Rachel Ilett – Volunteer Experience

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On top of a mosque in Ahmedabad

The time I have spent volunteering with Shaishav has been an unforgettable and life changing experience for me both personally and professionally. I came to India for a challenging, unique and rewarding experience where I would find fulfilment in contributing to Shaishav’s aims whilst enhancing my own career prospects. The placement I have completed through 2Way Development has delivered just that.

For the past five months I have dedicated the majority of my time to writing a report of Shaishav’s Child Rights Audit. This was a large scale research project carried out in 2009/10 by some of Balsena’s Senior Team and active members. Supported by Shaishav staff, they interviewed over 8,000 respondents in 19 of Bhavnagar’s most underprivileged areas about the problems they face. One purpose of the Audit was to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the condition of child rights in the communities in which Shaishav operates as a basis for creating change. It was also a fantastic opportunity for the Balsena children involved to take the lead in this process, developing invaluable skills and knowledge along the way. Now that the English language version is complete, Shaishav will be able to share it with other NGOs working in the child rights field both in Gujarat and other Indian states. I hope that the report will serve as a useful guideline for organisations wanting to cultivate a child led approach in their programmes as well as forming strategies for community based change and local level advocacy on the issues they uncover.

For me, the process involved in producing such a vast piece of work has been both strenuous and immensely stimulating. Whilst at university in England I wrote many essays but nothing on this scale or involving data analysis and at points I doubted whether I could finish it. However, I was also extremely inspired and motivated by what I was doing and with a lot of hard work and commitment I was able to complete it. As a result I now feel an immense sense of achievement and I can honestly say that I am returning to London with higher hopes for myself than before I left for India. My analysis and writing skills have improved drastically and I have also developed a much more authentic and in depth understanding of issues and topics I was previously just interested in from afar. Being out of my comfort zone has allowed me do things I didn’t necessarily think I was capable of and I have grown enormously as a result.

A really big thank you to everyone at Shaishav for being so welcoming and supportive and also to 2Way Development for managing the entire process!

Rachel Ilett

2Way Development and Shaishav Volunteer September 2012-February 2013

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2 responses to “Rachel Ilett – Volunteer Experience

  1. Hi, I would love to read your report and do my part to help. I am from Gujarat. I have work on similar volunteer project in Vietnam, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Costa Rica.

    Very inspiring story!

    Chirag

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