After two years when we were unable to send any volunteers to any of our partner schools, it was a delight to be able to send four this autumn. Applications were slow to come in at the beginning of the year as travel restrictions remained in place until early summer, but by September we were able to send our first volunteer, Ken Haigh from Canada, to the Vidya Sagar Gyanpeeth school in West Sikkim.
Ken is an experienced teacher and librarian and as with most of our volunteers found it a challenging as well as a rewarding experience : “I was looking for a challenge and it was certainly challenging. In fact, it may have been the most difficult thing I have ever done. There were days when I thought, “I’ve run out of ideas. What am I going to do with Class Three tomorrow?” and yet somehow I was always prepared and I managed to keep the students occupied and learning. I think that I discovered inner resources I didn’t know I had.”
In total we have sent four volunteer teachers, all four of them well qualified and three of them with a considerable amount of teaching and adventurous travel experience. Volunteers have been in West Sikkim as already mentioned, two in Uttarakhand and a fourth in Ladakh. All of them have been very much appreciated by the schools. These schools typically struggle to find enough suitably qualified staff so a HELP volunteer is a very welcome addition to the team. In addition a volunteer brings a fresh outlook, new ideas, enthusiasm for the school and for teaching in general which helps build morale in the school. The students’ English always improves as they are forced to communicate with an exciting new person who does not speak their home language. And finally it is a boost to the reputation of these schools in the wider community who are always eager to meet the volunteer and pleased about the extra teaching that their children are getting.