In Their Words - Interns

Lauren Holman, Summer 2015

Final Paragraph about Maitri

My time at Maitri was so invaluable because I was able to share my education with people who could really benefit from it. I worked with women and young adults to improve their English and better understand their rights. The experience was rewarding because I got to see dedicated and motived people improving themselves. I also treasure having met the widows in Vrindavan and seeing the homes that Maitri makes possible for them. It is heart warming and empowering to see women dance, chant, and enjoy life after hearing of the inhumane crimes that they have been victim to. I learned more than just what it is like to work at an NGO from Maitri. I learned how to be a more compassionate person and I have had my eyes opened to some of the most beautiful aspects of India.


Rebecca Miah, Emory University, Summer 2015

Ten weeks ago I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom playing Tetris with everything that needed to be stuffed into my suitcase for India, worrying about the bugs, the beggars, the dirt, the danger. I would never have imagined that today I would be returning to the United States with more clarity on the strength of my inner power. Never did I think I would be able to haggle for a better price on a scarf, never did I think I would be able to stand my ground when change was miscounted, never did I think I could endure the sweltering heat of New Delhi in the summer. But not only did I learn about my personal strength, being in India this summer interning for Maitri, I’ve gained a better understanding of my career goals as well. I wanted to work for a nonprofit humanitarian organization that served the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I hoped to one day establish my own such agency that not only served physical and legal needs but also mental health through esteem-building workshops. To better understand the needs of women, I needed to understand their plight and therefore understand their lives, understand their position in society, in their homes. Thus came about my project to better understand the perspectives of married men towards sexual violence and their opinions of marriage. Maitri has helped me get one step closer to my goal of becoming a resource for women in need and understanding what it takes to address sensitive issues like domestic and sexual violence. Not only that, I am most grateful to Maitri for giving me perspective on the inner workings of a nonprofit organization, the central crux being a passion for your work. I’ve met some of the strongest women at Maitri; women who live to challenge the ingrained beliefs of patriarchy, women who have a piercing voice against the notion that a woman should be silent. But what I’ve found to be most touching at Maitri is that it is truly a family. Whether it is eating lunch together or catching the newest Bollywood movie in theaters, Maitri is held together by a thread of love and support. And I feel honored to be able to say that I too am connected by this thread, forever connected to some of the greatest people who are working everyday to provide all with identity, dignity, and respect.


Brok Dixon, University of Utah, Summer 2015

Internship Experience: Interning at Maitri has been such a great experience. From my first day in the office I was welcomed with open hands and warm hearts. Maitri has become my second family. I learned so much from this experience that I do not believe I could find anywhere else in the world. From working in the office to working at multiple different project sites, I truly believe that I have made a difference with the work I have done while in India and when I leave the organization in the coming weeks. Working at the project Maitrigram, I feel The knowledge and experience I have gained while at Maitri will help me place a career in the social work field. I would like to thank Maitri India for all the opportunities I have been given and I hope the very best for the organization.


Jade Fisher, University of Utah – January 2015 – April 2015

Interning with Maitri has allowed me to get to know another culture and to meet a lot of amazing people. The work Maitri engages in is focused on trying to End Violence Against Women at all life stages. From the afterschool programme that encourages young girls to stay in school and get an education, to the vocational training programmes focused on assisting women in becoming economically empowered, to the legal counselling available for survivors of domestic violence and gender sensitization trainings, to the support and empowerment of Abandoned Widow Mothers of Vrindavan- each programme is meant to empower women. At times the need can seem overwhelming and it is easy to see how this could lead to discouragement- but being able to work each day with a dedicated group of people is inspiring and supportive. I am grateful for the opportunity this internship has given me to work with people who are truly making a difference.


Sara Ference

Sept – Dec 2012

I am currently ajunior in the Health, Society and Policy program at the University of Utah. I came to Maitri with the hope of gleaning an understanding of public health initiatives and experiencing the Indian NGO culture firsthand. I came away with much more. On the plane to Delhi, I sat next to a well-traveled businessman who had been to India a number of times. When I told him I was coming to Delhi for a few months, he raised his eyebrows in surprise, as if to say, what are you going to Delhi for? He said this: “There are many beautiful places in the world. Delhi is different. In Delhi, you have to go looking for the beauty. It will be hard, but you’ll find it.”


At Maitri, you don’t have to go looking for beauty. Maitri is working among the beautiful every single day, making a simple but powerful impact in the lives of people who need it most.Maitri has taught me that amid the chaos and poverty,you will find beauty beyond description. My favorite experiences as an intern were the simple ones: meeting the humble people of Delhi at Maitri’s health camps, spending time with the lovely widows in Vrindavan and teaching the kids in the Children’s Tutorial Center. It was in these experiences that I came to know and love India and her people.I feel very fortunate to have been a part of Maitri. It was one of the richest experiences of my life.


