A passage to India with VSO Morpeth Herald - Morpeth, England, UK: 27 June 2008 By ANNA SMITH
Back home, Sandra looked back fondly on her time with VSO and six years on, at the age of 54, she has returned to Bangalore under her own steam to offer her services once more. She has already toured the old horticulture training centre where she was based originally, visited the new, larger facility and met up with former colleagues, including her old boss Hegde.
Now she has moved on to Auroville to continue her self-funded voluntary work, helping with a reforestation project, before meeting up with her husband to visit friends in the foothills of the Himalayas.
"Personally, I feel I have grown and developed as a person, become more accepting of some things, and less of others, and I have realised how lucky I have been to have had so many opportunities — to go to school, have a career, choose my own life, travel, etc," said Sandra.
"I have a much greater awareness and understanding of the Indian culture — our similarities and differences — and an understanding of how globalisation is affecting the country, both then and now.
"I have seen great changes in the past eight years, notably an increased middle class and its attendant consumerism and traffic."
Sandra's experience of India has taken on a new lease of life since she first set out with VSO eight years ago, but she remains full of praise and gratitude for the charity that set her on her journey.