• India


Price Details
Students must pay for their transportation from home to Guwahati, India. A private driver from Jhamtse will pick you up at the Guwahati airport and drive directly to Jhamtse Gatsal at a cost of about $220 each way, including meals and accomodations. Cost of room and board at Jhamtse Gatsal per month is about $100. Because of the minimal cost of our program, a voluntary donation is hugely appreciated, but not required!
Apr 14, 2018
Jul 13, 2012

About Program

Jhamtse Gatsal, Tibetan for “Garden of Love and Compassion,” is a community in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas. Opened in 2006, it is a school and home for 77 at-risk children from disadvantaged family situations in the nearby villages—orphans, abandoned children, and children whose families are too poor to support them. Jhamtse Gatsal integrates the principles of love, compassion, and wisdom in teaching, learning, interaction, and all activities in our daily life. We provide a home, family, nutritious food, love, healthcare, and the best possible education.

Program Reviews

9.8 Rating
based on 5 reviews
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  • Impact 9.8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

The 2 Months I Spent at Jhamtse Gatsal

I was privileged enough to visit Jhamtse Gatsal at age 18 in order to install some educational technology for the teachers. Gatsal is a unique and beautiful community, and no where else have I ever seen a school in such a beautiful setting. The children and bright and glowing, the tireless staff incredibly hard working, and the entire community is guided by the common goal of serving and educating the children.

The community is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, and billowing clouds will occasionally blow through the school grounds. Warm mornings are fairly common (depending on the season) but give way to thunderstorms during the evening and night. It is not uncommon to be walking about and see a local farmer tending to his grazing cattle.

You will be honored by the beautiful cultural customs, touched by the innocence of the children, and determined by the dedication of the housemothers and staff. Spending any amount of time at Gatsal, especially as a teacher, is guaranteed to be a life-changing experience, and is something you will never forget.

3 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteers at Jhamtse Gatsal Children's Community

The children come from surrounding villages as orphans or at risk of survival; they come to the community and get love, nutrition, health care and education. The eagerness and openness the volunteers get from the children (and staff), the perceptible outpouring of love means the volunteers get so much more from the children and staff than they can ever give. The whole experience is life-changing. Love and compassion at the core of life at Gatsal is not just words, it is realized and magical.

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I can’t imagine a more wonderful community, filled with more wonderful people, doing more wonderful things.

Hi! This wound up pretty long, so I’ve tried to categorize distinct parts of it below for your navigational convenience. Hope you find it useful! And please be in touch if I can be of any help in your investigative, adventure-sculpting process!!


My name is Sandy Wood. I’m a junior at Vassar College.

I first met Lobsang Phuntsok (the Buddhist monk who founded Jhamtse) because my mom was attending his teachings in Massachusetts. I went to India with him in the summer after graduating high school, and basically fell in love with all the kids and with Jhamtse’s entire mission and vision and spirit. I’ve gone back to visit and miscellaneously help out in the four summers since then, and have been active at home endeavoring to simultaneously raise money for JG and spread some of the same spirit of care and community that makes that place so vibrant in my own circles here.

What Jhamtse Gatsal Does and Why It is So Incredible, Inspiring, and Important

The difference in the lives of the kids after coming to Jhamtse Gatsal is radical. While there are a lot of really wonderful and valuable things about life in the villages, things to honor and preserve and learn from, there is also some pretty remarkable and heart-wrenching poverty, and a lot of resultant suffering from unnecessary and premature loss. Jhamtse Gatsal turns life around for the children selected to live there. They receive food, clean water, health care, and the chance to enjoy a childhood without responsibility for their daily survival.

Above and beyond the physical benefits of life at Jhamtse Gatsal, the community has a really striking and distinctive energy about it. The staff and students really are like a family, not just living and learning together but taking care of each other in a way I haven’t seen so pervasively in any other community. You can see it every moment, in how everyone chips in with the laundry or how the older ones tuck their younger siblings into bed. The intensity of the generosity and compassion taking root and flowering in these children, in an isolated community founded on these principles and lead by teachers dedicated to them, is how I know now that they absolutely are possible to teach, and every kid inherently imbued with their potential.

Another thing that’s become clear to me over the last few years of visiting the school and watching the children grow is how much Jhamtse Gatsal is not just about the children it most directly “serves.” It revolutionizes their lives, certainly, but in reality these children are not the end recipients of Jhamtse Gatsal’s work, but its vehicles. They’re the ones who are going to go back to their villages and be the change-bringers of their generation, whatever they determine that needed change to be. At Gatsal, they’re not only acquiring the tools to be able to do so, but also the motivation to want to. All their daily interactions are acute manifestations of the same internal compassion which has ever motivated any positive change in the world, on any scale.