Anjali Thakur

September – December 2014

Maitri through its various projects like promoting respect and dignity for the widows of Vrindavan, empowerment of women at the risk of domestic violence provides a development of an individual (woman) as a whole. Maitri provides home to the destitute widows, provide education, health care to children and women. For a proper understanding of the process of empowerment Maitri presents all the relevant inter-linked elements to women.


Just after completing my Masters degree in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi I wanted to engage myself in social work. My career interests are in conducting workshops and researches, interning with Maitri has facilitated experience in both of these fields to me. After interning for 3 months with Maitri it has given me an opportunity to look at things from a different viewpoint.


My experience with Maitri was more than I could have expected. It allowed me the freedom to develop personally and professionally. Working for Maitri helped me use the knowledge I’ve acquired over the past two years as a student. Maitri helped me to look into the ground realities of our society and gave me the opportunity to get in touch with people directly. It has been an invaluable experience for me which will help me for my further professional growth. I will always be thankful for this incredible opportunity by Maitri to serve the people of India.


I also want to thank the entire staff of Maitri for taking the time to share their expertise and information of Maitri’s projects. It was through these times that I felt I was able to learn and grow the most in developing my skills over the course of my internship. The staff was most responsive to my requests and always made me feel like a full-time member of the group.


Katie Naylor

Sept – Dec 2012

In agreement with the many Maitri interns who have come before me, I can unreservedly say that my time at Maitri has proven to be an exceptional experience. I have been overwhelmed by the passion that drives this organization as they reach out to help the most vulnerable populations in India. I am grateful for the experiences that I had teaching in the Children’s Tutorial Center, visiting future seamstresses at the Vocational Center, assisting in registering rickshaw pullers for government benefits, talking with the widows of Vrindavan about their life experiences, and attending health camps to spread awareness about HIV/Aids and at-risk behaviors.


In addition, I have gained valuable administrative experience by working on organizational policies, refining job descriptions, helping with the volunteers program, preparing presentations and reports, and working on the quarterly newsletter. Interning at Maitri has also given me the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout India, to experience the culture, and to learn to love the people of this country. I have grown professionally and personally as I have applied my educational skills and associated with some of the best people I have ever met. I have appreciated the laughter, the friendships, the celebrations and the accomplishments along with the heartaches, insights, frustrations, and realities of this humanitarian work. I know that India, Maitri, and the people I have come to love and respect will remain a part of me forever.


Katrina Robertson

I’ve enjoyed being able to do a variety of things in the office, all of which have enhanced my skills as a professional and academic. Writing projects have included grant roposals for fund raising, cover letters and project summaries, quarterly reports and newsletters. Other tasks have included reviewing the content and layout for the website, creating PowerPoint presentations for Maitri’s ‘Count On Me’ campaign, and researching a writing a case study on the problems of aging in India.


I’ve enjoyed being able to visit and work at most of Maitri’s projects. I was fortunate enough to go to Vrindavan to meet the widows and see where Maitri’s Aging Resource Center will be. I also was able to visit the ICTC testing center and a health camp for project Awaaz, which were emotional experiences, because I’m very passionate in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and helping those who are victims of the virus.


Other projects I’ve really enjoyed are helping with Maitrigram which included seeing where the girls learn to sew and tutoring the children downstairs. The project we have worked on that I’ve been the most excited about is Maitri’s ‘Count on me’ campaign to end violence against women. It is a pledge campaign with the goal of collecting 1 million signatures of individuals promising to never ‘commit, allow or encourage violence against women’. The signatures will be submitted to the UN Secretary General and the President of India on Women’s Day, 8 March 2014. It’s been really rewarding to witness the project progress and be involved in something so important.


At the beginning of my stay in India we did field work researching on how to address the target market and made decisions on what content should be on the actual pledge. Afterwards we were able to launch the campaign online and do more field work collecting individual pledges. We gave presentations on the Campaign at Amity University and Delhi Public School to collect pledges and also collect contact information students who want to help move the campaign forward. The best thing about being involved with this project is that I can continue to help Maitri collect signatures from home, and look forward to seeing the campaign progress even further.


Andrew Jasumback

May – July 2012

My summer goals after graduation were to engage in service, travel, and improve my resume. Having just recently graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors degree in Biology last spring, I managed to do all those things with my MAITRI internship. My career interests are in public health and international development. Interning with MAITRI India has facilitated experience in both of these areas as well as giving me the most rewarding experience of my life.


