Welcome! Our names are Margaret Bhanu Dembergh and Arpita Iyer, and we are excited to share with all of you our experiences doing volunteer work with PRASAD Chikitsa in the Tansa Valley in Maharashtra, India.

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Left to right: Bhanu and Arpita

Originally from opposite coasts of the United States, we feel so lucky to travel together to the opposite side of the world. We met two years ago in upstate New York and have been friends ever since. We are looking forward to spending our summer together and contributing to the work of PRASAD. We are thrilled to be co-writers of this blog detailing our experiences volunteering with the different PRASAD programs in India this summer!

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My name is Arpita Iyer and I’m sixteen years old from San Diego, California. This will be the second summer I will spend volunteering with PRASAD Chikitsa and writing a series of blogs about the work of the organization. I am looking forward to seeing the growth and changes in the various programs from last summer, as well as working with the new programs PRASAD has to offer.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be volunteering with PRASAD again. Working with PRASAD last summer has helped nurture and expand my passion for philanthropic work. I have witnessed firsthand the lasting impact that PRASAD has had on the lives of the people in the Tansa Valley. Writing about their incredible work on this blog in 2017, and speaking at a PRASAD event earlier this year, I’ve had a chance to truly reflect upon my own growth. Dhanyavaad!

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Some of the scenery as we drove through the Tansa Valley.

For me, volunteering made me realize how easy it is to connect, to find common ground interacting with people I most likely would never have met without PRASAD. There was always something to learn or something to laugh about with everyone I met while visiting each of PRASAD’s initiatives, whether it was the women from the Self Help Groups, the teens from the school camps, or the children from the nutrition program. In this day and age we too often create boundaries between us, boundaries based on socioeconomic privilege and superficial differences. I met people who seemed so different from me and realized just how easy it was to find a splinter of myself in them, a shared favorite color or a similar talent. I’m so thankful to PRASAD for the opportunity to challenge these boundaries. The gratitude in my heart for everything I learned last year is an inspiration for me to work with them again this summer!

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Hi! My name is Margaret Bhanu Dembergh, and I am from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Before this trip to India I had never left the United States. I had known of the hardships many people face around the world but I never really felt a connection with them because I wasn’t seeing their lives first-hand. By volunteering with PRASAD I will see the challenges people face in the Tansa Valley and broaden my perspective of the world.

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Vajreshwari, one of the main villages in the Tansa Valley.

Many people had lots of questions for me once they found out I would be going to India and volunteering with PRASAD. One of the most common questions asked was, “What program are you the most interested in?” At the time I didn’t know what my answer was, all I was thinking about was how much I was looking forward to just volunteering. Then I realized that I have done very little philanthropic work like this before, and I want to learn as much as I can about the work PRASAD does and the ways we can connect with people who seem so different. I am eager to work with all the programs and try new things. This trip will start with many firsts for me, but it will end with countless memories, stories, and connections.

Being part of an organization that provides people with the support and aid they need is a fulfilling and valuable opportunity I am grateful to have as a sixteen year old. I look forward to seeing the impact PRASAD has on the people of Tansa Valley and talking about these experiences with you. I hope we can share the benefits of PRASAD’s work, as well as the realization that we are not so different, no matter where we are in the world.

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Over the course of the next month, we will be posting regularly on this blog about our experiences volunteering with PRASAD Chikitsa, and we are very excited to share them with you!

Until next time,
Bhanu and Arpita