Volunteer Story | Sian

The Keys to a Better Life

Can you tell me a bit about your volunteer experience at Faith with Arms Around the Child in India?

I went to India to volunteer with Arms Around the Child‘s volunteer abroad programme Volunteer Invest to volunteer with kids with HIV/AIDS and I stayed with a family whose mother was the founder of Faith so I would go to the orphanage every day. It was a lot of fun and a great chance to learn about India, its culture, the people and the kids at the foundation. I want to teach so just helping the kids, being with them really and really embracing their way of life was such a rewarding experience for me and I like to think it was a mutual thing.

What made you decide to go to India as a volunteer?
I always wanted to go to India. I was also at a stage in my life where I had just come out of education and having always been interested in volunteering and helping others, this opportunity with Arms Around the Child just seemed perfect.

Would you recommend volunteering to other people?

It helped me in so many ways. I think a part of me before I went thought maybe it could help me in life, to point me in the right direction or give me some answers but I didn’t think it would change me as much as it did. Volunteering will change you and especially in India. As soon as I stepped off the plane life it was completely different from anything I had experienced. I think everyone should go regardless of what stage they are in life – there’s no way you can come out of an experience like that and not feel you have a better perspective of the world.

India Volunteer Programme with Arms Around the Child

What did your day look like when you were volunteering at Faith?

I would go with the founder of the orphanage to spend time with the kids and it was easy to fit in as they had a very set routine. Essentially you just adjust to their activities, help them read, play with them and then do yoga or help with the accounts of the foundation and all that work that goes on behind the scenes.

Can you tell me what your reasons were for volunteering with Arms Around the Child?

I knew it was going to be a big decision in terms of who to volunteer with as there are quite a few options. The thing that struck me the most about Arms Around the Child was when I found out all of the fees go directly to the charity which is perfect because you want to make as much of a difference as possible so to hear that my money was going straight to people who do this wonderful work made me realised this was the perfect choice. When I got to know the founder and the reasons behind her work it really hit home how right I’d been to go for Faith and that’s exactly what you want from volunteering.
Would you make any recommendations to potential volunteers?

You only need to come with the right type of motivation and an open mind! Oh and bring a journal so you can write about all the amazing experiences you’ll have!

What were your expectations?

I had done some research but only enough to be comfortable with what I was about to do which was enough for me. There’s no reason you wouldn’t feel comfortable going there so I was just happy for the chance.  I felt very well looked after and completely secure. I felt like I was part of the family who I was staying with which was great.

What was your best memory from volunteering?

When I first got there and was trying to find my feet, I thought about how I could help as I wasn’t that confident to jump in right away. I remember finding out a lot about all the children and one boy who was always in the background while the rest of them had smiles on their faces really struck me. He was quite distant so I thought maybe there was something I could do for him. I reached out to him only to find that he really likes music and he’d love to be able to play the piano which was a great coincidence as I used to play so we got a keyboard and I would just teach him very basic things. I’d just watch his face light up and remembered all the times that he wouldn’t speak so to know that I had made him smile just made everything else worthwhile.

It’s amazing to we have a chance to volunteer. It’s a unique chance to go out into the world and experience as much as possible and get to know loads of different people. This has changed my outlook as I’m more focused, driven and with a better understanding of what I have. I feel so lucky and blessed and now I know what I can do and I can go out and do that. It was a life-changing experience.

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Volunteer in India with Volunteer Invest