Some of my fondest memories in India apart from traveling to exotic and foreign locations, seeing strange and unusual flora and fauna, and being submerged in a different culture, were working with India’s most vulnerable populations in the New Delhi area. MAITRI has established many projects and programs to help build respect and dignity for the underprivileged populations in India. The project I took the most joy in, was teaching the children from the slum neighborhoods in the Children’s Tutorial Centre. Whether it was one‐on‐one tutoring or teaching the whole class (K‐10) about Environmental Studies, Math, or English my ability to communicate with children has immensely improved. I think I learned just as much from the kids as they learned from me. It was great to see so many children interested in math and science and to hear about what they wanted to be when they grow up. It was inspiring and motivating to see children from the slums accessing extracurricular tutoring to achieve their dreams.


Another project that I was involved in was Project Awaaz. After seeing the need for such a programme on my visit to the rickshaw slums I was quite moved. Many of the men there were seeking medical attention from the volunteers doctor that was treating them. It’s hard to imagine working so far away from your family for an extended period without contact, let alone living under those conditions with an illness or injury. I was humbled to see so many smiles and laughs upon our visit and how a simple thing such as Aspirin can make their day. It was a heartwarming and humbling experience to visit and hear the stories of the rickshaw‐pullers. My experience at Project Awaaz has had a profound impact on me and enriched my overall experience with MAITRI.


My time with MAITRI came at a very opportune moment in my life, of which I am very grateful of. The MAITRI staff and team were amazing at helping the other interns and I adjust to the culture. I will miss them dearly and can’t thank them enough for not only their impact in my life, but their impact on the thousands of Indians they serve.


Kaitie Jowers

Stand by me

All of it is real. It isn’t just something I read about anymore; there are real problems in this world. It’s my friends. It’s my co-workers. It’s the children I tutor. It’s my housekeeper. It’s my neighbors.


Women come into Maitri daily to seek help for abuse they’ve suffered; the children I tutor are way too skinny; the families I walk past on the way to work are living underneath highway overpasses; the children that stop my auto rickshaw to beg for money dig through the garbage piles for food. The “real” world is pressing down on me everywhere I turn. My smallness and inability to do anything significant is pressing down even harder.


Maitri showed and taught me things that I will never be able to forget. My internship has permeated every part of my life. I am now more aware of the problems of the world, more open to new ideas, and more grateful for what I have. Maitri deals with very real problems and very real people, and I was fortunate enough to work with the amazing people that make real change happen.


I am grateful for the incredible opportunity I had to live in New Delhi and be an intern for Maitri. I am most grateful for the eye-opening knowledge I gained and the life-changing lessons I learned. Yes, it was hard and challenging some days to live away from home and work in a new environment. But I would not trade my time with Maitri for anything. It was by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.



May – July 2012

Since I recently completed my B.A. in Political Science, this summer was a crucial time for me to experience interning with Maitri. I am continually impressed by the scope of Maitri’s work, which ranges from educating migrants about HIV/AIDS to providing healthcare and nutritious meals to abandoned, elderly widows. My colleagues at Maitri are very inspirational; I’ve never met this many people before who are so dedicated to giving back to their communities. My exposure to this spirit of public service will be invaluable to me as I begin my career in international development.


I spent a good amount of time as an intern with Maitri in the office researching the organization’s various projects, and writing material about them for grant proposals and web content. I also had fun and felt rewarded during my time teaching at the Children’s Tutorial Centre. Education is incredibly important for children’s development (and for society and humankind), and I’m happy I was able to participate in this aspect of Maitri’s work.


Visiting some of Maitri’s project sites significantly impacted me. Seeing Maitri’s health camps for rickshaw‐pullers demonstrated the importance of Maitri’s work. My respect for Maitri and its misson was deepened even further when I went to visit the widow mothers in Vrindivan and the young women learning vocational skills at Maitrigram. I also felt the power of Maitri’s outreach in the office, as the Maitri staff provided counseling and support to domestic violence victims.


Maitri is dedicated to promoting human dignity and loving kindness. These values are reflected in the organization’s office environment, where I was immediately welcomed in as a member of the family. I will miss India and the new friends I made here.


Rabia Mahmood

May – July 2012

Upon coming to India from the United States, I don’t think a lot of students know exactly what to expect. Being South Asian myself, I thought I had a good idea of what was in store for me at Maitri—however the experience went well beyond my expectations. Studying Psychology and Gender &Health at the University of Michigan, I spend a lot of time with my head in the books, with my coursework focusing on HIV/AIDS and reproductive social justice—however, books only halfway prepared me from what I was about to see here. It has been a once in a lifetime experience here at Maitri. One where I have had so many opportunities and resources placed in front of me that I am sad to go. My experiences here have not only played a huge role in advancing my career goals, but also personally affected me and helped me gain a lot of insight into my own lifestyle and perspective.


