Samaritan Help Mission provides development opportunities to the poor, needy children and women in the Tikipara slum in Howrah, West Bengal, India.
Mamoon Akhtar is a librarian living in the slum, in 1991 a young child asked for his help to go to school and so Mamoon started to teach in his own slum house. To begin with there were five or six children attending the school, then naturally word spread… Mamoon constructed an extra room on his land and the Samaritan Help Mission was born with around 25 children arriving each day. Sometimes more children arrived and there was only standing room.
Now the Samaritan Help Mission serves around 800 children from the slum, plus women from the same area. The Mission is now more broadly committed to empowering and freeing children via education, drawing them away from dangerous & criminal activities and providing them with the chance to explore and develop their own skills & talents. The Samaritan Help Mission wants to train children for a secured livelihood, to lead productive and fruitful lives with self-esteem and self-dignity and to rise above the narrow considerations of caste creed, community religion or language and to build a strong nation.
The Mission is now coordinating four major projects:
Samaritan Help Mission School
The children who attend the School are very poor and cannot get access to modern schools. Without the Samaritan Help Mission these children of rickshaw pushers and labourers would have no education at all.
The children attend from age six to eleven and learn a range of subjects including English.
Computer Literacy Program
The Samaritan Help Mission has a small computer lab containing six computers where they teach computer fundamentals to students. The Mission is proud to have been able to make 675 poor girls computer literate under the computer literacy project.
Vocational Training Program for Women
The vocational training project is for the unmarried, illiterate poor girls of the slum who have few means to survive. Under this project, they are trained in hand embroidery and so provided work. The vocational training project has 200 women. The girls are trained and can then either become regulars to help with other training or they start their work at home. Either way, they tend to earn around Rs. 2500-3000 (USD 40-60) per month, which means they are financially and educationally empowered and more confident.
Samaritan Micro-Credit Program
Samaritan Micro-Credit program started in October 2008 and to date 124 women have been provided loans of between Rs.1000-5000 (USD 20-100) to start their own small businesses. The focus has been on vocational trainees who, after undergoing training, need a loan to start their own business.
The loans have enabled new business by women who would have either borrowed from dangerous sources or avoided starting a business altogether.
Samaritan Help Mission wants to be able to welcome more children to the school and to help more of the local women.
What you can do
The Samaritan Help Mission needs all sorts of assistance, from basic maintenance to teaching. If you’re willing to get involved, use your common sense and be part of the community you’ll find a lot to do at the Mission! But here are some of the main tasks:
It is incredibly useful for the children and women to learn some English to increase their opportunities for work and further education. You can help by teaching English in the school and also teaching English to the Mission helpers & teachers.
Teach or do other creative activities with the children – music, dance, drama, art, crafts, sports, computers, gardening, etc.
There is always work to be done around the home: cooking, cleaning, mending, building. Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in!
Before school, after school, on the weekends, any spare minute, the children like to spend time playing games, dancing, singing, and more. It helps the children enormously to interact with different people, hear different languages and learn new games.
Samaritan Help Mission always benefits from visitors and volunteers. You may have ways to help promote the Mission through writing, making contacts, creating links or even technical work like changing the website.
There is no cost to volunteer with the Samaritan Help Mission.
Very rural; Tikiapara is a slum town in West Bengal, near to Calcutta and the border with Bangladesh.
The Mission will help volunteers to find suitable accommodation with a host family or a private room, although options are limited. You should be prepared for very basic conditions.
When you work with the Mission you will be served typical Indian food and they will assist with helping you to find suitable food during your stay.
You will need to coordinate your own transport to/ from and during your stay in Tikiapara.
Interested to volunteer with this programme? Get in touch using the little form a the top of the page, through our social networks or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can provide you with further information about the programme, put you in touch with previous volunteers, help you plan your trip and answer all your questions - big and small.
Check out other programmes that might be of interest to you.