Student volunteers from the HCC Youth Council (USA) recently made photobooks for the students in Nepal graduating from grade 10. We asked Jiya to tell us about her experience creating them.
What do you find most rewarding about volunteering with HCC?
The joy on the kids faces when we talk and meet in person is the most rewarding thing. Talking to them has opened my eyes and has taught me so many things that I could have only learned from them. To see them smile is so heartwarming and is absolutely worth the effort. It is so astonishing to see how the little things in life can be the best. Not only is it seeing the kids in Nepal so happy, but I know that all the other members of the youth group here in Atlanta are enjoying themselves just as much.
What inspires you to connect with HCC students?
I am inspired to connect with the HCC students because I am helping a wonderful organization and helping cause a positive change in this world, but also the pay off that comes back from helping. My family and I sponsor a child, Prem… it has been remarkable to see how after our visits to Nepal and the Skype calls we have with him, he has [been able to] focus more on his studies. This proved to me that our effort has truly made a change in their lives. Experiencing this inspired me to not only focus on Prem but to try and do something for all the students.
How did you get the idea for the photo albums?
During our trip to Nepal, we took a polaroid camera with us. It was remarkable to see how
much the kids loved to see their photos physically.We gave everyone pictures of themselves and group pictures. Living in the US, we are so privileged to have a phone or easy ways to print pictures and keep them for ourselves. After long talks with Susan Keenan and Anu Sheth about ideas for projects we could work on for the kids, we came to the conclusion that as these kids are graduating, it would be nice for them to have a way to hold onto their memories.
What was it like to visit Khushi Ghar?
I did not necessarily have expectations when visiting Khushi Ghar but whatever they were, they were 100% exceeded. Right as we arrived, we were greeted with the biggest smiles and the best food. It was amazing to see that all the kids pitched in to make the meal. Everyone welcomed us with open arms and could talk for hours and hours. There was not a moment of anything but pure happiness. Everyone was active and the girls and boys played basketball together. It was really interesting because we were able to relate on different topics and talk about the same things like songs, actors, sports, school, etc. The name “Khushi Ghar” or “Happy Home” perfectly matches. The atmosphere was so happy, and I felt so comfortable that it was like I was at home.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to find a way to give back?
My advice for anyone trying to help out or give back would of course be that monetary donations are always needed. If someone is looking for ways to give back that is not monetary, there are many ways to help HCC. Things as simple as spreading awareness, asking others for funds, or collecting supplies, is extremely beneficial. As the kids begin to get phones, it is also nice to check up on them every now and then via call or message. Every little thing helps. I have been in contact with many dentists and schools which donate extra things like toothpaste and notebooks.
I still keep in contact with the kids that I met at HCC. I often text text Ambika, Harsha, and Sonu. It is amazing to keep in touch and is really nice to get updates on how they are doing.
Atlanta Youth Council meeting with students in Nepal via Skype
The students were thrilled to receive them!