Specifically speaking, I had the chance to visit and work with the students at the Maitrigram, young girls from nearby slums who arelearning to stitch. It really was such a humbling experience. I got to sit with girls who were so similar to me in age and chat with them about marriage, family, and religion- the whole time thinking how we are so comparable, yet live in completely different worlds. I sat with Prabah Ma’am, the instructor at Maitrigram who takes multiple bus transfers every morning to teach the girls, and took up a piece of fabric and needle for myself—thinking, I’d get some vocational training of my own. 30 minutes later I was struggling to get the stitches right and wanted to give up. Just that single feeling gave me so much insight to what vulnerable populations in India might feel like, how they work hard towards things that might help them succeed- all the while wondering if it will even be worth it in the end. The stitching classes at Maitrigram offered me such a unique opportunity to interact with young girls in India—despite that they are living in the slums, these girls still have some of the cutest jokes, warmest smiles, and beautiful laughs in all of Delhi.


Another opportunity I had at Maitri was at the ICTC center, where Rajrani Ma’am and Laxmi Ma’am offered HIV testing and counseling on a daily basis. This was especially interesting for me to see because of my academic interests in HIV/AIDS. After studying the epidemiology of the virus, all sorts of symptoms, and numerous global prevention strategies I was most looking forward to Spending my time in the ICTC Center. However, like I said—no amount of books could have prepared me for what I’d see at Maitri, and on my first day on the job in the testing clinic we had a women and her brother both come in and test positive for HIV. I sat and watched her Expressionless face as she was counseled on how to keep from spreading the virus to her two children. And as I watched her stare at the ground occasionally nodding without much expression, my heart broke at the thought of how marginalized people with HIV/AIDS are not only in India, but all over the world. The experiences here at Maitri have offered me so much practical knowledge about my studies, steering away from numbers and treatments and more towards empathy and tact. In addition, working at Maitri has given me the drive to continue my studies and work towards health equity for the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.


Having the opportunity to come to India has been such a blessing. The staff here at Maitri has been so generous in offering me any resource that may further my studies and I have a huge amount of gratitude and respect for all the people I have met these past 5 weeks. From introducing me to tiny children in the Children’s Tutorial Centre beneath the main office to allowing me the opportunity to see the beautiful mountains in Dharamsala for the Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop—I can honestly say I have made the most of my 5 weeks here and look forward to spending the rest of my summer consolidating my research and creating a better bank of knowledge about HIV/AIDS at the University of Michigan.


A special thank you to Winnie Ma’am & General Sir, Sonal, Anita, Rajrani, Piyali, Deepika, and my fellow interns Andrew, Ashely, Anna, and Nandini—I have learned so much from each and every one of you and it has shifted my perspective on so many things I never truly understood. The Maitri cause is honestly one of the most genuine NGO’s I have experienced and it has truly been an honor getting the chance to be a part of the Maitri family!


Annie Hollernhost

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

When I walked into the Hinckley Institute of Politics last fall, I was looking for an experience that would change my life. Looking at a year off before enrolling in a graduate program had me wondering how I could use that time to make a difference in the world. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.


Working with Maitri changed me in the most unexpected ways. I’ve been exposed to the real issues of India as well as the challenges faced by institutions working to combat them. I have also learned to think about life from a new perspective. Upon interacting with vulnerable populations, such as outcast widows, migrant workers, and slum children, I have learned a great deal about what is important in life. They have opened my eyes to just how little we actually need to survive. Maya Angelou said, “we need much less than we think we need.” Who am I to complain about the little things, when there are people living with so much less. Whats more, the children, who have never known any life outside of the slums, continue to brighten the landscape with their smiles and laughter. For the rest of my life, when I find myself complaining for wishing for things that I don’t have, I hope their faces will come to my mind.


Thank you Maitri, for the opportunities you have given me here in India. They will stay with me everyday.


Jacob Storrs

Feb – Apr 2012

Working for Maitri as an intern has been, well, an experience. Honestly, I did not quite know what to expect. I flew from my home to what to me, was a new land, or a different one, with its own set of customs and traditions. I took up residence and began work as an intern with an NGO, Maitri. Never before had I worked with an NGO. However, I have been fortunate. My experience at Maitri and in India has both proven very beneficial. My supervisor and the management have been extremely helpful and understanding. The staff at Maitri have been a real treat to work with and get to know. I always found everyone willing to lend their assistance when I needed it, no matter the reason whether regarding work or acclimating to my surroundings. My sincere thanks to everyone with whom I associated during my stay here! I consider my experience valuable and a prodigious advantage to both my personal life and professional career.


