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Volunteer's Voice



I have had an amazing 8 weeks here. To Madan- thank you for being so welcoming and making your home in Kanwar Pura feel like home for me as well. To Sanjeev- thank you for the amazing yoga. Relax! Enjoy!! And, for always smiling. To Mantu- thanks for the jokes! To Rajesh and Raju – thanks for all the help at Banjara Basti. To Madan’s family- thanks for welcoming to volunteers and being so kind to us during our stay and of course, thank you for the amazing food.
It has been a unique and incredible experience to teach at Banjara Basti for the past 8 weeks and I will never forget it. Madan- you have been a wonderful host and I have felt welcome and safe in my entire trip. I will really miss teaching the children and I wish all future volunteers all the best with the project.
Colin Dodds Canada
E-mail: dodds.colin@gmail.com
Feb –Mar 2010

I have so many good things I could unite about, but I’m going to make it short. This trip is one of the best things I have done in my life; I have learned so many new things as I could never imagine before. I’m so happy that I came here and met you, children, Sanjeev, Mantu and all of the women.
The time here has past fast; it feels like I came yesterday. This is mean that I have had amazing time and I hope that some day I will return. I would tell everyone to take the chance to experience what I have in this past weeks. I will always remember Kanwar Pura and thank you for letting me be a part of your amazing project.
Lots of love!
Erika Molnar Sweden
Email: Erika_m89@hotmail.com 
Feb – Mar 2010

We are so grateful that we found this project and that we decided to come here. At first, we thought five weeks would be a long time here but the time has passed away too quickly and we’re sad to leave. Everything has been amazing and exceeded our expectations. The people and the children of Banjara Basti have been fantastic and they’ve given us so much joy. We can only hope we’ve given them something as well. We’ve also felt very welcome and comfortable here at the camp. Thanks to Madan and his family, the staff and the other volunteers.
We have loved the food, especially the pancakes! We had never tried Yoga before, but now we’re going to try and keep it up at home although we doubt that it’s going to be as good as Sanjeev’s yoga classes. We really hope that we can come back some day. To come here has been one of the best things we’ve done.
Good luck with the project. We will always remember Kanwar Pura and Banjara Basti and we’re going to miss you.
Ingrid and Evelina Sweden
Email: ingridbjarneberg@hotmail.com, eve.kroon@hotmail.com
Jan- Feb 2010

I feel like thank you can’t convey the gratitude I feel for the experience you, your family and India have given me. I will never forget this trip and it has made me a better person. Everything from your hospitality to the wonderful project at Banjara Basti has greatly enriched my life. Thank you Madan for always being so helpful with my questions and thanks to your family for the amazing food and home like atmosphere and thanks to Mantu, Sanjeev and Deepak for the laughs and help on the excursions.
Best of luck with your work at Banjara Basti and I hope to come back and help soon.
With love!
Jennifer Bowen USA
Email: starcore5@aol.com
Jan – Feb 2010


I can’t find words how to describe the feelings of having to leave everything here. My 5 weeks here have been some of the best weeks in my life. I had never thought that I would get so attached to all the children in Banjara Basti and that it would hurt so much, having to leave them. I’m so grateful for the time here and hoping that I will get the chance of coming back when I finish my school.

I went here, expecting to teach these children how to live their life, instead I learned a new way to look upon life. I will never be the same person as I was before this, and for that I’m glad.

The kids in Banjara Basti will always keep a part of my heart. As for the staying in the house and with the AVI staff, I have nothing else to say then it has been so great. I will miss so much from here and always remember it.

I hope you continue with the great work you have started here and that a lot more will get the change to experience this.

Simone Andersson Sweden
Email: bagera_katt@hotmail.com
Dec 2009- Jan 2010


When I decided to come here I thought my four weeks would last forever, but boy I was wrong. It still feels like it’s the first week and every thing is so much fun. I regret that I didn’t decide to stay for a longer time.

Everything has been so fun and exciting, it’s all so very different and new for me and I’m so glad, I came here. You all have been so helpful and made everything so easy for me and for that I’m very thankful.

To work with the children at Banjara Basti have been a great honour for me. To be able to have helped some of them to make in the future be able to get a good education. I will never forget them. Everything around the project has been fantastic. It must be so hard for the AVI staff to always stay so happy and willing to get to know new volunteers when they will leave after a few weeks. I really admire your strength and know that us, the volunteers, never will forget you guys.

Thanks for everything!

If you ever come to Sweden be sure to drop by!!

