Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (HELP)

Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme

About

Welcome to the Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme, or HELP for short. We are a limited company registered as a charity (No. 1117646) with the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

As our name suggests, we provide support to young people in poor communities in the Himalayas to give them a chance to complete their education and so improve their employment prospects when they leave school or college. In so doing, we hope in the longer term to have an impact not only on their own living standards, but also on those of their extended families and of the wider communities they come from.

Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Jim
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered through this program to teach English as a second language for three months in Shikha, a small village in Nepal. It was a very rewarding experience. The students are eager to learn. Although sometimes it can be a challenge to teach English to a bunch of rambunctious grade school students (some student traits are universal), the results are gratifying. The experience also allowed me to immerse myself in the Nepalese culture, and spend some time trekking in the Himalayas.
HELP is an excellent organization. Its goals are clearly stated. There is not a big superfluous infrastructure. I felt that almost all of the time and money I donated went toward its program goals. HELP 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 did provide very good preparation for my trip there. HELP is the real deal.

Default avatar
Marco
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This is to far to much to describe. I have never had such a great experience as this, all because of the love the children give me. Although I was there for a short term, it felt that I know the children in the village and the school for years. It good to spend a lot of time with the children, playing football, volleyball and frisbee before school and during break time. I never said no when someone asked me to walk to another village, and the people are happy to point at animals, plants, villages and houses, telling me about their names in Nepali, and which students live where.

Default avatar
Lynne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My husband and I volunteered in Ladakh, India through a placement with HELP. We received accurate information from HELP about what to expect, were placed in a school that appreciated our services and lived with the local nurse. This was all 10 years ago, and it still remains a very important time in our live where we were able to share our skills and resources while we made new friends, got to know another culture and experience the beauty of northern India. HELP is for mature adults who are capable of orienting themselves to a new culture and situation. It is not a "handholding" experience. You will have to discover many things on your own, will not be taken on "group outings" -- though our host took us to many local events, and we both traveled together, and she arranged for us to travel ourselves, to other parts of the region. The school was very helpful and kind. We have utmost faith in the integrity of HELP and the work that they do; and have continued to support their students and programs because it is so obviously of assistance. We continue to be grateful for our interactions with HELP and our experience as volunteers.

What would you improve about this program?
We were very happy with the program
Default avatar
Lynne
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My husband and I took our 2 teenage children to Ladakh and volunteered at the Lamdon School. It was an amazing experience. We lived in the home of the school nurse who was so very kind and welcoming. I became her "sister" and my family was her's. We went to many local events with her, and her family -- and had the opportunity to really experience life within her community as best as we were able. She cooked for us each night, and I had the opportunity to cook with her. Our teaching experience was not great but that was likely because we are not experienced teachers and did not have the breadth of skills that would have been useful. But even with that we enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the other teachers, administration and the students. I also broke my ankle 10 days into out 7 week stay... so that limited my and our ability to interact as fully as I would have liked. We felt so very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel and live in Ladakh. We appreciated all the information that we received from HELP, and the placement in the home of the nurse. HELP did not provide an extensive orientation but that was perfect for us. We had lots of information ahead of time, had the ability to write to others who had lived in Ladakh and so had some idea of what to bring, and how to prepare for our time. We were fairly independent once we arrived, but that was fine and suited our family.

What would you improve about this program?
More support in our teaching assignment would have been helpful
Default avatar
David
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent one month at Lamdon School in Ladakh, India teaching Chemistry and Biology and living in a homestay. This was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone. For more information please read my Blog: Smulldog In The Himalayas: smulldog.blogspot.com

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing really

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Each day started early as my host family lived on a small farm consisting of a few cows (witnessed two calves being born while I was there in the spring) and terraced fields of various items like oranges, chilies, gladiolus and others that rotate with the seasons. Mrs Durga would make a hot spiced tea and serve a breakfast of rice and other mixtures with a hard boiled egg. Doesn't sound especially appetizing now that I write it, but I remember looking forward to it each morning.

After feeding the cows and some yard work, Mr Durga and Baba (his father) would take tea with me outside and greet neighbors passing along the many paths that connected the homes and small villages along the mountainside. Breakfast and visiting done, I would wash up in an attached toilet and outdoor sink (the shower was more of a bucket of cold water that you could make into a shower, but I found it easier to just wet myself, soap up, then douce myself with small bowls of water from the bucket - I did this in the afternoon when it was warm as there was no hot water).

A couple of the children who lived further up the "road" would come by and we we'd walk down a series of paths through backyards, waving to and greeting neighbors working in their yards, while additional school children joined us on our route to the school. By the time we reached the new road that was being built outside the school, there'd be ten of us with some of the children singing or telling stories. Once at the school, the children would line up according to grade and one of the teachers would give instruction for daily yoga routines, while another checked their school uniforms, shoes, fingernails and teeth for cleanliness (the school provided a number of these items to some students who could not afford them on their own).

The students would then filter into their partitioned rooms on long narrow benches and tables facing a chalkboard and we'd get started. I taught 4 classes of English a day which included 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades (at the time there was only one 5th grader and no 6th as the school was only a few years old). I taught from books where the children told me they'd left off, and used some games and other activities to help them relax and enjoy the class. My goal was for them to understand why a sentence was constructed a certain way, or why a word may mean different things if used different ways, or how to use a dictionary or thesaurus.

This may sound obvious, but the local standard is learning by rote: repeating or copying sentences over and over again with little understanding of the meaning. Took me a while to figure out what each class and individual was capable of, and then even longer to figure out how to capture their attention and interest - really wish I'd had more time to keep going.

My day ended early around noon when the children took recess and lunch and I went back up the mountain to go home and have lunch. I'd visit with Mrs Durga for a little while - she'd teach me some Nepali words or recipes and I'd exchange with English. My afternoons were free and I spent them taking walks, reading and daydreaming.

Ten years from now, what's the one thing you think you'll remember from the trip?

It's been five years since my trip and I can still remember it all like it was yesterday. I think the thing I'll remember most and which I think of often is the kindness and compassion of my host family. They are such good people and do so much for so many. Their son Sorev shares their same gentleness and generosity (with as little as they have) as his parents and grandparents. He is very bright and I expect to hear great things of him in the future.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

When I first decided to take this trip I feel it was for mainly selfish reasons. I wanted to explore, see something different and get away from my routine. After my first month there seeing how happy they are in their isolation, I began to feel as though I might be ruining these people and their culture by forcing English on them.

But by the end of my trip, I realized that English is a language as well as a tool that empowers people in a world that is dominated by a ruling class that for the most part speaks and does business in English. For those who want to get off the farm or to make the voice of their people heard, it is a necessity that they get outside support to provide an alternative to near useless government schools and the hope of higher education.

What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?

The most striking cultural difference came at the end of my stay with my host family. After being with them for so long and sharing every meal with them, I became very fond of them and was sad to leave not knowing when or if I might see them again. Unbeknownst to me at the time, hugging is not something that's done between single men and married women. When I went to hug Mrs Durga goodbye, she shrank from me, which crushed me at the time, but when I later realized my faux pas and knew it was not personal, I understood and hoped I had not offended her. Later that same morning, when Mr Durga saw me off to the bus, he gave me a big hug and I think I cried a bit. I still think of all of them with very fond memories.

Where would you most like to travel to next?

I still have some unfinished traveling in that area to accomplish. I missed the neighboring state of Sikkim, trekking in Nepal and Tibet and heard that Bhutan is very beautiful as well. Someday I hope to return to the village of Lower Esty Busti along these travels and see the people who changed me and my life for the better.

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