By Rishon Seaborn
Sophomore Eleanor Brown completed volunteer work in India during winter break.
The social work and political science major participated in a four-week program which allowed her to teach children with disabilities and those who come from low-income households in Delhi, India.
These children contribute to the population of the over 100 million who live in the slum communities and streets of India.
The International Volunteer Headquarters arranged the opportunity by providing students with the resources to be equipped for their placements.
“I had looked into study abroad, but really wanted to volunteer in a country unfamiliar to myself and to understand a different culture than my own,” Brown said.
In preparation, Brown learned basics of the Hindi language through class instruction and experienced a cultural introduction to India through various trips and other instances of cultural immersion.
Brown’s initial admiration for teaching developed into an inspiration for helping others after volunteering at a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. during her high school years. She accredits the organization for introducing her into the social work field.
“I became a social work major because I wanted to not only work in a field where I can protect and help others, but also advocate for them,” Brown said. “I’m also pursuing a political science major to get some macro experience and background, and then a psychology minor to establish a solid foundation with the clinical aspect of social work.”
Brown is a firm believer in child advocacy and the importance of individuals having equal opportunities for a successful life. The voice and actions that provide representation for these families are desperately needed.
“Having the opportunity and resources to have an education opens so many doors,” Brown said.
The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout India support the school system and encourage the children by providing them with lunches, uniforms, school supplies, transportation and other resourceful equipment.
“These children wouldn’t have had the access to a solid education if it was not for the NGOs,” Brown said. “Their families did not receive an education because they did not have the opportunity and access.”
The NGOs provide free education for children from low-income and slum communities and educates children and adults with a variety of disabilities. This demographic is given the exposure that has been hidden by past barriers.
“A lack of an education presents social and economic barriers to what an individual can achieve,” Brown said.
The critical eye that developed from this trip is something that solidified Brown’s decision to pursue a career in social work.
The necessity for global perspective is everlastingly persistent as barriers and other issues continue to be problematic in our society.
“This trip has shown me a side of the world that has often been ignored,” Brown said. “I saw a place which needs so much more global awareness and support from those such as ourselves—awareness is key.”