It is exactly what it says on the tin, Goa is basically the Indian version of Hawaii, white sands, luke warm water and a blanket of coconut palm trees. When I told my friends I was volunteering here, it was greeted with a small smirk, they found it hard to believe I was actually gonna do real work here! Situated on the west coast of India, Goa was originally conquered by the Portoguese in the 16th century and it the smallest state in India relative to area. The official language is Konkani and the population approx. 1.34 million, the place is really chilled and most would say it is the furthest thing from real India you could get, but that certainly doesnt take away from what it is. In fact I would highly recommend this place as a substitute for any sun holiday that people annualy take. It really is beautiful, the people are super friendly and chilled. Albeit there are parts of Goa that have become very touristy and "westernised" as they say, with a large number of British and Russians traveling here, a lot of the "hippy" nature too I may add!
It was here that I carried out my volunteer work with a relatively new Indian exchange organisation, Idex. I was carrying out two volunteers programs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon at two separate locations. See below for information on these.
(1) Monte Hill English Teaching Class
The morning class was at the mountain slums of Margao in Goa. The classroom was a measly 5m x 4m in size and was attached to the surrounding slum houses. In the classroom, there was simply a tv, a cabinet, a fan and the odd wall hanging. It was simple, basic but clean. During class lessons you would have mothers bringing pots and pans into the kitchen or wash area and stray babies would often just wander in on there own agenda. Our basic teaching to this class was english, which consisted of spellings, dictation, storytelling and picture charts. Maths was also taught and of course plenty of games were played to keep there low concentration span from hitting rock bottom. The kids ages ranged from 6 - 13 in this class.
(2) Fisherman's Bridge Teaching Class
This program was a little more isolated, the class was located on the beach slums of Colva beach. Again, the class room attached to a house, where frequently could hear the neighbouring tv or the men ignorantly cleaning out some troublesome midday phlegm! This room wasnt much bigger than 3m x 3m, with a blackboard, a fan and light (which often didnt work) and some colourful educational artwork on the walls.The kids here too were amazing, albeit it was a little harder to keep them in class, they kind of came and went as they wished and maybe a morning class would be better suited to their bubbly characteristics than the afternoon slot. On the last day we managed to take them out to the beach for a swim, what a memory that was! Check the two dudes out on the video below.
The biggest impact on me after the volunteering was the kids. I cant explain how content, joyful and friendly they were. Almost always in a good mood, all of them getting along with each other, no bullying, name calling or sulking. To be honest, there is a stark difference to our own Irish children and I have no problem in saying this. I cant speak for all kids in both countries but for me the difference lies in their upbringing and instilled values. Indian kids don't get spoiled, they look after each other from a very young page (often a case where children would bring there baby brothers and sisters to class to look after) and like their parents, there is an underlying contentment and peace of mind of who they are and what they stand for, it really is evident. In terms of the teaching, sure we offered something to the kids and they enjoyed our presence, for me the language barrier was so great at times (Hindi, Konkani) that I would be a little skeptical on how much we actually had to offer that the teachers there already could have done. Eitherway, this was an amazing experience that I will never forget, I would love to head back in the future someday and see all the kids again. Further to this, I have met some amazing people in the volunteer camp that I will never forget also, a SHOUT out to you all bruva's and sistaz if your reading this!!!!
Now its time to really travel solo....
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