Name of Organisation, Location, Team Strength
MAA SHARNAM, Sector 70 Mohali (Punjab), 4-5 summer interns and about a 100 part-time volunteers
The application process, as with most places we apply to, is either through recommendation or by merit, as put forth in your curriculum vitae. The NGO is run by the Maa Sharnam Trust and the executive members usually take active interest in selection and recruitment.
They would prefer a talk with you via telephone or in person to ascertain your dedication towards the cause. Floral and decorative CVs usually do not matter as long as you have a willingness to work.
For applications you may contact the warden of the house at the children’s residence.
Duration of internship and timings
I did the internship for a month regularly and spent 2 hours everyday at the ashram. However I still frequent it as a part-time volunteer, as and when I am required.
The timings are flexible insofar as you fit it in the window given to you by the caretaker. This is primarily because the children have other activities and tuition classes.
First impression, first day formalities, infrastructure
Before I mention about my first day, I would like you to conjure up an image of an “ashram” in your mind, an “an ashram for destitute children”.
This one is a 1 kanal double storeyed house with fitted air conditioners, television, an open kitchen and sunken drawing rooms. Imagining an ill-kempt dingy yellow walled area were we?
That was my first impression.
An NGO usually does not have a lot of formalities, it is simple and short. You get acquainted with the destitute children, they are pretty forthcoming about their introductions. After a few pointers from the warden, you are good to go.
The Ashram considerably requires your attention in personality development, as the destitute children residing in it come from battered backgrounds.
The ashram is like a boarding school for them, just they have no home to go back to. So therefore, shower them with affection through small gifts for the child who reads the best or writes the best story.
My main task was English speaking and reading. Since all the children go to a well reputed public school, they need to fit into the mainstream, therefore this area requires attention for their acclimatization.
I would involve them in group activities and tasks and concluded with an English play on my last day which was written by one of the students.
Work environment and people
Since the ashram is built in the memory of a woman who donated her house for the cause, the upkeep is done with the trust fund. And the upkeep, is really better than my house.
The children are very friendly and their attention span is typical of their age. Therefore you have to be sweet yet firm.
The executive members are in touch with you and check your progress every fortnight. Best things I have enumerated it under biggest lessons.
One really doesn’t need money for his own happiness’ worth. Does one? However, the executive member did offer me a monthy sum upto Rs. 10,000 if I could give them English lessons. I refused.
An hour or two at the ashram makes one much more grateful and introspective. They say that when you give happiness to others, it is a very selfish act. This is because no one is happier than the giver.
The ashram teaches you compassion and hope. A small girl, whose mother threw oil at her or wanted to kill her because of her sex, smiles at you and says thank you because you draw her a replica of Rapunzel.
On the last day, you see that she has coloured it and pinned it above her bed. Could there be any better feeling?