Brothers David and Peter Sofatzis, and siblings, Joseph and Marie Yeo, shared with us their experiences of volunteering in Kolkata, India with the Missionaries of Charity.
The Missionaries of Charity were founded by Mother Teresa in response to the poverty she saw in the streets.
David shared his reasons for going, which were to experience another culture, make good use of time and go on an adventure. As volunteers, David and Joseph spent time at a house for men with disabilities. He said that the smiles from the men they helped were priceless.
Marie shared her experience returning to volunteer a second time. Being recognised by a child brought her tears and joy.
After finishing school, Peter chose India as his ‘schoolies’ trip. He helped at an orphanage, playing with and helping the children with lessons, but also doing practical tasks such as hand washing clothes.
He spoke of the early morning wake ups at 5am from the Muslim call to prayer, and how they began their day with Mass at 6am at the Mother House. After breakfast, all volunteers would ‘divide and conquer’, going to six different houses to help out where needed.
Peter painted a vivid picture of the streets of India and the cultural differences they experienced each day.
Joseph shared about the importance of prayer in that environment, and how much of a focus it has. He challenged us by saying ‘all the time we have in this world is a gift from God, how much time in our day do we give back to God?’
All volunteers end their day with an hour of silent adoration. Prayer began Mother Teresa’s mission, and it’s an essential source of ongoing strength for the Sisters and volunteers.
All four of our speakers were changed as a result of their time in India, and highly recommend it. Anyone is welcome to volunteer in Kolkata for any length of time, and the website indicates that the only qualification for volunteering is Hearts to love and hands to serve!