Long before this trip gone awry, I volunteered successfully in India.
It was the summer of 2014 and I was planning my third annual winter Indian vacation. Sounds quite exciting when you phrase it that way, doesn’t it. I was reflecting on myself and how privileged I am to be able to go for such a fun hop away every year and how so many others don’t have that luxury. I was filled with a bit of guilt and decided to do some volunteering.
Now for a little bit of back story – one of my absolute best friends is from the state of Kerala. He was always a bit frustrated with me that I was only going to same part of India. At that time I had only gone to Mumbai twice and Goa once. So I had the idea that I’ll do this volunteering in Kerala.
Now I needed to find the project. I had heard about a website called Workaway and found a way to filter the results to show only projects in the state of Kerala. I didn’t want to pay any membership fees, so I cheated the website. I scrolled through the pictures until I found one that said the name of the organization because then I could google it and contact them privately. Genius.
So I saw a listing for St Joseph International Academy. Sounds prestigious doesn’t it. I googled them and found a facebook page then sent a message to that page inquiring about volunteering. I received a reply a couple of days later from the director’s son who gave me the director’s email address.
I sent an email and we actually ended up corresponding for a couple of months. I found out the specific location of the school and my previously mentioned best friend had a school friend who had settled in that district (or county as we call it in America) and he actually drove by the school for me to make sure it was legitimate. After feeling completely secure in everything, I booked my ticket to spend three months there. Three months. Maybe a bit ambitious. [spoiler alert – I ended up loving it and wished I could stay longer and even returned the following year]
So blah blah blah fast forward to me arriving. There were about 20 boys and 5 girls between 5 and 15 years and I absolutely fell in love with them. To be totally honest, I don’t even like kids that much. But they were my friends and we had such a good time together.
I’m just going to throw hella pictures in now because I could tell you a thousand stories, but pictures are way more interesting.
I returned the following year for a month and I wish I could have gone this year, but I had planned that to be my final stop before going home. Maybe next year.
If you’re going to be in Kerala and are looking for a volunteer project, feel free to reach out and I can get you in touch with them. It was honestly the best few months of my entire life.