Shivangi Das is a teenager who started volunteering with Asha at the age of 13. She visited India in the summer of 2015 and spent most of her mornings and evenings at Shishur Sevay – an Asha supported home for orphan girls in Kolkata.
When I went to Kolkata for the first time, I did not know much of what to expect. The humidity, the delicious food, the Indian delicacies, beautiful clothes, and internship were the things I knew I was going to experience. The thing I did not know is how wonderful Shishur Sevay would actually be.
I walked in on my first day at Shishur Sevay to be welcomed with the warmest of welcomes by Dr. Michelle Harrison, Purba Aunty, and the rest of their staff. I walked in to see the girls dancing. I was entranced by them. The smiles on their faces, the way they seemed lost in their dance, everything all together made me somewhat emotional. After that day, in every dance class, they would teach me to dance as well (I would clumsily throw my hands around while they gracefully danced). The girls were amazing, I learned so much from them–they taught me what friendship was, what sisterhood was, what life in India was like, and I loved every part of it. The girls were so dear to me in the month I was there and I found myself not wanting to leave them every day that my mother came to pick me up. I wanted to stay and just listen to them talk, to watch them laugh, and to laugh with them. Even though they were younger than me, I felt a connection to them, even to the staff. Dr. Harrison, first off, taught me so much in the short span of the month that I was there– I learned so many valuable life lessons from her. Dr. Harrison had been through so much in her life, which she shared with me, at times bringing tears to my eyes. It was so amazing getting to talk to her and I was so blessed to be acquainted to her. She made me feel so welcome, she provided me with optimism, and she uplifted my spirits through everything. She made my experience complete along with Purba Aunty and the rest of the staff. I wanted to thank them a million times the day I left Shishur Sevay for providing me one of the best experiences that I ever had in my life, for the best first internship I could ever hope for, and for the knowledge and compassion that they buried into me that month. I am still grateful to them, and I would say that Shishur Sevay is one of the best places to visit if anybody ever visits India as it shows India’s cultural beauty, social welcoming finesse, and Indias all around uniqueness. Shishur Sevay provided me an experience that I will never forget.
– Shivangi Das, Volunteer, Atlanta.