International fairytale – aka my first month as an intern with United for Hope

It’s mid-April 2015 when I set foot in Munich for the first time. I’m almost at the end of my Master Studies in International Relations at the University of Bologna in Italy and I’m doing my internship here, with United for Hope, under the Erasmus + program of my university.

I cannot even remember when I found out about United for Hope … It was probably last winter. I wanted to go to Germany so badly, partly because I’ve been studying German for a while, so I was looking for an organization or a company here that would offer me an internship.

United for Hope wasn’t actually looking for an intern, but I found a volunteer opportunity advertisement. I e-mailed Tara, proposing her to take me on as intern for three months. I had a very touching volunteering experience in Ghana a few months earlier, so I was looking forward to cooperate with an NGO in the field of development work. Tara and I arranged everything, had a couple of Skype calls and here I am.

It is the first time I work with an NGO, so I didn’t know what to expect from this experience. I read a lot about United for Hope before coming here, as I wanted to get an idea about what they do, how they work etc. But it was only during my first meeting with Tara, Sarah and Alex when I realized that what I had read was only the tip of the iceberg.

In my first weeks, I somehow felt being flooded with information: past projects, future projects, fund raising, tax receipts, events, presentations, partnerships, budgets, newsletters, and and and. All those things that when you think about them one per time you guess you can manage in 15 minutes, but when you have to deal with all of them, they keep you stuck in front of your computer for hours. For days.

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So here I am! Fighting with Excel and PowerPoint, writing emails, posting letters (as every intern worthy of her name, according to American movies!), doing a lot of mistakes but learning even more and having much more fun than I could expect from an internship.

It is a huge world I’m discovering with United for Hope. But this experience wouldn’t have been so exciting without the knowledge of what is beyond this bunch of  documents and technical details. I’ll try to be clearer.

When I read the story of United for Hope for the first time, I was impressed. Of course I was, because that story sounds like a fairytale. A young blond Irish woman who goes to India on vacation, sees people suffering and gave up her successful carreer and her „normal“ life and dedicates herself to the poorest people of India. But the magic happened when I came here, because I saw how true that fairytale is.

I met Tara, the main character of this incredible story, and all the German and international members, in person, with their smiling faces and their very active and crazy lives. I met the Indian members and I saw the Indian energy coming from their black eyes. And when I linked faces and voices to United for Hope’s projects, I began feeling tightly bounded to it.

So bounded that, for example, when we got the license to build 60 more toilets in Tirmasahun I was literally jumping off my chair in our office. I would never have thought I could get so excited for some toilet!

Right now, I’ve been living in Munich for around 40 days and what I’m really dying for is 60 families, in Tirmasahun, getting their sexy, amazing, new toilets. I’d say, for my first month, that could already be my happy ending in the fairy tale, but as my internship will continue until the end of July, there will be a couple of more chapters I gonna tell you about later.

Federica for United for Hope

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