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Recreation's Melissa Robertson Taught Children in India for Spring Break

Central Washington University’s Climbing Wall and Challenge Course Coordinator, Melissa Robertson, spent her Spring Break volunteering in Delhi, India through a non-profit called Thrive Seed. Thrive Seed’s main focus is on children’s education and women’s empowerment, focusing on creating safe and nurturing learning environments where girls can attain a quality education.

          

Robertson had the opportunity to teach English and basic literacy skills to children ages five to 15 whom have had no formal education. Thrive Seed makes it possible for these children to attend school for one hour a day, rather than begging on the streets. These schools are located in slums which are heavily populated, very poor areas. The classrooms are one building rooms with no roof, whiteboard, or school supplies. Regardless of the conditions, these children are excited to be at school every day and are eager and appreciative to learn.

“Everyone was so kind to us the entire time,” Robertson said.  “Even the poorest people in the slums would offer us food or chai- even if it was the last food they had. We didn’t meet anyone that wasn’t welcoming and appreciative of us.”

Robertson chose Thrive Seed because, after her past experiences with larger non-governmental organizations, she wanted to volunteer for an organization that is local and serves the community. Thrive Seed is a one-woman operation started by Sonu Kaur, a teacher and social worker. Her goal is to help women and children create a bright future through education. Kaur supports the children and their educations with her own money. She also organizes all of the teachers and volunteers at each of the three schools.

For Robertson, the most rewarding aspect of the trip was educating the children and facilitating their eagerness to learn.

“It is so mind opening and really makes you appreciate what you have,” Robertson said. She hopes to establish a group of students that could volunteer at Thrive Seed through an organization such as the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement on campus. Thrive Seed desperately need volunteers and Robertson believes that anyone would benefit from volunteering.

Another important aspect to Thrive Seed is women’s empowerment. In many villages, the women must rely on their husbands because they have no formal education. If anything happens to their husband, they have no way to support themselves. Thrive Seed helps educate women on how to support themselves and their families through practical education.

“Thrive Seed teaches them useful skills and I met some of the most successful women in the slums and it was no surprise that they have gone through the women’s empowerment program,” said Robertson.

For her next adventure, Robertson wants to volunteer in Peru, Colombia, or any Spanish speaking country. She expressed that she wants to learn Spanish and has always been fascinated with Central and South American culture.

“Thrive Seed also connects young adults with tourists and has them act as tour guides for the city and surrounding areas. I would love to help with that program as well since my background is in recreation,” said Robertson.

For more information regarding the Robertson’s journey to India or how you can get involved like her, please email robertsonm1@cwu.edu. To learn more about Thrive Seed and to discover more about how you can help, please visit their website at http://www.thriveseed.org/.

Media Contact: Leanne Fraker, Leanne.Fraker@cwu.edu.

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