The Kullu Project

Kullu Project and the Kullu Education Network support schools and orphanages working to empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Kullu Valley in the Indian Himalayas.

Mrs. Sudershana’s Children’s Home
Kailash Bodhi School
Vashisht Orphanage
Kullu Orphanage
Blind School
Kalyeli Orphanage


The chance to work with extremely needy people. The opportunity to live and work in a beautiful part of India.

Minimum length of stay?

3-4 months.

Volunteer tasks?

These include classroom teaching of English, running drama, art, first aid and team-building activities, organising events such as parties and generally spending time with disadvantaged young people to improve their confidence, English skills and international understanding. The structure is not rigid and there are no ready-made placements so there is plenty of scope for groups of volunteers to capitalise on the interests and skills of individual group members. In the past, for example, volunteers have run English classes for adults, and started work in a more remote part of the valley that they felt would benefit from the project.

How to reach us

* For general information about the project, please contact Aloke Devichand: aloke_devichand @

* For questions about applying to become a volunteer, please contact Ffion Thomas: kulluvolunteers @

* For detailed information about the Kullu Valley, you can contact Ankit Sood:

sunhimalaya @ / +91-94181-02083 (cell)

* For any questions or comments regarding this website, please get in touch with Max Wallraff:

wallra @

Kullu Project September 2004 Portfolio


This portfolio is written by the four volunteers who worked on the Kullu Project from September to November 2004. We are Liv Rasmussen (Sweden), Emilia Melville (England), Ingeborg Farstad (Norway) and Ffion Thomas (Wales). We were the fourth group to do this project. We split our time between Manali and a small village, Jibhi, which was a new centre for the project. This portfolio has been written to help prepare future volunteers, and to give people more information about the project. We haven’t repeated anything that was in the first portfolio – we advise you to read that as well.
If you’re going to the Kullu valley, you’ll probably find it useful to have a copy of the portfolio with you for reference – we’ve included lists of all the activities we did with each group of kids, to give you ideas and let you know if you’re repeating stuff.

Phase 1: Manali:

Manali is a very touristy town, about 2 hours north of Kullu by bus. It has 900 registered hotels, so they’re well used to westerners. Internet access is easy to find, but it is often slow and quite expensive in most places (Rs. 50 and hour compared to Rs. 15 an hour for broadband in Delhi). There is one government place for Rs.30 an hour which is opposite Moc Café (ask Dev Raj where it is). There are many schools in Manali, so you may choose to work in more or different ones to us. As we were only 4, we continued in 2 schools and an orphanage which the previous group had worked at.


We stayed in Hotel Tourist, like the last group. It’s owned by Dev Raj, a friend of Ankit’s. He’s a friendly man and you can ask him for anything – from the meaning of life to toilet paper! He arranged a small kitchen for us so we could cook for ourselves. We paid Rs.100 a night each, including gas and everything else.

Vashisht orphanage:

This orphanage has been described in detail in the 2002 portfolio under the name Kalath. Since then it has moved to Vashist, where they have quite a large house, the top floor of which is still under construction. The children there (at the moment 18 children from 4 to 15) are generally confident, enthusiastic and happy. They are used to communicating and playing with volunteers, even though the level of their English isn’t great. The two sisters who are in charge are lovely women. They invited us to spend one night sleeping in the orphanage with the children.

What we did:

Games, songs, dances: Train game, Tumba Tumba, sleeping lions, duck duck goose, 5 little monkeys, down in the jungle, musical statues, rhythm machine, what’s the time Mr. wolf? Aka Dela, ladder game, shark song, colour game, human knot, squatters, who’s the leader, mingle mingle, quick change artist, 2 hands 3 feet, blindfold game, clapping game.
Other stuff: reading to them, paper aeroplane races, going for a picnic to the waterfall and taking photos, initiative exercises competition in teams (egg drop, relays, highest tower, blindfold egg passing, potato relay, matchsticks), making their own puzzles, drawing, papier mache heads

Kailash Bodhi School:

