The Aandhimul Project was very lucky this Autumn to have 2 young and enthusiastic volunteers from Australia come to the Aandhimul village. With energy, passion and resources for the school, they were ready to have an experience of a lifetime.
Below is a direct account from the one of the volunteers themselves. A BIG THANK YOU to Lucy & Jessica from all at The Aandhimul Project!
“Our Aandhimul experience began with us struggling up a steep, slippery hill with our heavy rucksacks, trying to impress our local friend and guide Siam, who took to the mountains with absolute ease. By the end of our week in the village, we had mastered the art of manoeuvring up and down this slippery path, which led to the nearest road, at a less embarrassing speed, and were proud to reduce our number of clumsy falls with each trip we took. By spending less time looking at our feet, we were able to appreciate the stunning natural environment around us and the company of our many generous, patient and attentive chaperones!
When we arrived at the school, we were greeted by an array of inquisitive and guarded faces, and we had the initial impression that we would be teaching a shy, yet friendly and motivated cohort of students. Within minutes, the true playful and adventurous personality of each individual child was revealed as they became more comfortable in our presence. It was wonderful to watch our relationships with the children develop throughout the week as they grew to trust us more, and within a couple of days we were fondly known as Lucy Miss and Jessica Miss.
Thanks to a donation by a Choir in Adelaide, Australia, we were able to buy some educational supplies for the school as well as some soccer balls and materials for our bracelet making workshop, which while unfolded differently to what we had intended, we think was a success. We were impressed by the behaviour of the students, who were polite and focused, and while they could be an energetic handful outside of the classroom, realised that school time was a time for enjoyable learning.
Using wool, thread and beads, the students made friendship bracelets for themselves, their families and friends. It was remarkable to see the personalities of the children come out through their individual artworks, and apparent that there was an inspiring creative talent and potential within the group. We were humbled not only by the finished products, but also by the manner in which the children worked, helping each other, making the most of the materials and approaching the task with determination and perseverance.
We are extremely grateful to Kishan’s family, who we had the privilege of staying with. We were warmly welcomed into their home and always well cared for and looked out for. Outside of the classroom, we spent time playing with the children, swimming in the waterfall and even listening to some Justin Bieber on a stereo system kindly provided by Kishan!
On our final day in the village, a farewell ceremony was held, during which the teachers and students painted vibrant red tikka on our faces and presented us with malas (garlands of flowers) and hugs and kisses. We so much enjoyed our time in the village and the happiness of the people who lived there, and were sad to leave. However, we were able to reflect positively on our experiences, and left with a satisfaction that every day the school is growing and improving, providing the children with an educational platform to enable them to further their studies outside of Aandhimul, and embrace the challenges and opportunities in their futures.
The impact that all the people involved with the Aandhimul Project have had is undeniable. The facilities at the school, the result of fundraising and donations, provide the foundations necessary for the students to have the best education available to them. The patience, kindness and commitment of the teachers, Kishan and Kumar is instrumental in both the personal and intellectual growth of all the children, and it is clear that they hold the highest level of respect and admiration for these adults, who are inspiring role models in their lives. The love the Bhujel people have for Angela and Joli is evident each time somebody brings them up, which was extremely often. The generosity and commitment these women, as well as Lou, Mon and Lee, have poured into the project can be seen through the improved living standards everyone enjoys, with particular reference to the well-functioning water system, which delivers clean and safe water throughout the village.
We are both so grateful for the work people put in to create for us an opportunity to engage in the Aandhimul Project, and would encourage anyone who is interested to investigate ways to become involved in what is a truly fantastic and inspiring project that directly improves the lives and opportunities of the people who live in Aandhimul Village. The strength of their community and determination to keep working hard gives hope that the village and school will only continue to improve.