During the winter of 2012, Kristen Trivelli traveled to Guwahati, India, where she volunteered with three different organizations.
“I worked with Operation Smile’s Comprehensive Cleft Center, which provides free surgeries to repair cleft lips and palates. I acted as a Student Nurse Volunteer and helped in the Pre-Op and Post-Op Ward, the Operating Room, and the Post Anesthesia Care Unit. I also spent a week volunteering at Auxilium Snehalaya, an orphanage for destitute girls. I played with the kids, learned their stories, and was able to teach them some English. What these girls need most is to establish trusting, loving relationships with adults and to feel that someone truly cares about them, and I was able to step in and serve as a big-sister figure for the week, which was a heart-warming experience. The final group I volunteered with is the Pratyasha Foundation, an organization that cooks and delivers nutritious meals to 85 children who live in the local slums. I helped cook the meals and was able to spend time with the kids. This experience truly shifted my perspective on the world and rocked the very ground I have been walking on. I was left speechless after the first time I saw the slums. These kids have absolutely nothing – their torn and soiled clothes are pinned together, their feet are bare and filthy, their bodies are malnourished and disease-ridden, and many have to resort to begging or prostitution just to survive. That being said, these are some of the purest, joyful children I have ever met. All they wanted was to be held, hugged, and shown some love – which were three things I could definitely provide. While I cannot save the world, I can change theirs with the simplest acts of love and kindness, and that was the most inspiring revelation of my trip.
With the Pratyasha Foundation, we feed 85 kids a balanced meal consisting of rice, dhal, a salad, and fruit for only $12. Twelve dollars. That is 4 Starbucks coffees to me, but a life-changing meal for 85 kids. We hear these statistics all the time, but it never left a lasting impression on me until I saw it. SIPS gave me the life-changing opportunity to go to India, get my hands dirty, and figure out how I can best help the kids out there. I am in the midst of formulating a business plan to raise funds for the Pratyasha Foundation, so my contribution does not end even though my trip has. These funds will not only go toward the weekly meals, but it will enable the Pratyasha Foundation to provide healthcare to the children and begin enrolling them in vocational schools, with the goals of getting them out of the slums and giving them better lives. I am more passionate than ever about helping those kids, and it is all due to the amazing opportunity that SIPS gave me.”