Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (India)

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As our name suggests, the Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (HELP for short) supports 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. 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.

HELP realises its aims by enabling responsible and committed people from the developed world to:

-sponsor young people with the potential to benefit from a school or college education, but without the means to do so.
-make a donation, helping a child or a school lacking the means to acquire the textbooks, equipment or premises required to provide a satisfactory education for the children in their charge.
-undertake short-term assignments as volunteer teachers in deprived village schools in support of their teaching programmes.

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9.83 Rating
based on 6 reviews
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  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 8.5
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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Yes, I recommend this program

Exceeded Expectations!

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
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Family Experience

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
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Yes, I recommend this program

Lamdon School Volunteer-Ladakh, India

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
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Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience that I will never forget

Not sure what I expected, but feel so lucky to have found HELP, Jim (the founder) and the amazingly giving and compassionate host family I stayed with - I feel like I've left family behind. Besides teaching English, connecting with local teachers, and traveling, my host family shared their home, meals and life with me.

Mornings started with a type of chai tea and breakfast (I ate vegetarian except egg and never missed meat till I got back to US), walking down mountain paths where school children waited for each other and we walked down to the school.

I taught 4 classes of English to 1st - 6th grade. Having not taught children before, and not having a lot of practice outside the required certificate training, this was difficult at times. Generally, I'm very good at English usage and grammar, but to teach someone that this is the correct way - especially if they've been taught wrongly in the past - is to me, a great responsibility and honor. These little people (for the most part) trust you and look to you for answers - it feels a gift to me to be able to help them. Yes, you need to be confident and stern at times as there's always those that rather play than learn, but you have to remember that you're the substitute teacher and practice great patience at times. I feel I actually made an impact on a few of the children in that short time and I ache for the day I can go back again.

As my teaching day was short, I would head back up the mountain to the house for lunch with Mrs Durga, a lovely woman who helped me with Nepalese while I helped her with English. Usually, the grandparents were home tending to evening meal preparation or the fields or cows. Mr Durga would come home after teaching a full day (he's a local that met Jim as a boy 30 years ago), and we talk about our days, go for a walk visiting other villagers, and so on.

Weekends, I frequently got a van or walked to the nearest town and stayed over night. My hosts always included me in everything, even their religious evenings with music and singing, but I felt better giving them a little space and exploring other places at the weekend.

Again, can't say how lucky I feel to have landed where I did, but am so grateful to Jim, his wife and my host family for giving me the single greatest experience of my life...so far :)

What would you improve about this program?
If there is a way to improve it, I can not imagine how. What it needs is more volunteers and funding. Their work is so important. It's not going to change the world over night, but one by one, children who learn English and can advance to higher education are returning home to help others in their communities.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Time embedded into Himalayan culture, working in a monastery school in Ladakh...

I feel so grateful to Jim Coleman and the HELP organisation, and so privileged to have spent a month teaching English to little monks between the ages of 3 and 11 in Spituk monastery school in Ladakh, India. The experience was incredible, life changing, I savoured every minute and took this world so different to the life that I am accustomed to in with all my senses and wished it would never be over...

The set up was such a happy and caring one. The monks adored the children and vice versa. These wise teachers imparted all of their knowledge, expecting nothing in return (no salaries) to children who came from poverty stricken families who would otherwise have received no education. I had many a conversation with these wonderful teachers, in our lunch and mid morning breaks, learning how to use a mala (a kind of rosary), discussing meditation, and learning about the special child, I was so privileged to have taught: Rimbochele, the reincarnation of Bakula Rimpoche. The children were so interested and enthusiastic in our lessons. They enjoyed my lively, creative teaching methods in my lessons: singing, music and movement, games, role play, use of puppets and masks, arts and crafts sessions.... I introduced the older children to the recently connected internet with a project we carried out on the Olympic games which were happening at the same time as my placement out there. The month that we had together was so positive.

My homestay family arranged by the HELP organisation, couldn´t have been kinder. I was treated as an honored guest, yet at the same time as a part of the family. The grandmother attempted to teach me a bit of the local dialect, although it was very tricky and I was a poor pupil! We communicated for the most part through sign language, which worked! I spent many an evening attempting to make ´momo´s´ (local dumplings) very badly to the amusement of my host parents and sister. My host sister was also a teacher, spoke good English and we had many interesting conversations about the different teaching styles in our respective countries.

The experience was in all respects simply wonderful. I attempted to make the most of every moment spent in Spituk village, and Ladakh in general. I went to the older monks ´puja´ in another section of the monastery first thing in the morning: Voices called out to the heavens in different tones, different pitches, bells clanging, drums booming, monks praying earnestly, swinging backwards and forwards to the rhythmic chants. At some point we would be offered blessed butter tea, a local specialty. After class I would go to the children´s ´puja´, where the children would take control. The eldest children would sit at the front facing the younger ones who would eagerly shout out the words when they knew them (the chants are very difficult and laborious to learn). Some of the youngest members during the ceremony, totally exhausted and I had to resist my motherly urge to scoop them up into my arms and put them into bed. I had to remember that I was an honored guest here and that it was not up to me to make these decisions...

I went on so many trips in my free time, and before starting the placement, a 10 day hike off the beaten track to extraordinary landscapes, trips to beautiful lakes that relaxed every ounce of one´s being but were simply too cold to bathe in, enchanting monasteries every nook and cranny brimming with culture and history, just trying trying to get in to the centre of town could be an adventure in itself! I had so many adventures. This is the wonder of doing a trip such as this. Everything is so different to what one knows. It´s easy to lose patience when things don´t go the way that one wants. But looking at everything as an opportunity, a chance to experience something totally different to what we know and our daily lives, it becomes such a privilege.

When I left the school I was presented with a scroll with words from H.H The 14th Dalai Lama. ¨The True Meaning of Life: We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the most. During this period we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people´s happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life¨.

What would you improve about this program?
More money for the project to continue to help these schools and individual children... The project is small yet they reach out to so many people and simply do not have the resources to do as much as they would like...
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Yes, I recommend this program

HELP is a rare gem!

HELP (Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme) is one of those rare gem of an NGO that's catered towards the people in need, that is the students in the Himalayas, and not the volunteers! And I think that's the beauty of this program because all too often I've seen volunteer-tourism take the actual impact away from the experience, and leave a superficial feel to the whole engagement. At HELP, the fee was a minimum, and the majority of the money was personally handed over to the schools and the children in need which effectively takes away the 'middleman' role. Additionally, the school that I volunteered in, in Ladakh, India was a phenomenal one. From all the reviews I've read and the people who volunteered previous with HELP I've only heard good things about the schools that are covered by this program.

I lived in a home-stay for my 4 month stay in Ladakh, and formed strong and lasting bonds with the people who I shared those four months, including the homestay family and the students, teachers, the school community and the village and monastery community as well.

I strongly recommend you try this wonderful organization as a way to positively impact the educational scenario of the Himalayas and you'll end up coming out of it a person with a rich experience and perhaps some new found wisdom and humility as well!


What would you improve about this program?
I really wouldn't change a thing! It's minimalist and perfect!