An excerpt from Michelle Malpass’ blog: Our Family Adventure with ME to WE India
The future depends on what you do today – Mahatma Gandhi
My greatest goal as a parent is to raise kind, generous and compassionate humans. It’s not about what they do, but who they are and how they treat others. I’ve long dreamed of a family volunteer trip, not only to teach the value of contributing to a community project but also to instill an awareness of needs and differences in the world.
After discovering that ME to WE India operated in the same state as Traction on Demand’s Jaipur office, it was too serendipitous an opportunity to pass up. And what an adventure it was, with three generations on the road together: myself and Greg, our three kids (ages four, six and eight), and my parents.
About ME to WE
When ME to WE was founded over 25 years ago, education was their primary focus, however they quickly realized that supporting the entire family and community was key to alleviating poverty (learn more about the ME to WE story here). We spent a couple of days volunteering with ME to WE at a school in a rural town called Kumbhalgarh, where we worked on two main projects: building a brick wall and entrance stairs for the school.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much – Helen Keller
As for our kids, I was a little wary of how they would react to working on-site, if they would grasp the concept of what we were doing and why. Well, it turns out they embraced it! They shovelled dirt, sifted sand, made and poured concrete, carried and laid bricks. It made my heart smile to see them fully immersed in the projects.
I had my doubts about the impact a couple of days volunteering would do in the grand scheme of things. Two things turned that around for me. First and foremost, ME to WE trips run as a social enterprise, so just by virtue of signing up for a trip, you’re contributing funds to their work on the ground. Second, I do believe that every little bit counts; that it’s better to do something than nothing; if every potential volunteer said, “what good I am going to do on my own?” we wouldn’t see any progress at all.
Planting a seed
This trip had it all: Introducing them to concepts of giving, working hard for others, immersing them in different cultures and adapting to new environments; time in nature, new friendships. The discussions were meaningful: who is Mahatma Gandhi; that we lead different lives not better ones; that happiness isn’t tied to things; that running water isn’t universal, but empathy is; how easy it is to take what we have for granted; how it feels good to give.
Upon returning to Canada, our kids haven’t been incarnated into mini Mother Theresa’s and Gandhi; in fact, most of the memories they’ve shared with friends are around seeing monkeys, camels and tigers – yet a seed has been planted. If enough seeds are planted in their childhood, seeds of empathy, acts of generosity, acceptance of our differences and that every person’s actions matter, my hope is that these seeds will cultivate a desire to be the best they can be for themselves, for others and the planet.
Read Michelle’s full story and learn more about ME to WE’s incredible work in rural India.