Here at the Ashram we are always open to welcome visitors and guests. There are times when we have our retreats, like the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday, when we are mostly full with participants but apart from those times there are people with all kinds of interests who come to the Ashram. There are some who ask us to design an individual journey for them, friends of course, who just come by to visit, normal visitors who are interested in seeing Vrindavan or our Ashram and charity projects and also volunteers, guests who help us by working part-time at the Ashram for the duration of their stay. Today I would like to tell you about an inquiry for volunteering that made Ramona respond in a sharper way than she usually does.
When we get an inquiry for volunteering, it is mostly after people have read our volunteer page and often also my previous blog post on volunteering at our Ashram in which I explain that we welcome people to help us with computer work. By helping for four hours a day, they can lower the cost of their stay but we still ask them for a nominal amount that helps us cover the costs that we have through their stay. That leaves them enough time to explore the town while they are here, play with the Ashram kids, hang out in the garden, do yoga, take a massage or do whatever they like to do.
Ramona is used to explaining this to people who inquire and people who are comfortable with computer work are usually very happy about this concept as it leaves them time for themselves and to do what they came to India for. Not the one whom she replied this time though! This was the part of her reply that made Ramona sit down for a lengthy answer:
“That doesn’t sound too rosy. I understand that you don’t want to make any loss but it seems there is no place on this planet anymore where people help each other without charging money.
It is a pity but that’s how it is and I have to come to terms with it.”
I want to just copy and paste Ramona’s answer here as it completely expresses my thoughts on this when she told me about it:
Dear Julie (name changed to protect the woman’s identity),
I just would like to make things clear for you: here we do help people without charging money for it – 150 children come to our school every single day, learn here for free, eat here for free, we buy all their school supplies, their books, their uniforms, pay their teachers etc. These children could not otherwise afford going to school and they might remain illiterate if it weren’t for our school.
A part of the expenses for these children is covered by donations, the rest from the income of our business. So we use the money, which we earn here for these children instead of saving it for ourselves.
And here you are, writing me in your mail that there are no charitable people on this earth anymore, nobody who is interested in doing charity and helping others.
We help the poor children here, whose parents are happy that they at least don’t have to worry about lunch for their kids because they get it at our school. So if we ask our guests, who can all afford approximately 700 Euros and more for their flight and can also afford to take holidays for a longer time, which means not working and earning money for that period of time, to pay at least the money for their water, electricity (air conditioning, light, mobile, laptop etc.), their food and whatever else they use here, we are accused of not being charitable but only looking for profit. Accommodation and food however should be according to European standards!
Yes, it is how it is and I believe we are not the right place for you.
Maybe you can think about my words before you write something similar to the next charitable organization whose members everyday work hard to help people survive and have a better future.
I hope you find a place that is exactly that what you are looking for.