Our volunteer Lizzie has just returned from Kumharla Village in the Pabbar Valley. Here is her testimonial:
“The two weeks I spent in Kumharla village were absolutely magical and I simply didn’t want to leave. I spent the afternoons teaching English in the Primary School, and in the evenings I gave more English classes to teenagers from the Secondary School. When I wasn’t teaching I helped out in the home where I was staying with a variety of tasks from making chapatti (I’m an absolute pro now) and cutting grass in the fields for the winter.
The favourite part of my day was definitely the evenings when I went to the village (pulled up the mountain by the energetic kids who had followed me home after class) and was greeted by the lovely community. We played games, drank some chai, and then started class. I don’t have any photos from my evening classes because I was always far too busy to find a spare moment. There were normally between 10 – 15 students, ranging from approximately 12 years old to 18 years old. They have ‘learnt’ grammar at school (by copying from textbooks) but have not been taught it, so I made good progress with them explaining verbs, conjugations and tenses. They were fun classes with lots of laughter. I feel like I definitely helped them, but I really need more volunteers to go and carry on my work. It is so important for them to learn English if they want to be able to find work when they leave the villages and go to a town or city.
At the Primary School the standard of English education is very basic, so I built on this by covering topics such as colours, animals, parts of the body, expressions of mood and basic grammar. I was surprised by how quickly the children made progress, but once again I really need more volunteers to go to the village to keep up my work. This way, when they go to Secondary School they will be able to understand the syllabus, instead of just copying from their textbooks without learning. The children were so enthusiastic, but also very well behaved and extremely respectful. They always brought me food and insisted on carrying my things!
What made my stay in Kumharla Village so special was being part of the community. When I told my friends I was alone in a mountain village where no one speaks good English they asked me, ‘But aren’t you lonely?’ And I could honestly say I didn’t feel lonely once. The people are so warm and open, and the language barrier was no issue in me joining in on the laughs of their daily lives. I particularly liked the evening classes because I was able to bond with the teenagers, some of whom were only a few years younger than me, so I felt like I was surrounded by friends. One day it was a national holiday so we spent the day together in the mountains cutting grass in the sunshine, singing songs, with an amazing picnic. It was glorious!
If you want to volunteer for a project where you get real exposure to rural village life, and can honestly feel the difference you are making to people’s lives and futures, I ask you to please go to Kumharla! It would mean so much to me as well as to the fantastic people who live there.”
Here are some photos from Lizzie’s stay.