Pilbara teens leave western comfort for life changing experience
What would make two teenagers from Karratha say goodbye to family, food and Facebook to head overseas and live in a remote Indian village with next to no possessions?
Tori Raynes, 19-years-old, and Aimee Chappell, 18-years-old, are leaving the red dust of Karratha to live and work in India for three weeks as part of a charitable program to volunteer at an orphanage.
The team will depart Karratha on September 15, saying it’s something they’ve always dreamed of doing.
“I’ve always had an interest in Indian culture and volunteering was something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Tori.
“I thought the volunteering program would give us more of an authentic Indian experience.”
Aimee says it was the culture that persuaded her to visit India.
“India is so colourful and the orphanage will be an amazing experience,” she said.
“We thought there was not much point in going to India and just seeing the tourist side when there is so much more to do.”
Aimee expects her three-week adventure in India to be emotionally challenging as well as rewarding.
“It’s going to be a culture shock, it’s going to be different to anything we’ve ever experienced before but we’re up for the challenge,” she said.
Tori said she is apprehensive about preparing herself for the emotional challenge.
“I don’t think you can prepare yourself emotionally for the challenge,” she said.
“I’ve read all the handbooks and we’re in constant contact with our coordinator but they say you cant really get the answer from a book, you just have to be there.”
The duo will be based at an orphanage in Faridabad for the first two weeks of the program, and will be taking advantage of a third week of free time to explore the cultural offerings of the colourful country.
“It will be Ghandi’s birthday, a public holiday, while we’re there,” said Tori.
“We will be going to a festival in honour of the event in our free time, as well as visiting the Taj Mahal and the River Ganges.”
While they are volunteering at the orphanage the girls will be accommodated by a host family, who they will be matched with once they are in India and the program assesses their skills and suitability.
Tori said beside the food, they are most looking forward to meeting the children at the orphanage.
“I’m looking forward to making friends with the children and hopefully learning Hindi from the host family,” she said.
“Living with the family is going to be very interesting.”
There will be eight to 32 children in the orphanage at the time they visit, with ages of the children ranging from three to 15 years.
“We get to wake up and help them get ready for school, then we walk them to school,” said Aimee.
“Then we’ve got the day off to explore before picking them up from school to take them home, then get them ready for bed and stay with them until they fall asleep.”
During the day while the children of the orphanage are at school, the girls will have the option to teach English at a local school.
In such a huge population, Aimee says they are preparing themselves for their first time travelling on their own.
“We’ve really downsized our luggage and we’ll be keeping an eye on our valuables while we walk around,” she said.
“We’ve never travelled on our own before without our parents, but it’s all part of the experience.”
Huge curry fans, Tori and Aimee are looking forward to traditional local foods and learning the secrets of traditional Indian cooking.
“I can’t wait for curry and naan bread, although we’ve got to be careful about what sort of food we eat on streets,” said Aimee.
“I hope it will be a really enriching experience,” Tori said.
“I hope I’ll walk away feeling I’ve done my part, no matter how small.”
Aimee agreed, “I’m looking forward to making friends and experiencing the culture, making memories and taking good photos.”
After the three-week adventure Aimee and Tori will return to Perth.