12 October 2013, 7am, kotma, uttarakhand
I have been travelling and volunteering in uttarakhand for almost a month. A lot of friends and friends of friends have reached out and asked how they can help in the disaster aftermath both by volunteering here and remotely. I thought I will just put a few ideas together which I explored personally.
- Space for Nurturing Creativity (SNC), khumera village, Guptkashi: SNC is an alternative school run by a few youth for children from 5 to 18 years of age. Apart from the school, SNC is engaged in local community through its various programs like youth camps, evening schools for younger children, awareness drives, vocational training and relief and rehabilitation. There are plenty of ways in which you can volunteer at SNC such as teaching the children a new concept or just playing with them; helping in the household activities of the school; helping with the documentation and computer skills etc.
- Swamy Vivekanand Sevashram, kotma village, Guptkashi: During his medical camps, Dr. Tulsidas realised how children had to travel up to 30kms everyday to go to school. He then decided to open a hostel for young boys at kotma where the school is. Having a hostel means that children have more time to study, get better nourishment, value education and also help with their ongoing studies. I feel it also relaxes the already troubled parents and brings the child out of the traumatic environment at home after the floods. One can volunteer at the hostel in cooking, managing, engaging the boys etc. You can also explore the village to see how you can contribute like I am currently taking an evening school for children to help them in their studies.
- Medical camps: Two doctors whom I have met who run regular medical camps in this region are Dr. Tulsidas and Dr. Anuj from Dehradun. One can volunteer to help them in the camps and if you are a doctor the means to serve are unlimited! There is a big need for gynecologists, dentists and ophthalmologists here who can come and if not stay, run regular camps.
- Shivanand ashram, Uttarkashi: Swami Premanand of Shivanand ashram has worked in the region for last 50 years. As a response to floods, they were the first to offer relief and now after 3 months they are looking at ways to make the youth self-employed and come out of the tourism dependence. One can volunteer in their camps and other community projects running through the ashram.
- Som ashram, Uttarkashi: Swamy janardhananand ji of Som ashram has worked in education for last 30 years in uttarkashi region. Disappointed by the level of teaching in government schools, he runs evening school for children at the ashram and supports volunteers who go into the villages and hold classes. Currently around 400 children from different villages around Uttarkashi are being supported. There are only 2 volunteers for teaching and one can really make a difference by volunteering to teach in the villages.
These are some of the organisations where I feel one can do both service to self and others. If you wish to volunteer in any of the above mentioned organisations, send us a message. I can help connect you with some people there.
In the next part I will put together a list of materials that can be contributed here in Uttarakhand through various organisations.