Written by Belina Moreau-Jones, who is joining us in India in Hyderabad on our April programme.

This time last year I’d never have dreamed I’d be about to go to Hyderabad to join Social Starters. I’ve spent the past 6 years working for a housing association who deliver affordable housing in London. I started here as a graduate trainee working in tenancy management and managing new build developments. I then moved onto commissioning social programmes such as community art projects and employment initiatives. Trying to implement positive change is something that’s driven my career so far, I studied a masters in Social Policy and Planning to understand how good policy making and well planned environments can improve the standards of public life. My job fitted well with many of my values but I was feeling discontent and couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

I decided that rather than focussing on problems and how to solve them I started reflecting on what makes me happy. After a few months of contemplation items from the top of the list were; yoga, dogs, singing in a choir, meeting friends, learning new things and making a positive impact on others. Most of these were already being put into practice (although I realise this isn’t the best time to pursue my dog hobby!) but it made me see I needed a new challenge, to learn new things and try out new ways of working.

I had the opportunity to take a sabbatical from work and wanted to go abroad but was nervous to as I didn’t feel that travel solely ‘for travels sake’ was for me. Unsure of next step, I then came across the Social Starters programme. This seemed a perfect fit. The opportunities to experience working with communities in such a ‘hands on’ way, test out new innovative approaches and learn from new people in different environments really attracted me to the programme. I immediately requested my sabbatical and, much to my relief, I was then successful in the interview. I feel privileged to be part of the programme and am looking forward to learning and exploring new ideas with everyone involved. Having never visited India before I’m excited to see a place which I’ve heard is so magical. I think it’s safe to say I’ll get my yoga fix here, I’m also on the lookout for a community choir!

Would you like to #JoinUs in either Brazil, India, or Sri Lanka in 2016? APPLY HERE. Immersion Programmes are running throughout the year as well as a new programme format for people who can’t take 6 weeks out of their lives – our 2-3 week Inspiration Programme in Rio in August/September, and our flexible volunteer programme _TheAssignment. See our website for more details www.socialstarters.org.