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What does it mean to be an AID volunteer?
You recognize that there are serious problems in Indian society. Suffering that moves your heart, injustice that shakes your sensibilities and issues that challenge your intellect. You realize that you can be either indifferent and ignorant or despondent and paralyzed or hopeful and active about them. You decide to be a conscious participant in the problem – solving and burden – sharing process. You start to do whatever little you can through the channel that AID gives you, while enriching your own understanding of the experience of the champions of this process – the poorest people themselves and their local leaders. You begin to break down barriers that separate you from the villages of India. You can see through the layers of haze of statistics, the media, class and cultural biases. You come to a CSH and see a project presentation – you see people dissecting a proposal and asking seemingly random questions. You have a lot of questions of your own some of which you ask and several you don’t. But you learned at least one new thing and offered your valuable input in at least one way. And you do this in more CSH’s and soon you will start to ask these questions and have these thoughts in your dreams or while you are driving. You come to a session where volunteers are stuffing envelopes with our newsletters and sticking address labels of our current and prospective donors on them to be mailed out. And you wonder, am I on this list and can I get some of my friends on too? You are now growing the AID donor base. You volunteer at a fund-raising event by selling tickets and food or talking about AID to some people in the audience. You start to take ownership of AID and feel incredibly satisfied at the successful completion of that event. You are a full-fledged AID volunteer by now! You sit in an event where we have a grassroots activist from India speaking passionately about her work with her villagers, and you are simply inspired to the core! You may even be disturbed because that person has just challenged one of your deeply held convictions or broken through your comfort zone. You begin to question whether what you are doing is really worthwhile. . . . Meanwhile, life takes over you have to graduate from school or find a new job or get married or have a baby. You are not sure you can attend meetings any more. Pretty soon you don’t even have time to take a couple of tasks and do them completely – you tell yourself, “When I get through this crunch, I will start volunteering again!” But the crunch doesn’t seem to end… Then you meet another AID volunteer somewhere- that’s the simple spark you needed to re-energize your motivation and aptitude for AID. Because, that moved heart, that challenged intellect and that struggling villager or project in India hasn’t gone anywhere it’s just been covered in the dense fog of life. Once the sun shines, the fog lifts and it all comes to back to you again!