This is a primary day school for Tibetan refugee children. The classes are quite small and their English is relatively good. As they were in their exam period when we arrived we only spent three weeks with them. We didn’t feel that this was long enough to build up much of a relationship with the children or the teachers. The headteacher, Mr. Tsering Phuntsok, is very organised, and gives a lot of time to extra curricular activities. He was open to any of our suggestions. Two boys from the last group (Mr. Yutin sir and Mr. Gavin sir) spent all of their time in this school, and were spoken of as heroes while we were there. We took classes 2 and 3 on a trip to the local Nature Park in Manali. They enjoyed themselves in the playground and on the paddle boats, but it was difficult to keep them together when we were walking around the forest. On our last day the school put on an amazing show of singing and dancing which they obviously really enjoyed. We advise you to have more informal sessions with them before starting teaching, and also to get to know the teachers. Be aware that some or all children may have moved up a year before you get to the schools, so all the information may not still be accurate.

What we did:

Class 1:
This is the biggest class i
n the school. Like many Indian children, if you ask them to draw, they just copy.
Songs: 5 little monkeys, 5 little ducks, incy wincy spider, frog song,
Books: the very hungry caterpillar, where’s my purr, the cat in the hat
Other activities: drew pictures of their houses, puppet show.

Class 2:
7 kids
Vocab: jobs
Songs: I’m a little teapot, The wheels on the bus, 5 little monkeys,
Games: pictionary, ‘tell a story’ game. It was quite hard to get them enthusiastic about language games.

Class 3:
7 kids. We started with work which was too difficult for them, so they lost concentration and interest. The best thing we did was getting them to write down the words of “the bare necessities”, and then making up the actions with them.

Class 4:
Grammar teaching – verbs, adjectives, nouns, letter writing, tenses. They don’t understand the past tense. Again, it was hard to get them enthusiastic.

Class 5:
5 shy children (4 girls, 1 boy) with fairly poor English. The main challenge is to make them confident enough to speak. Did games: Disaster (didn’t work), read to them (again, too difficult), songs worked well, grammar teaching also worked.

Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School:

A boarding school for 220 children from Ladakh – ages 4 to 18. We had some after school games sessions as well as teaching sessions in the afternoons. The classes are generally bigger and more unruly than KBS. They are used to being beaten. It’s worth taking time to think about a theme that will capture each class. Palki, the headmistress, is again very friendly and interested in what the project is doing.

Vocab teaching e.g. Colours, pen, pencil, numbers. A technique we found that worked with them was “this is red. What colour is this? Close your eyes, which colour has gone? Can you show me the red pen?” Etc. Singling them out worked well. Songs – 5 little monkeys, tumba tumba, row row row your boat. Musical statues (tying in with commands – sit down, stand up etc). They like drawing a lot. Reading to them was good. It’s very hard to keep all of their attentions for 30 minutes.

Hard to discipline them. Have to be active all of the time to keep them interested. They like to draw and read. Did ‘5 little monkeys’, puppet show and duck duck goose.

Class 1:
Big class with mixed abilities so it was hard to find a balance. It’s hard to make them write. They liked having books read to them, competitive boys vs. girls games e.g. Pictionary, word race. They wrote down and learnt some songs.

Class 2:
Games session. Poor English. Like very active simple games. Some big attention seekers so you need to pick out the quieter girls.

Class 3:
They understand less English than you expect them to. Games worked well but it was hard to keep their attention for teaching English. Easy comprehension games work well e.g. Write 1 sentence about this picture.

Class 4:
Big class. Games session. They get very hyper. Hard to teach them new games but they loved playing the ones they already knew.

Class 5:
They enjoyed language games e.g. Anagrams but they cheat a lot. After a few lessons we decided to teach them about the world. It was a big success. We told them about each continent, languages, countries, food, music, flags, facts, games and dances. Their world geography knowledge was very poor, as with many children we met. This is a theme which can be used again in the future.

Class 6:
Games session. No problems. They understand enough English to be able to pick up new games and enjoy playing them.

