India Calling

Delta Donohue in India

A talented fellow writer and colleague at Wandering Educators, Delta Donohue, has an amazing journey to share. Delta left corporate America behind, in order to follow her heart to India to work with organizations dedicated to women’s and children’s health. Like me, Delta felt the call of India. She ended up working with Namaste India Children’s Fund, as well as starting Anoothi, a social business promoting handicrafts and semi-precious jewelry created by village women in India.

In today’s post I would like to share Delta’s story with you, told in her own words. She is frank about the struggles of her journey, admitting that she was afraid to leave the known. But, like most people, the rewards of doing so and following her passion were great. Many people ask me, all the time, how people do things like what Delta and myself have done. By sharing her story, I hope to share her inspiration.

I spent 14 years working in Corporate America. It was a good job that gave me the opportunity to travel, meet all kinds of people and work on challenging projects. But it never fulfilled me. As is true for so many, I kept thinking there was something more. I finally had to acknowledge that the only reason I was staying was because I was afraid to leave. I was afraid to leave the paycheck. After a great deal of soul-searching, I knew I needed to give notice, even though I wasn’t sure where I was going to go or what I was going to do.

I began networking like crazy. I had this strong feeling that I wanted to work with women and children in a developing setting, but little definition beyond that. Through a dear friend, I began a series of emails with a couple who would change my life: Jaimala and Hitesh Gupta. They live in Jaipur, India and are the founders of Vatsalya, an NGO dedicated to women and children’s rights and public health. In the fall of 2007, I spent 3 magical months at Udayan, a children’s village for orphaned and abandoned children run by Vatsalya. My life was forever changed. By the time I left Udayan, I had joined forces with Namaste India Children’s Fund to help raise money that is so desperately needed for these children.

I had also formed a life-long partnership with Jaimala to help village women gain economic self-sufficiency. We started Anoothi – a social business utilizing fair trade practices. Anoothi hires local village women, pays them a fair wage and trains them in the production of semi-precious jewelry and native handicrafts.  The women also participate in profit-sharing. Anoothi is working to build a world market for these products.

3 years ago, I could never have imagined the life I am leading. It is not easy economically but the reward of working with, and on behalf of, these amazing women and children makes any difficulty worth it. I have slept out under the warm Indian night sky with a group of giggling kiddos snuggled next to me. I have sat in circles of women, listening to them sing beautiful folk songs as they sew and build necklaces as they work to build a better life. And I have learned. I have learned that we are all one family. We all deserve a chance. We all deserve to be seen and loved. And, perhaps most importantly, I have learned it really isn’t all that hard to make a difference in this world and, boy, does that feel good!

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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on April 5, 2010, in India. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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