Donna Laveriere (India)

Donna Laverdiere (Butterflies, India): Donna grew up in a small town in Maine and received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Tufts University. After college, she spent three years in the publishing industry, and then worked for AT&T and Cadillac. During this time Donna was heavily involved in political organizing on women’s issues and helped found a nonprofit privacy rights organization. At the time of her fellowship, Donna was pursuing her Master of Public Policy at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, with a focus in global policy.

Signing Off

04 Oct

Today is my last day at Butterflies. I am feeling a combination of excitement to get back home, and sadness to leave behind the children, social workers, and advocates here that I have come to know. Last night I taught my final English lesson. I sat there, teaching, reciting, helping with pronunciation, and all the while just watched and tried to take it in.

When I started teaching only 4 weeks ago, I was nervous and uneasy at my ability to teach English. But last night I started to realize that I had made some progress, and at least I helped those boys to spend some time learning and getting familiar with English conversation and grammar.

At the end of the lesson, the boys and I shared a casual conversation. I was amazed at how much English they had learned, and yet how far they have to go. It was such a treat to be able to sit and talk with them, casually, and answer all their questions: What do I do in the US? What does my father do? My mother? Do I have any sisters or brothers? What does my sister do?

When I left, I said goodbye and shook their hands, a good strong handshake that I had taught them each in turn. I walked out of the basement where our lessons took place, and started toward the stairs. Suraj, the social worker, must have told them to come say “thank you” because they came running around the corner shouting thanks. I shook their hands again, and said, “Thank you.”

When I walked out of the shelter, I smiled, then started to cry. I want more than anything for these few boys to stick with the tourism training program, and to find some success in life. I want to make sure they stay involved, but of course, I have to count on others to make sure of that for me.

This experience has been eye-opening to say the least. Yet, I still feel like India is an enigma. There is so much more I have yet to learn, and so much I still have no ability to understand about this complicated and interesting place. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. Sometimes you can live in a place for 11 weeks and come away feeling like you understand it. But for me and for many other people I know here, India is still somewhat of a mystery.

Despite feeling like I haven’t figured it all out, I have learned some very valuable things, and have been able to connect with some amazing children. When we sat talking last night, the language barrier came down, and we talked just like any people might when they are getting to know each other. I have continually realized through all of this, through working with Butterflies for children’s rights, that despite our differences, we all have something to learn from each other, and we are all working towards the same goal.

Posted By Donna Laveriere (India)

Posted Oct 4th, 2006


  • We are a registered non-profit organization from India working on the Human Rights issue.

    May your organization kindly provide us with valuable advices and guidances?

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