Class 7:
Friendly children. Games session. Same as above. We did some teaching sessions as well which were good. They would enjoy being taught again, especially world and English teaching. Some of them took part in the exchange with Llanfyllin High School and they would all like to have ‘friends’ in the future.

Class 8:
Lovely class of 10. They taught us about their cultures as we taught them. We went on a picnic at the end which was fun. Any kind of English teaching would work with them.

Class 9:
As with class 8 we learnt from them. After a couple of sessions where they messed around and a lot of thought, we started an open and honest relationship with them by getting them to write about their homes after we had read a piece about ours. We started an exchange between them and children in Llanfyllin High School (Ffion’s old school) which is so far working very well. We would strongly advise you to speak to teachers in your old schools about starting more letter exchanges between the teenagers there and the ones in Manali as they really enjoy it. We also did some grammar and letter writing, on their request, but they often knew more than we did!

Phase 2: Jibhi
This is a small town 2.5 to 3.5 hours by bus from Kullu. We decided to go there because Ankit had found an orphanage there which he thought could benefit from the project. It’s quite remote compared to Manali – some of the residents say there may be internet there within a year! Half an hour down the valley by bus, there is a bigger town called Banjar where you can find internet (Rs. 60 an hour), more variety of food and a stationary shop.

We stayed in a nice family guesthouse – Doli Guesthouse – 10 minutes walk from the orphanage. We paid Rs. 50 per person per night plus extra for breakfast, gas and wood for the fire (and toilet paper). Mr. Rana and his two sons Narendra and Gudu run the guesthouse and cook good bread and other food. Mr. Rana will be happy to show you round the area (although he won’t tell you that he’s charging for it). Be warned – this is India, but it is also the Himalayas – it gets cold in Manali at night and Jibhi gets very cold. Bring warm cloths and you will be fine.
The orphanage
The orphanage has only boys, around 36 from 7 to 18 years old. The boys had never had the experience of working with volunteers before so it was really rewarding for both us and them. Most boys have poor English but there are a few you can communicate with who are really helpful. All four of us went every evening so by the end we found it difficult to come up with something original every day.
What we did:
Songs: Hola ci ci, Father Abraham, Bjørnen sover, Smo Grodorna, Frog song, Down in the jungle, Hokey cokey, the hakka, tumba tumba, simple things, My hat it has 3 corners, clapping round, head shoulders, a ram sam sam,
Games and dances: Swedish folk dances, Norwegian halling, Welsh folk dances, mingle mingle, train game, fruit salad, musical statues, wink murder, blindfold game, duck duck goose, aka dela, clapping game, who’s the leader, ladders, human knot, quick change artist, 2 hands 3 feet, egg drop, races – wheelbarrow, potato and spoon, evolution, sleeping lions,
Other things: making cushions, painting wall hangings, puppet show and making puppets, paper plane races, decorations for the Halloween party, plaster masks (none were very well made – not advised for the future), photo frames for photos they took, we did a play then they did some using the masks, drawing, board games, potato printing, initiative exercises,
They enjoy all of them. You need to provide more! It’s not possible to have a session of just games as it gets too tiring. They enjoyed learning songs and dances from our countries.
Creative things:
The atmosphere is really nice and relaxed when they are sitting and painting or sewing. Different boys like different creative things, so if you vary the activities you can please them all.
Board games:
Towards the end we had some informal sessions where we made them some board games (chess, ludo, snakes and ladders, 2 memory games, a cushion game). Again, there was a really nice atmosphere when we were all just sitting and playing and some boys are drawing.
More sessions like this can help to break up the cycle of making things and playing games.
We gave them a “Halloween” party in the guesthouse with Gudu’s music, decorations, snacks and lots of fun and games. It was good fun. We also played cricket with them one Sunday morning.
Health talk
We asked the nurses from the mission hospital in Jibhi to come and talk to the boys, as we’d been told that their health situation was quite poor. It was a bit embarrassing for everyone. We’re not sure what the nurse said but the boys weren’t really impressed. We don’t think it had much effect or was relevant to them.
We wanted to take the boys on a camp to the next valley, but we had problems getting government permissions. You should ask Ankit to sort out the permissions well in advance if you decide to do this. It may be possible for you to offer to help with English homework after you’ve got to know them, but they may be too proud to accept. All Indian students have an external English exam at the end of 10th class which they have to pass so the older boys might appreciate some teaching. We didn’t try reading books to them. We bought them a map of the world before we left. It would be good to do some sort of world education with them. You can always ask them to teach you games and songs etc.
Private school:
Small primary school. There are four teachers who liked to watch our lessons but some were annoying when they translated English vocab into Hindi, took over and hit the children. The headmaster said we could do whatever we wanted with the whole school all afternoon so we made up our own timetable. This school has never had volunteers before, but they should be more prepared next time. The English abilities of all the classes and also teachers is quite poor so there’s a lot of scope for the future.
