“The purpose is sacred”, some will say. Others will call it a trip or a life experience. The reason why I will set foot in India for the third time and second only this year, can be described with two words.
Thessaloniki, winter of 2008. I’m on my couch watching series on TV, while in reality I should have been studying for my mid-term exams. Suddenly, I see a commercial on TV about a nonprofit organization that helps people in developing countries. “Become a child sponsor”, it says. “Help a child, a family, a community with 22 euros a month”, continues. Half an hour later I had already sent a request to become a child sponsor.
Do not be quick to judge. Of course I looked into it. How does it happen? How do I pay? Where does my money go? I looked all these up before applying. And if there is something that made me feel good about Action Aid, is its transparency. You know exactly where your 22 Euros, you give to the child, the family and the community you support, go. And you know they spend it wisely.
Let me introduce you to my “daughter”. I call her caressingly, my “daughter” every time I talk about her. I call her that even though I’ve never seen her. I only read the letters she sends me every six months and at the same time I admire her talent for painting. “I want to become a doctor when I grow up!”. I laugh. Six months ago she wanted to become a teacher. She has every right to dream and make plans for the future, like every child in the world. What if she lives in a small village in Ghana, Africa? Her mind and heart have a thirst for knowledge and I am proud I’m helping even a little bit so that Shine Tabitha can laugh and dream.
Eight years later, I decided that the time had come for me to make the next step. To participate in one of the volunteer trips of Action Aid Hellas. You can guess what comes next. I am already on the plane to Delhi when I’m writing this text. I am going to meet the other volunteers from Cyprus and Greece, who will join me for this volunteer trip. In a few hours, I will be with them, to take the train to Lalitpur, a district in Uttar Pradesh, about 500 km from Delhi. What are we going to do there though? And what is a volunteer trip?
Once or twice a year, Action Aid Hellas organizes volunteer trips to countries where it operates. Each time, it is announced to the child sponsors the country they will visit, and the dates of the trip. Then the child sponsors are invited to fill in an application form and if they are lucky enough, they become members of the volunteer group.
The goal of this volunteer trip is for us to get close to the communities that Action Aid is supporting, and help carry out a project, whether that means building a classroom or constructing a water supply system. Specifically, my team was asked to help prepare the fields for planting, dig, water, sow and enclose the crops, but also help build two classrooms in four different villages of the district!
So you got an idea of why I am traveling for the third time now in India, but also for what is coming in the next ten days. There are unique experiences awaiting, my travel buddies, and I will share them all with you. In the first stage, you can follow my experiences on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and watch live my correspondences on Snapchat (username: diarywings).
Secondly, you can visit the website of Action Aid Hellas here to learn everything you need to know about sponsoring a child, and to become, if you want to, a sponsor of a child in need. It only costs €22 per month, which for you pays 2 coffees and a haircut, but for the people in these countries are necessary for basic necessities like water and shelter.
Until then, I leave you with a warm hug. And remember:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
– Winston S. Churchill