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Jennifer and Joseph (ACA)

The Partner

Kattaikkuttu Sangam and Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam
Tamil Nadu

The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam or Kattaikkuttu Youth Theatre School was established in 2002 with the objective of tackling social disadvantage and the barriers that prevent rural Tamil girls and boys from making theatre their profession.

Kattaikkuttu Sangam and Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam

The Volunteer

Jennifer and Joseph (ACA) Name
Jennifer and Joseph (ACA)
The ACA was a great way to gain knowledge of business and finance. When we volunteered to work with a charity in India, we had a solid skills base that helped us advice on investment strategies and budgeting. We have both worked in audit and were used to familiarize ourselves with companies' financial control and procedures.

We applied to do a volunteer assignment with Accounting for International Development (AfID) in early 2014. We were lucky enough to arrange career breaks with PwC so we'll be going back this month. Performing arts organisation Kattaikkuttu Sangam suited our experience and we hit it off with the executive director straight away. We felt we could make a difference.

Kattaikkuttu Sangam is based in a rural village of South East Asia. It is also a social enterprise and gives education to its performers who practice Kattaikkuttu, a traditional art form, which portrays the Mahabharata (an ancient Sanskrit text) through music, dance and drama.

You instantly notice the confident nature of the children, as a result of their artistic training. It encourages them to express themselves. It was also the first company of its kind to allow women to perform.

Each morning we taught maths and the rest of the day we spent in the office with the two finance staff, creating a finance manual, designing a new budget and forecasting tools and developing more robust and streamlined monthly processes. We also offered advice on complicated tax issues and their investment strategies.

We were invited to join one of the children at her grandmother's home for Diwali. No volunteer have visited the village before; it caused a lot of excitement and was a stark contrast to the clean tranquil school.

Unbeknown to us, for our last day the children has been planning a special show. We were treated to a 3-hour performance, including two comical sketches about us, as well as acrobatic display and special dance. It was great fun and an emotional send off.

Our assignment lasted for 4 months and finished on the 29th December. Afterwards we spend 5 week travelling around India. The cultural difference from state to state were amazing. Particularly going straight from the school, which is in a very traditional area, to a beach party in Goa to see in the New Year.

Having spent 3 years in Audit, it was great to be involved with management decisions and see our recommendations having a positive impact. Working in a completely different culture means we had to think on our feet and adapt to different challenges.