Specifically regarding the internship, one of the reasons I found it so rewarding are the projects in which Maitri is engaged. One of these projects in which I was able to provide assistance was Project Jeevan, which focuses on providing assistance to destitute widows in Vrindavan. I was able to visit the project site and help distribute an afternoon meal and participate during a health camp. The activities alone cannot describe the occasion, and I find myself truly tested to summon the words in order to describe these efforts adequately. I saw first-hand what these women face over and over on a daily basis, a sight that for me was heart-wrenching. Something changed for me that day, and it was humbling to have been a part in caring for these women.


Another project with which I enjoyed involving myself was project Maitrigram. At first, I must admit, I was a bit timid, to be surrounded by so many children. I don’t know Hindi so it caused me to hesitate in efforts to assist them as a tutor. After all, how could I teach them if I was unable to communicate with them? However, this quickly subsided and I was able to learn about the children who attended the tutoring sessions. As the days passed, it became second nature to care for these children, getting to know them and learn about things they did and liked. I was impressed with the knowledge each possesses. They find themselves at their own levels in school, but they come to a little basement every day to augment their studies from school. They are intelligent and eager to learn more and it shows. Maitri is providing essential assistance, seeking to empower the children to have more opportunities in the future. I have grown to love these children, and hope Maitri continues finding new ways to improve their educational opportunities.


Of course during my time here I took a stab at learning a little regarding India and its culture. Though I spent the majority of my time in the Delhi region, I am indebted to my colleagues who helped me learn a little and understand better things such as dance, dress, cuisine, etc., even religion, and their strong ties to certain regional locations. It was interesting to learn of some of the recent history which has influenced India. I say interesting because after visiting the National Museum I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of history India represents: several thousand years. Influenced by different groups of people each possessing their own culture, traditions, and religious beliefs. And these cultures and traditions have extensive influences, even in the lives of people today. I was amazed to glimpse all these different people living and working together, respecting their differences while maintaining their own identity. It only added upon my respect and admiration for this country and its people. Briefly speaking, for me, these are the types of things with which my experience here was filled.


An experience unlike any other, and I am grateful the opportunity was presented to me. Thank you Sonal, Winnie, and General for your assistance and guidance. I am very impressed with the work you are doing and thank you for granting me a chance to be a part of it, even for such a short time. I will treasure it, and it will play a significant role as I find the future path my steps will take.


Sarah Patton

Sep – Nov 2011

One day a man walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, what are you doing? The youth replied, throwing starfish back into he ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die. Son, the man said, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference! After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said I made a difference for that one.I attend the University of Utah and am majoring in Nursing. Through my university, I was given the opportunity to intern for Maitri. Interning with Maitri for four month has taught me that one individual can make a difference and that kindness is the language which is universally understood.


Project Jeevan hooked me to Maitri but is only one shade of Maitri’s colorful spectrum. Seven projects ranging from slum health camps to giving aid to widows living in the holy city of Vrindavan to teaching young girls self empowerment, are all run by Maitri. I was given the opportunity to visit the holy city of Vrindavan and visit the widows living in one of Maitri’s ashrams. Immediately after arriving to the ashram, we were given buckets of food and ladled a nutritious mid-day meal onto each of the widows plates. Though the language barrier prevented us from talking, it seemed our smiles and interest in these destitute widows brought a sparkle to their eyes. This experience clearly portrays the impressive impact which Maitri creates, as their altruistic ideas turn quickly into action with the widows of Vrindavan, with the executives and staff working hard to elevate the health & dignity of these deserving widows. I love Maitri’s “Just Do It” mentality & that weekly health care is an option for any one of these admirable women, each with their own story to tell.


I am so grateful for my time spent here and the friendships that have been built. Through the graciousness of the Singhs’, and Maitri’s staff, I have received an irreplaceable education! I was welcomed with warm arms and am proud to call Maitri a part of my family.



June – July 2011

As a Social Work student I thought I’ve seen and known reality but 30 days of interning with Maitri has given me an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. I am reminded of how unstable life can be and how fast reality can take an ugly turn. I feel really fortunate that I got this opportunity to experience what Maitri fights for every single day. It has definitely widened every aspect of my understanding of reality.


I especially am grateful that i got to be a part of the TSF workshop. It was a very challenging and a learning experience for me as a student and today i can say that it has definitely taught me so much and that i understand things better. It has encouraged me to raise my voice and question rather than to be a mute listener and accept things as they are.


Vrindavan again was an experience of its own. To me it was a place where sorrow of the widows was so deep that the whole place echoed with their voices of pain and tears.It is heart breaking that such a place should even exist. The place cannot hide the brutality and cruelty of mankind but at the same time I also saw and deeply appreciate the few hands that tries to make a difference.


One of the things i enjoyed doing most at Maitri was joining the kids for tuition in the afternoons. I think the tuition centre provides a great opportunity for the underprivileged children to explore their talents. It provides them with what they need most but lacks at home – space. Space to grow, play and learn.


