Danielle Daniel, the AFACTR AmeriCorps volunteer who worked at the Family Resource Center in Redway until last October, headed for India last Friday, March 9, where she will teach English to children living in the slums of New Delhi for a month under the sponsorship of Rural Community Development Program International.
When Daniel visited India as a tourist two years ago, the poverty she saw made her realize "how much more we have in America, and how we could be giving so much more to countries like India."
Following her eleven months' AmeriCorps service, which she spent assisting the FRC with many programs for young children in Southern Humboldt, including arts and crafts classes, the garden project, playgroups for preschool children, and Thanksgiving food baskets to needy families, Daniel wanted to use her experience to help children in India.
Daniel researched service programs in India and chose RCDP, which places volunteers with host families in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America for a modest fee, because all the money goes directly to the host family.
During her month in New Delhi she will teach English to a class of 30 students between the ages of 5 to 14. The large number and varied ages of the students "will be a real challenge," she said. She has studied teaching English as a second language to prepare for that challenge.
Only children whose families have enough money so that the children don't have to work attend public school in India. Daniel will be teaching slum children, who often have to take jobs just to bring in a little extra cash to meet the family's everyday expenses.
If they learn English they can get better jobs, leading to more education and a way out of extreme poverty.
RCDP volunteers customarily serve for only a month. A new teacher will be ready to step in when Daniel leaves so that her class can continue their studies.
When Daniel's month in New Delhi is over, she has five weeks to travel. Her first stop will be in a part of northeastern India called the Buddha Circle, a group of towns where Buddha traveled and died.
She will attend a 10-day Vipassana Meditation program. During this period she will sit at meditation from 4 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. with only short breaks for meals. She will not be allowed to speak or communicate by gesture with anyone during this time.
Finally, if she has time, she hopes to travel to the Himalayas before returning to Humboldt County, where she grew up.
"I believe in the importance of experiencing other cultures to help you realize how much you have and how to share it with others," Daniel said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIELLE DANIEL
Danielle Daniel, who worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Family Resource Center until last October, is on her way to India to teach English to children in the New Delhi slums.