What we did:
Classes N, KG, 1:
Songs + games: mingle, duck duck goose, aka dela, blindfold, tumba, hokey cokey, 5 little ducks, head shoulders, 5 little monkeys, little teapot, my hat it has 3 corners.
Teaching: simple vocab, where India is, puppet show
Class 2+3:
Games: same
Teaching: liked having books read and learning vocab from them, vocab, join the dots was not as fun as it should have been. They enjoyed learning songs most of all and getting things right. They like sticking things up on the wall, eg. posters, pictures, song words.
Songs: my hat, 5 little ducks, hokey cokey, 1 finger 1 thumb, head shoulders, yellow bird
Class 4:
Games: same. Didn’t get any other games we tried to teach. It would have been easier to have explained games with two people explaining the session.
Teaching: vocab, some grammar, they have basic English but know enough to understand instructions. Enthusiastic and nice class.
Class 5:
Science experiments: they weren’t interested. Reading to them worked. Letting them read to themselves or to us didn’t work.
Teaching: obedient and enthusiastic. They like dancing, songs and team games. They loved world geography lessons. Neither they nor the teachers knew anything – even where India was.
This is not an expensive project. You do not need to pay any administrative costs to anyone. You pay for your travel (we paid ?450 for plane tickets), accommodation, food and any other things you decide to buy. We lived quite basically and cooked for ourselves every day. We all spent around ?100 a month each on such things. You may end up spending more or less. We traveled after the project (2 of us for 3 weeks and 2 of us for 3 months). Traveling is a lot more expensive than living in one place, so bear that in mind when thinking about money. The previous group traveled before doing the project. We can’t really advise on whether it’s better to travel before or after.
The future:
Work should continue in Jibhi as there is a definite need there and we have promised more volunteers to the 2 institutions. If there are many people in the next project group it will be difficult just to do the same as we did in Jibhi. Other places you could try to work are the government school in Jibhi and government or private schools in Banjar. We tried to do some games sessions in the government secondary school but, as the head teacher was on vacation we didn’t get to speak to him in order to receive the necessary permissions. The classes in the school are around 100 each so you would probably need 4 teachers per class. It’s not really possible to take over any of their classes as you would be taking government employees jobs. You could however offer to do games or English help before or after their school times. We did not explore the possibility of doing something similar in the government primary school which is next door. Pawan, a friend we made during our stay in Jibhi, works in a private school in Banjar. You could ask him about the possibilities of working in Banjar.
Further advice for the next group:
* We were not in the Kullu valley for long enough. We advise that you do the project for 3 months – 6 weeks in each centre as this will increase the effectiveness of the project.
* We had big problems finding paint. You can buy small and fairly expensive pots of poster paint which don’t go very far. We bought white non-toxic emulsion paint which you can add a ‘stainer’ to in order to make colours. This worked well but the red stainer only makes pink paint! If you can find some I think the boys would appreciate some red in their lives!
* The last portfolio told us this but we didn’t take enough notice – children’s picture books (as in 1 picture and 5 words per page) are really necessary. There are a few with Dev Raj and Gudu, but not enough. Even older children like to read the stories as they can understand them.
* In the first few days spend time reading the books and resources and use them!
* Buy a blow up globe (if absolutely not possible a world map would do) – it was a very useful resource for us.
* If you / anyone else want (eg Ankit’s bother, Panki who gave us many gifts for Jibhi children) to bring gifts for the Jibhi private school it should be ball point pens – they write with ink pens and ink pots and make a huge mess everywhere!
* Bring pictures of yourself, you family, your home – they are good resources as people are curious about your way of life and people also ask if they can have your picture
* Bring some small inexpensive gifts for the people who will show you so much hospitality.
* Bring toilet paper! One of the ‘culture shock’ things you will find is that many Indians don’t use toilet paper and therefore don’t feel the need to supply you with any. You can buy it in tourist towns like Manali, but stock up wherever you can!
Things which have been left with Dev Raj in Hotel Tourist, Manali:
* Books: Oh the thinks you can think, the very hungry caterpillar, have you seen my purr?, fun with science projects, George’s marvelous medicine, James and the giant peach, ship or sheep? An intermediate pronunciation course, this little puffin (nursery rhymes, songs and games), the giraffe the pelly and me, stores from Panchatantra book 2, collection of Aesop’s fables, you asked for it! Stores of Apoorra Bhatta, ABC, Treasury of Indian Tales, Headstart – adults English 2nd language students book and work book, know your animals, tales from Indian classics book 2, pick-a-tale fairy tales, at home with letter forms, stories from Rajatarangn – tales from Kashmir, ‘useful stuff from EMC handbook’, Beginner’s communication games, English Grammar in use supplementary exercises, the pleasures of vegetarian cooking (!), peter pan, language teaching games,
* “Home – Ffion and Emilia” from class 9 HBCS, ‘Disaster’ papers.

