My Volunteering Experience in India - Before the Epic Adventure

Hello hello hello,

Greetings from Ireland on this wet and dull Monday evening *sigh*.

As you can probably tell by my significantly bare blog page, I am fairly new to this. And keeping in theme with the essence of  'The Travel Bible', I'm going to tell you about my amazing and life changing volunteer experience in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

The end of 2010 became a very hectic few months for myself. I was 15 and a full time student in secondary school. Even though I was in fourth year (transition year - a relaxed year out from exams and a year full of work experience and other fun/useful activities), I was kept on my toes when the volunteering opportunity arose.

The Hope Foundation is an Irish charity who mainly work in Kolkata, India with the street and slum children. They have many homes for these children and run hospitals, drop-in centres, creches, schools and rehabilitation centres. The Hope Foundation runs a program which allows Irish transition year students fundraise and travel to Kolkata, helping out in their very many projects thus also getting to see where their money goes.

 My school took part in this program, and every year a group of fourth year students were chosen to go on this amazing trip to India. Interested students were to write an essay proving why they should be selected.

It was always a desire of mine from first year on that I'd go volunteering with the Hope Foundation in India. So naturally when the time came, I jumped straight to it and wrote out my essay. Unfortunately though, out of 30 applicants, I didn't make the chosen 6 :( I was gutted, I'm pretty sure I cried haha. But taking something positive from the event, my best friend was one of the 6 and I could, in some form, experience it second hand through her.

I helped her with her fundraising and within a month, I received some awesome news. The Hope Foundation were looking for 4 more interested girls to go on a trip to Calcutta that April. So automatically all the girls who applied previously, were asked again if they'd be interested in going. And those who were were re-entered back into the draw. We were interviewed by our principles and within a week, they announced the four lucky girls.

*Drum Roll*... I sat in the school hall along with my year group, my heart racing. Could this be the moment?
*Heavy Breathing*... As the principle announced the first few names, my heart fluttered. I was almost about the accept failure yet again, when my name was finally called out. My Grin went from ear to ear. Absolutely delighted I jumped up as my friends congratulated me with hugs.

My best friend who went to Calcutta in February and I at the fashion show
 I organised to fundraise for the Hope Foundation.

From there on in, it was hard work and long hours of fundraising, but every bit was enjoyable! Especially because I was accompanied by one of my future-to-be best friends throughout the whole experience :)

To be continued....

"Fundraising for a week in 'The City of Joy'!"

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