These few days with Maitri has been wonderful. As a student I have learned so much and am taking back so much more with me. I’ve come to understand better the society that we live in and the people in it. wherever I go there will always be some discrimination or injustice of some kind but Maitri has only rejuvenated my decision to chose social work as a career and I thank Maitri for that.


Brooke Littlewood

Feb – April 2011

My name is Brooke Littlewood. I am 20 years old and double majoring in Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Utah. I plan to graduate in the spring of 2012. I am from a small town at the very tip of Utah called Richmond. Being from a small town in the country, I have always dreamed of traveling the world. I never imagined myself in such a busily, crazy and wonderful place as India. When I was accepted as an intern for Maitri in India, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The smells, sounds, and scenery of India have been incredible to be a part of. Working for Maitri has been a wonderful opportunity for me because this is a job that I see myself doing in the future. I have long wanted to work for a non-profit organization and be able to help the underprivileged communities. That is exactly what I have had the privilege of doing while working with Maitri. Helping feed the widows, the conferences on domestic violence, health camps, and best of all working with the underprivileged children from the slums. These kids are so incredible as we work with them on learning English and math. They always want to be the first to get their math problems that they can work on. I worked mainly with two girls in the school, Mahima and Riya, and they impressed me every day on how much they knew. It continues to surprise me how fast these kids learn, especially English. I don’t know if I would have really understood how hard it is to learn such a different language. I have taken classes in French and am Somewhat fluent in being able to pick up what’s going on in a conversation, but trying to learn Hindi was incredibly hard for me. I have learned a couple of words while over here, but not that much and it makes me look in awe at these wonderful kids who are able to speak even in broken English, which is way better than my Hindi.


The last couple of weeks that I was at Maitri, they started a new program for these kids. They would each receive a small snack a couple times a week, and they have to eat it at the school. A lot of these kids, especially the girls, want to take it home to give to their moms, who in turn give it to the boys in the family. I have learned a lot about this part of the culture with domestic violence projects and such that show how in general, they feel like everything should go to the boys. It is such a great program that Maitri has started, especially for these girls who probably don’t get much food or nutrition due to this fact. It has been such a wonderful experience to really get into the field for some of these projects, knowing that even though it might not seem like that big of a deal, it really is a huge impact from what these underprivileged people know. Being able to work with Maitri as well as living in India has really made a big impact on my life. I feel like I have learned so much while working with the wonderful staff in the Maitri office. I will always be grateful for this incredible opportunity to serve the people of India.


Scott Allred

Feb – April 2011

My name is Scott Allred. I am originally from Portland Oregon but have been living, working, schooling, and playing in Salt Lake City Utah for the past two years. I am finishing up an International Studies degree with an emphasis in humanitarian and development work. My internship at Maitri was a fantastic hands on learning experience. I spent most of my time writing reports, analyzing data, and developing training modules for project Samvedana. The majority of the remainder of my time was spent doing what I loved most, tutoring children. India has many natural treasures but its children are by far the greatest. I have never met so many children who are so eager to learn and to enjoy life. Nothing could ever replace the experience of walking down the streets and alleyways of Delhi hearing the voices of these amazing kids shouting my name and seeing them come running to me just to say hi and shake my hand.


I wish I could summarize the rest of my experience here in India but that is impossible to do. That would be like trying to summarize India itself. It can’t be done. India is such a diverse bundle of amazing, intertwining contradictions that it cannot be fully described in a few sentences. It would take years even to just experience all that India is. Even then it would still manage to continue to surprise you. Its history is deep, rich, and ever present. Somehow the new and the old coexist here and live right next door to the far out. The colors, tastes, smells, sights, and sounds are inexhaustible. India is like a microcosm of existence in which past, present, and future are tangible things. The rich and developed live next to the poor and backward. Elephants and camels walk the same roads as buses and cars. India has stretched, challenged, enlightened, and forever changed me. How can one forget the hundreds of destitute humanity lying on the road across from the comfortable apartment in which you live? How can the embrace of a marginalized widow after you serve her food be forgotten? What can compare with the hospitality of those who have nothing, but yet still manage to give you everything? Nothing. Regardless of where I end up in life this experience has been priceless.


Chelsea Harris

May – Jul 2010

After a two month internship with Maitri, I am now in my senior year at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where I find myself reflecting on the experiences I had and the lives I encountered in India, made all the more poignant by the lingering taste of the country’s mangos and chai.


Maitri’s mission – to improve the health, gender equality, and educational opportunities of India’s vulnerable populations, specifically women and migrants, through holistic programs –speaks to my passion for improved female health and community empowerment as means to sustainable poverty alleviation. Prior to the internship at Maitri, my background in the health and development sectors – both in and out of the classroom –had been primarily research- and policy-based. Therefore, Maitri was the perfect segue into the field, exposing me to the human dimension of grassroots work. As an intern, my role was to strengthen Maitri’s proposal and grant writing through the preparation of several full grant applications. My time in Delhi also corresponded with the launch of Project Jeevan in Vrindavan, so I was fortunate to assist with related preparations.


