We provide high quality, extremely low-fee education to close to 900 students from disadvantaged families living in the Nagwa slum of Varanasi. Our students come from a neighborhood where the adult literacy rate is below 25%, where the average monthly household income is less than 55 USD, and where fathers are often unemployed, absent, or suffering from drug and alcohol addictions. We ask for a nominal yearly fee of Rs. 1000 from our students in order to encourage attendance and a serious approach to school, but few of our students pay the full fee and there are no penalties to not paying the fee.
We also offer safety and stability to 25 street and orphan girls who live in our in-house hostel, where the girls are raised in a loving, family setting and given opportunities to excel in school, seek higher education after class 12, find dignified employment, and start families of their own.
There are many things volunteers could work on while here, but the following gives a relatively comprehensive scope of potential volunteer activities.
1) A volunteer could assist in English classes, structuring a curriculum that helps students become active speakers and learners. Experience in teaching, working with children, and speaking Hindi would help enormously.
2) A volunteer could use their English language skills to do as much of the following as time allows: writing newsletters and annual reports, writing grants, and managing our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
3) A volunteer could also choose to spend their time making a short documentary or video about our school and hostel.
4) A volunteer could devote their time to researching a number of metrics within our school including post-graduation outcomes, factors impacting exam scores among our students and learning outcomes, factors impacting student attendance or absenteeism, teacher performance, and curriculum efficacy. This work will entail a period of observation of our school and day-to-day activities here, a healthy amount of time inputting and compiling data in Excel, interviews with students and teachers, fieldwork visits to local settlements and families, and the formulation of plans to improve the educational attainment of our students based on that research. Experience in research and Hindi language skills would be very helpful.
5) A volunteer could lead an extracurricular activity of their choosing
We do not provide accommodations to volunteers, but we would be happy to give information about a hostel or arrange a homestay if volunteers are interested.
Varanasi is a city unlike any other in the world. Whether you are walking along the ghats that lead into the Ganges or wandering past silk stores and sweet shops in Varanasi’s historic neighborhoods, the “City of Light” is bound to amaze and inspire you with everything it has to offer. There will be no shortage of amazing and inspiring moments at our organization as well, where you can witness and participate in our work to empower our students and break the cycle of poverty affecting them and their families.