Feedback from Volunteers
And, of course, I will miss all the children in Hathi Tiba whom I have come to love with all my heart. I have been their teacher but they have learned me a lot as well.
I will for sure, come back here someday.
Thank you so much Madan with family for taking care of me again. You are doing an extraordinary work and I am so thankful for everything.
Thanks to all the camp staff for being so amazing with everything. You are wonderful people and I admire you so much.
I have loved to get to know the children in Hathi Tiba and they will for sure stay close to my heart for years to come. Please take care of them and give them my best!
I will miss you all and I can’t wait to come back. I am so happy to call this place my second home.
I am sad to say that it is now time for me to leave this amazing country. With me I will bring some amazing memories! These children have truly touched my heart. And, I am so happy to see how the AVI team is helping them to achieve a better future. You are helping the world to become a better place.
And, to Madan with family, thank you for teaching me about your culture, food and everything else about India. Your way of living has really inspired me.
I will miss our Yoga classes and the amazing fresh food you made.
Even though it has been hard for us to see and teach so many kids who will most probably live exactly as their parents, we leave with the great hope that one of them will have the courage and dedication to change his/her way of life for the better.
Thank you so much for opening this world for us. We will go back to Germany carrying all this knowledge and the emotions with us and will always have a space in our hearts for the children of Banjra Basti and Hathi Tiba.
Please keep doing what you have started in these two communities. We strongly believe that only one role model can already make a huge difference.
We wish you and your family all the best for the future! Let’s please keep in touch.
They live in my heart always and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to hug them again. Thank you AVI for doing such a great job and for trying to change the world. I will miss you all so much, again. But I will come back again.
You Madan have been a very inspiring person to me. You have always been so nice and happily answered all the questions I have had. Your family has treated me so well and everyday I have felt so welcomed here. You all have been like a second family to me. Amazing!!
India has made me a stronger person. I hope to come back in the future and see the development of the project.
My-almost-four weeks here have been incredible. I have experienced all of my emotions and feelings: I have been frustrated, fascinated, sad, surprised, inspired and at times I have felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Just being here and being a part of something so special and important makes me feel blessed.
I came here, hoping that I might change some of the lives in some way, but I would’ve never expected how much my own life has changed. I appreciate the small things more, I look at things in a more positive way and I will now strive for a healthier life- big thanks to Madan for giving me inspiration and knowledge about a good life style!
Not for one second have I regretted choosing to come here, it has been truly amazing. I will miss everything: all of the energetic, joyful children of Hathi Tiba and Banjra Basti, who have brought me so many laughers, the best-ever food, the peaceful life here, the sunset-Yoga, daily walks and much more. And a special thanks to Madan-the most kind and caring man I have met. It feels like leaving a second home.
I could never have imagined how emotionally invested I would become after such a short time of 7 weeks stay here in Kanwar Pura. I truly believe that there is a bright future for these children and that is because of your project.
It takes a special kind of person to dedicate their life to improve the lives of the less fortunate. Some would say 1 in a million; perhaps in your case it is 1 in 1.2 billion. So, thank you so much for giving myself and Louisa one of the most extraordinary experiences we have ever had. And, a huge thank you to each and every one of your beautiful family members. Their kindness is so so important in creating an environment which I can call a second home, one which I hope to return to as soon as possible.
These past 7 weeks have been so eye opening, thought provoking…challenging, but above all- incredible. Words don’t seem enough to describe how I feel. Madan, you are the life of this project, the beating heart, of course it would be impossible if you were not here and I thank you for the strength you have to show each day. I have never met someone I admire as much as you, your dedication inspire me constantly.
To say it’s emotional here is an enormous under- statement, but it’s our emotions that show how much we care and how much we want to help- without emotions we would make terrible volunteers! (P.S. I will be back!)
I have adored every single day.
Until next time
It has been such a big experience to work with AVI, and the amazing kids in Hathi Tiba. Some things have been really difficult and upsetting, like making the kids come to school, making them to stay in the school, cultural differences but most things have been amazing, teaching, playing and getting to know the kids. I already miss them so much. I think a piece of my heart will always be here. They are so lovely and they deserve all the best.
Thank you so much Madan, Anand and rest of the family. You have made me feel welcome and you have been a big support in everything. A big special thanks to Anand who has been the best guide ever.
