ICS Trip to India

I am Kate Reed and I have just returned from a 3 month volunteer International Citizen Service (ICS) placement to India.

It was only in the September 2015 edition of the Wendover News that I was appealing for support to help raise the £1,500 to go and now I have experienced the amazing opportunity and feel eager to share about my time!

I stayed in a host home in a tribal village of Umardha in Madhya Pradesh. I was warmly welcomed by my family and settled into the daily routine of a 5:30 start, cleaning, collecting water and cooking meals for the day.

As my host family went to the nearby fields to start their full day of work, I started my volunteer work. We were working with grassroots NGOs Pravah and Synergy. Their aim was to tackle the conservative thinking that propelled gender discrimination, tribal exclusion, caste system and child bonded labour and trafficking. Our job was to set up child and youth groups that would be open to start to challenge theses norms and create a space where their voices could be heard. Easier said than done!

Being the first volunteer group in our community our work was initially slow, keenly trying to build relationships and establish our objectives. But by the end we managed to create a strong youth group who helped organise an event on equality in their village, which was attended by 300 people. This even included a Street Play on gender discrimination created and performed by the group with, for the first time, girls from the community finding the confidence to perform in public. We also met regularly with a child’s group, engaging in activities such as painting rights on stones and making a wall painting with a message challenging the caste system.

Overall it was an experience which continues to teach me in day to day life back at home and something I strongly recommend to all.

Now back at home, I am completing my Action at Home part of the volunteer programme where I get involved in practising active citizenship in my own community. If you are working on any projects or volunteer schemes that would require any help please feel free to contact me – katereed14@hotmail.co.uk.

Conversely if you would like to know more about the scheme or would just like to ask a few questions about my experience and chat about international development then please do just email me.

Finally, I would like to thank hugely everybody who supported me, donated their time, money and efforts to my fundraising and preparation. Your excellent generosity gave me the opportunity of a lifetime – THANK YOU!

To find out more about the ICS schemes please visit their website: http://www.volunteerics.org/