By Lieze Op ‘t Eynde, From Belgium, On Community Service Program Participant in Khilkari Rainbow Homes, Delhi

After a few weeks of making sure I had all the papers I needed to enter India, I arrived in Delhi on November 6th. Of course, I was a little bit nervous when my plane landed at almost the other side of the world than where my house is, in Belgium, but I love traveling, and I love meeting new people and their cultures so thinking about that made me calm down.

My arrival was on November 6th, which means I was right in time to celebrate Diwali with my host family. I think it was lovely to start my adventure in India with this feast, because this way I immediately met a lot of people and experienced habits and values of the very rich culture of this country. I started with one week of holiday, which was perfect to adjust to the time, the climate, the language and the people.

After this first week, I finally went to the NGO where I would be working for the next five months. The NGO is called Kilkari Rainbow Home and it is a shelter home for girls. Here I would be volunteering, helping the staff and teaching or playing with the children, five days a week. It was difficult in the beginning because the language was a huge barrier between me and the children. It is still not easy, but as I gain more Hindi words and as the children gain more trust in me, it gets a better with each passing day.

In my second week that I was working at Kilkari I already got the incredible chance to go with the children on a trip to Agra and see the wonderful Taj Mahal. I heard about the trip during my first week and I thought it was a chance that I should grab with both hands, so I asked the person in charge and I am very thankful they let me go with them on this amazing trip!

In my host family I am very happy! They are amazing, they are always helping me and they are so sweet; they really are my family here in Delhi. It is nice to feel like coming home at the end of the day. When I first started applying for this program, I was told that I was going to have a separate apartment where I would stay. This sounded fun, because I love to be a little bit independent. Now however, I am happy that I live in a family instead, because it would have been so difficult without them. They kind of form a bridge between me and India’s culture and people, which makes it easier for me to adjust to the country. Without a family I would probably also find a lot of moments filled with loneliness. I am very happy to be part of host family, they really take care of me. They even gave me a wonderful 18thbirthday!

So as I mentioned before, living in India is not always easy due to the language and cultural difference, but I love being here and exploring this very interesting country!