In the run up to LSE #GivingTuesday, your Student Volunteering Ambassadors share their volunteering experiences with you to inspire you to get involved. Aishwarya Chaturvedi (MSc Human Resources and Organisations 2018), who is one of the ambassadors, volunteered at a hospital for mental health in India. Read on to find out what that was like.
The human mind is a limitless chasm of possibilities and one can only attempt at understanding a part of it. One of my endeavours to do so, was volunteering at a government aided asylum, known as the ‘Thane Mental Hospital’ in India for a period of one month in 2016.
As psychology was a part of my curriculum in my undergrad studies, I had a fair idea of what to expect at the hospital. Well, at least I thought I did. My work involved teaching yoga and conducting music related activities at two specific wards for women. I was also a part of the team that performed occupational therapy to improve the fine motor skills of the patients through activities such as origami, sewing, and preparing décor for the upcoming cultural programme.
I must admit that my first day of volunteering work was slightly intimidating. Just like I was in a zone far from comfort, the patients too were introduced to a new face and activities, quite contrary to their routine lives at the hospital. While some patients suffered from severe psychological disorders that rendered them completely dependent on the hospital staff, others were moderately affected.
Two weeks into yoga and basic relaxation techniques, and I was told that the wardens actually noticed positive differences in the patients. They appeared relatively calmer and were less fussy about taking their medication. Also, I soon realised that the patients would wait for the music sessions post the yoga as it was the only time they were “authorised” to sing loudly and dance to their hearts’ contents.
Every single day was an adventure. Every single day I strengthened my emotional bond with the patients, so much so that there were tears in our eyes on my last day of work. Every single day I’d return with a new set of stories I’d learn through my interaction with the patients. Some true, some of them, made up. However, what was common to all those stories was a longingness to be accepted and loved by their dear ones.
That one month changed my outlook towards life. It made me a more open person. It endorsed the fact that true happiness lies in being accepting of whoever comes your way in life because you never know what baggage they must be burdened with, and that a simple gesture of kindness can reignite the will to live, in them.
Got inspired to volunteer?
You can have a look at the resources on our website or browse CareerHub for different ongoing opportunities. You can also book a one-to-one if you need more support to get started. You can also join for one of our #GivingTuesday events.