Does camping on the sand dunes with a sky full of stars sound like the perfect vacation? How about gorging on Dal Bati Churma and scouring royal castles?
Let’s say, you could make a change lives while you were at this? Wouldn’t that be it? Based out of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, Asude’s Voluntravel project combines the pleasure of travel with the joy of volunteering, offering unforgettable experiences.
Cashing on the rising popularity of socio-tourism, this pilot project caters to rural schools in the desert land. Spearheaded by Mumbai boy, Vyankatesh Kharage, it has already welcomed two batches of volunteers so far.
You might wonder, why the educational sector in Rajasthan even needs you. After all, it’s one of the best fairing states out of the problematic BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) as far as literacy goes.
At the turn of this century there were 109,189 schools across Rajasthan. Thousands, if not hundreds of them were spread across villages so no child walks more than a kilometre to reach school. Technically, Rajasthan has a tolerable number of schools for the 11 crore+ children in the region. Even so, illiteracy remains a looming issue in the region. With a dismal literacy rate of 67.1%, it fails to meet even the average literacy rate in the country (which is 74.04%).
So obviously, the problem lies somewhere just above the surface. There is a severe dearth of qualified teachers in many parts of the state. Even today, children in rural schools are often first generation students. With no teachers or elders to guide them, many drop out, attend class irregularly or discontinue due to sheer lack of interest.
But why should you care? Right? Out of India’s 133.92 crores, Rajasthan constitutes to a whopping 7.7 crore people, a vast chunk of who are children and youth. And them being uneducated and unequipped could spell a disaster for the country’s future. However, truth be told, that’s not why you should care. You should care because being a part of their growth brings a kind of happiness that compares to nothing.
Simran Barki, a volunteer from Himachal Pradesh would agree to that when she says, “It was all so overwhelming that I am looking forward to more such work.” Or Bhargav Joshi, who says, “I learnt that even a little effort goes a long way for a noble cause.”
The idea is simple- anyone above the age of 21 can sign up for their week long program. Once you have been shortlisted, all you need to do is land at Jaisalmer to be a part of an extraordinary adventure.
You will be required to spend a minimum of 4-5 hours in the designated school. Here, you will meet your ‘students’ and the chirpiest companions for the week. You will be in charge of grades 3rd to 5th, wherein you will interact and teach the kids. Far from your usual texbook rote learning, this is where you can go all out and use your time with them creatively. Be it painting, photography or meditation, you can share from a vast spectrum of topics.
But that’s not all; apart from being a priceless experience, Voluntravel also gives you a chance to explore the beautiful landscapes of Jaisalmer. The best part? Free stay! Perfect for budget travellers or even others who are looking to spend time in the “Golden City,” it ensures you a spot at a designated Hostel while you’re there. With an addition of mid day meals that you can share with the lovely kids you will be teaching.
So, what I’m asking is, while your next trip could be anywhere on the map will it be as enriching as this one? And for those who can imagine the great things you could do for these young ones, I also ask, “If not now, when? If you you? Who?”