Testimonial from

We arrived in Kochi at around 5 in the morning, and waiting for us outside of the airport was a lovely taxi-driver, who was holding a big GVI sign. After about an hour's drive we arrived at Hotel Kochi and checked in for a night. In the morning a huge group had collected in the lobby. Everyone was so eager to meet each other and see where we were staying and see what Fort Kochi looked like during the day. Luckily, we had a lovely room together in a hotel with an en suite and, most importantly, air-conditioning. We stayed there for a week before transferring to Hana's homestay, which was simple but nice and was located directly opposite a Tibetan restaurant which had some of the most exquisite healthy food and juices. This homestay was very near to the base camp which was absolutely beautiful. The sky lounge has the most incredible views across the city, with coconut trees emerging alongside the buildings and tropical birds flying against the sunset. The food in the base was always phenomenal. We ate outside on the terrace on a long picnic bench. For lunch, we had traditional Keralan food which was made every day by a local restaurant. The volunteers all took turns in making the breakfasts and dinners. This was a lovely bonding experience and everyone seemed to feel so proud at having made a decent dinner for 20 plus people! It was such a relaxing environment, which the staff have worked hard at maintaining, and in the hammocks it feels a little bit like paradise. With regard to the work that we did, we were on the Women's Empowerment programme but we were not really sure what to expect. It turned out to be a fascinating experience. Our favourite partner was a residensial English language college in which participants spend 2 weeks studying English and then many of these students take their new skills to work abroad. We had the opportunity to present to a group of men and a woman at this college about women’s rights and gender roles, and facilitate debate amongst splinter groups. What was so interesting and was that you got to hear and understand a variety of viewpoints, and watch them challenge each other and question their opinions. Another favourite was a girl's home which we worked with. What was so rewarding about this project is that the girls get so excited to see you, and many of them loved to show off their English and to tell us all about Kerala and Kochi. The majority of the work for Women’s Empowerment is teaching and conducting lessons, which we really enjoyed as the kids were an absolute pleasure to engage with. But ultimately, we both agree that one of the best things about GVI is the friendships that you forge between the different volunteers and staff. We feel so lucky to have met some incredible people, and would love the opportunity to return!

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