In January 2014, I volunteered for two weeks in Goa, India. I had the experience of my life; I loved meeting the other volunteers, exploring the area during the introduction week, spending time at the projects and learning so much about not only Indian culture but the cultures of the volunteers around me as well. I can’t say that I have a favourite part of volunteering in Goa at the Teaching and Orphanage Work project; the whole experience was incredible and suited me down to the ground!
A Day in Life of a Volunteer in Goa:
So, you actually got to choose both a morning project and an afternoon project. I chose the women’s outreach program and the children’s slum program. Breakfast was served from 7:00 am to 8:30 am and then cars that took the volunteers to the projects left around 9:00 am. However, none of this was concrete so if you slept in you wouldn’t miss out because a car would wait for you! During the first few days of the project, volunteers are generally accompanied by one of the coordinators or a staff member from the house.
At the Women’s Outreach Program we usually started the morning off with some exercises. We sometimes incorporated some yoga or meditation and then moved on to our activity of the day. The women enjoyed card games and were very interested in learning any new games we had from our home countries.
We always offered to play card games with them but also offered a different activity too. Unique activities, such as painting or drawing, were much appreciated and it was obvious that these women had done a lot of art before. One day, we brought along some biscuit decorating equipment which they really enjoyed using! We generally stayed at the first project for a few hours and then returned to the volunteer house for lunch. However, the projects are very flexible so you could always choose to arrive at the project earlier or leave later if you wanted to!
At the slums outreach project we would visit a ‘classroom’ of sorts that the local slum children attended every day. This is not an actual school, and some of the kids do attend the local primary school, although for many of them this is the only education they get. We spent our time teaching the children English, math, and a variety of other subjects. There is no real syllabus so we had a lot of leeway with what we could teach the kids.
We would bring snacks and hand them out to the children after teaching them for about two hours. Then, we all headed down to a nearby field and played games with a ball that the volunteers had brought.
The afternoon project ended at around 4:00 pm, so we had the entire evening to do whatever we pleased. I spent some of this time exploring the local markets, heading out for dinner with the other volunteers, and so much more! The volunteers don’t have to be home until 10:00 am, but the coordinators are very flexible and even allowed our group to come home at 2 am once!
My favourite thing about the entire volunteering experience was the relaxed atmosphere. The volunteer house was very laid back and we were given a lot of free time to explore the area on our own. You are also given a lot of free reign when it comes to the projects; as I said before you can extend the hours at each project if you desire, and you can introduce really anything that you want. Any activity that you can think of can be introduced in your particular project! You can even initiate routines within the projects, for future volunteers to carry out after you leave.
The biggest accomplishment that our group achieved while volunteering was the introduction of toothbrushes to the slum children. One afternoon we went to the local market and bought 40 toothbrushes, toothpaste, and a lot of hand sanitizer. The next day we came to the slum and gave each child a toothbrush. Before their snack we got them all to wash their hands, and after their snack we had them all line up and brush their teeth. Many of the kids hadn’t done this before, and the minty flavour was something very foreign and not altogether plea
sant for a few of them. Hearing back from the volunteers that stayed on longer than us, the tooth brushing and the hand washing was something that stuck, and it is still a daily routine for all of the kids.
This experience is something that has changed me so much, and I am so glad that I found GoEco’s website! I did this project just before my final year at high school and it has given me so much motivation and life experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life!
GoEco is one of the only organizations that accepts volunteers who are 17 years of age, and I’m so glad that they do or I wouldn’t have been able to attend the project! GoEco took care of everything, and answered every question that I had about the project and my travel plans. I would definitely (and probably will) travel through them again! I recommend this project to everyone!
Get involved and begin the journey of your lifetime! Click here for more details about the Teaching and Orphanage Work in India!