Before coming to India I was studying Computer Science at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland where I had just completed my 3rd year. Alongside this I worked as a freelance web developer.
What are you doing now?
This year I will be taking a year out from my studies before returning for my honours (4th) year in 2012. In the meantime I plan to work on freelance web development projects, and help in the planning of future Shelter Associates IT projects.
How would you describe your Shelter experience?
I came to Shelter Associates as part of an Engineers Without Borders UK placement. My plan was to continue work from the previous years EWB volunteers and work on the slum data system which holds all of the survey information from slums in Sangli. However, when I arrived I got to work on redeveloping the Shelter Associates website (that you're visiting just now). The new website was built to improve navigation of the large amounts of information stored on it and also allows the staff in the Shelter Associates offices to update the website whenever required. This will lead to improvements in documentation of the Shelter Associates projects and in making that documentation much more accessible. It will also serve as a platform to build future information systems on top of, like the slum directory, or an improved slum data system.
Before Shelter Associates I had never travelled on my own outside of the UK, or to a developing country. So my arrival in India was daunting, but I quickly found friends at Shelter Associates who have made my time here something I will never forget. I have had some amazing experiences here and I am very grateful to both Shelter Associates and EWB-UK for giving me the opportunity to come here.
What did you learn from your time with Shelter?
During my time here I have learned about the challenges faced by NGOs in India, specifically when helping the urban poor. The work Shelter Associates is involved in improves the lives of the beneficiaries so greatly, and it can be incredibly frustrating when these challenges cause delays to a project.
My message to future volunteers is…
Before arriving read about current/past projects (the information is on this site!) and contact previous volunteers. There is so much to experience in India, and you will spend a lot of time with no clue about what is happening around you. Keep your mind open and just roll with it.
You can contact me by emailing: email@example.com