I will come back soon! Until then, hug the kids from me. Take care of them and of yourselves.
Today is my last day here and I really don’t want to leave these wonderful children in HathiTIba.
I’ve had a wonderful time here, sometimes very challenging but most of the time it has been wonderful. I’ve been here together with Frida, Nadine and Fredric and we have been a very good team. I have got a lot of support from them and from Madan and our guide Anand as well.
I’ll never forget these 4 weeks here in Kanar Pura and Hathi Tiba, it is really a memory for life. I am so happy that I’ve got this opportunity to come here and help these children. I want to say thank you to Madan, Anand and the whole family who lives and works here. They all have been so kind and helpful. I will miss you all.
It will be very hard to describe my experience here in Kanar Pura dn in HathiTiba. I have been here for 4 weeks with Julia, Nadine and Fredrik. It has really been an experience for life.
To actually be able to help these children who live such rough life is truly amazing. It is so sad to say goodbye to it all the wonderful children, Knawar Pura and our friends Nadine and Fredrik who are going to stay for 1 more month. And, of course, to say goodbye to the whole project, to have to let go.
Everybody should do this and meet all of these amazing children. I will never forget this.
I’ve been here in Kanwar Pura for 6 weeks and time flies when you have fun. I have really enjoyed my stay here and I’m so grateful and happy that I did this thing- made my dreams come true. Being a volunteer has really been one of the most important and developing experience of my life. I will miss the kids in Hathi Tiba so much. They really made all of my days here colourful and filled with happiness and joy.
Working in the women project has also been a great experience and it truly melts my heart to see those young and beautiful women making such great progress in both sewing and jewelry making as well as English and Maths- fantastic!
The weekend trips were also very good, especially PUshkar and Bikaner- we had a lot fun!
This was my second time in India, but definitely not my last. This country has my heart forever and ever. I’m looking forward to come back soon again.
Francisca Vieira de Almeida,
Thank you for everything. I will definitely be back soon.
Thank you for teaching me so much about the work you do and about the life in Banjara Basti. it has been an eye-opener and I will do everything I can to keep helping you to help the children to a better future.
And, I will definitely come back.
See you soon!
I am so thankful for being a part of AVI and you have taken such a good care of us in every way. Madan, Ramsingh and everyone else in the family. THANK YOU!!
“This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning.”
See you soon!
I’ll miss you all!
We have enjoyed every minute of our six weeks here in India. Thank you AVI for making us see the “REAL INDIA” and things we never would have seen if we had gone here by ourselves. Thank you for taking so good care of us and teaching us so much.
We have had so much fun both at camp and in Banjara Basti, and we will carry this experience with us forever. Thank you for welcoming us into your home. It has been really nice to live here. We are so impressed by the work you do here and it has been wonderful to be a part of it for a little while.
We would love to come back some day!
Matilda Ek, Sweden
Alma Ericsson, Sweden
Elin Hermansson, Sweden
My time here at the camp and in Banjara Basti has come to an end. It’s time to travel further for new adventures. I will be looking back at these weeks here with a big smile on my face and with warmness in my heart! I’ve had an amazing time in very different ways. Thank you Gunilla and Signhild for sharing my first two weeks here and a huge thanks to Madan and his family and also the guides for all this time!!
You are doing such a nice work both here at the camp and for the community in Banjara Basti. I’ve really enjoyed being here, work with you and so on….. A lot of love also goes to the other volunteers that I have had the privilege to meet, it made the staying very fun!
All and all- I’m very glad that I chose to come here and I’ll keep this experience with me for life.
Carolin Vestlund, Sweden
It is time for me to say goodbye to this place that has been my home the last three months. It has been a great journey and I’m happy that I’ve spent it here. I am going to miss the kids so much! It is incredible how fast they involve. Thank you to Madan and his family for making this a home and great thanks to Arun that took care of us in Banjara as well as on the camp and on the trips.
Thank you and I will miss you!
Linda Bernhardsson, Sweden
So, it’s time for my goodbye songs to ….BIG THANKS to the family for letting me stay here and see the culture close up. To AVI for doing so much to help the kids in Banjara and letting me be part of t his mind changing experience. To Arun for entertainment both in Kanwar Pura and on weekend trips. To the other volunteers for making my stay so nice and fun. sooooo many thanks and so little time. Loved the food and Yoga too. I’m so thankful that this experience was part of my 2013. UNFORGATABLE! As well as all the kids are in Banjara.
