the volunteering experience

 

(please note this page was revised in July 2016)

Roseberry School in Darjeeling is a thriving fully staffed primary school with high expectations for its underprivileged pupils. Our teachers work hard and are very willing to learn  but lack the background and training of western teachers, so we really value the extraordinary contributions which have been made by a variety of volunteers.  We offer good but simple accommodation at local homestay rates in the Director's house adjacent to the school. The twin room also comes with use of the family kitchen. Darjeeling is a safe and friendly town with much for the visitor to see.

We only accept one volunteer at any time or a pair travelling together .

We charge only £100 admin fee for volunteering, and hope to provide an interesting experience which  is both enjoyable and fulfilling. In return we expect that volunteers will be able to play a useful role in the life of the school. There will be plenty of opportunity to interact directly with the children since they speak good English in the four oldest classes and lessons are conducted through the medium of English.

The minimum duration for a placement is two weeks, as it usually takes several days for volunteers to get their bearings.

It is important to mention that a base level of physical fitness is required. The ground is very steep and the approach to most of the classrooms is via steep steps.

VOLUNTEER PROFILE

Although we occasionally take people with other skill sets, we typically need experienced primary school teachers. They should be adaptable and flexible enough to cope with a completely different learning environment. They would be people who feel a wish to contribute in some way to the lives of less fortunate children and would ideally have sufficient confidence to take charge of a class if appropriate.  They might also be able to help the teachers to improve certain aspects of their teaching.  It goes without saying that we expect our volunteers to supply evidence that they have been background checked.

THE SCHOOL YEAR

As with all other schools in Darjeeling, the school year opens in the first week of March and closes at the end of November.

In Spring school is disrupted by exams followed by a week's closure.

In Summer there is no closure during the monsoon .

Autumn is punctuated by religious festivals with closures for Durga Puja followed by Diwali. Then secondary school  entrance  exams are held for the top class before the end of term.

TRAVEL TO THE AREA

The journey is straightforward with a variety of flights from the UK to Delhi , an internal flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal, and finally a 3 hour taxi ride to Darjeeling. The total  cost varies, but may be around £800 . 

MAKING AN APPLICATION

Arrangements for volunteering are made by the secretary of SAI in consultation with the school, so it may take a little while to sort things out.

We urge you to read the above notes carefully before making an initial enquiry to the secretary to check availability of placements at the time you wish to travel.  The next stage is to return a completed application form together with the fee of £100. If your placement falls through because of any failure on our part your fee may be returned.

BEFORE YOU GO

We will do our best to provide you with additional information which will help to make the volunteering experience valuable. We regret that it is not possible to supply detailed information about the curriculum. You will receive guidance on dress, local customs, and if you have a particular skill you wish to offer, we will do our best to accommodate you.

How does your donation help?

Every donation helps SAI provide better facilities for our students, here are some typical examples of costs that we incur on a regular basis. We have six classes with 20-25 children in each class.

  • £22 buys uniform for one child giving them pride and identity
  • £50 pays for a wide selection of books for one class
  • £5 buys a waterproof storage box for books, needed in monsoon season
  • £600 for a new laptop for classroom use
  • £2250 will pay a teachers salary for one year