Volunteer Teaching in Tamil Nadu, India

One of our volunteer teaching placements in India is the Sri Ramana Matriculation School in Tamil Nadu. The school was founded in 1988 with only six children. Today the school has more than 350 students ranging from 4 to 16 years of age. In addition to receiving an excellent education, students learn to become responsible and morally honorable young adults.

Volunteer Teaching in India

Each of the science, mathematics, computer science, social studies, moral science and geography curriculums are taught in English. Students also receive instruction in their native language, Siddha (traditional herbal medical treatment), dance, yoga and music. The school provides students with books, school uniforms, daily lunch and transportation.

Volunteer Teaching in India

A recent newsletter from school Director M. Karunanithi says,

The recent volunteers were very well attached with the children and teachers. On Monday morning, they came to the school and said goodbye to the children, teachers and to me. They were very hard to leave from us and shed their tears. And they assured that they would come back in the next year and do the volunteer service for long time. We appreciate their service and also we are very much grateful to them.

Volunteer Teaching in India

As a volunteer teacher you can assist with English and writing, math, science, music, geography, art, yoga and dance. The teaching curriculum for each major subject is based on the students’ standard book. Volunteers are also encouraged to create their own lesson plans. Depending on the subject, volunteers can bring along teaching materials such as picture books, instruments, flash cards, art supplies, and songs.

The minimum stay for this program is four weeks. Your start date would be either September 1 or or January 1. We encourage you to arrive one week before the start of school, so that you can acclimate to the culture, climate and time zone before you start working with the students.

Safe Passage for our Volunteers in Guatemala

We send our volunteers in Guatemala on a one-day tour of the non-profit Safe Passage’s programs in Guatemala City. The tour leaves from the city of Antigua, one of the cities where our programs are based, and takes volunteers by minivan to Guatemala City.

Included in the tour is a view of the trash dump near the public cemetery as well as visits to their Early Childhood Education Center, Educational Reinforcement Center, and Adult Literacy Program. We also have our volunteers visit with the children in the program for lunch in the Main Building.

Volunteering in Guatemala

In 1999, Hanley Denning founded Safe Passage in a tiny dilapidated church at the edge of the Guatemala City garbage dump and dedicated her life to empowering this community through education. Throughout 2014, Safe Passage is commemorating their 15th anniversary and looking back at the progress made over 15 years of service and dedication to Hanley’s dream.

Volunteering in Guatemala

Our volunteers in Guatemala spend over 30 hours per week either building houses or working at an orphanage; with the latter program their activities include arts and crafts, reading books, playing games and sports, light cleanup work, and generally being a caring presence for the children.

A typical orphanage in Guatemala has 15-20 children, ranging in age from 3-12. We also sometimes conduct physical improvements of the children’s shelters, including our volunteers paint the buildings, weed fields, and clean up rubbish and debris.

Volunteering in Guatemala

For accommodations, volunteers stay with local host families in Guatemala who provide you with your bedroom, all meals, WIFI and include you in the family dynamic. These families are known to us personally and have been specifically trained on hosting foreign volunteers. The host families are all within minutes walking distance of each other. Bedrooms are same-gender only. A typical host family hosts 4-8 volunteers with two per bedroom.

Volunteering in Guatemala

Why We Need to Overhaul Philanthropy: Interview With Peter Buffett

I just came across an opinion piece from last summer written by Petter Buffett for the New York Times. He describes a term he calls “Philanthropic Colonialism”, where rich donors try to “save” locals even though the donors have zero knowledge of the culture or its problems. An excerpt is below (full article here).

Buffett writes:

” I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?…I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism. “

Always Journeying to Someplace New Gets Old Fast

Nice New York Times  interview with author Daniel Klein about the wonders of the prolonged stay abroad, instead of perpetually chasing “new” travel destinations and experiences.

(Klein’s most recent book is “Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life“.)

An excerpt from the interview:

There’s something about old age that can induce the patience needed to gradually sink beneath the surface of a new environment. Instead of trying to keep track of constantly changing scenes, we can delve into a single scene. Yum.

Photographs from Hydra by Billy Hughes, who journeyed to Hydra, Greece, with Klein while the latter was finishing “Travels With Epicurus”.

Donate Books & Clothes Abroad? Eh.

Thinking about donating books / clothes abroad? While the sentiment might be good, there are far better ways to help others.

One great example is a new non-profit called LivelyHoods in Kenya which helps locals earn money by selling local goods.

The LivelyHoods project, which began in Kawangware, a densely populated urban slum about nine miles (15km) from Nairobi, is designed to create employment opportunities by training young people to sell products tailored to the needs of their communities. Cornerstones of the scheme’s iSmart brand include fuel-efficient cookstoves, of which 3,233 have been sold so far, as well as solar lamps and reusable sanitary products for women. All the products are vetted for their suitability, first by the LivelyHoods sales team and then by potential customers.

Here is founder Maria Springer to explain:

World’s oldest Buddhist shrine discovered in Nepal

If you’re volunteering in Nepal, especially through our programs in Bijayanagar, you have the unique opportunity to visit the birthplace of Buddha located in the small town of Lumbini.

And now as a bonus, archaeologists in Nepal have just announced that they have discovered traces of the world’s oldest Buddhist shrine at the same temple complex in Lumbini where Buddha (“Siddhartha”) was born.

Lumbini is about 175 miles from Kathmandu and less than 100 miles from Bijayanagar. Our volunteers have been coming to Bijayanagar for the last decade, working at schools, medical clinics and orphanages. So it’s an easy weekend trip to visit Lumbini during your volunteer trip.

The village of Bijayanagar, Nepal:



Temples around Bijayanagar, Nepal: