Sheemara – an odyssey of love in a foreign land

Sometimes in life, we are lucky enough to take chances that will change us forever. With these we meet people, we know places, we find love, we grow.

But there’s always that one experience which is greater than anything else.

When Bhumika decided to volunteer in Sri Lanka, she was hoping for a beautiful journey, but she never expected to find the purest kind of love. The type of love you take for your entire life.

This is her story.

volunteer holding a girl with down syndrome

“Before going for exchange there was one thing I was sure of: I wanted to work specifically for people with Down Syndrome.

I aspire to become a business-woman and I have a business plan named “Saransh”, which aims at giving training and employment to differently abled people. I wanted to learn how to teach and empower them and what are the various fields to create employment for them.

The inspiration of the idea comes from my younger brother, Saransh, who also has  Down Syndrome. I want to work for him and for people like him, for their equality and basic rights in the society.

That’s why I decided to volunteer for them.  

And what could have been a better option than AIESEC? So when I found this amazing project in Sri Lanka, I had no doubt: that was it. I took the leap, packed my bags and left for my big adventure.

There I worked in Diri Daru Piyasa, a school for kids with Down Syndrome and Autism. There I was working directly with the first group.

young women playing with girl with down syndrome

Once in a lifetime, we always come across someone who impacts us, who changes our life. For me, it was this beautiful girl, Sheemara.                             

She was the one who impacted me the most during the exchange. She influenced my entire thought process about life and I fell in love with her, I love her so much that I wanted to bring her back to India with me.

If you don’t know yet, people with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome and this genetic condition slows down a person’s mental and physical growth. We never understood everything that the kids wanted to say, because of the language difference. So we developed ways of communicating with each other, as love has no language and it can simply be felt. 

Sheemara was that one girl who used to place her palm on my forehead and used to say, “baa”. I don’t know what “baa” means, but it was for sure her way of showing acceptance and love.

I still remember the way she used to giggle while repeating that gesture.

girl placing her hand in woman's head

She was a little aggressive and had mood swings, but I think that when you love somebody it doesn’t matter. I just learned to love her even then and to have a lot of patience. I learned that there are ways in which we can teach them, that there is so much more to life than the daily hustle we are so engrossed in.

Trust me, when the time came for me to return, I held her and cried. I wasn’t sure if she’d miss me. I wasn’t sure if she’d understand that I was going back to India and I also wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing if she didn’t understand. But somewhere in my heart, I wanted her to miss me, as I’d miss her.

And she did.

One day she woke up from siesta and said “Bhumi” many times. My friend says maybe she dreamt about me. I visit her in my dreams too.  That day we saw each other over a video call, whenever we do that, it just makes my day.

I think it’s magical how much love we have in our hearts which we can be spread. We can go to foreign lands and find love, then we live with a craving and some hope in our hearts to meet again.

I’ll go back there again someday, she’ll be a grown up till then. I’ll buy her a computer because I want her to learn and educate herself as much as she can and I want her to play and enjoy life. I want that little girl to receive all the love in the world. 

You can make someone’s life beautiful. Just go out and find out how much happiness you can bring into the world.” 

And you, have you ever find such kind of love?

Did someone leave a mark for life? Share your story in the comments!

If you also wish to volunteer like Bhumika, access aiesec.in/global-volunteer and find your opportunity!

And if you like this post you may also like: “The Magic in India’s Teardrop”.


Written by

Anisha Bhawanani is graduated in Marketing and Finance and loves writing. She is a happy go lucky girl with a head full of dreams, very passionate about traveling and exploring different cultures. One day she wants to win a man booker prize.

The Tranquil Roof of the World

Wedged between the high Himalaya and the steamy Indian plains, Nepal is characterized by snow peaks and Sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries, and mantras. The right mixture of adventure and sublime peacefulness under a constant backdrop of spectacular mountains is something that you cannot miss to experience.

The Adventurous Abode

The Himalaya, here, is the definitive goal for most mountain lovers. Nowhere else can you trek for days in implausible mountain backdrop, shelter in the knowledge that a hot meal, cozy lodge and a warm slice of apple pie await you at the end of the day! Besides there’s the adrenaline kick of rafting a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a bottomless Himalayan gorge. Canyoning, climbing, kayaking, paragliding, and mountain biking all offer a rush against the milieu of some of the world’s most vivid landscapes.

The Spiritual Bliss

This cultural powerhouse of the Himalaya offers a matchless collection of world-class palaces, concealed backstreet shrines and transcendent temple art. Strolling through the medieval city squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, and accompanying Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims on a spiritual stroll around centuries-old stupas and monasteries is going to redefine peace for you.

A Traveler’s Paradise

There are not many countries in the world that can give you a similar taste of independent travel as Nepal. Walking alongside the trekking shops, bakeries and pizzerias, it’s easy to feel that you have somehow landed in a kind of backpacker nirvana. Nepal’s wild and abstruse national parks, which lend you the prospect of skimming the treetops for exotic bird species and comb the jungles for rhinos, tigers and myriad birdlife is going to leave you overwhelmed.

Whether you cross the country by mountain bike, motorbike, raft or tourist bus, Nepal offers a bewilderingly diverse array of charms and landscapes. The biggest problem you might face in Nepal is just how to fit everything in!

The Persistent Struggle with Progress

Despite all the picturesque landscape and cultural treasures, Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world according to the United Nations classification. Therefore, it’s even more crucial for us to take this fact into consideration and contribute in whatever way we can for this gorgeous nation to prosper. AIESEC provides this opportunity to create a social impact and the emerging start-up culture provides a plethora of options to acquire some great work experience.

Going for a social or corporate internship to this exceedingly stunning and unruffled abode through AIESEC is going to transform you in a way that your approach towards life after coming back is going to make you shine out of the crowd. The satisfaction that you would obtain after working for the underdeveloped society in this country is going to lend you immense pleasure.

Are you ready to embark on this remarkable experience? Sign up now!

 

 

Blog by Udit Kalra, can read anything except textbooks 24/7 and aspires to find a way to survive without zero sleep.

Lets talk about it. Period.

Menstruation is a natural process. Nonetheless, in many parts of the world, it still remains a taboo and is seldom discussed.

Numerous societies have convictions, legends and taboos identifying with feminine cycle. Quite often, there are social standards or unwritten guidelines and practices about managing this feminine cycle and connecting with bleeding ladies. A portion of these are useful yet others have possibly destructive ramifications. For example, in a few societies, ladies and young ladies are informed that amid their menstrual cycle they ought not bathe (or they will wind up infertile), touch a cow (or it will end up barren), look in a mirror (or it will lose its brightness), or touch a plant (or it will die).

Social standards and religious taboos on period are regularly intensified by conventional relationship with insidious spirits, disgrace and shame encompassing sexual reproduction. For instance, in Tanzania, some trust that if a menstrual fabric is seen by others, the proprietor of the material might be cursed and we need to change it. The most appropriate thing that could be done is Proper Education about Menstrual Hygiene and removing these taboos among the society because these are the some cravings that you should feed and you don’t need money for it. If you want to bring a change and move towards the future which is free from all these believes that are not based on any facts then Volunteer today for Quality Education.

So, believe in yourself and break the walls around you made by society.

 

Today, on Menstrual Hygiene Day, guarantee yourself and other women around you painless and happy periods with these cleanliness tips.

 

  1. Change your sanitary napkin each 4-6 hoursMenstrual blood, when discharged from the body pulls in different micro organisms from our bodies, which increase in the warmth of the blood, and cause disturbance, rashes or urinary tract contaminations. Changing your napkin or tampon routinely checks the development of these creatures and counteracts contaminations.

 

  1. Wash yourself properly  Washing your vagina consistently is important, because the organisms stick to your body after you have expelled your napkin.

 

  1. Don’t utilize cleansers or vagina cleanliness items–  While utilizing vaginal cleanliness items regular is a smart thought, utilizing these items amid menses can turn things around. Vaginas have their own particular cleaning instrument which becomes possibly the most important factor amid menstrual cycles, and these fake cleanliness items can hamper the natural procedure prompting diseases and development of microscopic organisms.

 

  1. Discard the sanitary napkin properly–  Disposing off your tampons and clean napkins legitimately is a critical advance. Wash them first , Wrap them appropriately before y  ou discard them, so the microscopic organisms and diseases don’t spread. Ensure you don’t flush them, since that will obstruct the toilet,  making the water to back up, spreading the bacteria on top of it.

 

  1. Stick to one strategy for sanitationWomen tend to utilize tampons and sanitary  napkins, or two clean napkins simultaneously during the heavy flow which is a productive method. While it might keep you dry and prevent staining garments, it can cause diseases as well. The mix of two systems ingests the blood making us careless in regards to the need to change our tampons and clean napkins. Without frequent change, the collected blood welcomes microorganisms and causes diseases.


We the people living in Urban areas know most of these things, but a holistic approach, collective action is needed to address menstruation issues of rural women. Surprisingly, when it comes to menstruation, the gulf between rural and urban women broadens considerably. With the lack of resources, education and awareness about personal hygiene, forget information about hygiene products, the women don’t even have any conversations about menstruation. Most of the women in rural areas are using unhygienic products such as wood shavings. The need of the hour is for everyone to come together to tackle such problems at multiple levels.  Let’s take this brave step, sign up today
 and browse for more actions towards Sustainability of Humankind.

 

 

Blog by Anisha Bhawnani, a happy go lucky potterhead who wants to travel around the world to eat different kinds of ice creams. She aspires to become a VJ and a New York Times best selling author one day.

Stakeholders of AIESEC in India: Globalising Workforce and Being Truly Awesome

As AIESECers, one thing our youth oriented leadership body diligently engages in earning the trust of our stakeholders before engaging their support. With the distinct business model we run, a lot of our thoughts become things due to the dire support we receive from our clients to deliver a groundbreaking impact each year. Whether you call it reaching the unreachable stars or fighting an unbeatable foe, looking up to our clients for the same is what we do.

In order to truly commemorate the relationship we share with our stakeholders and to express our gratitude for the massive support we receive, AIESEC in India has been hosting its Annual Stakeholder Dinner every year. We engage our patrons through a gala convening and indulging into conversations while everyone takes a thought back home.

 

Who are our stakeholders?
Our stakeholders come from various backgrounds. There are clients from NGOs to start ups to corporate companies. There are sponsors of the impact based events we do around the country and principals from universities who send their students for a power packed leadership experience. All help serve the purpose of delivering the cross-cultural exchanges we do by globalising their workforce.


Why Annual Stakeholder Dinner?
What we essentially try to convey through our communication and have always actively tried to propagate is why youth activation is the need of the hour. We deliberate over our organisation which has a diverse set of young individuals from around the world making history, delivering exchanges and setting a benchmark of an impact that is impossible to achieve without the enablers.

Every company, every client that harnesses our opportunities is an enabler of impact, an enabler of leadership. And the idea we have all been delighted to celebrate is the proliferation of leadership in youth as we endorse the imagination of witnessing a world full of leaders and positive influence around us.


Who is attending the gala?
This year, among our esteemed stakeholders, a few notable people who would be joining our celebration would be Ms. Dia Mirza, Mr. Ronnie Screwvala, Ms. Tanya Dubash, Mr. Mukund Rajan, Ms. Trisha Shetty, Mr. Atul Kasbekar, Mr. Afroz Shah and many others. Keynote speakers being Mr. Akshay Nambiar, the President of AIESEC India and Mr. Ishteyaque Amjad, VP Public Affairs & Communication, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia followed by a panel discussion and a networking space in the dinner.

As Anodea Judith smartly said “We are moving from a chain of command to a web of connection, from competition to collaboration, from markets to networks and stockholders to stakeholders, and greed to green.We like to be the ambassadors of the same.

