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Teaching, photography and volleyball in India

Kym Anderson (19) was a Particip8 volunteer in India, 2011/12. She is now the Finance and Fundraising intern at Project Trust, but took some time out of her day job to share her thoughts on her volunteering experience.

Kym with the girls as a volunteer with Project Trust in Sevalaya, IndiaI volunteered in Sevalaya in India, which is a big project based in a very rural area. There's a big secondary school, a big primary school, a boys and a girls children's home and an old folks home all on the one campus. There are about 150 kids between the two children's homes, and the kids can stay there right up until they're 18. Some of the children had parents, but they couldn't afford to send their children to school, or couldn't provide transport for their kids to get to school, so they stayed in the orphanage.

Mr Muralidharan, who set up the whole organisation, started it just as a children's home, and it is continuously developing: when I was there the girls orphanage had just moved to a bigger building to deal with an increase in numbers. He picked me up from the train station, which was weird because I'd done a lot of research before I went and had read a lot about him. He's an amazing guy; he has an amazing passion for looking after people.

I stayed in staff accommodation on campus. I worked mainly in the school during the day, but I'd always make time to work with the orphans in the evening. One group of boys taught me how to play volleyball, which was amazing. The younger boys dragged me along, and I got really into it, Kym gets ready to play volleyball when volunteering in India with Project Trustand eventually I was playing in the village as well. They used to tell me I had a really good serve.

All the kids were absolutely obsessed with my camera. They loved taking my camera and running off, and taking photos of grass and trees. I'd ask them to take some nice photos of themselves but they always just came back with nature photos.

There was one little boy who was in the first year class, but he wasn't actually old enough for it yet and he didn't want to join in, he just wanted to play and sleep. Eventually he started to say his name for the register, and then was confident enough to start talking to the other pupils. It was brilliant to see his development, and how the teachers made him feel comfortable with the older boys and girls, and happy at the school.

When you first arrive overseas it is a huge culture shock, but it's another huge culture shock coming back. In India I was amongst people who you might perceive as ‘having nothing' but they really appreciated everything they had: they had food, they had shelter, they had each other and they were happy. It's strange when you come back to Scotland and you see everyone with all the latest gadgets and all the best clothes but they're not happy, and they always want more.


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