My time in Fort Kochi with Volunteering Journeys is very sadly drawing to an end. I have had such a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being part of women and children’s project in this vibrant part of the world. I will be leaving knowing I have learnt so much in the past couple of weeks.

The project in Fort Kochi is about coming alongside the women, the children and teachers. One of my questions, or perhaps concerns, before I came out here was to whether the projects make an impact and are welcomed by the local community. From the first few days into the project, it became clear you are sharing a journey with people.

The women on the empowerment project are such amazing people and committed to learning grammar and conversation. Their vocabulary is excellent but they lacked the opportunity to practice it. I hope the half an hour or so of conversation each day helped give them more confidence to converse in English. Just spending time with them chatting is a key part of the project.

The opportunities for married women are limited and we spent time with them talking about their jewelry making, their desire to gain employment and family life. Spending time with these women during the past few weeks will leave a lasting impact on my life.

In the afternoons we spent time at the local school which was rewarding, challenging and exhausting. The children were great fun and incredibly enthusiastic. The children already had a reasonable working knowledge of English but the emphasis of the session was more about play and games. I did get them to write a story one day but the session is more definitely games focused.

Volunteering Journeys is also spending time with fellow volunteers, working together, sharing ideas that may or may not work, laughing and enjoying each others company. It was so good to meet people not only from the UK but Australia and South Africa too.

Whilst you here there is so much to do and experience. Fort Kochi is a very special place with so much to do and see. A visit to the tea plantations in Munnar was a highlight of my trip. Come and enjoy Kerala, it is a superb part of the world.

Geetha and Midhu are two very, very special people who are totally committed to the projects and their volunteers. Geetha is one of the most gentle, kind and insightful people I have ever met. I will miss your laugh! Midhu is lovely and so helpful in the schools. She came to my rescue on a number of occasions! Thank you.

Come to learn and embrace the experience. When you step-off the plane be prepared to ‘go with the flow’ and do things that are completely outside of your comfort zone. Come simply to share your experience and be enriched by the people you will meet on this project.

Karen Laister (Womens Empowerment Program, Kerala, November 2016) To apply to this program visit www.volunteeringjourneys.com/womens-empowerment