Volunteering in India

In this newsletter we will explore Conde Nast Traveller saying that Jaipur is the best city to visit.

Another feature that is of interest for you is that in case you volunteer in this programme you can also visit the Sariska Tiger Sanctuary as it is just under an hour drive away from the Ashram. More about this later in the newsletter.

If you have missed Diwali this year, plan ahead for the next year in advance. This time is festivities at their best.

We will meet another child at the Ashram in this newsletter and read his story in our series of Case histories of the children at the center.

Stay happy as this year almost comes to an end.

Vinod Meena
Volunteering in India

East or West- Jaipur is among the best

The Times of India, dated 17th October 2008 mentioned the following:
A leading UK magazine has voted Jaipur as the seventh best city in Asia to visit, giving it a clear lead over Tokyo, Hanoi and Bejing. No other Indian city features in the list that Conde Nast Traveller prepared after polling 32000 respondents across the world. One more reason for you to come to Bal Ashram.

Another Possible Highlight of your Volunteering trip
Sariska Tiger Sanctuary which is around 30 kilometers away from Bal Ashram. The Government of Rajasthan has air lifted 2 tigers from other parts of Rajasthan and soon going to airlift more tigers for the Sanctuary. Volunteers can plan to go there to see tigers. Sariska Tiger Reserve lies in the Alwar district of the Rajasthan state of India. It is prime tiger country. The forest is typical dry deciduous, dramatically changing with the change in season. The terrain is undulating plateau lands and wide valleys. Besides tiger, herbivores, spotted deer, sambar, blue bull can be commonly seen and found in good density. Sariska Tiger Reserve was created in 1978. The present area of the Reserve is 866 sq. km.

In the pre-independence period the forests within the Reserve were a part of the erstwhile Alwar State and maintained as hunting preserve for the royalty. After independence, these were first notified as a reserve wherein it was unlawful to hunt, shoot, net, trap, snare, capture or kill any kind of wild animals in 1955. The reserve was upgraded to a Sanctuary in 1958. Later on, in view of the preservation of wild animals in a better way few forest areas contiguous to the Sanctuary were also incorporated. There are few tigers for you to see here.


Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, and is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus. The festival of Diwali extends over five days. As there are lights, fireworks, and sweets involved, it's a great favourite with children. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

The Times of India editorial summed up the modern meaning of Diwali:

Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple - and some not so simple - joys of life.

Days to remember this month

International day for the Elimination of Violence against women are more important.

By December 1999, the General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women's activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Mukesh Kumar (name changed) at Bal Ashram
When I was Seven years old I used to work as a child labour in a kiln. I worked there for about six months. I used to get about Rs.25 for a week’s work. I was rescued by Ghuran Mehto and brought to Bal Ashram. I was put in the informal school at the centre. I was set to my home when I reached 7th grade. But I was intrigued by the fact that there are so many children like me out there. I took off from school to put my thoughts together. I discussed the issue with my friends and we took it on ourselves to work on this issue. We organized a rally under the banner of ‘Bal mazdoori band karo, shiksha ka prabandh karo’ (Stop the child labour and arrange education for all the children).With our efforts and resources I freed sixty children from the clutches of child labour.

For my eighth standard I came back to the centre. I was given an award of Rs.5 lakhs by a film celebrity Aamir Khan. This award was called Pogo Channel International Award and was held in Mumbai. Then I went to Kolkatta for Cadbury Bournvita Confidence Academy’s programme. This was a programme for children who have been brave and done good things for the children.

I personally feel that Child Labour in the world should be banned. When they indulge in child labour they loose out on their education. It is not good for the country in the long run. At the different centres they have saved 74000 children from Child labour. I am proud of being a part of this and I feel till the time we are free of child labour our country will not be free.’

If you want to be a part of this movement you can help a lot of Mukesh Kumar and boys like him.

Till next time.

Vinod Meena



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 Volunteer Stories

When I first arrived in India, it felt like every little thing was so different from back home- the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the animals; every moment was a new adventure, and I was always excited to see what would happen next! I volunteered teaching English to rescued child laborers in a rural village near Jaipur.

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