My volunteering experience in India in 3 words

I started this story at least a hundred times in the last few days, without ever finishing it. Can I still write in Italian with all this hinglish? But above all: how can I explain what I do here in Mumbai? Communication, promotion, event organization, in short, something like Fundraising and Marketing. But in the Civil Service? But isn't it boring?

Let's do an exercise, maybe it's easier for me to explain it to you.

Take 30 seconds and think about the first three words that come to your mind if I say “volunteering in India ”.

Well, in my opinion at least 80% of the things you have thought do not suit me or my "Servizio Civile" here in Mumbai. No Om symbol, never practiced Yoga, at the interview for the civil service I showed up with the well-ironed shirt from my former job 9-6. Here I am, this is me. Computer and camera always ready, lots of data, numbers, contacts ... and a little organization. This is me in Mumbai!

But let's see if I can explain it to you better with the three words that come to mind instead: Stories, Bridges, Stereotypes.

Stories  are the ones that I am lucky enough to hear every day passing from the office, school, Community Center in Dharavi, to the long calls with colleagues in Delhi. Voices that speak to me, that trust me and entrust me with a story, a message, a dream, an idea ... which we then try to transform together into projects and above all into words. Words that I keep, understand, and that I have the responsibility of being able to communicate. Words that all together form a story, the most beautiful and real of all: the daily commitment of the teachers and students at Reality Gives.

The bridges , on the other hand, are the ones that I find hard to build, and that for me fully represents the (difficult!) task of fundraising. Bridges of connection between different worlds - never opposite, paths of opportunity to do something beautiful together. If I believe it, I'll build you a bridge and invite you to visit me. Maybe if we believe it together it is worth even more, don't you think?

Stereotypes  are the ones I advise you to leave at home if you plan to come to India, especially Mumbai. Because as you search for yourself in India, Mumbai slaps you in the face, over and over again with all of its pure and raw humanity. Forget also the stereotypes about volunteering in India, which in my opinion needs commitment from the heart and determination whether you are a bit alternative or a bit rigid, like me.

In the end, the stereotypes about Dharavi. These are the ones that hurt the most and that we try to deconstruct every day with the guides of Reality Tours and Travel, taking you to know Dharavi and giving you the tools to learn how to look at it, decipher it, and love it.

In short, here in Mumbai I cross bridges to come and tell you a story, that of Reality, and along the way I try to destroy some stereotypes… and I must say that I am not bored at all!

(The article was written by me but published by IBO Italia, the fantastic NGO for which I did my year of civil service).

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