It has truly been a pleasure to volunteer with DMWSC for 3 months and be engaged in the local community life. I was fortunate to have volunteered in four different placement locations throughout my stay which allowed to me grasp a good understanding of the valuable work that DMWSC provides. More importantly, I had a two-way learning experience which gave me the opportunity to exchange knowledge and skills with the community members. I would highly recommend this volunteer opportunity for anyone who has a passion for helping underprivileged people, culture and food!
Sherin Surenthiran Canada
Upon applying for an internship at Darjeeling Mary Ward Social Center, Siliguri, in the summer of 2017, I was filled with both excitement and anxiousness, not knowing what I was signing up for. But from my first visit with Sr. Leena the day before joining, and upon hearing about what DMWSC truly worked towards achieving, I was hooked. Never had I heard, first hand, about the toils and plight of the tea garden farmers, and the villages that they belonged to. It was right then that I knew, this was the place for me. Being a photographer by passion, and a student of English and Communication, I opted to contribute by helping, in my own way, to spread the word about the work done by DMWSC. I wanted to tell the stories of these farmers and villagers, who are pushed to the limit by the government, society and their managers. I wanted to visit these people, talk to them, learn their tales. And what better place to offer that to the fullest, than DMWSC. Over a period of a month, I visited almost 7 tea plantation villages in and around North Bengal. Contrary to my beliefs, every village I visited posed different problems and obstacles that have threatened their very livelihood. To see a ray of hope in DMWSC as they work hand in hand to help these villagers be more self-sustaining is an inspiration in itself. To a great extent, it was what drove me every morning as I took my camera in hand, to capture another human story. Thankfully, I managed to be of help in more ways than photography, such as assisting the field members and making a newsletter. And since the NGO consisted of a considerably smaller staff, it was much more personal. We were well familiar with all present which instantly gives life to the work we all do, as a team. It only warms my heart that I had an opportunity to work with DMWSC and to experience a more humble, more real, and more humane form of living. My heartfelt appreciation goes to all at Darjeeling Mary Ward Social Centre for gracing me with the opportunity and experience that I will always remember!
Christ College, Bangalore
From May 22nd 2017 to August 22nd 2017, I worked as a volunteer with Darjeeling Mary Ward Social Centre. For me, this was truly a wonderful and memorable experience. In being a young non-governmental organization, I had the opportunity to see how DMWSC was progressing in its current projects. As I volunteered within this organization I gradually came to understand the difficulties that West Bengal’s tea labourers were facing. The questions of poverty and of social marginalization are strongly present within the tea plantation communities. It is also due to these two elements that tea labourers and their families struggle to achieve a better standard of living. Fortunately, the work that DMWSC fulfills through legal awareness programs, through awareness programs of education and through exchanges of intercultural dialogue assure an improvement in the wellbeing of tea labourers and of their families. Field visits, in which I took part on a regular basis, allowed me to have close contact with the people and to understand the sociopolitical and socioeconomic environments that they knew.
When I came to DMWSC in May 2017, I had no particular expectations. This was mainly due to the initial openness that I displayed. At the time, I did not know what I could offer to the work of this organization. As time went by and as I was assigned the task of noting down reports of documentation, I began to discover where my capabilities lied. For me, it was a great pleasure to have assisted in the write-up of two proposals for the Ethical Enterprise Initiative. Aside from this, the brief reports of documentation that I submitted showed me what I had observed in detail while in the field, as well as which elements required further attention. I owe much to the field staff and to the office staff of DMWSC for having introduced me to their work and to their stories of success. In having been my first experience working with an NGO, I also discovered how straining the work may sometimes be when one wishes to dedicate their time to people in need. Regardless of how one feels however, the work that one undertakes, be it within the office or in the field, goes towards improving the lives of impoverished persons. Furthermore, one’s work also goes towards spreading and affirming a societal awareness of the importance of maintaining respect for human dignity and for the people’s overall development.
While in India, I discovered, alongside my co-workers, the effectiveness that awareness campaigns play when spreading messages of social justice. While in India, I partook in awareness campaigns in which I learned of which effective methods may beused to attract the widespread attention of passersby. Since I returned to Canada, I have maintained a strong interest in issues of social justice. I shall continue to discover more ways of spreading messages of awareness in my immediate as well as outward surroundings. It is under this hope that the lives of marginalized persons within my own country may improve, particularly those of persons who hail from either an indigenous background or from a disregarded immigrant milieu.