After graduating in spring 2011 with a B.A. in International Relations, I hope to work in the field for several years before earning a Master of Public Health degree and perhaps a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology. The time at Maitri gave me the opportunity to experience this type of work firsthand and reaffirmed my dedication to a future career in global health. I know for certain that I will return to India, whether to work, travel, visit close friends, or satiate my constant cravings for chai.


Jeevan Moses

May – Aug 2010

My name is Jeevan Moses. I am 23 years old and live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both of my parents are from the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. They came to the United States in the 1970s and my older sister and me were both born in Utah. I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Utah double majoring in Anthropology and International Studies. I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2011 and hope to one day be a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.


As a little kid growing up, I used to always tell my parents that I wanted to settle in India and do something great there. This childhood fantasy became something more when I lived in India for two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During that time, I fell completely in love with the country and its people. It also saddened me to see that such a culturally rich land had so many people suffering through poverty, disease, and social injustice. I remember that after those two years of missionary service were over I dreamed of nothing more than coming back and making some sort of difference. Less than a year later, I was interning at Maitri.


If anyone were to ask me what the best time of my life was, I would have no hesitation in saying the Summer of 2010. The three months I spent as an intern for Maitri were a dream come true. The appreciation and gratitude I have for this experience is something I can definitely not express in words. Expecting to come to India and give something back, I ended up leaving with far more than I came with because of Maitri. I am confident that the projects I was able to assist with are laying the foundations for extraordinary changes in the country of India. As a missionary I was never able to see the living conditions of populations such as widows, children living in slums, victims of domestic violence, and even rickshaw pullers to the extent that I did working in Maitri.


If I could say which projects taught me the most, they would be Project Jeevan, Project Awaaz and the tutoring aspect of Maitrigram. The name alone was enough to make Project Jeevan one of my favorites. Having the opportunity to go to Vrindavan on multiple occasions and help with the groundwork of Project Jeevan was eye opening. I was excited to see that we were doing something to improve the lives of these women who deserve rights and recognition in Indian society. Project Awaaz was the project I did the most writing for and, as such, is the project I feel I learned the most about. Before coming to India, I never thought about the quality of life of rickshaw pullers and migrant populations. Going to areas like Paharganj and Karol Bagh and listening to the rickshaw pullers helped me see them as people working hard to survive. I am grateful that Maitri is literally giving a voice to this underrepresented group of individuals. Tutoring as part of Maitrigram was, without a doubt, the most fun part of any day at Maitri. Being with such remarkable children, who mostly lived in nearby slums, helped me know that India has a bright future. No matter what their economic status may have been, all of these children had so much love to give and instantly made me feel that what I was doing was right.


Along with the people we interacted with in various projects, every member of the Maitri staff had a tremendous impact in my life and I will never forget all they did to make my time in India unforgettable, as well as make me a better person. Some of my most memorable experiences in Maitri were just sitting in the office talking with my office family. I miss them dearly and will never forget them. Maitri changed my life in many ways. I know that the work I did for them was miniscule compared to what they gave to me. I hope that Maitri will continue to bless the lives of others and that their efforts will expand and eventually reach the entire country.


Sunil Bhambri

May – Aug 2010

My name is Sunil Bhambri. I am 22 years old and completed my undergraduate degree in Marketing with a minor in Economics from the University of Utah in May 2010. Both of my parents grew up in India and I have had the opportunity to visit India in the past. Maitri gave me a new perspective of India that was culturally rich, educational, and life changing. I relished the chance to experience and admire India from working in the social sector and being as immersed in the culture as possible.


The summer of 2010 was easily one of the most rewarding summers of my life. I learned a great deal about the NGO sector and was fortunate to see the operations of one that has great advisors located internationally and is directed by dedicated individuals. Maitri provided the opportunity to develop professional skill sets. Applying marketing in a real world setting gave me a chance to learn how to manage online marketing measures such as social media, website development, and learn about various programs and challenges. I had the opportunity to work on research studies to help support projects and enhance communication efforts with means such as slideshows. One of my favorite experiences was tutoring children who were from the surrounding area. Many age groups of children came to get some extra assistance in subjects like math and English. Tutoring was a rewarding experience and interacting with the children was a fun and amazing opportunity.


