volunteering in india

Finding Purpose in India

Olivia HaydenTeam Member Volunteers

Jessica Killen’s life was forever changed by her experience as a Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer. Learn about her journey and how you can apply! 

jessicak1In Sept 2012, I finally realized that my true purpose was to serve – and I knew I could serve in bigger ways. I decided to apply for the Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer program and was selected to travel to India.

I was grossly unprepared for the impact this would have on my entire life.  It still takes my breath away when I close my eyes and think on it. I have returned twice with the Miracle Foundation to work with those beautiful children and I have another trip planned in January 2017.  I found a piece of myself that I lost somewhere and I never knew was missing. 

The kids raced around every day to put fresh flowers in our hair. Incidentally, the Tamil word for flower is “poo”,  an endless source of amusement for us. At dinner, we didn’t use our phones, we talked and ate. The food was so amazing that I gained an entire dress size in two weeks. We ate everything with our fingers on banana leaves.  I love that so much!  You think about the food experience in terms of taste, smell, sight without considering touch.  I swear, I would eat with my fingers all the time if I could without embarrassing my husband.  I still do at home – but not in restaurants.  I guess marriage is all about compromise. 

The bond with my fellow volunteers was another source of great joy.  We got so close in such a short time.  Mike will always be my brother – etambi.  Celeste and Lauren will always be my sisters.jessicak3

I was prepared for poverty, loss, beggars.  I don’t know why I prepared for that sadness.  The saddest part of the trip was when I had to leave the orphanage and say goodbye to those kids.  Lauren and I cried and cried – and the skies opened up and started the first rain of the season.  The house mothers said later that our tears brought the rain.  It broke my heart to leave them – but that is why I keep going back. 

jessicak4The Dancing Shiva statues were everywhere, Shiva standing on one foot with the other leg up – ready to take a step.  We asked someone what it meant.  They told us that they believed when Shiva dances, every time  his foot touches the ground he creates ripples of change to renew the world.  What a beautiful sentiment!!!  Of course the inevitable question from there is – what do my ripples look like?  Jane Goodall said “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  Wow. The next question is – what do YOUR ripples look like?

If you are an employee of Whole Foods Market, apply to be a Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer today! Please note that this link only works on the Whole Foods Market network.