Anna Lindstrom, Sweden
I would like to thank the staff and the volunteers for making my stay here such a pleasant one! You’re all amazing people and I’m glad that we met.
During my six weeks in India I’ve seen, experienced so many new things, some truly great and exhilarating, others painful and heartbreaking. Still I can honestly say that I’ve loved every single minute of it, the good and the bad because it has shaped me and changed me in a way that I didn’t even think was possible and for that I am grateful.
Amelia Mondlane, Sweden
It’s been wonderful to be part of your family for four weeks. All of you do an amazing job of making me feel welcome and cared about. Thank you for creating such a special Rajasthani experience for me.
Mikhael Blackmore, USA
My 10 weeks here have been wonderful. I have got to know great people, amazing children and a whole new culture. Thank you Madan and the whole AVI staff. You’re doing a fantastic work.
I will miss India so much and I hope I will be able to come back in the future. Love!!
Evelina Kohlm, Sweden
I would like to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for this experience. The work you carry out here every day is amazing and in my opinion profoundly important. All praise to you! Thank you very much and I hope to see you in the future.
Vide Johansson, Sweden
I am so happy for my time here in India with you. I have really enjoyed it! The kids in school are amazing. I miss them already. You have to promise to take care of them and to hug them for me. The trips on the weekends have also been great. The stay at your camp has also been very good. Thank you for all the good food. I will miss you.
Sara Ekstrom, Sweden
Thank you for having me here. I did really have an amazing time!! I’ve never felt this comfortable and safe in a country or a place far away from home. This kind of experience has changed me as a person, in a positive manner.
I am very happy that I chose to make m y school project in India. it’s a wonderful country with a lot of nice people. Thanks to Madan the whole AVI staff.
Sandra Romel, Sweden
A very BIG thank you is all I can say. This has been an experience for life. In a few years I will look back at this time here and a BIG smile will cover my face. I’m really glad that I’ve met you guys.
Kajsa Sund, Sweden
Thank you all very much for the amazing time here. I will miss India so much, especially the kids in Banjara but also the camp staff that have done an amazing job to make me as comfortable as possible. I will take all the memories with me to Sweden which are many. Thank you for this amazing trip!
Emelie Hedlund, Sweden
It’s so weird to think of my first day here at the camp and my first week here in Sikar. It seemed like my time here, almost three months, were long and never-ending (in a good way). And now, suddenly, I’m packing my bags and am heading for new experiences. I wonder if anyone will even be comparable to this one.
I have loved and enjoyed every day and hour and minute here. I have always been so happy that I’m here. I would never want to be without it.
Thank you whole AVI for giving me this opportunity to get to know this country, this town, these people, both at the camp, all the volunteers but most of all, all my dear and beloved ones in Banjara Basti. These kids have a special place in my heart from now on!
Thanks to all staff at the camp, and especially to the most hardworking women I’ve met. Thanks for all good food, caring and all great laughs. And, of course, thanks for all you’ve learned us. Keep up the good work! Who knows, maybe I come back?
You are fantastic!
Hanna Lindberg, Sweden
Wow, this was some experience! This is a kind of memory that sticks to you. I’ve learned so much about India, that I wouldn’t have as if I were just travellng in India.
At the beginning in Banjara, it felt kind of helpless, like what difference does it make? But, after a while, when I met kids that haven’t got chance to go to school, I experienced a HUGE difference! I saw the difference that we are making just to be there. I really admire Gunilla & Signhild that they/you are putting so much efforts and heart in this project! The world needs people like you! I had the luck to meet Gunilla and I will never forget that woman. She/you made a hug expression on me. And, the great Madan & his family that makes this possible! What would Sikar be without you? Thanks to Arun for all the laughs that you gave and shared. You are a fair and a lovely man-keep on doing a good job here. Thanks for having place for me!
Marie Meyer, Sweden
Dear AVI, thank you all for giving me the opportunity to have this experience. Thank you especially to the family who has been working very hard to feed us and make us comfortable. I am especially grateful for all the wonderful people I was able to meet here.
I wish all the best and lots of happiness to all of you and luck and success in your endeavour of helping the people of Banjara Basti.