Things which have been left with Gudu Rana, Dol Guesthouse, Jibhi:
* Needles (about 20)
* Blue thread (1 ½ 18 meter rolls)
* 1 roll white thread
* 1kg packet of plaster of Paris
* Teaching materials
we made: small packet of verbs, adjectives, etc; fill in the tenses work sheet; disaster; picture of a play ground; ‘the 2 horses’ – unfinished story; verbs, vocab, comparatives work sheets; our houses – pictures; our evenings at home – writings; EU flag
* Peter pan jigsaw we made
* The cat in the hat
* Cassettes: little star 1 and 2, ‘play along songs’, English for Palestine grade 1 – claps and songs’
* Pencils
* 2 red pens
* Scissors approx 6 pairs
* Lots of scraps of colourful cloth
Useful contacts:
Ankit Sood
Co-ordnator of the project. Will help you to set up the project and meet you when you get off the bus!
ankitsood @
sunhimalaya @
Tel: 01902 25182, 22594
Fax: 01902 22720
Mobile: 94181 02083

Pawan Sagan (in Banjar)
951902 238217

Mr Sanjeeva Pandey
Director, Great Himalayan National Park
(Runs the biodiversity centre in Sairopa – possible to use for cheap for outings)
01903? 265320 (office)
268473 (home)

Dev Raj (owner of hotel in Manali)
Hotel Tourist,
Circuit House Road,
Manali 175 131
Distt. Kullu, H.P.
touristmanali @
Tel: 01902 253562
Mobile: 9816003562

Mrs Narboda Devi (in Vashist orphanage)
Vill. Kashla,
P.O. Vashist,
Teh. Manali,
Distt. Kullu (H.P)

Mrs Palki Thakur
Principal, Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School,
Village Rangri,
P.O. Manali,
Box no. 74, Distt. Kullu, (H.P.)
palkithakur @
Tel: 01902 251845
Mobile: 98161 51527

Mr Tsering Phuntsok
Kailash Bodhi Primary School
Rangri, P.O. Box no. 17
Tehsil Manali, Distt. Kullu (H.P)
175 131
Tel: 01902 252537
tsering @

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