Monday, February 9, 2009

Volunteer notes

From Kelly Thompson, an Operation Shanti volunteer:

While I was in Mysore in spring-summer 2008, I was lucky enough to hear about Operation Shanti and all the amazing work they do to help local people in need of care and support. When I made contact, it was agreed that the best way I could help would be to offer English lessons to a few of the children who needed an academic and/or morale boost for one reason or another.

I went on to tutor two adorable wee girls called Prema and Pooja two evenings a week at the centre. I can hardly begin to describe how much I got from teaching them. Both girls were smart, sweet and sensitive, and it was my pleasure to nurture these qualities in them. Despite me not being in Mysore for all that long, it was hugely rewarding to see their confidence and abilities improving, and it was a complete joy to see them having such fun learning. Prema needed a little more help and encouragement because of her hearing difficulties but both girls participated to the max, helped each other out any time they could and learned very quickly. They particularly loved the most interactive tasks – such as singing songs, playing games and doing actions to help them learn new words. I left every session feeling revitalized from their sense of enthusiasm for communicating and sharing. And I like to think that the sessions boosted their passion for learning as well as increased their knowledge of English.

It's hard for me, as a relatively privileged Westerner, to understand what so many of the kids, and other people, at the centre have been through in their lives. But I feel truly privileged to have been able to help even just a couple of them in some small way, and I've learned a lot from them – through their commitment to hard work, their heartfelt warmth and their pure joy for life.

I found the whole experience enriching and inspiring, and I hope to come back to Mysore to help in any further way I can at the first opportunity I get…

Pooja, Kelly, Prema