NGOs in McLeod Ganj
A Street Play for awareness McLeodgunj is full of dozens of NGOs. Non-Governmental Organisations that is. They are various charitable organisations. Like anywhere else, some are doing real good work, some seem to be using it for some other benefits. Most of these NGOs make an appeal to the visitors to volunteer the work and many visitors, especially foreigners do it willingly. This voluntary work can be anything from teaching English to translating their website in different languages, to going into villages and working there with the people or teaching Tibetan kids some skill set.
'Lha' is one such good organisation which seems to be doing some real good work for the society. Lha is involved into several activities. Mainly focusing on the educational activities, Lha also is into Clear Vision Project where they provide spectacles to needy. Lha is into some other teaching projects too. Lha has an office right on the main road of McLedgunj, towards the temple side.
Volunteers can sign up for a duration from a week to several months, but Lha prefers more than a month's volu nteering. Easiest for a short time visitor is to participate in their English Speaking classes. I found the concept really amazing! All the people who want to learn English speaking gather together in different classrooms. Whoever wants to volunteer comes in and smaller groups of 5-6 students and a teacher are made on the spot. For the next 45 minutes everyone speaks only in English ! It is such a simple but effective concept. Although learning English from French or Spanish person might not prove to the best, it still is a great way to learn to speak English. That way the students get exposed to different accents too ! English Speaking class in session In my personal experience, Lha people tend to be little disrespectful towards anyone who is on a short visit. That means usually Indians. And start talking as if they are wasting their time by talking to you. But I am sure they are very nice with foreigners who stay for longer duration. But then where in India I haven't seen racism against Indians!!
Usually I would go there around 3 pm and talk to the Tibetan chaps in English. I got to know so many things about their lives, their ideas and such through this. My schooling was done in a typical Marathi School and I couldn’t speak English at all till I got into Fergusson. I have seen thousands of well-educated and very intelligent Koreans suffering from this syndrome too. So I know the importance of this. And also I know how to overcome it. I loved the idea of Lha to make a group of students and find someone to talk to them in English for an hour daily!
In any case, I don’t know if they learnt any English from my efforts, but I learnt two Tibetan words Julley and Tashi Delek ! A Candle March Some of these NGOs organise awareness events from time to time. Like candle march or a street play, or distribution of pamphlets telling Chinese torture and such. [I saw such in Seoul at some tourist spots btw] You can get lots of information online about these NGOs in McLeodgunj if you wish to volunteer. You shall be most welcomed there! Although typically they are looking for long term volunteers like 2 or more months.