#internadvice questions from our community

13 September 2017

It is #wanderlust Wednesday and as part of our #internadvice series we are chatting to you live today about development sector internships in New Delhi. We have already received some great questions that we will be covering later:

1. I only speak English, will I be okay? From Amanda

2. Where will I live if I’m interning in New Delhi? From James

3. I’m not currently studying development studies but would like to have a development sector internship. I’m a Journalism and Media student, is there a space for me and my skills? From Dave

4. How much experience do I need to intern? From Lindiwe

5. What areas of development in ND require the most attention and where can I be of most use? From Emily

Our program advisor Vidushi Malhotra will be answering questions from 18:00 – 18:30 SAST. We look forward to seeing you all there! Join the conversation. 

Meet your if i could… program advisor, Chloë 

29 August 2017

We are excited to introduce Chloë Liebenberg as your Program Advisor for Cape Town and New Delhi.


Born to travel
I have travel hard-wired into me. My parents blessed and cursed me with an incredible curiosity about the world and its diverse cultures.

When I had asked about people living in far away places they showed me images of remote villages in Tibet, and my bedtime stories came from a book filled with traditional stories from around the world. I used this same book years later to teach little people about how we as humans we are more alike than we are different.

My father is a storyteller by trade, and my mother curates the bits and pieces from their extensive travels in their home in South Africa so that a visual journey of their explorations is shared with all who are welcomed there. This is where I learned that the world is so much more than the constructs imposed upon us as little people. I learned that questions fuel questions and that one’s opinions are formed by one’s experiences, and that the scope of experience is vast.

Teaching around the world
I studied education and specialised in curriculum development and special education. I encouraged children to ask big questions and expect big answers right from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade.

I have lived and worked in incredible spaces and learned to ask my own big questions and expect big answers that informed my teaching and contributed to life-changing experiences. I lived in Bangladesh and traveled most of Southeast Asia and the Sub Continent where many of my visits felt like homecomings because of the stories and artifacts I had heard and played with as a child. I came home a little to breathe and my wanderlust sent me to live in Mexico where I explored a language and culture so far from my own and fell in love with the subtleties of wordplay and the fierce cultural pride of the Mexican people.

If I could..wander the ancient temple complex of Angor Wat again – I didn’t spend nearly enough time there and I would love to go back! 

If I could…eat street food every day I would be a very happy girl! My favourites include pretty much all the street food in Beijing (oh my goodness, especially wild mushrooms grilled over hot coals!), aloo shingara (a samosa filled with potato, chili, and peanuts) from the vendor who sets up mid-morning every day at Gulshan 2 circle in Dhaka, Gai Bing (grilled chicken skewers) in Bangkok, quesadilla con flor de calabasa ( corn tortilla with cheese and pan fried squash flowers) from the vegetable market on Avenida Revolucion in Pachuca.

If I could…do meaningful things in every place that I visit, I would leave knowing more about the place I’ve visited and who I am. I spent an afternoon speaking to a man who’d lost his legs to a landmine in Cambodia – he sat on a cart and sold pirated books. We drank coffee together and debated the deeper message behind “the Life of Pi”. I learned about humility and again about hearing another perspective, especially based on a profoundly different experience. 

If I could…offer you some travel advice try everything twice! Explore off the beaten track, meet the locals, have at least a ‘no thank you bite’ of every new food you can – then talk to the person who made it for you and find out a myriad of incredible things about culture and tradition, ask questions, be kind, share with others and you’ll have so much shared with you!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

28 August 2017

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most colourful and popular Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India to observe the birth of Lord Ganesha. The 10-day long fiesta started on Friday 25 August when Lord Ganesha left his home on Mount Kailasha to visit the homes of his devotees. Lord Ganesha homecoming is observed by devotees placing an idol at home, and hosting him as they would a real human guest. He is pampered with his favourite feasts, songs and rituals.

Ganesha is one of the most popular and loved Hindu deities, and is highly recognisable with his elephant head and human body. Ganesha is the lord of happiness, wellbeing and success and he is the patron of writers, travellers, students and has a fondness for sweets.

Ganesha’s mythical birth

Ganesha is the son of Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati and he is the brother of Karthikeya, the god of war. It is believed that he was created by Parvati using earth which she moulded into the shape of a boy. Shiva was away at the time and so she sent Ganesha to guard the door while she took a bath. Shiva returned home unexpectedly and, on finding the boy guarding the door, was furious that the little boy claimed to be Parvati’s son. A ferocious row ensued and an enraged Lord Shiva severed the head of the little child.

At the commotion, Parvati ran from her bath and was enraged to find that Shiva had killed their son. A repentant Lord Shiva promised to give Ganesha new life and ordered his followers to find a new head for the boy. The first animal that they could find was an elephant, and so the head was fixed to the child’s body and he became the most distinctive of the Hindu gods.


