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A chance conversation led Karen to volunteering in India

August 2017

At school

Karen Laister from Oxfordshire visited Fort Kochi in Kerala, India in November 2016. She had visited India previously on a work trip, fallen in love with the country and was keen to return.

A chance conversation with a friend put the idea of volunteering in India into Karen’s mind. With no idea of the type of organisation she should be travelling with, she turned to Google and discovered Volunteering Journeys. She says that the small size of the company with a clear vision that, she felt, punched above its weight appealed to her. Karen says: “I was attracted by the values of Volunteering Journeys – its aim is to broaden a volunteer’s horizons and change the way he or she views the world. They talked about deepening the volunteer’s experience of life and enhancing his or her understanding of other people’s lives and their culture. It is aptly called a journey and this is fundamental to the experience I had on their project.”

For Karen, one of the rewarding aspects of the programme was working alongside other volunteers. Karen’s fellow volunteers were from the UK, Australia and South Africa and in the second week of her stay they were joined by a couple on their honeymoon.  

Karen joined a women’s empowerment project in Fort Kochi and also helped out at a local school. Her mornings were spent speaking to the women, helping them develop their English skills and give them valuable support and practice in speaking English. In the afternoons she moved to Mattancherry to help in a state run primary school. Time was spent playing games with the children, colouring and writing stories.

Women's project

Karen spent her free time exploring Kerala – she particularly enjoyed visiting the tea plantations in Munnar and exploring Kerala’s backwaters.
Looking back on her trip, Karen says: “Volunteering Journeys is a great organisation and organised a fantastic experience for me. I am glad that I was realistic with my expectations of the difference I could make during my time in India – I have returned home knowing I have helped people but I also have learnt so much myself and I know my life has been enriched by the people I met.”

Keralan waterways

 


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A chance conversation led Karen to volunteering in India

At school

Karen Laister from Oxfordshire visited Fort Kochi in Kerala, India in November 2016. She had visited India previously on a work trip, fallen in love with the country and was keen to return.


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