They have done it! > 2008 > India
I originally planned to simply backpack around India for a month with a couple of friends. When my friends dropped out I was a bit daunted about a month alone so thought a workcamp would be a great opportunity to meet some other people, combined with a couple of weeks backpacking. I have been interested in third world development issues for many years and saw this as a fantastic opportunity to make a small impact on something I feel strongly about. I also believe that it is only by living and working in a place that you truly get an idea of a country, culture and way of life.
Our workcamp leader was a great help with the work we had to do. He had many interesting ideas for activities and clearly some experience of carrying out similar activities in the past.
The domestic arrangements were fairly straightforward as there were only a small number of volunteers. Everything seemed to run smoothly.
The overall organisation of the camp was what I can only describe as ‘Indian Style’! We were often frustrated that nobody seemed to know what was happening or when, with plans continuously changing and poor communication. However, after spending a month in India I can see that this is not the fault of our leader, more a different style of organisation.
The accommodation and food were both excellent. We were staying in rooms shared by 2/3 people in a large private house in the suburbs of the city. It was well kept and comfortable with charming hosts. The only disadvantage was that it was an hour’s journey on local transport to the work site. Our camp leader was passionate about Indian food, so introduced us to a different delicacy everyday, purchased from a local restaurant. This was a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture, although it took a long time the get used to spicy food for breakfast.
We mainly had contact with people that we met through our work. These people were all lovely and willing to teach us about life in India. We were even invited back to their house for dinner. We were also introduced to many of the people that the charity works closely with on the ground, such as the local police. No improvement is really necessary.
All of our leisure activities were organised by ourselves, although our leader always accompanied us. It was good to have this freedom to choose. However, it might have been beneficial to spend some time without our leader as I did end up spending 24 hours a day with him for 2 weeks. It could be frustrating travelling with him as he had no knowledge of Hyderabad, as he came from Bangalore, but would still insist on leading us around!
I can say that the best things about the workcamp and this whole experience were the chance of making a real difference to the lives of very needy children. This is an extremely valuable project where volunteers can have a massive impact. Also the possibility of learning a huge amount about a country so different from our own. I learnt ten times as much by carrying out a workcamp than I would ever do backpacking. Our leader taught us a phenomenal amount and we were totally immersed in Indian culture...and of course, the food!
Dominic K. from Slimbridge