Volunteers fulfill an essential role at Deepam. We provide a beautiful work opportunity for volunteers. Our children speak only Tamil, and it takes some time to understand the background of the Indian culture. It takes about 3 months to become adjusted here and to be able to really start contributing. Volunteers with experience in our field and a training such as physio-, occupational-, or speech therapy and special educators are most welcome to join us for at least six months, preferably for one full year, which is beneficial for all involved. Most of our volunteers keep in touch with us and come back for visits. Please contact us for detailed information if you are interested in working with us. We will help you with information about visa regulations, transport from the airport and affordable accommodation.
Voices of volunteers:
Isabell, worked 2008 at Deepam
I am from Germany and I am 24 years old. After finishing my studies as a speech therapist, I came to Auroville to work at Deepam for 6 months as a volunteer. Together with Selvi, who works as a speech therapist, or alone, I give individual therapy lessons. There is a great need for therapeutic care among these children. I feel I’m doing a work which is really useful and at the same time it is a pleasure to work. Since I don’t speak Tamil, I focus on exercises for the mouth, tongue and pronunciation. Painting class, morning exercises, handicrafts and food sharing also are part of my duties. I really love working with the children of our day-care group and the children who come for ambulant therapy. My happy and very kind work mates contribute very much to my good and homelike feeling at Deepam. In addition, I get to know an amazing foreign country with its interesting customs and traditions, totally different from my home country. I feel glad and honoured to be able to have this special experience.
“Dear Deepam folk, each of you is so beautiful and special in her/his own wonderful way!
I love you a lot and you became very precious to me. I am deeply touched and feel very thankful for meeting you.
It is not easy for me to go now, but it seems to be time for me to move on.
I will take the love and everything I have experienced here with me on my way.
Thank you so much for showing me who you are and thank you for letting me be who I am!”
Stephanie is an occupational therapist who has worked in 2011/12 for 10 months with us at Deepam. Above words she had written in our volunteer book.
Clara, worked 2011 at Deepam
From the first moment I felt very welcome at Deepam, and day by day I got more and more into it. As one-year-volunteers we became fully integrated into the nice team. We follow our regular schedule of individual and group classes. That means I work with different children and small groups. I do for example, the music and the movement classes where we do exercises to learn about our body and train our coordination skills. One of my sessions I have with Ruthrapathi, a 9 year old deaf boy – to teach him numbers, practice cutting with scissor, painting and other handicrafts and games. He never went to school before he came here about 10 months ago. We have a lot of fun learning together as he is very motivated and picks up things quickly. I have also been given the possibility of helping a physiotherapist in his work with a boy in a wheelchair and with another boy who suffers of severe spasticity.
The challenge of understanding one another was not as big as I had expected. I found a good way to communicate mixing Tamil, English and the Deepam sign language, which evolved here because of the many children who are deaf. I am impressed how the children are learning and developing. It is an incredible feeling to see those improvements and I have decided to do the training to become an occupational therapist myself. My time here went by too fast and was full of exciting experiences. I could not imagine that staying here would influence me in such a way. Thank you Deepam!
Charlotte, worked 2011 at Deepam
For almost ten months now, I have been working as a volunteer at Deepam and the thought of saying goodbye in two months time when my one-year program in India is completed, makes me feel incredibly sad. During the time here I have got to know and love all of the children at Deepam. I have learned a lot about the children and their special needs, but also about India and its culture and as well much about myself. I am fascinated by how the physically challenged children and their families encounter their disabilities in every day life. Periyasamy for example, a 15-year-old boy in a wheelchair, crawls up the stairs at Deepam and at home it is impossible to use his wheelchair because the space is too small – but he never complains.
When I first came here, I thought that I would never be able to remember all of those complicated Indian names. Since I did not speak any Tamil and only a very few children know a little English the speech barrier seemed so huge. However, as time passed, we found ways to communicate that don’t require any words at all. When I teach Sarasu, a 14-year-old girl with severe hearing loss, I do not need to talk to her very much in order to explain mathematical problems to her with the help of material. Also the children have developed their own sign language and it is just beautiful to see how all of these different children interact with one another.
I am sure I will never forget the time I spent here at Deepam!
Ahmad, worked 2009 at Deepam
I am a 30 year old physiotherapist from Iran and have been living and studying in India for the past 4 years. I always wondered how I could return the kindness and generosity of the lovely people of this beautiful country. Joining Deepam family in September for a six month internship program finally provided me the opportunity. In addition to the extreme sense of satisfaction working with village kids who have disabilities. The experience at Deepam offers me world class training and hopefully an international recognition.
So thank you Deepam for the opportunity and thank you India for being such a lovely host.
Rebecca, worked 2009-10 at Deepam
For some years, I have had the dream to go to a foreign country and to work with disabled children after finishing high school in Germany.
Luckily I got the chance to work as a volunteer at this lovely place. Here I am able to contribute towards Deepam’s goals and share my experience from my education in Germany. My main work is with the children of the day-care group. Some days I am responsible for preparing the morning exercises. I also do individual work with some of the children. I teach them how to read and write, as well as simple math operations. It demands a lot of patience, but it is rewarding to see the kids become really motivated and happy when they improve. I can also contribute during the painting class and other creative activities. At Deepam, I feel heartily welcomed and realize that I get much more from our children than I am able to give. I am thankful to Deepam for providing me this opportunity to be with these wonderful children and to be a part of their team.
Julia, worked 2009-10 at Deepam
After finishing high-school in Germany I decided to do a year of social work in Auroville.Every day I learn a lot from the children and the team at Deepam. Moreover, I get rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction. These children are lovely because they are all special. They do not have a big expectation about their lives – still they seem to be content. It is a pleasure to see them being happy. I work with them in small groups or individually and I teach them basic mathematics, handicrafts, colors and counting, toilet training, swimming, dancing and singing. In addition, I help them to improve their coordination skills with simple exercises and games. Once a week I am in charge of the morning circle which offers me a great space for my creativity. I enjoy discovering new methods of teaching and treatment. As I have the wish to study later on physiotherapy, volunteering in Deepam, provides me the opportunity to work with professionals. Deepam is my new home. I feel fortunate to be part of it.
Julia from USA
has sent us a sweet mail:
This is Julia from a couple of years ago. I am now a graduate student at the University of Washington in the School of Social Work. I am in my second year and am really enjoying it. I am so sorry that I have not written sooner. Rarely has a day gone by that I have not thought about all of you and my experience there. I have pictures of the kids hanging in my home. They all have a very special place in my heart as do all of you. Please tell the kids that I say hello (Vanitha, Nagammal, Suresh, Sundar, Sathya, Ajai, Ranjith, Elumalai, Subash, Kannan, Lakshmi, Gandhi, Nanthya, Sarasu, Vinoth, Nishant, Mani, Suresh, Kalaimathy and Velmurugan). Please give a special hug to Anjalai. She is one who has never left me. Hello to all of the teachers and staff. Thank you for all of the rides on the bike and showing me about real social work. Thank you all for embracing me and teaching me so much about how to love.