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Planning Retirement Online

Marking a milestone birthday by fulfilling a lifelong dream

June 2017

Sharon in Kerala

Sharon Lee visited Kerala in India – the result of a wish to fulfil a lifelong dream to visit India. As her 50th birthday approached, Sharon decided the time was right and began to plan her trip. She had specific criteria that her dream trip had to meet – it needed to be a deep and extremely personal experience, it wasn’t enough to just be a holiday and it needed to be something she did without her family. She wanted to be challenged by her experience and also know that she was giving something back.

Volunteering therefore seemed the natural choice. As this was to be her first long-haul trip as well as a solo adventure, Sharon was very particular about the company she booked with. She found Volunteering Journeys and was reassured by the level of communication described and the support offered to solo travellers. Sharon also appreciated that the programme could be tailored to meet her exact needs. She wanted to visit Kerala to experience the cultural side of India, whilst having the chance to get out and experience the country’s natural beauty spots. She was also keen to enjoy yoga and meditation on her trip, as these are important to her in everyday life. Sharon works as a social work manager in the UK, so felt that the women’s empowerment project, combined with the opportunity to teach in a school, was best suited to her skills.

Sharon says her experience in India was fantastic – she became good friends with her hosts at the project and was grateful for all the information and help they gave her during her stay. She describes the work with the women in the empowerment project as both challenging and a privilege. She always ensured she was properly prepared for her classes, which not only benefited the women she was working with, but also developed her own teaching skills.

Looking back on her experience, Sharon says: “The women that I worked with touched my heart. Some of the discussions we had sharing our life experiences became quite emotional, but we also laughed a lot. Working in the schools was a joy and we had the honour of attending a school concert to see the children perform.

“Every experience I had surpassed my expectations. In my spare time I went on an amazing tour of Kerala’s back waters and spent time walking in the mountains. I enjoyed watching local dance and martial arts displays and absolutely loved starting my days with yoga on the roof tops. The food was amazing and the people remain dear to my heart. I am truly in love with India and its people and can’t wait to return.”


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