Do good in the world!

In the wise words of Jon Stewart “The world has gone mad”. Let’s bring sanity back: help someone, stand for a cause, do something today !

In discovering what makes my heart dance with joy, I have found that I am most alive when I am helping people. I get a high out of solving a problem and helping someone achieve or open new doors. I often seek opportunities where I can help people, so I volunteer with organizations. One of those organizations is Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) which is based in Doha, Qatar. I went with them to Indonesia and to Nepal to help school children in rural areas. A friend of mine approached me to write a blog post where I share tips for volunteers. Here is a link to the post titled:

Five tips for volunteering abroad

have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit many countries from Europe to the Americas to the Middle East to Asia to little islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I have seen many different cultures and interacted with people of all backgrounds. However, out of all this travel, two of my dearest trips are volunteer trips. I have had the chance to volunteer in Nepal and in Indonesia. Both of these trips were done with Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), a not-for-profit organization based in Doha, Qatar where I currently live.

Namaste Nepal

My trips to Nepal and Indonesia were both to support schools in rural areas of these two countries. Each trip was ten days long where we worked every day for the full school day. We would teach classes on the topics requested by the school (English, Music, Computer Skills, Environment, Sports, Cultural Exchange). In Nepal, we also set up a computer lab of four computer donated by one of the ROTA sponsors. It was very gratifying to see the look of satisfaction and pride on their faces when they typed their names for the first time using a computer keyboard! The class congregated around the table where we opened up one computer case to show them the internal parts and explain the function of each part. Our approach was to include less theory and more interactive two-way learning. We would bring with us maps and globes and would show the students the countries of our nationalities, and the counties that we live in (could be different). Their cute little faces will light up in a smile of surprise when we tell them that we got on a plane for 9 or more hours to come see them. Our objective was to show these children/students a glimpse from the world beyond their little village, to demonstrate how we as human beings have more similarities than differences, and plant a seed in their minds that what they dream they can reach.

Indonesia students

While there isn’t a blue book or a red book to summarize the wisdom that one needs to know before embarking on such life changing activity, here I highlight five tips that will help you in your next volunteer trip.:

  1. Be Flexible: To enjoy the trip be flexible in your expectation. Do not expect that you will live the same quality of life that you are used to. Take this as an opportunity to discover and live a new experience. Take it all in and appreciate that there are people who live this type of life on daily basis. Equally true, appreciate that there are people who wish they could be in your place having the same experience and this would always be me!
  1. Make friends: Whether you are volunteering in a school,….to read more Click Here

This post was published in the Grow Hope blog. A blog for Raintees, a sustainable and eco-friendly business that plants trees and donates school supplies to children for every product sold! Read more about Raintees here.

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Indonesia: Service, Beauty and Learning

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Last year I went on my first service trip. After volunteering with Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), I registered to go on a volunteer trip to Indonesia. On my first meeting with the group of volunteered I was amazed at the diversity of the group: gender, nationality, age, interest, religion, culture… all of it. Just the nationalities alone can give you an idea. We were a group of 25 people and we had members from Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, England, India, Fiji, Lebanon, France, Malaysia, Yemen, Syria, Greece and Qatar. That is 13 different nationalities in a group of 25 people! And they were a lovely group of people. Now, a year later after the trip, we still keep in contact and made some very good friendships.

We went through one month of weekly preparations for the trip. We were going to a school that was re-built in 2007 after the tsunami that hit Asia in 2005. The school was rebuilt and renovated by Qatar Foundation and ROTA. Our group was went to work with middle school kids on topics that were chosen by the school. The topics were: English, Computer Skills, Music, Sports, Environment, and Life Skills. Although I am a techie, I chose to be in the Music group as there was high interest in the Computer group, and I have interest in music myself. We flew from Doha, Qatar to Jakarta, Indonesia and then took a domestic flight to Jogjakarta where we stayed. Every morning we went on a one hour bus drive to the school. The school teachers, students and administrators treated us with big smiles and utmost generosity and politeness. It was easy to communicate not because we spoke the same language but because they are very smart and they can use sign language very efficiently :). Some of the students speak good English. One of them actually spoke very fluently. She was not in my class, she was a year younger. I asked her once, what do you want to be when you grow up, and she said a lecturer at the university. I have no doubt that this girl can achieve her dream because she has the stamina, the drive, and the . However, I wonder if life will get in the way and she will find that she needs to give up her dream to deal with life’s realities. On the last day of school, she was crying to see us leave. The kids think of us as super heroes who can change their lives. What they don’t know, is that they have changed ours. This was from the press release about the trip http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/211755-rota-volunteers-take-part-in-reflection-event.html:

“This was my first volunteer experience with Rota and I already look forward to more volunteer activities. The trip organisation was great and the team was amazing. The best part was getting to know the people and the culture of Indonesia and to work with the students. As much as we hope to have made an impact, they have certainly touched our lives and our hearts. I can still see their smiles, their tears and hear their little voices and big dreams. This was truly a memorable experience”