Volunteering India

It has been a busy month as it was such a short month and had to squeeze in all the activities within the 29 days. I always feel stressed in the months which have 30 days. This one had 29 (although one extra). One less day to do more good, to do more writing, to do more talking, to do more networking…
Well March has all the days that I need to catch up my work.
On 6th March is Shivratri.It is believed that this day Lord Shiva got married to ‘Parvati’. Shiva minus Parvati is pure Nirgun Brahman (A pious man with no qualities). With his illusive power, (Maya, Parvati) He becomes the ‘Sagun Brahman’ (a pious man with qualities, values and integrity) for the purpose of the pious devotion of his devotees.
HOLI HAI! If you are here in India while this festival is on you will be amazed by the colours. People play with all sorts of colours-dry wet water balloons, water pumps called pitchkari. On the day of Holi people spend the day throwing coloured powder and water at each other. The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to causes flu. It is the general view that when you play with the right kind of colours they have medicinal significance: the colours are traditionally made of medicinal hers like Neem (a tree from Mahogany family of Meliaceae), Kumkum (dried turmeric powder with slaked lime), Haldi (turmeric) People invite each other to their houses for feasts and celebrations later in the evening.I am going to have fun this season.
You be good, do good and Holi Ki Badhai! (Happy Holi)

Vinod Meena,
Volunteering In India


Comments of one of returned volunteer from USA. Her name is Katheryn and she is a Chemical Engineer.

‘My trip to India was a total success from my time in Bal-Ashram to the time I spent travelling. I really enjoyed visiting the country, and would love to return at some point. Hope all is well in Jaipur and say hello to the children in Bal-Ashram for
Best Regards,

Ety and Carol from Brazil (have volunteered In Jan 2008) shared their experience with a prospective volunteer in the following email-

‘I and my friend, Carol, were in the Bal Ashram in January and it was the best experience of our lives.
When we first got to Jaipur we were a little shocked, but if you've been to India before you know how it is. Jaipur is a beautiful city but it is dirty in some areas and all the mess, the tuc-tucs, the people everywhere, it was all so different and at the same time so wonderful.
When we met Vinod for the first time he was very nice at answering our questions (we had a lot!) and giving us information. Driving to the Bal Ashram was a surprise because it is in the countryside where it is cleaner, green and less crowded, on a very beautiful plantation area.
The first moment we met the boys we knew we would love it. The kids are amazing, very friendly, respectful, and affectionate, although some have very sad pasts, they are very receptive and interested in you. Hanging out with them was the best thing, they call you didi and want to be close, play, sing, it was so much fun, and they are adorable. The staff is really nice too although this might not be your first impression. Since they are all men, you might feel a little intimidated but once you get to know them better you'll understand.
It will be an amazing experience for you, it really changed my life and I miss being there with the kids terribly, it hurts! I look at their pictures everyday. Make sure you take a lot of pictures and specially make a lot of movies to always remember them talking. Ah they love taking pictures too, the love posing, it’s so cute!
The food is amazing; if you're vegetarian you will be in heaven. The vegetables were very fresh, Kalu and Vijay (the cooks) are great and you can go to the kitchen to learn how to make chapatti and chai tea, it is fun.
Take care.

Interns at Sanganer

Our partner organization has assigned a research project on ‘Child labour in Sanganer industries".

Sanganer is south to Jaipur.It is home to hundreds of dying and printing industries. The products include bed sheets, clothes for dresses (skirts, Indian sarees and salwar kurta) etc. Children are working in these small industries. They are illiterate and mostly from Muslim community. They often work over ten hours at a stretch and paid much less than their adult counterparts.

These small scale industries are not very eco-friendly as they discharge into the local drain. The pollutants in the drain are in turn polluting the ground water that is mainly used by one and all for drinking and household purposes. The authorities are thinking of relocating these industries for non-green practices.


International Women’s Day

It is going to be International Women’s Day in March. All the women in the world have come up with this day to enjoy what they do. They could be at the highest echelons of career ladder or brining up kids while staying at home. They all are one kind --womankind.
All of us have women in our lives. They are after all your mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends and so on. Today women are in all walks of life. Let’s just remember one special woman who touched your life this IWD in March. Perhaps give her call or just nourish a happy memory of her if she no longer around and say its your day Girl!


This is the time when all the children in India take their examinations for the up gradation to the next grade. A lot has been said about this education system in India where the students have to pour out what they have read all through out the year in three hours time on a sheet of paper. There is not much room for creativity or the complete character of a child does not come up in this kind of system.

The three hours are very important and often enough to portray your answers to the questions asked by the examiner. The questions are set in fashion to assess the students over all development. Okay not convinced then here is my winner convincer--- India is shining and raging ahead to become an economic power and the only great resource she has is Human resource all study under the same system. I am also a result if the same education system and so are Tata’s, Birla’s and Ambani’s along with the boys at the Bal Ashram.

The entrepreneurs might also have a boost in their education with the very expensive degrees after their schooling here in India. Having said that I wonder what will happen to the boys at the Bal Ashram after they finish school. They will no doubt be better equipped to do the Maths for their incomes but will they be able to the Economics of life. They will no doubt will read and write but will they be equipped enough to communicate.

Come March, they will all sit for their exams and then enjoy their little break before they go to the next level. I am worried about their future which is way past this examination. The examination of life! How will they fare in that? Are we providing them with enough ammunition to go out in this world and face it with fearlessness that comes from knowledge?
You think about it too…

Until Next time

In Solidarity We Trust

Vinod Meena



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 Volunteer Stories

When I first arrived in India, it felt like every little thing was so different from back home- the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the animals; every moment was a new adventure, and I was always excited to see what would happen next! I volunteered teaching English to rescued child laborers in a rural village near Jaipur.

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