The school, from outside
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We want to share with you thoughts pen down by Elisabetta from Italy who has recently volunteered with us. Every year, Seva Mandir hosts around 150 volunteers from all over the world. Below, you find a glimpse of her experience at Seva Mandir.
Having completed my BA in Social Anthropology at the University of Bologna, where I had been focusing on the Indian subcontinent, I really wanted to fulfill my dream to come to India. I wanted to see with my eyes the magic hidden in this ancient country, touching with my hands both the beauty and the problems. I also desired to be useful for people around me, trying my hands at doing something practical, and especially, due to my interest in pursuing a master in international development, I wanted to learn how NGOs work and carry our their projects in rural areas. Seva Mandir, that means “the temple of service”, met all my deepest expectations. I wish to share with you one of the most special experience that I've done, that brought me close to those who most suffer the absence of basic needs in the society: the children.
During my staying at Seva Mandir as a volunteer I had the chance to visit a bridge school located in a rural area around 20 km from Udaipur(Rajasthan). Seva Mandir has been running these schools for many years, showing promising results in promoting primary education amongst out-of-school children of tribal and rural communities. These schools serve as bridge schools to provide the children with a basic grounding in main subjects, such as Hindi, math and elementary English and help them to transit into government school as soon as they reach an adequate level of knowledge.
In these areas, the dusty and hilly terrain dominates the surroundings, making it hard for the population to carry on, and especially for children to go to school. The poverty, lack of transportation, lack of near schools and the family needs that force children to help with chores and agricultural work, are all serious factors preventing children from attending school. Despite the environment challenges and social constraints, the beauty of the surrounding landscape strucks me and makes my trip to these hard-to-reach areas worth every moment of it.
At the first helmet, I visited, the jeep stopped in front of the school. While I was approaching the building, I could hear the children' s voices filling the dusty air, and as I stepped in, I was warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic but still composed “Namaste” of a bunch of around 20 children. At the beginning, I was feeling bad for having interrupted their daily activities and lessons.A smiling young boy standing proudly in front of me recited a poem about “patang”, the kite, one of the most popular games played by children in Rajasthan.
During my visit, the teacher pointed at a small boy and told me about his life. He's Anand, and together with his small brother walks to school every day from his house, quite far from the school. I was told that he is from a very poor family but his father is very keen on getting them a good education. After having taken part in some activities with the children, we set off, leaving that small place full of hope, desires and smiles.
This visit made me realize how Seva Mandir's action is essential for those children, since it might be the only opportunity for them to study. Despite the difficult social and financial background, those children really try their best to learn and not to waste any single moment. These areas are really far to reach and without these schools is literally impossible for those children to get access to education; instead, they might be forced into domestic chores or, even worse, end up in child labour. Honestly, this experience was even more rewarding than I could have ever hoped. I really wish that everyone could have the chance to see with his own eyes the deep-rooted change that Seva Mandir is making in these remote areas, how many efforts had been put into the project, and therefore sustain these amazing schools.
I really thank Seva Mandir for having given me the opportunity to discover this extraordinary country, that I've been wanting to visit for a long time, through the eyes of those who spend their lives to help other people.
I am sure you enjoyed reading Elisabetta’s experience. If your travel brings you to this side of the world, do consider visiting us. Please do reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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With best regards,
A bunch of 20 children welcomed my with"Namaste!"
A smiling young boy recited a poem on kites
Posters and books.At the centre, the poem on kites
Children while attending their lesson
Anand and his brother
Anand and his brother enjoy especially reading
We set off, leaving that small place full of hope
Thank you again for this experience! Elisabetta