360 blog 5
Urja: Living with dignity
I have been very privileged to intern at Urja Trust, based in Dadar, Mumbai, India. A 20 minute train ride away from my hostel in Colaba. Prior to the programme, I was not aware of Urja’s existence. It was not until after discussing with Naveen, the Global Career Centre Coordinator in India, what type of work I wanted to do, that she proposed Urja as a potential placement.
I was shy at first, as anyone would be when interning in a country half way across the world, when they don’t speak the language and do not know what to expect. But that slowly eased. It was seeing the spark of community from the women who are the engine of Urja. It all starts with ‘Namaste’ or as one of my work colleagues taught me, ‘Su Prabhat’ which means good morning.
What is Urja?
Urja is the yellow crisis shelter building that is seen as a temporary home for many young homeless women.
Urja is sitting on the ground eating lunch with the other women at the office.
Urja is the smiles and conversation in broken English to be able to communicate with participants.
Urja is a catalyst for homeless young women by facilitating their journey to access fundamental needs.
I have met the many wahine toa of Urja, who have welcomed me into their organisation, giving me the opportunity to learn, make a positive impact, learn Hindi and Marathi and share their lunchtime food. It has been a very eye opening experience so far, especially learning more about the women who come to Urja from domestic violent relationships, homeless and some with kids.
My daily schedule includes arriving at the office at 11:00am. I continue with the work I was conducting the day prior, or am given a new task by my supervisor. At 1:00pm, I get to enjoy an Indian homemade lunch that is shared amongst everyone; bringing together the sense of community and whanaungatanga. I then continue with my tasks. This is normally researching, policy writing, analysing data or enjoying a visit to the crisis shelter nearby. It may seem like an ordinary internship or role that can be conducted in New Zealand, but it is more rewarding than the eye can see. It is the learnings and memories that I will always be fond of.
Having an overseas internship experience in a place like India, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It may not be for everyone, but as someone who has grown up volunteering and being part of community work, this was right down my alley. I am so very grateful to have been part of Urja for 6 weeks.
I know this is just the beginning. ‘