Daniel Berhe Sweden
Email: dejniall@hotmail.com 
Dec 2009


I am so glad that I decided to come to India. The 10 weeks I spent here in Kanwar pura has been an experience I never will forget. The AVI staff is doing a great thing. Keep it up. Every child that learns how to read is a victory. Thank you all for teaching me Yoga and a big support and help you have given to me, the hard work and your ability to stay positive.

All of you have made my stay in India a special time that I will keep in my heart forever. And, more beautiful and hardworking women than the women at the camp is hard to find. The camp in Kanwar Pura will always be a second home for me.
Good luck!

Agnes Olsson Sweden
Email: agnesolsson154@hotmail.com
Oct- Dec 2009


I don’t really know where to start. The five weeks here in Sikar have passed so quickly. However, it feels like I have learned so much about India itself, with its traditions, culture, languages and religions. I know now, how to cook Indian food, how to speak basic Hindi, how to shower out of a bucket, how to wash without a washing machine and I know how to relax and enjoy.

The project itself was definitely the most interesting part of the stay spending time with the kids making them laugh, helping them with English and Maths and seeing them improve from one day to another warmed my heart. I wish AVI and its staff that everything works out the way they want it. Please jet me know if there is anything I can do. I will be more than happy to help.

Give the women staff at the camp a big warm hug and tell them, I am more than thankful for everything they have done for me.

Thank you so much.

Marielle  Hanke Germany
Email: mariellehanke@gmail.com
Nov- Dec 2009.


Before I decided to go to India Signhild once told me…If you decide to go you won’t regret it but India would steal a big piece of your heart. At first I didn’t  believe her but now after these 8 fantastic weeks I know better India itself with its amazing culture, the AVI family,  Banjara Basti and all children, the bumpy tuk-tuk rides and all amazing people I met here have just as Signhild said, stolen my heart.

I’m so grateful for the time I spent here and feel so lucky that I got the possibility. I’ll treasure all my memories deeply and do my best to share to what I have learned during my stay here.

The food has been wonderful!! I don’t know how I’ll survive without it now! Everyday I thought the food tasted better and better.

It would not been the same without the wonderful staff AVI has. They are fantastic and have taught me everything about India and a new way of life. They all do a wonderful work. I’ll never forget you and the children! I wish you all the best in the future!

Rebecca Warfvinge Sweden
Email: rewa_890@hotmail.com
Oct- Nov 2009


When I decided to go to India with AVI as a volunteer I had no idea what to expect; I had heard stories from some people about the larger organizations that charged huge sums, placed the volunteers in camps isolated from the local population and where the volunteer work did little good, and sometimes even more bad than good. None of this was true for AVI; from the moment I contacted them it felt personal and quite professional, and during my entire stay in India I felt well cared for.

The project is in the city of Sikar, Rajasthan. The volunteer work itself is done in a place called Banjara Basti, which is mostly inhabited by lower castes, “untouchables”. During my first day at the school AVI has in Banjara Basti I was chocked by the poverty, there is no running water, electricity and most people live in tents or shacks. But once the first chock settled I was really motivated to work with the people who lived there; it truly felt as if the work was necessary!  Every day we gave the children food and washed them before we began the lessons, which mainly entailed basic English and math. During the time I was there we only worked three hours before lunch, due to the heat, however, it really was enough!

The camp itself was also a pleasant surprise: living with Madan Singh and his family in their home outside of Sikar. It’s really not a camp where you live isolated with other westerners; rather, it’s more like living in an Indian family! This was in my opinion one of the great things about going with AVI; I really got an insight into Indian culture while living there. The accommodation was also great, clean, good bathrooms and home-cooked food! The staff was also very friendly and felt more like friends than employees. During the weekends they also arranged tours of nearby towns and cities, I really recommend going to Nawalgarh and Mandawa to see the havelis!

Overall I’m very happy I went; it was everything I hoped for and more. I really think AVI compares favorably with larger organizations and I recommend it. Even though I only spend five weeks in Sikar it felt as if we volunteers were doing something worthy for people who truly needs it; I’m going to remember many of the children for a long time and wonder what happened to them after I left. Going as a volunteer is different from just going as a backpacking tourist, in my opinion I got much closer to Indians and the Indian culture during my five weeks as a volunteer than I would have had as a tourist. While there might be some challenges and strange situations while you work as a volunteer, don’t worry about it, for me at least, things worked out great in the end.

Finally I would like to say thank you to Madan, his family, Mantu, Sanjeev and Signhild and all the other people who made those five weeks such a great time!

