Volunteer news from West Bengal

Anne Taylor, who has returned to her school near Kalimpong five times, has written this account of her latest adventures:

 

“I am spending Easter weekend in Darjeeling and I woke up to a magnificent view of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas with Kanchenjunga (India’s highest mountain) the centre piece. And that was before I even got out of bed! It was so clear at 7am it felt as though I would be able to reach out and touch the snow. The clouds slowly rose and now, at 9:30 the view to the peaks is obliterated but there are lovely views over the whole of Darjeeling and the tea estates below. Wispy remnants of cloud are drifting along the valley bottoms and so the view changes all the time.
Life in LEB continues to be engaging and rewarding – I love the teaching – the children are so responsive. For example the other day I took a group outside to act out verbs staggering, yelping, leaping etc. Honestly, they were so delighted you would think I had arranged a party! And a couple of weekends ago Gita (my host) and I went on a day trip to Kalimpong with the 9 children in classes 5 and 6. We went to buddhist and a hindu temples and a museum. Again the children were enthusiastic and amazed! The Kalimpong museum was pretty basic – housed in a big wooden hall and had moth-eaten tableaus behind glass of the traditional life of local tribes around the walls of the room. You would think I had taken them to Disney World so enthralled were they! ‘Annie Ma’am look at this! Look at this!’ yanking me around the room. They were also delighted by a huge flat open space sports ground and no wonder, they would never have seen so large an expanse of flat land before living as they do in the hills! They ran and ran around the ground. The children chose what they wanted to eat for lunch – mostly they chose pizza which they had never had before and they didn’t like it! Haha! How discerning of them! One little boy, the most ‘badmas’ imp in the class, told me at the end of the day that this had been the best day in his life! I felt quite teary!
Other that this my days have a rhythm to them starting with tea at 7am followed by breakfast at 8am, school from 8:30am – 12:30pm, lunch at 1pm, some teaching prep during the afternoon and then a walk or what Tikaram calls ‘Games Class’ 2x a week at the end of the school day. I have been invited to lunch or dinner at many of the children’s houses some of them quite far flung and so my days are quite full.”

Annie Taylor, April 2015

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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