Here we are, close to the end of this internship. It is hard to describe in words what it means to leave a place that has given me so much and has made more clear who I am and where I want to go. Many people intentionally come to India to discover their inner self in the land of diversity and contrasts. They train through yoga and meditation in order to find their path in life. Me, I came to India primarily for my CV and a genuine work interest. It turns out, it did not solely made me grow professionally, but personally also and I would say most importantly.
I must admit the first weeks in this foreign place had not been easy. Leaving behind familiar faces and places for the unknown and not knowing how long you will be away kept me awake at night. The pressure of a remunerated job, a life stability and eventually the generation of a family are social expectations that all societies put on us. And I am not getting any younger through the years flying by…The social pressure trap had caught me unexpectedly!
NGO work, particularly at these levels and settings, are not regarded as serious positions most of the time. Many people I know would tell me ‘You have satisfied a desire, you visited an exotic country, worked/volunteered a little, but now it is time to get back on track and work seriously’. It is indeed the truth that the developmental sector has much to offer, but in term of salary lags still behind other fields. However, and personally in my case, it was not at all what people say or perceive of it.
In these past 6/7 months I have worked more than 8 hours per day on average, I have undertaken many different roles, learnt a lot (more that I could possible expect and wish for) and stressed out much (as in all jobs, regardless of the field). I still vividly remember the major power crisis of Gajner, one day before the Coordinator Retreat, when most of the computers fried due to a power surge. Or the rushes at 7 in the morning to welcome the new interns, in the rain and still wearing a pijama. I have put 100% of my effort and at times more in the job and I do not see it as less valuable of any other position.
In fact, the minimal supervision from the beginning and the flexibility of working in a diverse setting where rules are alien to you, could be considered a hurdle as much challenging as any possible corporate responsibility.
Perhaps in this typology of work we do not see immediate results. Perhaps the systems we put in place are to be altered constantly as they are to be adapted to ever-shifting conditions. Perhaps the failures and setbacks are more often than successes. However, this does not diminish the importance of the job and the dedication that each person, be a volunteer, intern or employee put into place.
Let us do what we like to do and enjoy life and work in the meantime. Nowadays we are totally losing sight of it. WE MUST WORK FOR LIVING AND NOT LIVING FOR WORK!
EduCARE India, as well as India, has gifted me with an invaluable opportunity that will always remain in my heart (and my CV). Who knows what the future holds? I will not say ‘Goodbye’, better a ‘PhirMilenge’!
Martina Fraternali - Italy
Education, Training and Development Coordinator