Magdelena is a weltwarts volunteer who would be spending the next six months at the Hope House, volunteering.
I remember the first time I stepped out of the airport. A heat wave overcame me. I was completely overwhelmed by all the people around me, the smell, the noises and the temperature. Our planned tour went from the airport in Chennai to Karigiri, the village where The Hope House is located. We had a cab driver who drove us.
In those 5 minutes from the airport to the cab driver and the car, I was flooded with every emotion I have ever experienced. I tried to notice and hold on to everything I saw, which of course was impossible, even in those 5 minutes. We started driving, and I kept looking out of the window, everyone was staring back. Of course, you try to be prepared for all these looks you get but you can’t.
Every driver, whether by car, rickshaw or motorcycle, literally just honked and drove off. At the first moment I was scared and surprised, because in Germany you will be stopped by police when you drive over a red light. That was very confusing for me at first. But if you watch for a few minutes, you realize that there are a few unspoken rules that everyone knows and that’s why it kind of works.
I couldn't believe what I saw, to large crowds of people everywhere. I was also not prepared for the poverty. Of course, I was aware of the fact that life here is different than in Germany and that poverty here reaches a significantly different level. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Seeing how people live, eat and sleep here is frightening and at the same time you feel incredibly guilty to have grown up in such a sheltered and prosperous world.
At that moment, I had truly arrived for the first time and realized that I was now going to spend the next 6 months here somehow learning to deal with the feelings that had overtaken me. I was so excited, nervous and of course scared about how the next few months would be for me, but at the same time I was grateful for the chance to immerse myself in a new world. It is a privilege to experience another culture so intensively and to meet so many new, interesting people.
I am very grateful for the journey that is finally starting and for the people who have welcomed me so warmly and immediately made me feel at home. I am looking forward to experience many adventures and to create wonderful memories with the people of "The Hope House."