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.

We are all volunteers, including the directors, so the money we receive goes towards our charitable activities, not salaries. What motivates us? Call it ‘passion’ if you like, a word used so glibly and meaninglessly by the corporate world. We know and love the Himalayas and the people who live there, and want to do something to improve their lives. It’s as simple as that.

The Situation

Kids in Annapurna

Many Himalayan families are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Living at subsistence level, parents need the labour of their children, particularly the girls, to help the family feed itself. This means that they cannot always afford to release their children to attend school or college.

Even if the child can go to school, the quality of education is often very poor. Problems include untrained and unmotivated teachers, unaffordable books and uniforms, crowded classrooms (and often different class levels have to share the same classroom). Of those children that do manage, against the odds, to get through their schooling, very few indeed are able to go on to higher education.

The consequence of this is that many of these children do not get the education they need to achieve their full earning or social potential and so remain trapped in the impoverished existence they are born into.

Our Aim

The aim of HELP is to help selected village schools raise the standards of education that they can provide to the children of their communities, and to give the poorest children a chance to go to school and 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.

Our Objectives

Students in Nepal in an unheated classroom.

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

  • undertake short-term assignments as volunteer teachers in deprived village schools in support of their teaching programmes
  • make a donation, to purchase textbooks and equipment and construct new premises so that poorly resourced schools can provide a satisfactory education for the children in their charge

All donations, net only of unavoidable bank charges, will go to the school you want to support. Volunteers are asked to make a small contribution towards HELP‘s expenses (see the volunteer page for details.)

Recent Activity

1 week ago

Now that we are able to renew our volunteer programme after the COVID pandemic forced us to close it, here is a thoughtful testimonial from Paul Lessner one of our ex-volunteers, to remind you why volunteering with HELP is worth consdering:“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.” ... See MoreSee Less
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3 weeks ago

Believe it or not, HELP has been around for 20 years and will be moving into a new incarnation at the end of the year. I will be bowing out as CEO, and Simon Forwood, our very first volunteer (!), has agreed to take my place. More about this in our forthcoming newsletter.We would like to mark the occasion with an appeal for funds. You will have noticed (or maybe not!) that we haven't sent you an appeal for at least a year. This is partly because, until recently, the future of HELP, has been uncertain. Until Simon stepped forward we were planning to close HELP at the end of this year, and expected to make this our final appeal to help the schools in most need cope with the withdrawal of our ongoing support. Now that HELP is going to continue, albeit on a less ambitious basis, this appeal hopes to raise funds to enable these core HELP schools cope with the deleterious impact of the COVID lockdown on their finances and their ability to pay their teachers..This October, Barbara Porter (in charge of the volunteer programme and teacher training) and I both visited the schools we support in India, and have received a number of costed requests for this appeal which will form the basis of the distribution of whatever we manage to raise. Normally, I have raised a funds for specific projects, but this time around it's a more general appeal aimed at raising as much as you, our dear friends, are able and willing to donate for the betterment of these schools.Those of you who have volunteered with us may have taught at one of these remotely located establishments:.-The SASA Academy - the Indian state of Uttarakhand-Vidya Sagar Gyanpeeth school - in west Sikkim-St Paul's school - in south Sikkim-JN Memorial school - near Kalimpong-Khaltse School - in LadakhThe requests range from the need to top up teacher salaries over the next two years, to new toilet blocks, to new whiteboards, to new school buildings and more. We will prioritise the distribution of the money in our usual careful way, based on the likely impact the money will have on the survival of the schools and on the quality of their educational provision.To make a donation, please go to the donate page of our website: www.help-education.org/donate/I will assume that all the money we are likely top receive in response to this appeal will have been received by the end of November, so we will decide which schools get how much shortly thereafter.Regards,Jim Coleman ... See MoreSee Less
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Volunteering with HELP offers all the good things of working with a small, personal organisation: in-depth local knowledge from the HELP organisers, and the feeling that one is doing something for the first time.
Daniel CookAlgarah School