One of the things that’s so special about Jhamtse is how tiny this organization is. To some potential visitors, this could be an obstacle: things aren’t really super streamlined or cookie-cut. But if you’re looking for an open, welcoming community to become a part of, then I think Jhamtse’s off-the-map, personal quality is one of its most exciting characteristics.

I’ve intersected with volunteers in the past bringing all kinds of things to the school, depending on their particular skills and passions and on the situation at Jhamtse at the time. I’ve traveled with high schoolers and adults who have helped teach, cook, play with the kids, and work in the office; college students and educational professionals who have collaborated with the teachers; a drama teacher who puts on plays with the children; nurses and doctors who have provided nutrition and sanitation workshops for the staff and kids, healthcare for the children, and who hope to reach out to the villages in the future; engineers who have done development projects on renewable energy and water purification; a couple involved in graphic design who did revolutionary things for our promotional material and website redesign; and many other enthusiastic individuals with multitudinous and varied talents, and the community is thrilled to welcome more such volunteers to enrich its work. If you show up with an open mind and the readiness to jump in, I’m sure you will find yourself wrapped up in intense and meaningful activity, whatever manifestation it takes.

Right now in particular we’re working on trying to regularize a program of volunteer teachers. One of the biggest challenges with this remote location is attracting and retaining teachers. The classrooms are dramatically understaffed and the teachers overworked. We’re hoping to establish a system whereby volunteers, regardless of teaching experience, can come and augment the teaching team with some form of continuity. Volunteers interested in staying for a number of months would be ideal for this work, and your presence would be so, so inexpressibly helpful and appreciated.


In summary, the children at Jhamtse are some of the kindest, most brilliant, bright-eyed and exuberantly generous kids I have ever met, even though they come from the materially nothingest of nothings. I have never felt so bursting-with-happy-dance content nor as intently purposeful as I do when I am on this particular mountain ridge. In every way, it is the most fulfilling and inspiring place I can imagine.

If you’re interested, I wholly encourage you to get in touch and find out more. We’re a really small, all volunteer organization; I know everyone on the Board in Massachusetts and the directors at Jhamtse Gatsal, and know that any of us would be more than thrilled to tell you more. Feel free to email me at sandybanana (at) gmail.com and I can ramble on to you for even longer about all of the wonderful. :) (Or, you know, actually answer whatever are your particular questions!)

Thanks for reading!
<3 sandy

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An excellent experience

Volunteering at Jhamtse Gatsal Children's Community was so amazing. All of the people there are extremely nice and there is a great sense of community. The children are adorable and incredibly sweet and give a very refreshing view of life.
I was a volunteer teacher, so my days were mostly spent teaching classes and preparing for classes. In my free time I often hung out with the kids and played games with them, chatted with them, and learned new languages from them.

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Jhamtse Gatsal--who's teaching who?

Here at Jhamtse Gatsal I prepare lesson plans, write things on the blackboard, and am called Madam; I have my subjects, my students, and my chalk. All these mysterious clues seem to suggest that I’m supposed to be the teacher.

But the truth is, the children have much, much more to teach me than I have to teach them. From the first moment we arrived at Jhamtse, greeted by a line of smiling faces, beautiful blossoms and exuberant “hellos,” they have led me through one big lesson on openness, usefulness, generosity, and positive energy. Each wonderful student of Jhamtse Gatsal is a model of the kind of person I try to be.

Innumerable mirrors like these are held up every single day, and each time they lovingly remind me of my own reflection:

Streaming to and from mealtime, prayer, bathing, or anywhere at anytime, each student yells a full-bellied, lively, genuine “GOOD MOOOOORNING (or afternoon or evening) MAAAAAADAAAAAAM!” With each greeting of theirs I ask myself, “How can I now be more excited, positive, and inclusive of the people around me?”

If I’m carrying something from one place to another, I can’t take a step without someone cheerfully asking, “Can I help, Madam?” Seeing them unwaveringly help do laundry, dishes, sweeping—and even the way they so mindfully line up their shoes outside the houses—I wonder, “What can I do? How can I be more useful? What do they need?”

One afternoon a younger girl started crying alone in the breezeway. Hardly a moment went by before three older students rushed in to comfort her. The way they unconditionally give their energy for the benefit of others and succeed so well in caring for each other makes me ask, “In what ways can I show more love? How can I be more caring and supportive of others?”

The absolute capability and deep goodness that Jhamtse Gatsal students show through their learning, playing, and everyday living are, for me, enlivening experiences of what a loving and successful community can create.

1 person found this review helpful.

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