Volunteering with Dharma Bharathi Mission is one of the most rewarding things (both personally and professionally) that I have ever done.
It became very apparent, very quickly that not only is there an incredible demand for the services that DBM provides but their focus on a hunger-free India, through a process of education, employment and empowerment, is based in realism and driven by an amazing generosity of spirit.
Very few organisations have a heart that beats so strongly in everything that they do and very few organisations have a team who are all so clearly committed to delivering success.
The opportunity that I had to see the work that is being done, whether that be through the Mid-Day Meal Program or at one of the Vocational Training Centres, and the obvious positive impact it has on those who participate, was incredible. DBM makes a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis by seeking to create opportunities for them to aspire and to achieve. While the task may be great, I believe the goal is worthy, the effort is justified and the commitment to succeed is real.
On a very personal level, it is hard to put into words what living in Mumbai has been like. There are so many different aspects to day-to-day life that are not a factor in my ‘normal’ life back home. When I first applied for this internship I was asked by the University, at an interview I participated in, why I wanted to go. The first reason that sprung to mind was that I simply wanted to experience how a city of this scale functions. I have travelled widely and visited some of the world’s great metropolises, but Mumbai is on another level as it ranks as about the 8th biggest city in the world…based on population. It far exceeds the New Yorks and Londons (and Sydney doesn’t even come close). Somehow, Mumbai seems to exist in a very livable way, almost in spite of its own realities.
It is also apparent to me that the greatest asset at your disposal is the internal culture of your organisation.
In one of the assignments I had to complete while I was here I spoke about there being a point in time when you stay in the one place long enough that you develop a sense of belonging, or that in some way it has become your home (for for that point in time). I had a moment like that about 3 or so weeks into my time here which involved catching the train home from work one evening. I am sure that I am telling you nothing by saying that riding the train to and from work every day has been an experience. It would best be described on a good day as organised chaos, but at its worse it can almost be a form of physical assault! That said, when I found myself on a train, with an inner sense that I understood the rules and was able to play by them, I had the feeling that I ‘belonged’ here. It was something as intangible as it was memorable.
My most lasting memory however will be when I was assisting Miss Savita with a presentation she was going to give. It was based upon what she does as a teacher at SVM and I was going to help her to create a means of relaying that message. I asked her to tell me her story so that I could help her construct it in a way that was clear and deliverable as a presentation. She told me about how she had been a teacher for many years but was frustrated by the lack of opportunity that she had to really help and make a difference. She said that all changed when she came to work for DBM and how working at SVM and using the resources made available to her in the computer lab had made her role such much easier and so much more rewarding.
It is also apparent to me that the greatest asset at your disposal is the internal culture of your organisation. Having attended vocational training graduations, mini-United Nations and team building days, it is obvious that those people that have already been chosen to join DBM believe in its purpose and are committed to its success. This is not something that you always experience in Australia and I have seen examples of vast sums being expended on the need to instill a positive culture into a work environment.
Once again, I would like to say dhanyavaad for the opportunity to work with and for your organisation. It has been a privilege for me and an experience that I will cherish. As indicated previously, I intend to remain in contact and hope to provide you with some more information once I am home and have access to some additional resources.
I wish DBM every success into the future.
Jason is currently a student of Development studied and volunteered with us helping us improve the quality of our programs, data collection and reporting systems. He also taught a class of students during his time with us.
If you wish to volunteer with us, just fill up a form here and we would get in touch with you.