“Hey, that’s mine!” yelled I to a cow who had just stolen my papaya popsicle. Sharing is caring I guess. And this was not the first time in the last month that I’ve had to share my meal with a cow. On my first day in Goa, a cow stole my curry and shared it with a stray dog.

Same same, but different.

I was spending my Christmas in India. I wanted to do something meaningful with my time and went to volunteer at a local orphanage. Goa was the perfect destination for that as I still got to enjoy the fun and games at the beach on my free time.


As I first arrived to the orphanage, I felt devastated. How could anyone live here? These poor kids. They must be sad. They must be heartbroken. Little did I knew they were about to teach me a lesson of happiness.

Soon I met Frances. Frances was the youngest kid at the orphanage. He ran up to me with the biggest smile on his face. His big brown eyes were sparkling. I had never met anyone like him before.

How could anyone smile like that, alone in an orphanage?

This experience was about to change my outlook on life. All of these 50 kids seemed happier than any other people I’ve ever met in my entire existence.

How could that be?


Sure at night some of the kids would cry alone in their beds. As I guess in the end, every child needs a mothers touch and it can get cold at night when you have nobody on your side to help you fall asleep with.

It made me miss my mother. I almost felt guilty for the nights my own mother had sat next to me reading the same bed time story over and over again as long as it took me to fall asleep.

volunteer india

The following week at the orphanage went past really fast. The kids would spend their days painting pots with me, jumping in to the swimming pool and collecting fruits from the nearby trees.

What striked me the most was how the kids wanted to share everything with me and their friends. The little someone had, they were still willing to share. We sat on the grass and ate fresh tangerines all day. We played with my camera and the kids wanted to pose in each and every photo!


And then on Christmas eve, the orphanage had put together a Christmas celebration. We all gathered inside the main building, which was decorated to look just like Christmas back at home.

We sang and we danced. And we ate chocolate cake with our hands. We shared presents with each other. Just like back home. But nobody here would complain about the kind of toys they would get or if they got less then their friends.

Same same, but different.


But while everyone around me was singing and dancing, I couldn’t help but feel a tear going down my cheek. I wasn’t sure what it was for. Maybe I still felt bad for the kids or maybe I too had finally managed to appreciate exactly what was around me right then. Maybe by now I had managed to let go of worrying about the future, worrying about money or success.

I was present in its purest form. Present only at this moment.

I was happy.


Interested in volunteering in Goa? You can find many options via The Green Lion India or International Animal Rescue.

Start your trip in India from Delhi. Download a free Delhi travel guide.