I first expressed my desire to work in the developing world about a year ago. I first heard about Rising Star Outreach a couple of months ago through Amy Antonelli, a friend of my father’s, and I knew immediately that it was exactly what I wanted to do. India had been a place I had desperately wanted to visit for years, so naturally I was ecstatic when Dad said that with Amy and Sally’s help, we were going! In fact, India was all I talked about the months leading up to our trip.
The daily routine at Rising Star Outreach consisted of breakfast followed by morning conclave, where the daily events and announcements were issued and discussed. Each day, the group was split into three different smaller groups, each of which were assigned a different area of work; education, medical care, and community welfare. Everyone would work until the early afternoon each day, and then each group would return to the Elephant House for rest. I’m sure I speak for most when I say that playtime was the highlight of the day. It is time designated for hanging out and playing with all of the kids from the school.
To say that I connected with all of the children would be an understatement. I fell absolutely head over heals in love with every single child. All they wanted to do was to love you and play with you. The love that circulates the playground and the positive energy that is present is truly unbelievable. I feel so incredibly honored to have been given the privilege to love those kids and connect with them. Everyday a knew face would approach me and hold my hand and take me around showing me everything they were proud of. I realized that the volunteers were in fact their substitute families. Story time was the most emotional and special time of the day. At 9:00 in the evening, the children would get ready for bed and the volunteers would go over and tell them stories until bed time. I left the children in tears too many times to remember because I had experienced such love and affection from every single child. Saying goodbye to the kids was one of the hardest things for me to do. Every time I would start to tear up I would be stopped by “Aunty! No tears!” I think about those beautiful faces every single day.
My trip to India came at a perfect time for me. I was lost in the pressures of school and the confusion of being a teenager transitioning into an adult. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life and was slowly losing motivation. Being in India and being surrounded by some of the most kind and caring people really helped me realize who I was and the kind of person I wanted to be. I found that through helping others, I was also helping myself. My life changed the day I arrived at Rising Star Outreach. My outlook on my life has been completely turned upside down. I feel so grateful to have been given the opportunity. Thank you, Rising Star Outreach, for everything. I will be returning as soon as I possibly can.
Contact Heidi Lelle to learn how you can become a volunteer with Rising Star Outreach or share your volunteer stories on our blog at: email@example.com.