My Volunteer Trip to Pune, India

As many of you know, I have a love and passion for helping others that just keeps growing!  In May 2014 I graduated from Champlain College with my BSW and I am currently pursuing my MSW at San Diego State University.  My passion for learning about other cultures began when I traveled to Entebee, Uganda where I lived and volunteered at an orphanage for a month.  After returning to the United States, I decided to minor in Global Studies to enhance my awareness and appreciation of other cultures.

I was recently offered the opportunity to travel to Pune, India this coming December.  As an alumnus of Champlain College, I will be participating in the inaugural Champlain College Alumni International Service Trip to work with Maher Ashram in Pune, India.  During my three-week stay, I will be participating in a variety of projects and activities to support the women and children of Maher.  I will work with women with mental disabilities; act as a role model to the children, help with general upkeep around the homes, and complete a variety of other tasks to make their lives more meaningful and prepare for the future. 

Founded in 1997 by Sister Lucy Kurien, of Kerala, India, Maher is a grassroots interfaith organization based in the villages around Pune, Maharashtra, India, serving three Indian states. Maher’s primary function is to provide shelter and care to women and children in crisis.

I would like to share an excerpt from the book I am reading, “Women Healing Women”, “Maher provides a healing refuge for battered, destitute, and downtrodden women—from all walks of life, all religions, all castes.  Every year in India, thousands of women are doused in kerosene and set ablaze.  Unwed mothers are abandoned on the streets to starve, and often commit suicide.  Teenage girls are brutally raped and forever banished from their families.  Many wives are routinely battered by their husbands; other women are rejected for belonging to the “wrong” caste.  All such women and girls are welcome at Maher, where they find the warmth and security of a loving home and can begin life again with dignity and renewed hope.  Equally poignant stories are recounted by Maher children: preadolescent girls sold to brothels, toddlers who witnessed their mothers being burned alive, and beggar children rescued from squalor who have been groomed at Maher to become national dance performers.  For every story told at Maher, thousands of similar stories remain untold in India—most with far less happy endings.”

Please help me make a difference by donating.  Any donations received, will go towards travel expenses, accommodations, and to the Maher.  I appreciate all support and donations given in advance!  Not only will this trip contribute to my learning of another culture, as well as my educational path of Social Work, but I will be able to use my skills and knowledge to enhance the lives of others.  I would not be able to do this without the support and love from all of you :)


  • Shachi Rathkanthiwar 
    • $20 
    • 40 mos
  • Tieghan Gerard 
    • $1,000 
    • 47 mos
  • Robin Coulthard 
    • $25 
    • 47 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $10 
    • 47 mos
  • Rae Tashman 
    • $5 
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Abigail Gerard 
San Diego, CA
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