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Why we should volunteer abroad
Last summer, I went to India to visit my family.
However, I came back with a mission: to go back to help.
A couple of blocks down from my grandfather’s house in India, there is an orphanage, The Tejaswi Seva Trust. This orphanage looks like a normal Indian house from the outside, except for the title sign.
The organization currently houses about 30 children, ranging from ages 5 to 18. More keep coming to their doorstep though, and they take as many as they can.
Most of these children are in elementary school, and some of the older children are blind. The younger students walk to a government school a few miles away every day in a large group, not one of them with shoes.
I could stand outside my grandfather’s house and see them walk by every morning and afternoon, apathy written all over their faces. The bitter reality is that they have too many sad stories to carry on their skinny shoulders all day, so they try to forget them. They look happy as can be. These children know how to face issues with a positive attitude, no matter what life throws at them.
The trust is run singlehandedly by Gita Taluwari. She and her husband started the organization together five years ago, but her husband passed away shortly after, so she continues it alone.
Her occupational title is a social worker, but to these kids, she is their “ma’am.” They have to find funding to pay rent for the house, as well as food and basic amenities for the children every month. Somehow she manages to find a way to keep all 30 kids, including herself and her daughter, in this 3-bedroom home. The first floor living area is completely empty to that they can all sit on the ground and eat together. The upstairs has a room where they do workshops and sell makeshift items, and the other two rooms are used to study and sleep.
Some people imagine countries like India with an image of so many struggling that they are beyond help. However, there are organizations like this that are making huge differences. When deciding whether to go on a mission trip to a country like India, many pose the question of why they should travel so far when there are people that need help here, in our own country. Why go to impoverished areas in India when there are places here that also need help? We can just as easily go to the Children’s Hospital across from UAB and worry about our people first.
The answer is crystal clear: there is a greater need for help in third-world countries, and it is almost impossible to compare their living conditions to the impoverished here. The impoverished here go to Wal-Mart with food stamps. The poor in India go to the market to beg for a job or a penny to spare. Organizations like the Tejaswi Seva Trust try to prevent this stage of poverty and child labor from the beginning. They are trying to educate kids so that they never get to this point. These organizations need our funding, our support, and our manpower. So why go to China or India or Ghana when we can walk across the street to an impoverished area? These countries need us more.
By Surabhi Rao