 

AIESEC in India has the privilege to have some of the biggest personalities in business and leadership on the Board of Advisors for the National office. Their guidance and support have been unique in driving our organisation forward.
Mr. Ronnie Screwvala is an Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the cofounder of UpGrad, an online education company. He was the founder and CEO of UTV Group and was the Managing Director of UTV India, Managing Trustee of the Swades Foundation and Founder & Advisor: at Unilazer Ventures Ltd. Here is what he has to say about his experience with AIESEC as one of our esteemed partners.

You can find out more about how you can engage with us as a stakeholder here: https://partners.aiesec.org/

 

 

7 Ways to Volunteer Abroad on a Low Budget

How many times have you thought or wished to volunteer abroad and become an agent of change only to step back as soon as you thought of the expenses?

With AIESEC, you can put these problems to rest and take up an opportunity to volunteer abroad in a way which won’t dig a hole too deep your pocket.

Our Global Volunteer program provides young individuals a chance to be the change as they step out of their comfort zone and take proactive steps to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals in a country which is foreign to them. With 125+ countries and a vast range of volunteer programs ranging from teaching to gender equality to sanitation to explore; the world is your oyster.

  1. Planning is the key

First things first, it is important for you to plan your budget and set a limit for yourself, so you don’t go overboard with it. Prepare a proper checklist and devise an estimate budget for every expenditure that you may have to incur. Try and set an upper and/or buffer limit for your budget as well. Planning beforehand will help you get a rough idea about your expenses and then you may as well be able to come up with ways to minimize your expenditure. You may wish to plan your trip during off season and book your tickets well in advance to save a few bucks there as well.

  1. Making informed decisions

Believe it or not but you can bring about a huge difference in your expenses by choosing the right country. Do your research well and decide which country will complement your budget. Look for projects which provide the best and the most cost-effective facilities on the AIESEC Opportunity Portal. Many projects even provide free meals and accommodation! Speak to the AIESEC representatives in your city, who will be able to assist you better or visit the AIESEC India website for more details.

  1. Global Host

Try and opt for Global Host over hostels and apartments to get a chance to experience the country in its most authentic and natural form. You will spend your days and engage with the locals of that place and learn the tricks and trades of your country from the local themselves. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to experience and savor the culture, heritage, and ethnicity of the country even within the four walls of the house which doesn’t come with a hefty price tag.

  1. Save a few bucks with referral schemes

AIESEC has several referral schemes which will enable you to get great discounts such as convincing your friends to go for volunteer projects with you. Speak to the AIESEC representatives in your city to know more about these schemes and discounts and make the most of it.

  1. Go Local

Manage your expenses by adopting cost effective techniques such as trusting the locals and living like them by choosing street food or cooking instead of eating at restaurants. This will not only help you manage your expenses but also help you realize your hidden talent of cooking! Make sure you even explore the hidden gems of the country such as flea markets or street food stalls to have a complete experience as well as to go light on your pocket.

  1. Embrace public transport

Choose public transport or decide to give your body a change by choosing to travel on foot to reduce cost. This will give you a chance to completely soak in the experience of travelling in a different country as you interact with the locals, try to decipher their language and communicate with them and observe and savor the things that are unique to that country.

  1. Find Student Discounts

Student cards are incredible. Did you know that you can get discounts at more than 125,000 places in 133 countries around the world? With flash sales on transatlantic flights for $99, a whopping 35 percent discount on Eurail, and so much more, your student card is a savior. Sometimes you can travel with the university card issued by your school/college/university but it’s not a guarantee. The gold standard is the International Student Identity Card (a.k.a. the ISIC). This handy little card will save you cash anywhere on earth!

Now is the time for change; now is the time for you to be the change by stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring and realizing your potential only to impact and improve lives. So, what are you waiting for? Take the leap of faith, trust your gut and get, set, packing! Book your tickets and pack your bag to experience the best few weeks of your life!

Sign up as a Global Volunteer today!