With all the talk about whether or not “voluntourism” is a good thing and the realization that there are a plethora of white westerners attempting to “save” those less privileged, (and often darker skinned) than them- sometimes doing more harm than good, you may be wondering if Kerala Volunteer is even worthwhile. Take a look at 5, (of many,) reasons our program really is making a positive difference:
1) The kids are learning a necessary skill to further their education and obtain a better job.
R.R.U.P. is a school free of charge and open to all children- because of this, many of the children that attend school here come from poverty-stricken families. The school is not an English-medium school, meaning that, while children their age that come from wealthier families are able to afford to go to schools that teach them to be fluent in English, English is just one class, each day for these children, taught by a non-native speaker. For many of these children wanting to go on to higher education or obtain a job outside of their small village, a grasp of the English language is essential. We pair skilled, volunteer English teachers with the school for this reason.
2) YOU, the volunteer become a better person, and the world becomes a better place.
Spending an extended period of time in rural india- a place you’d never see just backpacking your way through the country, provides you with a better understanding of the culture. Better understanding of other cultures= a more well-rounded person. More well-rounded, culturally aware people= a better world.
3) The kids start to think outside of their small village.
For many of these children, until our program started, countries outside of India, (even states outside of Kerala,) were as foreign to them as outer space- the thought of ever seeing these places seemed as unlikely as many of us ever visiting the moon. Since the start of our program, many of the children have learned how small the world really can be, and that it’s completely within their means to see it, and maybe even make it a better place! Many of them now have dreams and ambitions to step out of their small bubble and into this beautiful world.
4) You learn to be happier with less.
Many people interested in our program see themselves as quite low-maintenance in the first place, (it does take a rare kind to want to travel to India, stay in a rural village in a house with no A/C, and be the only English-speaking Westerner around for an extended period of time,) however, spending this amount of time in a place with far less amenities and luxuries than we’re used to, by default, teaches us to be happier with the less. Much like meditation, taking a break from the fast-paced world to reflect inward teaches us how little we really need to be happy and the importance of living simply, so that others may simply live.
5) It’s FUN and rewarding!
Sure you can party your way around the world and have a great time, but if you’re going to be abroad with a skill that came to you as a birthright that could literally change someone else’s life, you might as well share it. Besides, the children are wonderful, the teachers are welcoming, the accommodation is free, and the cooking is delicious- why not take a break, do something fun, AND feel rewarded in the end?