Lauren Blanch - Navigating first days in Mumbai

Taking the train to work in Mumbai

Taking the train to work in Mumbai

I arrived in Mumbai, exhausted and disoriented after a shanty few weeks amidst the Himalayas. I don’t cope well with noise or crowd, so anxiety started to stir within me the moment I was met by the hustle and bustle of Bombay upon landing.  I had attempted to mentally prepare myself for what was in store but the fifteen-minute drive from the airport to our hotel diminished any confidence I had mustered up within myself.  

Poverty, pollution and an inevitable sense of helplessness confronted me.  But like everything, you adjust – because you have to. Once I moved past this (by reminding myself I was here to try and make a positive impact) I started to notice the certain charm this city inherits and by those who inhabit it.  

My time at ATMA has made helped me overcome culture shock. The moment I stepped into the ATMA office in Bandra was the moment I understood that I wasn’t in this alone – I realised that almost everybody volunteering their time and expertise to the cause of the organisation must have experienced what I was feeling to a certain degree at some stage during their stage. Their positivity, dedication and sincere desire to help you – whether it be with your project, navigating the chaotic streets or expert advice in experiencing the real Mumbai, has already made my time here much easier – allowing me to focus on the project I was assigned, in addition to being able to enjoy what this city has to offer.

I can honestly say that I am both excited and proud to be working with such a genuine non-government organisation and that I believe in what this organisation stands for – an accelerator for education that strives for fundamental education standards by partnering with existing NGO’s pertaining to education and achieves this by strengthening their models.  I am excited to wake tomorrow to the wobble of the head by the chai wala across from the ATMA office, the warmth in passing strangers eyes and by the prosperity of being able to meet with people that without Generate Worldwide, I would never have had the chance to.