Denise Barnes, Germany
Thank you so much for the time here. I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to meet you and your lovely family and the staff. I’m also very happy got to meet Gunilla.
You are doing a wonderful work with the people of Banjara Basti and I’m thankful I could be a part of it. I will always remember you and my time her and think back on it with joy in my heart. I have a lot of wonderful memories.
Good luck with everything in the future. The people here will always have a special place in my heart. Lots of love!
Caroline Nilsson, Sweden
Thank you so much Madan with family and staff for a pleasant stay at the camp. You are doing a very good job and I’ll miss you a lot! I have enjoyed every minute spend with the kids in Banjara. It has been a very good experience and I’m very glad I came here!
Lots of love!
Josefin Jorgensen, Sweden
This has been a wonderful experience which I wouldn’t trade for anything. These past four weeks have been really amazing and I’m so happy I was able to come here, see Sikar and Banjara and meet all the kids. I will remember them for the rest of my life. I wish I can come back in a few years and see them again!!
Sofie Bohman, Sweden
Thank you all for taking care of us, for the excellent food, for becoming our friends, for your entertainment. You have made us laugh these entire 4 weeks. All of you will forever have a special place in our hearts and so will the fantastic children of Banjara Basti.
Coming here and being a part of this project has been the best decision we have made this for. We have learnt a lot during orientation as well as from the project. Working with these children has been amazing. They really inspired us and it was very difficult to say good bye and leave them. We have experienced so much in so little time.
Never forget us!!
Linnea Londahl, Sweden
Hanna Hesselman, Sweden
My three weeks with AVI have been so good! The staff has been so helpful, encouraging & happy all the time. During my weeks here not a single day has passed without me having a blast & a big smile on my face! I’m so thankful that I’ve been given a chance to be a part of something so great as this project. I’ll keep & honor the memories from my time here forever and I always smile when thinking of them.
Petra Hattar, Sweden
Thank you for a really good time I had with AVI. I enjoyed everything- Yoga, Hindi Lessons, Indian Cooking, orientation sessions and Indian dressing at the camp and work with the children in Banjara Basti. Thank you for taking care of me so good. I love you all and will never forget you.
Lena Olsson, Sweden
Thank you very much for a really nice time. Everything has been so great. Some things are very different from home and it’s very interesting to see and listen to stories about India. 8 weeks went quietly. You have a really good project going on and you work very hard. I will go home with a lot of new experience and thoughts about how you can help people.
I hope I will come back one day to see you again. I’m really going to miss you (the AVI staff) and all the children and families in Banara Basti.
See you soon. Love from,
Lotta Sjoblom, Sweden
Having the opportunity to work with AVI is something I’m most thankful for and I appreciate very much. The organization was recommended to me by a friend and I will do the same to my friends. I have the feelings that I really dived deep into India’s culture, and, I know that it was so much more interesting and exiting with the explanations and guidance of the AVI staff. You all really helped me to understand more and more the Indian way of life and its culture. Thank you for teaching me Yoga and Meditation, basic Hindi language that made me more comfortable with the children as well as the community.
Also, my deepest and honest thanks to the hard working ladies running the household, the food was the most wonderful experience.
I look forward to support your cause in the future and hopefully welcome you sometime soon in my house in Germany as well.
Please keep in touch.
Benjamin Habbel, Germany
First, I would like to say THANK YOU very much for a wonderful experience! This journey has been so learning and interesting. I’ll always remember these 8 weeks with happiness, wonderful children, lovely family and the best guides like Sanjeev and Mantu.
India is a special country; which will always have a special place in my heart. To live in Kanwar Pura and work in Banjara Basti with the children is one of the best ways to see and experience lovely India.
The children in Banjara Basti have given me a happy smile every day I have been with them. It is so amazing and I will never forget that. The women made lovely food everyday and Madan has learned me a lot about India. I’m thinking you are doing a wonderful job with AVI and Banjara Basti. Keep on working!
I will never forget and keep you always in my heart.
Josefin Olsson, Sweden
A long time ago a wise man told me that talented human beings reach the top of their evolution when they decide to dedicate their lives to an ideal that is above their own profit, above their ego and they just do that they have to do without telling others how hard it’s their work.
The wise man said that this is the only way to experience real love and real happiness.
