Georgia McGurk spent 4 weeks in Kolkata as a HOPE volunteer. Read how the experience has impacted her life and created memories and experiences that will last forever.
When I think of my time spent in Kolkata I get that warm, fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the elated feeling of happiness in my heart which makes me wonder if it might burst.
Kolkata taught me that the brightest lights can shine through the darkest of times. During my time there, I met some of the kindest and most resilient men, women and children who have lived through the most unimaginable circumstances, and yet were always there to greet me with the biggest smile. I got to work alongside incredibly inspiring teachers, social workers and staff members, with the most infectious passion and care for their jobs, students and patients. I was able to witness the incredible impact that The Hope Foundation has had and continues to have for the street and slum families of Kolkata. But I was also able to imagine what life could have been like for these people if HOPE had never existed, and that is why it is so important we continue to provide that support.
The Dalai Lama wrote that, “love and compassion are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being.” It is worth acknowledging that whilst we can’t help every person, we can certainly help some. If you have any desire at all to get involved with HOPE or to travel as a volunteer, I would honestly tell you to stop thinking about it and just do it.
Kolkata breaks you to remake you. It teaches you about pain, love, happiness, grief, anger, forgiveness and most importantly, gratitude. It instills a strength in you that will always remain, for you to access in your own dark times. In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”