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Published: September 9th 2016
I have a long love story with India which started in 2014. I actually didn't want to go to India at the first place but I believe I was lucky to finally land there. My mother is completely in love with this country, maybe that's the reason why I never wanted to visit this place before as I heard so much about it that it was as if I knew the place already. I finally decided to go there I was thinking to myself that would be the opportunity to go there yourself and to get your own idea about the country, this might be the good time for a reunion. I had no experience at all in humanitarian but I just felt like trying. Sadly for me 90 percent of the work was related to nursing but that was quite good to learn something completely new for me. I didn't know anything about medicine or nursing I studied languages and project management.
I wanted to try some new experience abroad as a volunteer in an NGO. That was for 2 weeks only for a first try from July 24 to august 6.
When I went to the NGO seminar before the mission I wasn't quite sure about the destination. There were 2 destinations in India Pondicherry, Odisha, Benin and Madagascar in Africa, and Cambodia. I remember my first choice was Cambodia because it looked more tempting to me at the time. Cambodia was full so my second choice was Pondicherry. I had no idea that time this stay was going to change my life.
Pondicherry is a small town in Southern East coast of India in the Bengal bay. It is approximately 3 hours drive from the main city in Tamil Nadu, Chennai which used to be called Madras before. The mission was going to be in few villages around Pondicherry like one or 2 hours drive in a bus to go.
I remember this as if it was last night. I couldn't sleep at all the night before because of the excitement of a new adventure. I had to be at CDG airport in Paris at 7.30 am. I went to meet the team and the trip started. We were about 7 people. There are about 11 hours to reach India. According to the company you take the stop will be different. I came with Emirates the first time I went to India so I had a stop in Dubai. It took approximately 6 hours to reach Dubai from Paris and then 4 hours from there to Chennai. Then from Chennai to Pondicherry there are more or less 3 hours drive. As a result from CDG airport to Pondicherry the whole trip was 24 hours. Left at 7.30 am and reached at 7.30 am the day after.
I met a lot of amazing people there, all very curious, kind and loving. July was very hot there but it was completely worth the trip. My first trip to India was actually very expensive especially for 15 days. What many people don't know about being a volunteer is that you will not be paid. You will give your time, your energy, your skills and you will pay. The money you will pay will go to different people, the people taking care of the place you are going to stay, the people cooking for you during your stay, the bus which will take you to the villages around to do your work, the food you eat, the place you sleep, the medicine we provide to the villages, the doctors, the material, the translators also because in Pondicherry people speak Tamil so when you go and you need to communicate with people there we need translators. The young kids and some of the grown ups will speak English but older people wont, and most of the people don't speak French even though Pondicherry is a former French colony.
That was amazing to see peoples reactions when we use to come to help. For many of them that was the first time they saw a white person. Most of the things I was doing were taking the kids weight and size, writing it down on a booklet and lead them to the doctor. Some of them never saw a blood pressure device and I was trying to make them understand there was nothing to worry about. I was also happy to have some help from the kids who were talking English so they could translate to older people that everything was for their good. That was very helpful.
I was so glad to take pictures with the kids or mothers who were curious or grateful. Most of them didn't even know what a camera was so after taking a picture the least you could do was showing it to them and see their reaction. This simple thing made them so happy. That was one one of the greatest experiences in my life. I encourage all people hesitating to go and experience this because it is so good to feel a bit useful to somebody in this world. I actually did this because I was curious and wanted to travel but that was mostly a beautiful human trip.
During this time I could enjoy for the first time the culture of this fantastic country. There are so many things to say I don't even know where to start. The food is great and it took a while for me to get used to eating spicy food but that's really tasty. The Indian traffic on the road is quite different that's quite disorienting when you are not used to that. There are a lot of temples a bit everywhere, the religion is also very present in this part of India and for tourists knowledge there is one female elephant in Pondicherry temple. Her name is Lakshmi and she is gorgeous. I was amazed the first time I went there people were giving her some fruits and bending before her waiting to be blessed.
India was a shock for me about everything, climate, food, religion, culture and way of life. This country is really one of a kind. What I experienced is priceless.
Photos on the way.
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