By: Claudia Alvarez
As an expat in India, I had the privilege of exploring, discovering, and enjoying the many things this wonderful country has to offer. From the magnificent historical sites, the beautiful landscapes, the diverse culture of its people, and the many Melas and events where the expats can learn Bollywood dancing or buy the most exquisite artifacts. Simultaneously, you see the hardships of many of its inhabitants, who barely have the means to survive. And then you feel compelled to help in one way or another.
There is a myriad of NGOs available, and it isn’t easy to decide how best to help. It can be as simple as donating money. Still, you will always be left wondering, will my money reach those who needed the most? Then you may find yourself asking if it’s going to anyone in need, as corruption, unfortunately, is as high as in many other places in the world. Then you think of donating you time, but it’s challenging to find something fulfilling and use your skills to the fullest.
After doing some research, I realized that one of the biggest problems in India is gender inequality. Women are often considered second class individuals and, in some families, only the boys will get an education. According to many studies, one of the better ways to boost development in developing countries is educating girls. An educated woman is more likely to marry at a later age and have fewer children. And the children of an educated mother are more likely to survive. In India, according to UNICEF, the infant mortality rate of babies whose mothers have received primary education is half that of children whose mothers are illiterate.
I decided that I wanted to help an organization focused on empowering women, and that’s how I ended doing many activities to support Kamalini, a non-profit organization empowering underprivileged young girls and women by imparting primary education, employment skills, and entrepreneurial spirit boosts their self-confidence. It is a place where women go and learn the necessary skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient.
It was not only an activity that allowed me to give back to a country where I spent five incredible years of my life but also a chance to get together with expats and do fun things. If you are new to India, I recommend you get involved with Kamalini.
There are many ways to help and put your abilities into action. You can teach English, sewing, or necessary computer skills, give cooking classes or even teach basic skills such as opening a bank account or paying the electricity bill. If you prefer fundraising, why not organize an event to collect funds? In India, the expat community is impressive, and you will always meet people willing to share their knowledge. In my case, I met the chef of a renowned hotel that gave us a gourmet cooking class for free. I invited a dozen friends who paid a fee, and all the funds were donated to Kamalini. It was a fun event, with exquisite food accompanied by good wine and supporting a meaningful cause. What else could you ask for?
You can put your imagination to work and do important things for the community where you will be living. At the same time, you can make your stay in India even more enjoyable.
Kamalini was where I was able to do my bit for India. There are many other ways to accomplish something similar, but if you need a place to start, this is it!
Kamalini website: https://www.kamalini.org/