I cannot say enough about how humbled I was to witness how selfless and caring everyone involved with Maitri was. The Singhs made every effort to ensure that as interns we were learning a great deal about India and gave us every opportunity to experience and immerse in the culture. The office environment was incredibly positive and the entire staff was welcoming, easy to work with, and passionately driven to improve the communities Maitri with which Maitri worked. My fellow interns Jeevan, Chelsea, Jill, Viraj, and Hannah were great and added tremendously to the value of the experience.


Having witnessed an organization like Maitri, it is clear that the social sector of India is progressing and is capable of accomplishing amazing feats. I will never forget being present for the launch of Project Jeevan in the religious town of Vrindavan where many widows began receiving a nutritious meal and daily supplements that will enhance their quality of life and instill the love Maitri was showing. Going to Paharganj and meeting Rickshaw pullers who were the beneficiaries of health camps and services from Maitri proved that organizations exist that do not overlook marginalized populations in India. Another quality of Maitri’s that I will never forget was when victims of domestic violence would end of in the office because they had no place else to turn and the staff and the directors would give their full attention to remedy the situation as best as they could.


Maitri did not simply give me a place to develop professional skills by working on projects, nor did it simply enhance my understanding and appreciation of India; Maitri changed my perspective on how and why to help people. Truth be told, one cannot complete an internship with Maitri without becoming a better and more caring person. To all the people I worked with this summer and especially to the Singhs for creating such a wonderful opportunity, aap ki sahaita ke liye aur aap ne jo sab kuch kiya, us ke liye bahut dhanyavad.


James Eagan

May – Aug 2009

My experience at Maitri was certainly memorable. I looked forward to every morning with the kids. They were my neighbors, and they became my friends. Nearly every morning, I was greeted by one of the youngest children, Akosh. He would jump on my back and unceasingly climb across my head and shoulders without little regard for my comfort. I look back on this ritual as a microcosm of my experience. It was not always pleasant, but more often than not, it was endearing and enjoyable. I can’t avoid a deep sense of nostalgia when I reflect on those mornings. This sense attends reflections on my time with the friends I made doing public health work as well. The people at Maitri were very good to me.


Perhaps the most memorable single moment of my time there came on an office trip to the Northwest. The Singhs were kind enough to invite my fellow interns and I along on a visit to the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. I had always planned to see the Golden Temple, but I never imagined such a special visit. Not only were we able to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the temple lit up at night, but we also enjoyed participating in the changing of the Chanani and the cleaning of the inner-chamber. I was lucky enough to assist in the carrying of the Adi Granth in its chariot. Thanks to the Singhs, I feel a personal intimacy with the Guru Granth Sahib and the tall, muscular Sikhs whom I carried the chariot with.


The excitement and wonder of experiences like the ones I had in Amritsar combined with learning experiences helping with health clinics, tutoring students, or working with the children made for an incredible summer. My time at Maitri greatly increased my already deep-rooted love of India. It also increased my appreciation of and my motivation to be a part of a solution to the challenges its people face.


Katie Calvert

May – Aug 2009

My experience with Maitri was a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I will never forget. India is the most amazing country — so colorful, so diverse, so boisterous yet so reverent all at the same time. The awe-inspiring temples, the hippie painted freight trucks, the wandering cows and countless lost dogs, the beautiful traditional sahrie dress, the sacred ashrahms, the delicious Indian cuisine, the echoing calls of the fruit sellers as they weave their way up and down the streets, and the amazing bargain shopping — I will never forget it and always miss it.


I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to intern at Maitri. My absolute favorite part was getting to know the little children that gathered in the basement everyday so that for that hour or two they could feel like they were a part of something. They would line up outside the door just waiting for the moment they could run in, slip off their shoes, and sing, play, and dance with us. Their little faces still melt my heart and I can still hear the sound of their voices “Katie Ma’am! Katie Ma’am!” as they run up and hug me. They are the most loving little children and want nothing more than to be loved in return. Spending time teaching them simple English words and phrases and how to sing English songs was, I will admit, sometimes very taxing on my patience, but also the highlight of my day. It was so rewarding to hear one of them that couldn’t speak one word of English when they walked in, to run out the door that same day shouting “See you tomorrow!” as they smiled and waved.


Through Maitiri, I learned a great deal about the vulnerable populations in India. Before visiting India, I knew little about the problems with domestic violence and did not understand the details of how the HIV/AIDS epidemic is spreading so rampantly among the population. Through helping research, write, and edit proposals, along with the text for the website — I learned more about the health issues that India is facing today and the steps that need to be taken to help get them under control. It starts with baby steps and gradually, it will begin to make waves. Although my time at Maitri was only short, I helped with those baby steps and I can see that Maitri is continiuing to accomplish great things everyday and make a difference in the lives of those it touches. I wish I could be there to see the growth that this NGO has made working from the very heart of the slums. I met some amazing people, made some lifelong friends, and shared some incredible experiences that I will always remember and forever treasure.