I promised to provide a post explaining how your donations, prayers and positve energy have all helped me in my quest to help children in India. In this post I will answer a lot of general questions I have gotten from some of you. I will also provide more detailed information about my service project as well as show you the beautiful children of Parijat Academy (the school I’m volunteering at).
What is Parijat Academy?
Parijat Academy is a school for underprivileged children in Guwahati, India. The Principal (Uttam Teron) has dedicated his life to making his village a better place. Guwahati is home to thousands of children who do not have access to education. According to Uttam it is important for the children of Guwahati to have access to education because without education they risk becoming victims of child labor. Thus, to keep the children safe and also to provide them with a sense of purpose Uttam started Parijat Academy. When Uttam first started Parijat Academy he only had a dream, tin walls, a bamboo roof and a few desks which served less than 10 children. Uttam’s dream has expanded and Parijat Academy now serves more than 500 children. To learn more about Parijat Academy and Uttam’s story please visit: http://www.outlookindia.com/mad.asp?fname=Making&sid=&subsubsec=Assam&fodname=20060213
I have included pictures of the children who attend f Parijat Academy. The children are in grades ranging from Kindergarden through high school. These children are amazing. They go to school in very poor conditions (no a.c., cows and wild animals roaming the school grounds, sometimes the rain leaks into the classrooms) but they come to school everyday with a smile and open heart. I think we can all learn a lesson from these children. They have truly taught me to be thankful. But most importantly they have taught me that I may not have the best of everything, but it is important to make the best of everything I have. In the worst of conditions, these children are blooming! They are truly roses growing from concrete.
How else can I help Parijat Academy?
If you, like me have been moved by the story of Parijat Academy you can do more to help. The school is funded strictly through donations and they do not recieve any governmental assistance. The children are in need of clothes, school supplies, games and literature (books.) If you or a group would like to donate any of these items please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also provide monetary donations to help in the construction and expansion of the school. To provide moneytary donations (which go directly to the school) please visit:
What type of projects am I doing a Parijat Academy:
- Teaching basic English grammar, reading and writing skills to students.
- Developing a volunteer handbook for future volunteers (to provide future volunteers with tools and resources to help them have a successful experience at Parijat Academy)
- Organizing a Summer Festival for the children. The children of Parijat Academy are generally very poor based on western standards (most living on only a few dollars per month) but they are rich in love. Thus, I wanted to have a day to celebrate the children. The Summer Festival is a day of games, activities and food for the children to enjoy and relax.
- Researching the relationship between poverty and women’s development. Women usually do most of the labor in the world, yet they make the least amount of money. While in Guwahati, I have been conducting interviews with local women to begin to understand their perspective. I wanted to give the women a voice because in many developing nations (and globally) women are overlooked. I will be working with a professor from FSU to organize the data and eventually share it once I return from India.
- Environmental Awareness Campaign. In India, the streets are often littered with trash. The Principal of the school encouraged me and some of the other volunteers to teach the children about recycling. The idea of recycling is very new to the children, thus we are teaching them the basics and we have provided bins for them to start their own recycling project.
- Health Awareness Campaign. I’ve been working with another volunteer to promote health awareness amongst the local villagers. The other volunteer Kevin organized a Health Fair for the students in which students had a chance to interact with a local doctor. Please visit to see some of things we have already done: http://www.assamtimes.org/social/7081.html
Why am I volunteering all the way in India and not in America?
I came to India because after reading the story of Parijat Academy and seeing how much the Principal has given to better his village I wanted to come and be a part of that legacy. I wanted to meet these beautiful resilient children of Parijat Academy. I also understand that living outside of my comfort zone in a new place will help to grow and become a better person. More importantly I wanted to serve. In fact, Rachel Naomi Remen said, “Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.” I’m not volunteering because I want to fix Parijat Academy. I’m here because I want to serve children who have taught me the value of what it means to be humble. I embarked on my journey to Parijat understanding that it is not my job to “fix” or change the people of Guwahati, India. I also came with the understanding that though I will be teaching, I will learn a lot more from the locals than I could ever teach them. Lastly, I serve in America year-round in various community service projects. I recognize the importance of helping my own community as well as helping others. But, I truly believe we are all God’s children and helping anywhere is helping the world.
My time at Parijat Academy has been nothing short of amazing and fulfilling. I’m truly thankful God provided me with the opportunity to come to such a beautiful place to learn from such a strong, resilient group of people.