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Madurai Special Needs Volunteer

Listed under Volunteering Opportunities in Madurai, India.

  • Photo of Madurai Special Needs Volunteer
  • Photo of Madurai Special Needs Volunteer
Photo of Madurai Special Needs Volunteer
Photo by flickr user mckaysavage
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“I don’t really know that much about caring for children with special needs, but I want to learn, will that be enough?”, I finally asked out loud as well as worrying it in my head. By that stage I was already off the plane and through the airport on my way to the project and special needs school in Madurai with another new voluntary recruit. She looked at me and laughed, “I have no idea, but we’re all here to give what we can, and that’s all anyone expects of us.”. Sage advice, because the skills I found I really needed were lots of good humour and lots of patience and lots of energy to keep jumping up and down.

Of all the valuable contributions you can make volunteering at home or abroad what could be as valuable as working with deprived children with special needs. When looking at the options available for someone like me who really wanted to take some time to give something back there are so many deserving cases that it is a heartbreaking prospect to even decide where to donate your time, energy and the vital funds your voluntary experience inevitably brings to a community, but like choosing a sponsor child I knew when I looked into those eyes on the website that these children were as deserving of the care, and anything else my energy could bring to them, as any wildlife or environmental project

The children in question weren’t all children, the age ranges of the people in my care here was from less than a year old to 20 or 30 year old adults and their needs were just as diverse. I was expecting the softer features of the Downs children and physical difficulties which come with Cerebral Palsy, but the brilliant kids with the twinkling eyes kept apart from society because of their deafness or epilepsy or autism, proved, for me to be the greatest challenge and the greatest reward. People whose requirements were more physical needed help being fed, bathed and taken to the bathroom, or needed assistance in their remedial dance or yoga classes, or the basics like hand-eye coordination or help with their physiotherapy exercises, but some days during my month long stay some of the more physically able kids were bouncing off the walls at the restrictive environment they felt they were in. Trying to get them focused on the task at hand, be it an arts and crafts class where they could learn useful life skills like basket weaving or sewing, a dance, music, maths or yoga class or even a game in the garden, was sometimes a feat of both great patience and great will and I had to be both sly and wily to get the better of any of them.

Some of the kids are residents but a lot are brought in daily by their parents who need to keep working to pay for the family’s needs and in some cases the stories of the parents are more heartbreaking than the children themselves. It was an amazing experience just to be able to give something back and both an honour and a pleasure to meet both the kids and the people who care for them all the time.

As far as my own comfort went I sometimes felt bad not to be able to take less space and comfort considering the amazing attitudes I fell across here, but I was very comfortable and the program managers insisted that we saw something of the country while we stayed, though as my time was drawing to a close I wanted to spend as much time as possible giving love and care to these people who I found just so easy to love. I don’t know if it was the spirit that I went there with but I have come back with a far greater awareness of needs in my own community that I would never have even noticed if I hadn’t gone away looking to make a difference.

At the end of my stay I would say that there is no way I could have been prepared for what I saw and experienced but that the program managers advice to do what I felt comes naturally was brilliant and gave me a lot of confidence. Wonderful. Life changing. Mind expanding. Heart breaking. And beautiful.

Written by  Louisa Hyde.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

need of a guide for Madurai Contact Me - 0091 9944822913


Madurai ,people are warm and loving.Some of them are very poor,they seek help in order to educate themselves.I have visited the place two years and I am still looking forward to going there again.My husband has sponsored a chid with fees to go to high school,however we can only afford that at the moment.You will not regret visiting this place.

1 Reply

I can second that - a magical location, off the main western tourist track, with some incredible temples - the real India...

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