Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme
Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme Programs
Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme Reviews
A program focused on its mission
Submitted by Paul - Minneapolis United States | June 30, 2017
Some NGOs and companies work to improve lives, schools and communities around the world, and then there are some that are doing quite the opposite. I've worked as a volunteer twice with Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme, and I can say without a doubt that this organization is one of the best out there. During six months of travel and volunteering in India, I occasionally ran into volunteers from other NGOs, and sometimes the comparison was stark. One volunteer explained how disheartened she was by the lack of beneficial impact her for-profit company was making. She had just completed a stint of four weeks in Nepal and described the work as “Fluff.” On another occasion, I personally witnessed another organization's group arrive at a school armed. A big van pulled up, and a group of high-spirited volunteers armed with cell phones and ipads poured out and spent a few hours playing with the children, constantly taking pictures and posting them to Facebook before leaving. The kids certainly had fun, but any focus on schoolwork was impossible for the remainder of the day, not to mention the hours of class time missed to provide the volunteers with a feel-good experience.
The organization you choose can make a world of difference one way or another. I looked at many different possibilities before making my choice, and I am completely thrilled that I chose HELP.
Firstly, HELP doesn't try to mix volunteer work with a beach/zip line/parasailing/white water rafting/etc vacation. I had some exciting adventures and traveled when the school was out for a break, before and after my months of teaching, but HELP keeps its mission of improving education in Himalayan communities front and center while school is in session. I felt my time in the classroom was effective and focused.
Secondly, HELP has no paid positions. From the volunteer teacher to the executive director, everyone is donating their time and money. I am confident that the relatively low fees I paid were used most efficiently to benefit the communities where HELP works. Additionally, 100% of the money I spent for food and lodging with my homestay family helped to support them and the local economy.
Thirdly, the founder and directors of HELP utilize relationships with Indian and Nepali citizens built over four decades to identify needs, allocate resources and ensure that the work they're doing is effective and enduring. When I sat down to have tea with people in the village this past spring, they told me how the volunteers have been so helpful over the years. They explained how their children's knowledge of English improved, but also their knowledge of the world outside of their village. As I walked to the bazaar, people sought me out to ask where I’m from and to tell me how the volunteer teachers over the years benefitted them, their children or their village. I have worked at both a new school where I was the first volunteer and a school that has had HELP volunteers since its founding in 2002, and HELP’s impact over the years is plain to see in both the students and teachers.
I've been a teacher in the United States for 20 years, and I can confidently say that Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme is one of the best organizations out there. If you want to have an experience that is life changing for both you and the children you work with, consider volunteering with HELP. I'm glad I did.
Program: Volunteer in the Indian Himalayas!
Volunteer teaching in Nepal
Submitted by Volunteer in Nepal - United States | June 25, 2017
HELP is a good organization. Its goals are clearly stated. There is not a big superfluous infrastructure. It is an organization that I can trust. Although I did not need much logistical support, I felt that HELP would have provided such support if I had needed it. They truly have the Nepali people's welfare first and foremost.
Program: Volunteer in Nepal
Volunteer teacher in Sikkim
Submitted by Jennifre Harvey - Prince George, B.C. Canada Canada | June 11, 2017
The Himalayan Education Lifeline Program is a small, culturally sensitive and well run organization that is sincerely committed to promoting sustainable projects in the Himalayan region. I can, without hesitation, recommend them to anyone with a desire for a satisfying, hands-on volunteering experience.
My own experience at a small, remote rural school in Sikkim was overwhelmingly positive. The school is well run by a remarkable couple and the students are among the most unjaded and delightful kids I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I was warmly welcomed there and continue to maintain contact with the school.
Program: Volunteer in Sikkim
Two months at Spituk monastery school
Submitted by Renate Zilske - 22889 Tangstedt Germany | June 10, 2017
Report on my two months in Ladakh from August 3 to September 24, 2016
Having been to Ladakh twice as a tourist and being interested in Buddhist culture I decided to go there again as a teacher for English at a monastery after my retirement from active teaching. HELP organization arranged for me to go to Spituk monastery school and I went there for 8 weeks. These weeks were a marvelous time for me in every respect.
The school is a newly built and well equipped place with 30 students from age 5 to 12, all of them novice monks from all over Ladakh. They live there and are provided with everything, so it is a very good chance for children from faraway places and for children from poorer families as there are no fees at all. There are 4 teachers, two monks and two lay teachers, who deal with classes 1 to 5 - which meant for me 5 lessons per day, classes 1 to 5 respectively, Monday to Saturday in most weeks. I was fully included in school life, participated in all activities from Dentist NGO`s visit to 4 days of Dalai Lama teachings with all the students. And there was more: The young incarnation of Bakula Rinpoche, who had been a student at this school, came for a visit, attended classes and we all went for a picnic, where many people came and paid respect to him.
All the teachers and Geshe at the school made me feel at home, from interesting conversations at school dinner and during break to helping me with my studies of Tibetan language and culture.
I greatly admire the students too. They learn 3 new languages (Hindi, Tibetan, English) with 3 different scripts from class 1, they are enthusiastic and emotionally open, they laugh and play. And their teachers show them how to live together with loving kindness and respect.
For me it was a challenge to teach these kids, as I was a teacher of senior students in a German grammar school. However, after 2 weeks I found my way even with the little ones, using drawing charts, language games and simple conversations. The kids helped me too, the gifted ones explaining in Ladakhi language to the others and helping the slower ones. My attempts at Ladakhi met with laughter and incomprehension!
During these 8 weeks I stayed with a local family, who provided for me and cared for me and gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about life in this country, from making momos and watching the never ending work in the fields and garden to explaining about winter provisions and Ladakhi customs. They took me on a mini trekking to a monastery which I had never heard of and which was absolutely wonderful. I hope to see them again next year.
Together with people I met, with a fellow teacher or alone I revisited almost all the monasteries I had seen as a tourist and several others – but this time with all the time I wanted to spend on reading explanations and taking photos. I learned to travel by shared taxi, rode a camel in Nubra valley (never again!), shared bread with a monk, who told me his World War 2 experiences, lived in private houses, as the guest houses had already shut down. And at the end of my 8 weeks I had the chance to participate in the Naropa festival at Hemis and the Ladakh festival at Leh, both of which were quite impressive.
When I was given a farewell ceremony by teachers and students at the end of my stay I felt happy about everything that I had been able to learn and experience, the love and help given to me by everyone and the openness and enthusiasm of the kids. And I was rather sad although looking forward to seeing my husband, sons and friends again.
HELP organisation did a wonderful job in every respect, from finding a place in a small monastery school, a loving family, giving me very good material and tips and encouraging me to go in spite of my age (67), which turned out to be no problem at all. Thanks for a wonderful time.
Program: Volunteer in Ladakh
one of the best things I have done
Submitted by Bee - Kendal | April 09, 2014
I would heartily recommend HELP to anyone who is seriously thinking of volunteering in the Himalaya. Good support right from the start, getting a basic TEFL qualification before I went out, good guidance on what to expect (although nothing can really prepare you!). I can't easily sum up the experience - amazing, brillant, humbling, life-changing - all words that don't quite do it justice.
Program: Volunteer in the Indian Himalayas!