How is Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated?

Preparations start two to three months before the festival when beautiful clay models of Ganesha are sculpted by skilled artisans and sold in the markets. On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, these statues are brought home and embellished with ornaments and offerings of modak (a sweet dumpling made from rice flour mixed with coconut and sugar), coconut and jaggery to indulge his sweet tooth. The idol is showered with unbroken rice and turmeric to signify the welcoming of prosperity and happiness. An oil lamp is lit for all ten days to ensure that there is no darkness around the idol.

Huge pandals are set-up in various neighbourhoods with huge statues of Ganesha, temples incorporate special rituals and cultural performances, and priests invoke life into the statues amidst the chanting of sacred verses. On the last day of the festival, devotees carry Ganesha idols through the streets in a procession accompanied by singing and dancing to immerse the god into a river or the sea. This symbolises his farewell and his return to his heavenly abode, taking away with him the misfortunes of all mankind and marking the end of the festival. The festival ends on 5 September this year.

Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash.

Mandela Day 2017 – Words to live by

18 July 2017

Nelson Mandela’s birthday is celebrated today and in honouring his legacy we are encouraged to recognise our own ability, and responsibility, to make this world a better place.

Mandela Day commemorates the 67 years of public service that Nelson Mandela spent making a difference to South Africans and the world. The United Nations declared Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, inspired by his 90th birthday celebration in Hyde Park in 2008 when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now”.

Mandela’s legacy of service motivates us to recognise our individual power to promote peace and equality. Here are a few of our favourite quotes that inspire us to lift the burden. 

Indian innovation in tackling public health issues

25 April 2017

Fatima, who was diagnosed with epilepsy, was forced to give birth under a tree within full public view in 2009. The local hospital denied her medical care because she did not possess a BPL (below the poverty line) card. At the time of Fatima’s public delivery, India had the highest number of maternal deaths with 117 000 women dying during childbirth per annum.

Public health is one of the most crucial developmental sectors in any city or country, and India is no different. A city’s capability to offer adequate health services to its community determines the overall physical, mental and psychological health of the city and this directly affects morale and productivity. So it goes without saying that an efficient public health system makes for healthier, happier, more informed citizens.

When most people think of New Delhi, they imagine vibrant markets, scents of sweet and savory, street food and historical landmarks, but not many people know about New Delhi’s innovative approach to social development, particularly in the public health sector. As a young city, New Delhi still faces many socio-economic challenges, but what’s amazing is how they choose to deal with it.

The environment and the challenges

India’s overcrowded population is one of the main factors of overstretched resources. These factors make it nearly impossible for the government to provide for all the country’s needs, let alone reach infringed and underdeveloped areas. When you’re faced with such stumbling blocks, what do you do?


New Delhi is home to many inventive organizations and unique community-led projects that are tackling public health issues and filling the gap.

Khushi Baby

One organization that really stands out is Khushi Baby, lauded for their ingenious approach to mother and child health care that merges the efficiency of modern technology with familiar culture. Kushi Baby has developed a digital necklace that makes medical history wearable. This necklace is both inexpensive and culturally relevant.

We’ve integrated mobile health, wearable NFC technology, and cloud computing to produce a complete platform to bridge world’s maternal and child health gap; our goal is to be the digital key, marrying tradition with technology, to connect the last mile to health and social services”

This technology solves the following problems: lack of reliable health records that usually makes the work of community health workers erroneous and inefficient, and outdated data collection methods which lack patient specificity. It provides health officials with real-time, actionable maternal and child health data, ensuring mothers do not miss antenatal health visits and babies do not miss their vaccinations.

Volunteer’s experience

A common mentality when traveling from a more developed country to a developing community is that you, as the traveler, have a lot to offer or give. This is true in some cases, however, what you can learn from a community that is forced to innovate to meet basic needs in an all-odds-against-you environment is amazing. This is the motivation behind our Summer Volunteering program. We’ve put our effort into planning a meaningful itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

What to expect on your Summer Volunteering trip

On this trip, you will have the chance to:

  • Volunteer and spend time on specially designed projects at development-focused organizations
  • Attend workshops and trainings with local development sector mentors and experts
  • Go on unique innovative and networking-themed field trips around New Delhi
  • Visit Agra and Jaipur, seeing all of India’s Golden Triangle
  • Explore the sights and culture of New Delhi

This is truly a “give and learn” immersion where you can get to know how people on the other end of the spectrum approach challenges in public health. You’ll form new networks for your public health research and studies, and finally, put everything you’ve learned into action to give back and contribute to making real change.
Sign up for your Summer Volunteering in New Delhi, start saving and get your passport ready! Applications close 20 May 2017

Contact us for more information