Volunteer your skills
By becoming a HELP volunteer in India or Nepal you will be able to make a direct, personal contribution to the education of young Himalayan people. In so doing, you will be having an unforgettable experience in a new and fascinating world.
Dan Cook (Algarah School)
Nikola Capla and Petra Cvancarova (Everest Boarding School)
Anne Gilliland (Denjong Pema Choling Academy)
Justin Bradley (Bright Life Academy)
Volunteering with HELP
HELP is looking for idealistic and competent people willing to give up some of their time to do something positive for the children of the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas. In the process of contributing to their educational needs, you are likely to find that your own need for self-development is met. Most of our volunteers have an amazing, life-enhancing experience.
Most, but not all, of our volunteers serve as classroom teachers. The greatest need is for teachers of English as a foreign language (TEFL). If you don't have any experience in this field, don't worry. We can point you in the direction of a basic TEFL course, and we will supply you with a starter pack of TEFL materials that will help you get through the first couple of weeks.
Other subjects needing assistance from our volunteers include Maths, Science and IT.
In addition to teachers, we are looking for medical staff: doctors, dentists and nurses for a clinic in the western region of Nepal.
Living and teaching in a remote Himalayan community is not for everyone, and is certainly not something to be taken on lightly. In deciding whether or not you should volunteer, you should carefully consider the following facts, and ask yourself whether you could cope:
- You may be living with a Himalayan family. This will be an experience of a lifetime, and you are likely to make friendships that you will treasure for the rest of your life. However, you must be willing to share much of your life with other members of the household. Can you cope with the lack of privacy?
- Your family and colleagues are likely to adhere to values that may seem ridiculous or excessively strict to a westerner. For example, corporal punishment is a common way of chastising children both in the home and the school. Also, views on the role of women will seem very old-fashioned. This could affect the way they relate to female volunteers. Can you live with people whose values and beliefs you may disagree with, or even despise?
- You may also be sharing a bedroom with another volunteer. This has the advantage of providing company and support, but you will need to be tolerant of other people and their ways. On the other hand, you may be the only westerner in the village. This will provide you with a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to immerse yourself in a new culture, but could you cope without any of the familiar props of your own culture?
- The community you will be living in will be a poor one, and you may be a long way from a major town. Many of the things you consider to be essentials (e.g. shampoo, and possibly toothpaste) are luxuries in the Himalayas, and are not likely to be available in your village. You will need to take such items with you.
- Life in your accommodation may be basic and possibly uncomfortable. Toilet facilities are likely to be in an out-house, and you may need to wash at a communal tap. How important are your creature comforts to you?
- The terrain is, naturally, mountainous and you may need to walk long distances. You must therefore be fit.
- Medical facilities are not as well-resourced in the Himalayas as in the West. It is essential that you declare any outstanding medical conditions that may affect your well-being. Do not consider applying if you have an on-going heart condition.
- The typical Himalayan diet is basic and monotonous, typically consisting of rice, lentils and vegetable curry. It is healthy, but it is not haute cuisine!
- Some of your fellow teachers may see you as a threat, particularly if they teach English or use English to teach their subject. After all, your English is likely to be better than theirs. They may even be reluctant to talk to you, for fear of making a fool of themselves. You will need to work out a way of reassuring them that you are there to supplement their work, not to replace them.
Is this you?
It follows that, in addition to having a useful skill, the qualities you will need to make a useful contribution to your school are: resilience and adaptability, an open mind and an interest in other cultures, good mental and physical health, and tact and diplomacy.
Because these opportunities are best suited to mature people, our volunteers are likely to be (but not exclusively) from one of the following categories:
- working people taking a career break.
- retired people who are not yet ready to put their feet up!
- graduates wanting to have an adventure before starting their careers.
- students aged at least 20.
If you are still reading this, and feel you have what it takes, please read on!
The recruitment process
- STEP 1: Shortly after we receive your on-line application (see below), we will phone you so that we can find out more about each other, and decide together whether volunteering with HELP will be in your best interests, and in the interests of the Himalayan community.
- STEP 2: If both you and we decide to proceed with your application, we will then contact two referees nominated by you. One should be a past employer, while the other should be someone who knows you well in a personal capacity (not a member of your family).
- STEP 3: Provided we receive two positive references, we will make you an offer.
- STEP 4: As soon as you have signed up, we will send you briefing materials, and subscribe you to our on-line network which you can use to get information from our past volunteers.
Volunteers must be able to commit themselves to an attachment of between 6 to 8 weeks (an exception can be made for practising teachers who are fitting their volunteering into their summer vacation), and will need to be able to meet all their expenses. The school will provide accommodation (either at the school, or with a host family) and all meals.
The cost of the programme includes:
- a fee payable to HELP to cover your placement, pre-departure briefing materials and advice, as well as the services of a local HELP representative and our administration expenses. Receipt of this fee secures your placement.
- a monthly payment to your host family for board and accommodation
- a donation to further HELP's work in supporting schools and children. The amount you pay depends on your status (see the table below).
|Administration fee||UK£150 [currency converter] (UK£250 per couple).|
|Monthly payment for full board and accommodation||
Nepal: 11,000 Nepalese Rupees or India: 7,000 Indian Rupees
These local currency payments are equivalent to approximately £100 per person at current exchange rates.[currency converter]
(voluntary for applicants from India and Nepal)
Where we feel that your school can and will make good use of the money, we will ask you to give part of your donation (typically £50) directly to it. Not only does this save on international bank transfer charges, but, being on the spot, you will be in a position to check that it is spent in the way you agreed with us and the head teacher. We ask you to account for the expenditure at the end of your assignment. This is a real responsibility, and requires a good deal of maturity, not least because we are placing a good deal of trust in you. In return, there is the satisfaction of being able to actually see your contribution being used to good effect in a school with which you will have formed a personal attachment.
The remainder of your financial contribution goes into HELP's donations fund. For information about how this fund is used, visit our donations page.
In addition, you will need to meet the following costs:
- International and domestic airfares
- Every day expenses such as snacks/drinks/email contact (approx. £35/month) [currency converter]
- Medical/Evacuation Insurance