With a population of over 1 billion, India has earned its reputation as being the largest democracy of the world. Although it is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, an estimated 37% of Indians live in abject poverty. Due to lack of education and unequal distribution of resources amongst various strata of its society, many of the fruits of India’s economic growth are still inaccessible to its people. Illiteracy still remains the biggest curse amongst people from severely disadvantaged backgrounds in an Indian society. Besides illiteracy, India is also weighed down by religious and caste-related violence, oppression of women, armed political insurgencies, bureaucracy and deep-rooted corruption, which all have paved the way for its unyielding poverty.
Amongst its host of problems, we believe that lack of education is the biggest reason why India is still underdeveloped even after 60 years of independence. Through our volunteer work, we mainly reach out to people who have limited access to education, thereby making a conscious effort to reduce the gap between the “Haves” and “Have-Nots.” Our volunteer placements mainly revolve around teaching underprivileged children English and fostering an interest in the language. This is because knowing English enhances the chances of employability in India. People volunteering abroad in India with Impact Abroad, in the process, will indirectly help these children turn their lives around and build a better future for themselves.
Why Volunteer in Kolkata (Calcutta)?
One of the places Impact Abroad is based is in Kolkata (Calcutta), the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal and a city considered by many as the cultural hub of the country.
Kolkata exudes great joie de vivre, but the city is rife with problems rooted in unemployment, overpopulation, pollution, homelessness and child labor. In the period 2004–2005 to 2009–2010, the average gross state domestic product (GSDP) growth rate of West Bengal was 13.9% (calculated in Indian rupee term), even lower than 15.5%, the average for all states of the country. Due to poverty and unemployment, child labor is rampant in both industrial and agricultural sectors of this city. The majority of domestic child laborers are from illiterate and migrant families. Our volunteer work primarily involves teaching English to these disadvantaged children, so that they are better equipped for a brighter future.
Why Arunachal Pradesh?
Impact Abroad also operates in India’s verdant Northeastern Himalayas. Nestling at the foothills of the majestic Himalayas, Arunachal Pradesh is a microcosm of the Himalayan cultures. Its geographical isolation has helped preserve the enthralling legacy and culture of 61 unique ethnic groups. As Yunnan in China, Arunachal Pradesh owes its ecological and cultural diversity largely to geographically isolated valleys, where a variety of difficult cultures have been able to develop independently.
The 61 unique ethnicities in the State range from Himalayan populations closely related to Tibetans in the West of the state to Thai speaking populations in the East and a wide variety of other tribal groups, spreading throughout the middle of the state. However, Arunachal Pradesh faces major economic problems, mainly stemming out of its poor connectivity and isolation from other major metropolises of India. This has paved the way for a fragile infrastructure system and resource base, as a result of which the state is heavily dependent on the central government for mobilization of resources. Moreover, a sheer absence of private sector has aggravated its economic condition. Most people of Arunachal Pradesh live in scattered villages and its educational sector is markedly underdeveloped.
In order to ensure a sustainable and stable development in Arunachal Pradesh, illiteracy must be eradicated. This is where our role comes into play and that is why our volunteer work mainly involves education. We empower local children by teaching them English and open our doors to international student volunteers, who will ignite their passion for learning the language in depth.