Would you like to join volunteer Terri Wingham at the Taj Mahal in February 2013? If you’re a cancer survivor interested in getting a new start on life, you may be one of the people Terri is looking for.
Founder of the non-profit organization “A Fresh Chapter,” Terri is a breast cancer survivor who had her own struggles returning to “normal life” after her treatments were over. She found renewed purpose when she traveled overseas to volunteer in Africa. In fact, the experience changed her life so much, she decided to dedicate herself to helping others with cancer to renew their purpose and vitality through volunteering.
Now, after finishing a world tour of eight countries on five continents to find reputable partners, Terri is ready to launch a pilot project that will test the concept of international volunteering as a way to help cancer survivors restart their lives after treatment. She needs 12 volunteers to go. Could you be one of them?
Why New Delhi?
So far on her world trip, Terri has found two strong organizations that she’s planning to work with to set up future volunteer trips for cancer survivors. Both have the ability to support survivors overseas medically and logistically, and both encourage sustainable tourism practices.
Armed with the beginnings of her new organization, Terri now wants to take 12 cancer survivors and a film crew on a trip to New Delhi, India. There, survivors will enjoy a program that includes volunteering at area places of need, coming together to share stories with other survivors, and taking in a few sites like the Taj Mahal. The experience will be filmed to share with other survivors, and to raise awareness about the challenges of starting over after treatment.
“I chose New Delhi for a number of reasons,” Terri says. “It has the best of both worlds. There is plenty of work to be done, but if anyone needs medical attention, they have wonderful hospitals. Plus, I don’t think after visiting there you can ever see the world in the same way. People there are so gracious. People with nothing will give you their last cup of tea.”
What Does the Program Entail?
The program in India will last two weeks. “Each of the twelve survivors will have the opportunity to volunteer somewhere that matches up with their skills or interests. They may work at a day care, a hospital, teaching English, or whatever, depending on the needs of the community and what the volunteer wants to do.”
Once each person has their volunteer designation, they’ll enjoy about half a day there every day.
“Every weekday morning for 3-4 hours each participant will volunteer. During one afternoon we’ll have a group activity, where we’ll bring together survivors from the west with patients and caregivers from New Delhi. We’re hoping this will create a community of individuals who are focused on starting a new chapter in their lives.”
On the other afternoons, Terri says everyone will enjoy historical and cultural activities around New Delhi, including language classes, tours of mosques/temples, and presentations on history, religion, and culture.
On the weekends? She’s looking forward to introducing the survivors to the Taj Mahal-one of the eight wonders of the world-which is about four hours away.
Who Is This For?
“All of us have a finite amount of time on earth,” Terri says. “You’ve been through something very hard. What happens now? Who are you now? What will give you purpose the rest of your life?”
Terri’s looking for 12 people of different ages and backgrounds, with different types of cancer, that are willing to get involved and connect with others, but most of all, who are looking to start a fresh chapter in their lives.
“If you’re feeling isolated or alone after treatment, you’re going to meet people who feel just like you do.” Those on the trip will also have the chance to get outside of themselves and their illnesses to help someone else-a key step in learning to find new purpose in life.
Okay…But What About the Cost?
You may think there’s no way you could ever afford a trip to New Delhi, India, but think again. Terri is currently working with volunteer organizations to secure a reduced rate for in-country services, including food, accommodation, and transportation once members get to New Delhi. Even more amazing? She’s working to find a way to pay for everyone’s flight from the U.S. and the trip to the Taj Mahal.
“The program fee is typically around $3,200,” she says, “but we’re working to get that down. That covers three meals a day, lodging, cultural activities, transportation from the airport and to the volunteer placements, safety and security in the country, and more.” Even that amount you don’t have to raise completely on your own, as Terri is giving each member tools to help them in their fundraising efforts.
“Each survivor will have a web page,” she says, “and I’ll be able to promote these on my site. Each person will get generous exposure to a whole community of people who want to support this effort.”
If You’re Interested-Sign up by September 25th!
If you are interested in joining Terri and eleven other survivors in India, don’t wait. Go to Terri’s web page “Delhi 2013” and submit your name and email address. Simple! In return, you’ll receive information about how you can secure one of the 12 spots, and up-to-the-minute information about what to expect from the program. You’ll also receive concrete ways to get started with your fundraising efforts.
“To me, the success of this program will lie in its ability to communicate the challenges people experience when they’re going through survivorship. I hope our twelve members will come back inspired and filled with purpose, with a new perspective on who they are and what they are capable of doing with their lives.”
To learn more, go to Terri’s website.
Picture courtesy Terri Wingham.