14 year old Benita Jayaseelan spent nearly a month aiding the social and educational development of young children at an Indian orphanage. The project was led by international development charity Life Association, while Benita was supported alongside her fundraising efforts with a volunteering grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation.
The first few days of the project were spent in the Dharavi region of Mumbai where Benita taught young children and helped them to make clay pots and scented candles. She then travelled to an orphanage in Gannavaram, a small town located in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh in the South East of the country where she was based for the remainder of the project.
She said, “It was a truly wonderful experience to be with the children. I learnt a lot of lessons simply from finding out about their daily lives. Their happiness and positive outlook in life provided me and my team with ample motivation.”
Benita taught English to the young orphans, played games, sang songs and coordinated craft work sessions during her time in Gannavaram. She was also involved in carpentry and painting work, putting up shelving units and painting the walls of the classroom.
“The children enjoyed all the activities thoroughly and we had an amazing time together. I hope that what I was able to offer them will be useful for their future.”
Benita, who lives in Ilford, raised funds for the cause by staging a music concert for family and friends in her local church. The money raised was put towards setting up a solar panel which would help to avoid the difficulties caused by frequent power cuts at the orphanage. Some of the remaining funds were used to purchase indoor games and school uniforms while any other money was put towards any building costs.
On reflection from the trip, Benita said, “My character certainly developed as a result of being in India. I am dedicated to appreciating what I have in my life, and not wasting money on unnecessary things. I wish to return in the future, and I have been in touch with the organiser of the charity, sending them emails to read aloud to the children. Overall it was a wonderful experience.”
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