Lara and Olivia spent three months volunteering in India in September 2013, they have written a great blog post to help give you an insight into what it is like volunteering in India.
…Our experience in India was just this. I went with my friend Olivia, and I write this on her behalf also. I often get asked how to sum it up and really the only way I can describe what happened over our four months in India is like a hot, spicy curry-an indescribable explosion of the senses which never seems to dull.
In other words, from start to finish it was an emotional roller coaster.
The first confusing head wobble at Mumbai airport was a twang of how the trip was going to unfold…After a week, we had well and truly had our first mouthful… It struck us that for every aggravation, whether it be the humid heat, the gigantic cockroach in my room, the confusing head wobble, the outrageously loud horns of lorries, the lack of bins, the swerving tuk tuks—…there was an equal emotional high! From the uncontrollable laughter when swinging around a bus with our belongings spread over the laps of all the other passengers and all sorts of people stuffing nuts, sweeties, popcorn etc into our mouths to the equally uncontrollable satisfaction from an enthusiastic classroom waiting for our arrival at school. Every cheeky boy was equalled with an angelic girl and every difficult, draining and tiring day was bettered by a rewarding, funny and amazing day.
Both of us experienced individual challenges and struggles within the classroom or with our host families, however, when I look back on what we did and where we were they all begin to wither away. Not to mention that when we did manage to conquer a specific issue, such as uncontrollable children or far too much rice we were one step further into incredible trip we can now look back on. Being on a long-term placement also meant we found ways of dealing with what we were confronted with, we got to know the people and the way things generally unfold which we began to embrace fully.
We knew we had had our dose of curry when we began to let go of everything we had ever been taught was normal and give in to the Indian way. We began head wobbling, jumping on the back of buses, casually flicking away cockroaches, hitting rude tuk-tuk drivers with flip flops, hosting chapatti parties and offering our food round the bus…Why not?
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t comfortable, but it was life changing, amazing and outrageously fun. No Pain-No Gain.