I want to thank you for giving me the best example of what once a wise man explained me.
You are all wonderful people. I will miss you and think of you everyday.
Dàlia Gironès, Spain
I have had an amazing 8 weeks here. To Madan- thank you for being so welcoming and making your home in Kanwar Pura feel like home for me as well. To Sanjeev- thank you for the amazing yoga. Relax! Enjoy!! And, for always smiling. To Mantu- thanks for the jokes! To Rajesh and Raju – thanks for all the help at Banjara Basti. To Madan’s family- thanks for welcoming to volunteers and being so kind to us during our stay and of course, thank you for the amazing food.
It has been a unique and incredible experience to teach at Banjara Basti for the past 8 weeks and I will never forget it. Madan- you have been a wonderful host and I have felt welcome and safe in my entire trip. I will really miss teaching the children and I wish all future volunteers all the best with the project.
Colin Dodds, Canada
I have so many good things I could unite about, but I’m going to make it short. This trip is one of the best things I have done in my life; I have learned so many new things as I could never imagine before. I’m so happy that I came here and met you, children, Sanjeev, Mantu and all of the women.
The time here has past fast; it feels like I came yesterday. This is mean that I have had amazing time and I hope that some day I will return. I would tell everyone to take the chance to experience what I have in this past weeks. I will always remember Kanwar Pura and thank you for letting me be a part of your amazing project.
Lots of love!
Erika Molnar, Sweden
We are so grateful that we found this project and that we decided to come here. At first, we thought five weeks would be a long time here but the time has passed away too quickly and we’re sad to leave. Everything has been amazing and exceeded our expectations. The people and the children of Banjara Basti have been fantastic and they’ve given us so much joy. We can only hope we’ve given them something as well. We’ve also felt very welcome and comfortable here at the camp. Thanks to Madan and his family, the staff and the other volunteers.
We have loved the food, especially the pancakes! We had never tried Yoga before, but now we’re going to try and keep it up at home although we doubt that it’s going to be as good as Sanjeev’s yoga classes. We really hope that we can come back some day. To come here has been one of the best things we’ve done.
Good luck with the project. We will always remember Kanwar Pura and Banjara Basti and we’re going to miss you.
MY INDIAN EXPERIENCE
I can’t find words how to describe the feelings of having to leave everything here. My 5 weeks here have been some of the best weeks in my life. I had never thought that I would get so attached to all the children in Banjara Basti and that it would hurt so much, having to leave them. I’m so grateful for the time here and hoping that I will get the chance of coming back when I finish my school.
I went here, expecting to teach these children how to live their life, instead I learned a new way to look upon life. I will never be the same person as I was before this, and for that I’m glad.
The kids in Banjara Basti will always keep a part of my heart. As for the staying in the house and with the AVI staff, I have nothing else to say then it has been so great. I will miss so much from here and always remember it.
I hope you continue with the great work you have started here and that a lot more will get the change to experience this.
Simone Andersson, Sweden
MY VOLUNTEERING TIME
When I decided to come here I thought my four weeks would last forever, but boy I was wrong. It still feels like it’s the first week and everything is so much fun. I regret that I didn’t decide to stay for a longer time.
Everything has been so fun and exciting, it’s all so very different and new for me and I’m so glad, I came here. You all have been so helpful and made everything so easy for me and for that I’m very thankful.
To work with the children at Banjara Basti have been a great honour for me. To be able to have helped some of them to make in the future be able to get a good education. I will never forget them. Everything around the project has been fantastic. It must be so hard for the AVI staff to always stay so happy and willing to get to know new volunteers when they will leave after a few weeks. I really admire your strength and know that us, the volunteers, never will forget you guys.
Thanks for everything!
If you ever come to Sweden be sure to drop by!!
Daniel Berhe, Sweden
MY VOLUNTEER STORY
I am so glad that I decided to come to India. The 10 weeks I spent here in Kanwar pura has been an experience I never will forget. The AVI staff is doing a great thing. Keep it up. Every child that learns how to read is a victory. Thank you all for teaching me Yoga and a big support and help you have given to me, the hard work and your ability to stay positive.
All of you have made my stay in India a special time that I will keep in my heart forever. And, more beautiful and hardworking women than the women at the camp is hard to find. The camp in Kanwar Pura will always be a second home for me.
Agnes Olsson, Sweden
MY WONDERFUL MEMORIES
I don’t really know where to start. The five weeks here in Sikar have passed so quickly. However, it feels like I have learned so much about India itself, with its traditions, culture, languages and religions. I know now, how to cook Indian food, how to speak basic Hindi, how to shower out of a bucket, how to wash without a washing machine and I know how to relax and enjoy.
The project itself was definitely the most interesting part of the stay spending time with the kids making them laugh, helping them with English and Maths and seeing them improve from one day to another warmed my heart. I wish AVI and its staff that everything works out the way they want it. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. I will be more than happy to help.
Give the women staff at the camp a big warm hug and tell them, I am more than thankful for everything they have done for me.
Thank you so much.
MarielleÂ Hanke, Germany
MY WONDERFUL DAYS IN INDIA
Before I decided to go to India Signhild once told me. If you decide to go you won’t regret it but India would steal a big piece of your heart. At first I didn’t believe her but now after these 8 fantastic weeks I know better India itself with its amazing culture, the AVI family, Banjara Basti and all children, the bumpy tuk-tuk rides and all amazing people I met here have just as Signhild said, stolen my heart.
I’m so grateful for the time I spent here and feel so lucky that I got the possibility. I’ll treasure all my memories deeply and do my best to share to what I have learned during my stay here.
The food has been wonderful!! I don’t know how I’ll survive without it now! Everyday I thought the food tasted better and better.
It would not been the same without the wonderful staff AVI has. They are fantastic and have taught me everything about India and a new way of life. They all do a wonderful work. I’ll never forget you and the children! I wish you all the best in the future!
Rebecca Warfvinge, Sweden
VOLUNTEERING WITH AVI
When I decided to go to India with AVI as a volunteer I had no idea what to expect; I had heard stories from some people about the larger organizations that charged huge sums, placed the volunteers in camps isolated from the local population and where the volunteer work did little good, and sometimes even more bad than good. None of this was true for AVI; from the moment I contacted them it felt personal and quite professional, and during my entire stay in India I felt well cared for.
The project is in the city of Sikar, Rajasthan. The volunteer work itself is done in a place called Banjara Basti, which is mostly inhabited by lower castes, untouchables. During my first day at the school AVI has in Banjara Basti I was chocked by the poverty, there is no running water, electricity and most people live in tents or shacks. But once the first chock settled I was really motivated to work with the people who lived there; it truly felt as if the work was necessary! Every day we gave the children food and washed them before we began the lessons, which mainly entailed basic English and math. During the time I was there we only worked three hours before lunch, due to the heat, however, it really was enough!
The camp itself was also a pleasant surprise: living with Madan Singh and his family in their home outside of Sikar. It’s really not a camp where you live isolated with other westerners; rather, it’s more like living in an Indian family! This was in my opinion one of the great things about going with AVI; I really got an insight into Indian culture while living there. The accommodation was also great, clean, good bathrooms and home-cooked food! The staff was also very friendly and felt more like friends than employees. During the weekends they also arranged tours of nearby towns and cities, I really recommend going to Nawalgarh and Mandawa to see the havelis!
Overall I’m very happy I went; it was everything I hoped for and more. I really think AVI compares favorably with larger organizations and I recommend it. Even though I only spend five weeks in Sikar it felt as if we volunteers were doing something worthy for people who truly needs it; I’m going to remember many of the children for a long time and wonder what happened to them after I left. Going as a volunteer is different from just going as a backpacking tourist, in my opinion I got much closer to Indians and the Indian culture during my five weeks as a volunteer than I would have had as a tourist. While there might be some challenges and strange situations while you work as a volunteer, don’t worry about it, for me at least, things worked out great in the end.
Finally I would like to say thank you to Madan, his family, Mantu, Sanjeev and Signhild and all the other people who made those five weeks such a great time!
Adam Edholm, Sweden
MY VOLUNTEER STORY
I had always dreamt of going to India. My mother said that I was still too young. However, this year I suggested it and her answer was that I could go. My dream had come true.
