My name is Elsa Holm and in exactly five weeks I am flying to India, where I will be volunteering with Project Trust for 12 months. In this post I have answered some questions which I am quite frequently asked, however if you are still curious don’t hesitate to contact me.
Who are Project Trust?
Project Trust is an educational gap year organisation that has 50 years of experience in sending young volunteers to projects all over the world, for either 8 or 12 month placements. They offers gap year students, like myself, a once in a lifetime opportunity to challenge themselves, learn about the world and be a positive force within it. Project Trust are located on the Isle of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland, so far I have travelled there twice- last year for a selection course and more recently for my training course.
How did I get involved with the organisation?
Last year in spring, Project Trust came into my sixth form and did an assembly on who they are and what they do. After being shown amazing photographs and being told we could go to the Solomon Island, Japan or Chile to live and volunteer I think almost EVERYONE signed their name down for it. However, upon realising you had to write a 300 word application many quickly lost interest. But I was very interested, so without even telling my parents I applied. Since then Project Trust have been a big part of my life.
How did you fundraise £6200?
We had a target of £6200 to meet before our training course, which covers all the costs of overseas support, travel, accommodation, insurance, administration, training and debriefing. My dad is a director for a choir, so every other week my mum and I would bake cakes and sell to them, along with vegetables and flowers from our allotment. I also hosted two concerts at the Storey Institute and performed at the Lancaster Priory at a coffee concert, which all raised a considerable amount. I wrote letters to many charitable trusts and several charities and organisations responded and very generously donated. Finally, as a sponsored event I cut off 22 inches of my hair and donated it to the Little Princess Trust.
Where is my project and what will I be doing?
My project is located in the centre of Ongole, a city on the East coast of India in Andhra Pradesh. I will be working as an English teacher in Andhra High School, with children aged 2-13. With the younger children I will be focusing on spoken English, whilst teaching grammar to the older ones. I will be working six days a week: Mondays to Fridays will be 9am-4.30pm with a half day on Saturday. Each class will be have around 40 children in them, meaning I will teach approximately 250 children each day! Project Trust puts their volunteers into pairs or threes and I will be living together with my partner, Amy, upstairs in the school next to the girls’ hostel. We have a spacious room with an attached bathroom with a shower and a toilet, which unfortunately doesn’t flush.
What do I hope to achieve?
It takes a great deal of courage to throw yourself into a completely new environment, one in which very little is the same as back at home. This is by no means a holiday. I will be working incredibly hard, whilst also trying to adapt to new cultures, climates, food, customs and a new life! This will be very challenging, but also life changing.
I have been fortunate enough to been born into a comfortable, safe and wonderful life, but not everyone has. I have also been blessed to have received an excellent full time education for as long as 13 years and I appreciate the importance education holds and the freedom it gives to empower people and improve the quality of life. As a teacher I have the power to inspire, educate, encourage and support the people around me. I will make a positive difference in my overseas community in Ongole whilst also changing my life in the process- I am so ready for the challenge.
Would I recommend Project Trust?