Since its inception in 1990 the aim of the project has been to form an educational link with a number of institutions in Rajasthan and to use those links in a range of subjects back home.
At present, projects include a regular project exchange between Mangal Newton School in Beawar and several year groups in our Junior School; several annual fund-raising activities (such as the Summer Fair and the Junior School Coffee Morning, which between them involve every child in the School).
Our direct involvement and personal links with many institutions in Rajasthan has made awareness within the School of Fair Trade, Globalisation and environmental issues such as Global Warming so much more real, as our information comes from people we actually know and who are affected directly by these issues.
Needless to say, the effect on participants in the trips is massive, as our students’ feedback shows.
Our Rajasthan project has enriched the School over the years. By building personal relationships, by finding out what the real issues are in Rajasthan and by addressing some of those with practical assistance we have managed to make a real difference in the lives of many people in Rajasthan.
Proof of the importance of our link is in the fact that many of our links have not only lasted for 18 years, but have deepened and become more meaningful over time, and we have learned from each other how the concept of “mutual benefit” can really be brought into the centre of our activities.
“What I enjoyed most from the trip was visiting and staying in the village with Seva Mandir. It gave us an insight into their culture and taught us about their way of life, which seemed so different to that of the city or anywhere I have been. I found working at the literacy camp the most challenging experience of the trip. It involved teaching large numbers of children arts and crafts, most of whom could not speak English. What I found most rewarding was working in Umang school for disabled children. The reaction I got from them gave me a strong sense that I was actually making a difference to their lives”.
“The most amazing experience I had was at Umang. To be part of that was such a life- changing experience. When we arrived at Digantar School I was nervous and a bit worried about the teaching, but as soon as we got started I was having so much fun. The kids were so intelligent and happy”.
In Udaipur at the NGO was definitely my most challenging part of the trip. Going to the literacy camp and having large numbers of children who barely spoke any English was very daunting. I had an amazing time at the slum school in Udaipur as every child was so excited to see us and got so involved in our games, which was incredible to see”.
“On this trip I saw many aspects of Indian lifestyle, good and bad, but loved every second and will definitely be going back”.
“India has broadened my horizons and given me more self confidence; before coming I was sceptical about whether I would enjoy it. Since the trip I can really say that it’s given me a greater understanding of another culture and it was really enjoyable”.
“During the trip, the most enjoyable experience was seeing how our contributions gave such happiness, which was immediately recognisable in the children’s smiles and laughter, especially at Umang”.
The most challenging part of the trip was adapting to the culture. There were times when we were being told stories about abuse which I found quite distressing, but it opened my eyes to how our cultures differ”.
“The amount of work I put in was made effortless by the enjoyment I saw within the children. This relationship, where giving happiness was made as easy as receiving it, was something I hadn’t anticipated and exceeded my initial expectations. Inevitably I found the trip quite emotionally challenging. By being subjected to such a vast cultural shock and seeing the two extremes of India, from the poverty-ridden slum schools to the material wealth of Sanskar, really made me appreciate the overwhelming happiness in the majority of India, regardless of material wealth. This was something I have a complete admiration for and hope I can adopt in my own life”.
“Being let into such a special community was completely overwhelming at first and really quite challenging to fully comprehend the difficulties these children had to face. It wasn’t until we began to interact that I found a real sense of hope and pride, not only with the children but with the organisation as a whole”.
“For me, this was the single most enlightening experience of the trip: the power the children had to express their happiness made me feel that every hardship I had in the preparation and on the trip was all worthwhile”.
“I think Umang was the school that touched me the most. I didn’t think I would feel as much emotion as I did visiting there. I know some people may have felt uncomfortable seeing some of the children in the way that they were, but that wasn’t the case for me. I felt that our entire group really felt we had achieved something in ourselves and it brought a lot of us to tears”.
“Seeing the children get excited about the things we were doing made me know that this trip was worth it”.
“These children didn’t have much but there wasn’t one point when the children weren’t smiling”.
“Coming to India has been a truly life-changing experience. Being part of charity work has been great. I’ve been able to put smiles on children’s faces who might not have had the best lives”.
“I have realised what is important in life. Materialistic things do not make you happy, it is the people around you, the love they bring and the confidence they build up. Seeing the change in the children as you get to know them and help them is incredible. Umang touched me deeply. I will never forget how amazing and selfless the founder of the school was. Her determination will be an inspiration to me for many years to come”.
“The founder deeply touched my heart with her determination and courage to make these children happy. It warmed me to know that there are people making a difference in the best of ways”.
A particular highlight at the NGO was the village night, where we stayed with the locals in rural India. It was great to see the community all so giving and welcoming”.
“I learnt a lot about myself. I can cope under hard conditions and can be dependent on myself. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would definitely do it again”.
“Given the chance to go back and help, I would jump at it. I know I will go back during my gap year. This is something I know I will never forget”.