why volunteer?

I don’t know.

Is it because i wanted to give something back? To be typically white western and affluent and try and inflict my thoughts and processes on those more underprivileged? Is it for the selfish reasons that I wanted to improve myself yet and prove to myself skills and ideologies and methodologies that in London get swallowed by mediocre box ticking and a non-sustainable wage packet? Is it because I wanted to step away from a paypacket and try and make money less of an importance in life? Is it simply because ‘working’ on a ‘salary’ in India is such an impossible dream that this was the best option? Why volunteer?

I’m sat on my bed in a hot room with a broken door, almost pointless fan with stomach cramps thinking too much about why I am here. Why i made this decision.

I thought it was the right decision and maybe it still is. Maybe I’m thinking because i’m so exhausted because I’m trying to change things that are simply not possible and i need to adhere to the advice that I give to the volunteers I mange on an almost weekly basis – Patience

I need patience for sleep, patience for time alone, patience to ensure my phone stops ringing before my alarm goes off, patience that the food and heat will agree with me, patience that what are now oh so clearly bedbugs will just go away, patience that the money I have paid out for basics like food and transport for the volunteers that come will be paid back, patience that i will be able to phone my friends and family and tell them i love it as opposed to ‘i’m just so tired’… patience that it will work out when I get back that this move was the right move.

Volunteering is supposed to have impact, to make changes and differences but it turns out what ever you do is never enough, that despite the hours, the sleepless nights, the fact you wake up at 330 to ensure that a departure is smooth or 4am to make sure an arrival is smooth and still try and manage the endless tasks and constant barrage of questions whilst trying to remain smiley and proud because i’m volunteering and I should be proud, right?

I am proud when i spend time with the girls and guys I manage, who I help to maximise their potential, to ensure they are maximising their potential and they are achieving what they wanted to do… not stuck, confused regretting they came here; wishing they were back home with friends and I’m proud when we go to the schools and the orphanages and chips are made on that giant rock referred to as ‘social change’ whether it’s watching a volunteer teach a women a new word so she can express her feelings and realise that being nervous or scared is an option, seeing children’s faces when they learn the word ‘chin’ or lyrics to ‘head shoulders knees and toes’ to watch and be part of the planning that spent hours of thought and drawing that the volunteers put their heart and souls into. The lessons delivered despite a fear of failure of letting people down because they ‘don’t know what they are doing’ even though they do.

India has a special place in my soul, it’s where I have come in the past when the suffocation of the UK and british values have become too much. I wanted to live here. I thought it would be a nourishing experience that would help me solidify my thoughts and life path. The back to basics simplicity that i loved has turned into constant calls and messages and emails and being stuck in claustrophobic situations… Am i kidding myself? All those people, the friends and families with the what if’s and the warnings and making sure I had a worst case scenario plan. My Mum…. who let me go from hospital a&e department to airport in 48 hours. let me put my worldly belongings in her house AGAIN. Who I promised i was making the right decision for me, that it would be okay. I would make it okay.

Now i’m on skyscanner, writing this blog only to be asked why I’m writing this blog when I could be writing for work, wishing there wasn’t a 51/2 hour time difference questioning over and over again, why volunteer?

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