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Volunteer in the Indian Himalayas!
Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme Header Image Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme Header Image

Volunteer in the Indian Himalayas!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation & Benefits

    7

  • Support Services

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Community

    9

Lamdon School

Excellent experience- I recommend this program for anyone wanting to volunteer in a school in the Himalayas.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Living in Ladakh

I had a wonderful experience living in Ladakh and teaching at a school there. It wasn't always easy, but some of the best things ever done do not come easily. I did have a very fulfilling experience, not just teaching, but living in a peaceful place where I was in a close knit community, where a Western woman is accepted. I have travelled a lot, and in many parts of India too. Ladakh is a place where the conservatisms that exist elsewhere are not so rigidly applied. A very restful experience where I made good friendships. I would highly recommend it.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    8

An Ethereal Experience In The Mountains...

It really was a life-altering experience. I was considering research as a career choice before this but I am certain I want to teach for the rest of my life because of this one experience. It certainly was a well-knit community and I grew to know and love everyone in the little village of Spituk in the high mountains of Ladakh, India. The students were little novice monks who were a treat to teach and the administration was more than welcoming and made me feel so comfortable. The home-stay experience with the local family made me not miss my mum/dad back home because they treated me like their own son. And the whole experience was just something I continue to miss to this day.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Compensation & Benefits

    8

  • Support Services

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Community

    10

Authentic experience I'll never forget

The school was situated near Kalimpong, in a very rural area that felt like a million miles away from the groundhog day of Western life. I had such amazing time - full of rich experiences that have given me perspective and appreciation of my life today. Can't recommend highly enough.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Compensation & Benefits

    N/A

  • Support Services

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

  • Community

    10

A program focused on its mission

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.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    6

one of the best things I have done

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.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Host School or Placement

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation & Benefits

    6

  • Support Services

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    6

  • Community

    7

Teaching in Ladakh - Lamdon School

We were very happy with our placement. We are an older couple, and traveled with our two teenage children. Our placement was good -- although neither one of us are traditional school teachers and we wish we had more experience teaching in a rote-style classroom. Our housing was excellent. We stayed with the school nurse, had excellent meals and felt included in the life of the family and community. We felt very grateful for the experience.