We left on 22nd of August from Barcelona for India, but before we stopped in London. When we arrived in Delhi, we took our bags and found the person who was waiting for us. His name is Sanjeev. He went with us to the hotel where we slept the first night. In the morning we had breakfast and we took the same car to go to Sikar, it took six hours to do 300 kilometers, but the experience was so good, the landscape was very beautiful…
When we arrived in Sikar, the family of Madan was waiting for us with open arms. They said welcome, and asked us if we would like a cup of tea. The first impression was very good.
During the fortnight, the whole family was very kind and looked after us. Every day we went to Banjara Basti and taught a lot of children of 6 to 12 years old, who were always funny. They had smile on their faces…
We taught them Mathematics and English. And, we showed them to clean their teeth and wash their hands and faces. The days we didn’t do that, we went to primary school, other days we went to the hospital.
Thanks to my parents and my family, I could realize my dream. It had been a good experience for me, because I felt useful to help people that needed it.
I was very comfortable with Madan’ family, and I will always remember Niraj’s meals, henna classes and so on. I have made a lot of friends and I hope that I will return to India next year.
Thanks a lot for everything,
Carla Salvado, Spain
A HANDFULL OF SMILES
When I arrived in Delhi, after a nine hours flight from London, the first I could see was a kind face carrying my name written in a placard. At this moment I realized I was in the country of my dreams, with fifteen days before my eyes with the objective of absorbing all, learning all and, moreover, handing over me at all.
Then you are on one and it depends on you to reach your dreams and live an adventure that, in my case, was so fascinating that I’m sure I’ll come back as soon as I will be able.
India is aroma, colour, taste, noise, touch. It’s a country where the five senses turn in a special, charming and seductive dimension. India is hospitality, happiness, kindness. The smile is the principal face of India. At first glance, it shows you a hard reality, with rare resources and looking uncomfortable, but without you knowing and slowly, their people, their timing and their way of life penetrate in your heart and mind for ever.
I was living with an Indian family dedicated to help people since various work areas: health, education, women, sports, street children. ¦The head office and, at the same time, their home, is situated in a small village named Kanwar Pura, six kilometers to Sikar, one of the cities that belongs to Rajasthan, a northwest area of the country bordering Pakistan.
I adopted their hourly and habits; I slept in the open air every night, with the women, under a beautiful and starry sky, I waked up every morning with the warm sunlight, I washed my clothes in a big stone with a water cube and a piece of soap, I drank a tasty milk for breakfast with typical Indian food, I had a wonderful fresh shower. They thought me all that I know about this magical country. I can say that here is my second home because I felt loved and respected for all of the family members and AVI team. I mean AVI is now my project too.
Every day I went to Banjara Basti, a village lacked of the very basic needs for living. I worked with incredible children, helping them with hygienically habits, giving them to eat, teaching basic English and sharing the time playing in a good way. I return of that I received affection, love, fondness, happiness ALL.
Every evening I learnt about cooking, dressing, henna, culture, religion, customs.
At weekend I visited Jaipur, an enigmatic city replete of palaces, markets and history. I could feel the immensity in the magician Taj Mahal, the monument of love.
Is it possible to desire something more in my life?……..Only health for return next year and meet me with my dear family and my dear Banjara’s children.
Thanks Madan, thanks AVI.
Laura Coloma, Spain
AN UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURE
Not many days passes by without me thinking of my big adventure as a volunteer in India. I think about the farm and how everything worked out there, how the daily life looked like in comparison to the everyday life I have at home. I think about the family, the wonderful people that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know. I think about how well they took care of us despite the culture clashes and the misunderstandings that sometimes occurred. And especially, I think about the children. These fantastic people who have taken such a big place in my heart.
To sign up for AVI’s volunteer program is one of the largest and best decision I have taken so far in my life, a decision that I haven’t regretted even for a second. I arrived to this small village in the north of India without any special skills or anything else remarkable, just some basic knowledge in the English language and the will to accomplish something. And still it felt like I had so much to give to these people – people who live a completely different life than we do, based on completely different conditions. If everybody would understand that something like this is possible, that we all in some way are able to help and do something for the people who need it, I am sure that the world would look a bit brighter than it does today.
Looking back and analyzing my time as a volunteer I realize how much you can receive by giving. I also realize how much I have learned from those weeks, about the Indian culture and people but also about myself. I value my life and the facilities we have here at home in a completely different way than I did before.
Thank you AVI and the whole family in Kanwar Pura, for making this unforgettable adventure possible!
Elin Emborg, Sweden