to the orphanage for one final farewell and proceeded to our next placement to begin our week of conservation work.
We finally arrived at our final placement in Rajapalayam to work on the model farm. The work here consisted of preparing and packing compost for market, washing the goats, preparing new fields for planting and squelching about in the mud to plant the vegetables. Particularly memorable from this placement was the delicious food we were given and then also our lunch breaks in which we visited a well where we could jump into, which was a little scary though nevertheless very fun!
However, after two weeks, our time was up and we had to return to the airport, It really was an incredible trip and we all agreed that the fact we were able to leave something behind that could continue to be used was really satisfying. Something that made the trip so special was certainly due to the group structure we had. I was really good to have a group with whom you could bounce off and which allowed spirits and energy as a whole to be kept high. We all had an absolutely incredible time and are already discussing the next trip we are going to take with Projects Abroad!