From late August to early October, Lydia Wummel, a Business Management student from Germany volunteered with us. Just before she boarded a flight we caught up with her and made one more request (she was gracious enough never to say ‘no’ to whatever we asked, one of the many qualities we loved her for), to tell us about her time here…
“It is hard to believe that my six weeks of volunteering with Reality Gives have come to an end. The time has gone by so fast and I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
But let’s start at the beginning…
This was not my first time here in India. Coming to Mumbai as a student in 2011 I immediately fell in love with the country and it’s amazing people. That time it was clear – I will come back to Mumbai again! As I wanted to see other parts of the city I applied to be a volunteer with RGi and luckily I got the chance to work here for a period of six weeks.
My first day started with the Dharavi slum tour. Having seen Slumdog Millionaire and being asked question from Mumbaikars like “why would you go there?” I was really excited to see this part of the city. This tour broke my stereotypical depiction of a slum. I was surprised by all the self-sustainable factories, safety and hospitality of the people there.
So, I was ready to start my volunteering experience in Dharavi. On my first day I met the entire team of RGi and Reality Tours & Travel and welcomed with a nice lunch at an Indian restaurant nearby. After introductions and visits to our different projects and partners I was ready to start my project work with Maggie, another lovely volunteer from Italy who joined in my second week. Maggie and I were responsible for shaping the volunteer and ambassador programs of Reality Gives and we really enjoyed our work. Besides this we got hands on practical experience while giving English classes to staff members, preparing a presentation about our country to teachers and assisting the girl’s football program, a unique program in Dharavi. Throughout the English conversation classes Banu, Sangeeta and Ravi taught us a lot about Indian traditions and festival. We were lucky to be here during the Ganpati Festival and got all information about it from our students. India has amazing and unique festivals!
One of our highlights was the organisation of a dance performance with students from our Youth Empowerment program. We were amazed by their dance skills and the performances they prepared for teachers day at the Royal City School. On Teacher’s day we got the chance to be judges for several things the teachers had prepared themselves. We tasted yummy food, saw amazing posters and draws, got Mehndi and saw beautiful Rangolis. A really eventful and memorable day!
Besides volunteering, Mumbai never gets boring! Every time we thought we understood the city we would find something new and start all over again! Chai walas, colours, festivals, food, smells, smiling people. This will not be my last time in India!I also want to take the chance hereby to thank all the fantastic colleagues from RGi, RT&T, Royal City School, the Community Center and all the lovely people from Dharavi who made this stay unforgettable. You guys are amazing. Keep it up! Looking forward to seeing you back in Mumbai soon!”