I thought it’d take longer than this.
When Helene and I began working on this blog, we envisioned it as a chronicle of our efforts to enter the international development sector. I felt that there would be weeks, perhaps months of efforts leading up to a real opportunity to work in the field, and that this blog would detail these efforts so that others may learn for us.
But it turns out, India had other plans for our blog—and for us!
We’re leaving for India in October.
While we were busy finalizing Mango Blue, our efforts to find a good volunteer placement bore fruit. One opportunity really came through for us, and I’m confident enough about what I’ve learned to make the jump.
This means at the end of September, Helene and I will pack our bags, and once again board a plane. For the third time in my life (and the fourth for Helene), we will leave Canada to reinvent our lives abroad.
We’re going to work with Gram Vikas in Orissa.
Gram Vikas is an Indian NGO based near the city of Berhampur, in the eastern state of Orissa. They work with marginalized communities, many of them traditional tribes, to better their living conditions through education, health, and infrastructure development. Among the many things that drew me to this organization is their humble, hands-on approach to development: they go out there and get to work.
Gram Vikas is the brainchild of Joe Madiath, a man from Chennai who first came to Orissa in 1971, to help with disaster relief efforts following a cyclone that left nearly a million people homeless. From my email and Skype chats with him, Joe is a gentle, humble man, who is compelled to help his fellow human beings. Although the paths our lives have taken are very different, I hear an echo of his compassion in my own desire to work in international development.
Our roles with Gram Vikas have not been defined yet. We will go to Gram Vikas’ headquarters near Berhampur in October, and do whatever fulfills us and helps the most. For me, this will most likely mean helping out with management, leadership, and/or communications. As for Helene, she has the opportunity to teach English, either in a community school nearby, or to English teachers in need of training.
My current mood: excited and terrified.
You’d think that following an expatriation to China, and two years of independent travel, picking up my life once more to move to India would be a piece of cake. It’s not. It’s daunting, even terrifying.
We traveled through India for two months last year, but throughout this time we mostly stuck to cities of a fairly respectable size. This time, we’re gonna travel to rural India, in one of India’s poorest states. It’s a lot to process.
But most of all, it’s absolutely thrilling. I look forward to returning to India, the country that captured my heart on our last journey.
After months of thinking, researching, and planning, the time is almost here to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
I can’t wait!
Picture: Gram Vikas office courtyard, (c) 2010 navasarama