Deeply committed to creating positive change

The volunteering team going to India in July 2023: Paula, Rachael, Helen, Lucy, Artika and Sunita.

By: Artika Datta, Trustee Rama Foundation, Advanced Specialist Dietitian

The American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, famously said 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has'. This is precisely the spirit with which I will participate in Rama Foundation's forthcoming volunteering trip to India in July 2023.

Over the last 4 years, Rama Foundation has gratefully received contributions from 10 allied health professionals (AHP) from Cambridge University Hospital (CUH), in person and online, to exchange knowledge and skills with colleagues working with Rama Foundation's partner charities in India. These initiatives help Rama Foundations partners build capacities & skills so that they can better support unserved, vulnerable communities in India to enable them to better participate and be included in mainstream society. Guided by recommendations from volunteers, RF has introduced several supportive initiatives. For example, we have been fortifying the diets of up to 300 children in schools with a daily glass of milk and providing food parcels for families of cancer patients from disadvantaged backgrounds. We are now providing ongoing support through a series of webinars which have been accessed by >300 healthcare professionals in India.

Volunteering has brought enormous self-development benefits as described in these reflections from CUH AHP volunteers Luisa, Helaina, Tanzil, and Claire. In addition to the deep, personal satisfaction, we feel professional benefits which aid us in our daily work with each other and serving patients at CUH:

Thriving in adversity – working in an Indian context, within a very different culture and medical system, with Indian colleagues who may not be fluent English speakers, serving patients from very disadvantaged backgrounds develops our resilience, agility, and gratefulness

Improved teamwork – working together in a multi-disciplinary team with new team members and teams in India improves our ability to work collectively

Planning and organising – we learn new skills from the planning of trips in terms of travel logistics, fundraising, daily itineraries and recording their efforts

Learning new skills – the different context exposes us to patient types and situations we don’t come across in our normal work in the UK. This requires us to learn new skills for example applying speech and language skills or working with children.

Sense of pride and building loyalty – every one of us very grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity and we have great pride to work for and become more loyal to CUH.

Diversity and Inclusion – these experiences give us a unique opportunity to be immersed into and appreciate the diversity and richness of other cultures and different ways of thinking. This helps them work more closely and successfully with colleagues and patients in our daily work at CUH.

It would be a gross understatement to state that I can't wait to join a formidable, AHP colleagues from CUH. Inspired by Margaret Mead, we are a powerful small group, deeply committed to creating positive change.

In the picture, the volunteering team going to India in July 2023: Paula, Rachael, Helen, Lucy, Artika and Sunita. Follow our experiences in India on
Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.