Volunteers Voice in India






Hi,My name is Seiki Fujita .I have been volunteering with a NGO named SMILE NGO for about 3 weeks. There were various kinds of work I have done in this period with this NGO. For instance I taught Japanese to the children living in slums and we painted colors on the wall of houses in one village. Since I have stayed in local peoples house in this volunteering period there were plenty of times to communicate with local people and with other volunteers who came from diverse countries around the world. What is more as all of these communications including a meeting of smile NGO are in English it is also going to be good opportunity to practice your English skill. Even you are not confident enough to communicate in English boss and other volunteers are so kind that they will help you with easy English. You have works on weekdays and three meals are served every day on the days you have a volunteer work. I pretty enjoyed meal time also because there are different kinds of delicious meals every time. Moreover you will have a lot of chances to eat Indian traditional foods and foods from other countries which other volunteers have brought from their homes. Since we had day off on the weekends I stayed in the center of Kolkata city and visited a lot of places. The village I have stayed was safe enough and people there were so kind. I am sure that it must be great time also for you too to volunteer in India with us!


私が参加したのは’というボランティア団体です。この’では、様々なボランティアや活動を行います。例えば、スラムの子供に教育をしたり、家の壁に色を塗ったりなどです。このボランティア期間は、ホームステイです。なので、現地の人とのコミュニケーションをとることが出来ます。また、様々な国からボランティアをしに来ている人がいて国際交流も出来ます。'Smile NGOなので、英語力が向上します。英語が苦手な人でも、ボスが分かりやすく説明してくれたり、周りのボランティアの人々が助けてくれたりします。ボランティアは、月曜日から金曜日まであります。月曜日から金曜日は、ご飯が三食でます。毎回異なる料理が出てきてとても美味しいです。インドの伝統料理やボランティアの人が持ってきた各国の料理などを食べれます。土日は自由時間です。なので、私はコルカタの中心街に宿泊して観光などをしました。私がホームステイした街はとても安全です。そして、子供達や近所の人はとても親切で優しいです。是非、この機会にインドでボランティアをしてみせんか?

During this Christmas time, my friend and i join the SMILE NGO work-camp for 2 weeks schedule. Our project is focusing on teaching the basic language to the children. Actually after the project, we think we learned more from them.We join the program because we want to gain a meaningful and happiness memories, and the children and SMILE organization definitely made our memories gain the harvest which is out of our expectation.First of all, a simple life start from the place where we live, a very nice host family. They not only prepare the traditional meals of Bengali for us, but also change the recipes in order to fit on the foreigners, such as us. The family member also having dinner with us and chatting with us. They care how's our feeling when we stay in here and showing us their culture. During the Christmas time, they care about us if we have homesick in the festival. But the Christmas decorate preparation made us feel really warm, and a happy Christmas :) Although at the last few days in the program, i get some maladjustment with my stomach, Kamala (one of the organizer) take care of me and showing the understanding, it made my feeling better :)For the lovely children, their knowledge  more than we expected. Since the program run for long time, almost 13 years. There are many volunteers come all over the world, such as Europe, Mexico, Japan, China, Italy, Russia, etc. Some of them can speak the basic language of those countries. And also the painting in the classroom and overall the building, it's a mult-culture environment. It provides the worldwide view to the children, and also to the volunteers come from others place like us. The children are good learning and they cherish any chance to learn. They also like singing, dancing, drawing and playing football. "Play hard learn hard":) It make us reflect on the problem that the children in the city may not cherish what they own as them. Since they learn the basic English for school, so that the communication with them is not a big problem, even though sometimes still have. Body language, smile and respect can help and fully solve the problem. We love their enthusiasm, the attitude when they facing the unknown, their passion of the life, and the respect of each one. Overall the experience during the program, we spent our holiday in a meaningful way, learn a lot from this organization and children, and also have a wonderful Christmas. It encourages us to go out and see more about india. We used to the expression in local's eyes when they look at us, and the lifestyle become acceptable for us. They make us open our mind and willing to gain and find more interesting things in this country. Those experiences and feeling can not gain from traveling only. Lengleng and Johnny ,Macau