Adam Edholm Sweden
E-mail: a.ed90@hotmail.com
Aug- Sep 2009


I had always dreamt of going to India. My mother said that I was still too young. However, this year I suggested it and her answer was that I could go. My dream had come true.
We left on 22nd of August from Barcelona for India, but before we stopped in London. When we arrived in Delhi, we took our bags and found the person who was waiting for us. His name is Sanjeev. He went with us to the hotel where we slept the first night. In the morning we had breakfast and we took the same car to go to Sikar, it took six hours to do 300 kilometers, but the experience was so good, the landscape was very beautiful...

When we arrived in Sikar, the family of Madan was waiting for us with open arms. They said welcome, and asked us if we would like a cup of tea. The first impression was very good.

During the fortnight, the whole family was very kind and looked after us. Every day we went to Banjara Basti and taught a lot of children of 6 to 12 years old, who were always funny. They had smile on their faces...

We taught them Mathematics and English. And, we showed them to clean their teeth and wash their hands and faces. The days we didn't do that, we went to primary school, other days we went to the hospital.

Thanks to my parents and my family, I could realize my dream. It had been a good experience for me, because I felt useful to help people that needed it.

I was very comfortable with Madan' family, and I will always remember Niraj's meals, henna classes and so on. I have made a lot of friends and I hope that I will return to India next year.

Thanks a lot for everything,

Carla Salvado Spain
E-Mail: carla_salvado_92@hotmail.com
Aug-Sep 2009


When I arrived in Delhi, alter a nine hours flight from London, the first I could see was a kind face carrying my name written in a placard. At this moment I realized I was in the country of my dreams, with fifteen days before my eyes with the objective of absorbing all, learning all and, moreover, handing over me at all.

Then you are on one’s and it depends on you to reach your dreams and live an adventure that, in my case, was so fascinating that I’m sure I’ll come back as soon as I will be able.

India is aroma, colour, taste, noise, touch…It’s a country where the five senses turn in a special, charming and seductive dimension. India is hospitality, happiness, kindness. The smile is the principal face of India. At first glance, it shows you a hard reality, with rare resources and looking uncomfortable, but without you knowing and slowly, their people, their timing and their way of life penetrate in your heart and mind for ever.

I was living with an Indian family dedicated to help people since various work areas: health, education, women, sports, street children…The head office and, at the same time, their home, is situated in a small village named Kanwar Pura, six kilometres to Sikar, one of the cities that belongs to Rajasthan, a northwest area of the country bordering Pakistan.

I adopted their hourly and habits; I slept in the open air every night, with the women, under a beautiful and starry sky, I waked up every morning with the warm sunlight, I washed my clothes in a big stone with a water cube and a piece of soap, I drank a tasty milk for breakfast with typical Indian food, I had a wonderful fresh shower…They thought me all that I know about this magical country. I can say that here is my second home because I felt loved and respected for all of the family members and AVI team. I mean AVI is now my project too.

Every day I went to Banjara Basti, a village lacked of the very basic needs for living. I worked with incredible children, helping them with hygienically habits, giving them to eat, teaching basic English and sharing the time playing in a good way. I return of that I received affection, love, fondness, happiness…ALL

Every evening I learnt about cooking, dressing, henna, culture, religion, customs…

At weekend I visited Jaipur, an enigmatic city replete of palaces, markets and history. I could feel the immensity in the magician Taj Mahal, the monument of love.

Is it possible to desire something more in my life?........Only health for return next year and meet me with my dear  family and my dear  Banjara’s children.

Thanks Madan, thanks AVI.

Laura Coloma Spain
E-Mail: la-papisa@hotmail.com
Jul 2009.


Not many days passes by without me thinking of my big adventure as a volunteer in India. I think about the farm and how everything worked out there, how the daily life looked like in comparison to the everyday life I have at home. I think about the family, the wonderful people that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know. I think about how well they took care of us despite the culture clashes and the misunderstandings that sometimes occurred. And especially, I think about the children. These fantastic people who have taken such a big place in my heart.

To sign up for AVI's volunteer program is one of the largest and best decision I have taken so far in my life, a decision that I haven’t regretted even for a second. I arrived to this small village in the north of India without any special skills or anything else remarkable, just some basic knowledge in the English language and the will to accomplish something. And still it felt like I had so much to give to these people - people who live a completely different life than we do, based on completely different conditions. If everybody would understand that something like this is possible, that we all in some way are able to help and do something for the people who need it, I am sure that the world would look a bit brighter than it does today.

Looking back and analyzing my time as a volunteer I realize how much you can receive by giving. I also realize how much I have learned from those weeks, about the Indian culture and people but also about myself. I value my life and the facilities we have here at home in a completely different way than I did before.

Thank you AVI and the whole family in Kanwar Pura, for making this unforgettable adventure possible!

Elin Emborg Sweden,
E-mail: elin.emborg@gmail.com
Jan - Mar 2009"


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