Into TGL: Goa Reflections
June 16, 2016
The Green Lion
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Volunteering in Goa, India with The Green Lion was an unforgettable experience. Although I am from Goa myself, it has been 17 years since I have returned back to my motherland after settling in the United States. Even then, introduction week kept me well informed on the Goan traditions, food, culture, architecture and history. Seeing the body of St. Francis Xavier at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa and walking around the preserves of Fort Aguada, allowed me to re-live Goa’s fascinating history. I was given the opportunity to experience the culture and diversity of India while working in the field of education and community development.
After exploring Goa, there was still much to do. Every morning, we would go to the kindergarten project at St. Joseph’s Convent in Siolim, Goa. Sister Isabel Britto, who leads the kindergarten project, tells that her greatest desire is “that these slum children really develop through education and that they don’t go back to what their parents are doing, picking up rags and bottles without a proper place to stay.” She has been in this social work service for 40 years now and has always had a love for the poor. Seeing that dedication and commitment in her was truly inspiring and remarkable. She would pick up these children from the local slums in Siolim and bring them to the Convent, where they were taught primary education and fed.
Spending one week with these children, I would go over the alphabet, fruits and vegetables, numbers, and other basic English skills. After an hour of teaching, they would head inside for a quick lunch before they were free to play jump rope, hopscotch, badminton, etc.
In the afternoon, we would head out to another slum in Assonora, Goa. Here the children were from a variety of ages from five to fifteen years of age. Their desire to learn showed in their enthusiasm as I pointed to each fruit or vegetable. Later I learned that these slum children were from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Mumbai. Their parents temporarily move to Goa during the seasonal times (November to February) due to the open job opportunities available, before heading back to their respective states.
After just two weeks, I feel blessed to be able to meet and work with these children and educate them. Seeing that passion to learn in their eyes is truly exceptional and heartwarming. Education is something often taken for granted, but they value every aspect of it. Seeing their inspiration to learn and desire to prosper in life, these children deserve a better future and life. All in all, these children made me want to do more, to give more time and service to the less fortunate, because they deserve it. Volunteering made me realize that these children, whom I got an opportunity to teach and play with, are the future of not only India, but the world as well. They have so much potential in them and I can’t wait to see them grow and develop into the field of success.