My name is Victoria. I am from Russia. I decided to take part in volunteering project "Street Children" in India.
It was a short term project that last for two weeks from 17th December to 30 December. It was a Christmas time and I am so happy that I had it with Smile society.
What I liked most about the project? For sure, it were children's smiles, their happiness and villingness to learn. I taught them about Russia, Russian language and even Russian new year's song. They, in turn, taught me how to sit on Indian way,  how to eat in Indian way, how to dance in Indian way, how to do yoga and how to keep smiling and be happy.
I think that Smile society is very important for local community. They provide good level of alternative education for the children from families that can not afford private schools. At the same time, government schools in India provide very poor level of education.
If there was no Smile society these children could be on streets as millions of other children in India. Smile house became their home. It became a home for me also for these two weeks of the project.


Hi, im Larissa, I'm mexican and I come to Kolkata,India to be volunteer, but not just to be volunteer it's a pleasure to my what I'm doing here I enjoy all days specially and most important "Learn about my gorgeous kids", a look, a word, a smile, a hug means a lot for me they are the reason to my happiness every morning when I wake up and see them. Sometimes it's not easy for our different language but we try to understand us not just by words the heart can talk too. I learned a lot to each every one and I hope you learn from my. Thank you for let me join in your house and your hearts. Ruma but I said "momma Ruma" I appreciate you so much to take care of me to cook delicious food every day with Dipali, thank you Baba for the fireworks, Kamala and Dev thank you!  I take with me all the moments in my heart. "Make sure when you're doing something  to do with the most sincere of your heart, live and enjoy because we never will live the same feeling " I invited you to live by yourself this beautiful experience, it's not just travel to meet places, it's better to travel to meet people, their lifes , feelings ,traditions. Hasta pronto Kolkata.


I truly believe that an international volunteering experience is both about what you can do for the others and, above all, what you can learn from them. In this sense, volunteering for a local association such as Smile gives you the unique opportunity to get in touch with another culture in a way that a tourist could never do.

My project was about teaching basic English to the children (most of them were refugees from the near Bangladesh), trying to invent new games/activities to make it more fun and effective. It was not that easy at the beginning - I must say -, but SMILE staff was always very helpful and ready to discuss about any problem we faced during the project. They have been running this teaching project in Madhyamgram since long ago, so now it’s very well organized and many people nearby know the association as well as its work. Children are just great: very curious, sometimes very active as well, but Smile has been working with them for years and taught them how to well-behave. 

Another great point of working with Smile consists in its international atmosphere: during my 6-weeks stay, I worked with people coming from all over the world (Italy, Denmark, Russia, Taiwan and Japan), who made my experience even more special! As a young girl coming from Europe, who never had a similar opportunity before, I found it very enriching, especially talking about the Asian co-volunteers!

Smile staff is really caring and never neglectful: probably because of the different climate (I went in August, during the monsoon season) I got a bit sick and they were very caring and attentive about my health. To anyone worried about Indian extremely spicy food, I would say they don’t have to worry at all: the lovely cooks, part of Smile staff, prepare a variety of food which is very easy (and lovely!!!) to eat for people coming from outside (and they’re always willing to exchange recipes). Baba (the granpa of the host family) also used to give me furtively some local food sometimes, that I extremely appreciate (.

As many people coming from Europe, I was a little concerned about my security, but I must say I never had any problem. Smile gives you some rules about timing (especially about the time you have to be back home) so that no one never had problems. Indian people are actually very welcoming and helpful: as everywhere in the world, you had better be careful, but you’ll actually find plenty of people ready to help in case you need, especially when you have no idea where to go in the crowded streets/stations of Kolkota!

I strongly recommend to anyone of you to take part to Smile’s great work and spirit, which I’d like to sum up with a great quote by one of the project leaders: “Your work is like what the sugar makes to the water when they’re mixed up: apparently nothing changes, but the water ends up being sweeter. You may not change those children’s life, but you’ll certainly make it sweeter”.

Looking forward to living a similar experience again, maybe (?) in Durga Puja’s festival time, as all Indian people I met there told me it’s a very special time for all Indians (literally describing it as “the festival which takes poor people to the restaurants and rich one to the streets”).

 Do not hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about my volunteer experience.

Valeria Orsolano, [email protected]


Poject: Street Children Welfare con Smile NGO (6 weeks, August 2016)