Volunteering with Women (India)

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Today we have Ray sharing another one of his volunteering stories from volunteering abroad. Ray has also written about his experience volunteering with animals in India. Thanks again Ray for sharing your incredible volunteering experiences. 

1. Where did you volunteer?

Womens Interlink Foundation, Kolkata, India 2011

2. Why did you choose this organization / how did you hear about it?

I had to do a second year fieldwork placement for my degree (Bachelor of Social Practice), and as I had no study commitments for 3 months decided to base my placement in India.

After looking on the internet and dismissing places that wanted to charge me, I had Unitec send a letter to WIF and confirmed that I would be with them for 4 weeks at the beginning of 2011.

I decided to volunteer here as I liked the idea of working for an NGO in a poor country, and I thought WIF would be an interesting experience as they have set up centres in red light areas to support the children of working women.

3. How long did you spend there and how much did it cost to volunteer there?
I was there for a month and it was free. I paid approximately $5 per night to sleep in the second story of the work office. WIF was even nice enough to buy me a bed.

4. What did you learn from your experience?

That local communities can help themselves and in an ideal world do not need volunteers to prop them up. I also learnt that people running NGOs who have experience with tapping into government funding can usually acquire funds to support the delivery of their service, without needing money from foreigners.

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5. What was a typical day like?

My main role was to spend time at some of the projects that WIF had developed in Kolkata, and provide direct assistance to the staff. The projects were strongly focused on providing basic nutrition, education and medication to street and slum children. I was also requested to write an analytical report about WIF and their projects in the local community. Parts of my 3500 word report were then used in the 2009-2010 Women’s Interlink Foundation Annual Report.

6. Do you think you will volunteer again?

Absolutely. I loved this experience.

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7. Would you recommend this to anyone else?

Yes, but I did get the impression that they operated autonomously and without much help from foreign volunteers.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering here should email info@womensinterlinkfoundation.org and/or look at their website here

8. Can you share a favourite memory from your time there?

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a slum wedding where I got to see two people get married. It was quite touching and showed that love can prevail even against the worst odds.

Have you ever volunteered with women anywhere? What was your experience like?

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