Volunteer

Be a Part of the miracle

 

Service with Direct Impact

We invite anyone with an open heart and a desire to serve to join us in the beautiful city of Rishikesh as a long-term volunteer – ideally, 6 months or more. We will welcome all new volunteers as family and do everything we can to make your transition smooth and comfortable. Rishikesh offers a peaceful backdrop to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Sounds of chanting and sacred bells can be heard throughout the day, while yoga, massage and Ayurvedic classes can be found in abundance. If you are looking for a lifestyle change or a way to give back, join us in the yoga capital of the world! 

There are many projects available depending on the volunteer’s skills, interests, and duration of stay. 

Make sure that you read our FAQ before applying to ensure this will be a good fit for what you’re looking for.  If you have additional questions, we are always happy to answer them via email at info@mothermiracle.org. When you are ready to get involved, you can tell us more about yourself using the form below. 

Pressing Needs: 

  1. Manage our Beautiful Bakery – In 2016, we opened a state-of-the-art bakery and cafe, which serves some of the best coffee, pastries and brown bread in the area. We are looking for one or more individuals who are excited to manage this space. Specifically, volunteers are needed to manage marketing efforts to increase customers (flyers, social media, TripAdvisor etc.), oversee interior decoration to make the cafe more comfortable and inviting (purchasing of materials), and front of house support (making quality espresso drinks with our Italian espresso machine and serving customers during business hours). Experienced baristas or people with food service backgrounds are ideal, but not necessary. Volunteers would report to the Founder of the school and work closely with the Head Chef. This project has exciting resume building potential and requires independent thinkers willing and able to take a project to it’s full potential.  

2. Manage our Volunteer Program – We have no shortage of projects in need of support, and we could do a much better job of getting the word out to talented and passionate travelers who are interested in service. Our volunteer manager will write and publish our various volunteer projects on related websites (workaway, volunteermatch.org, etcc) to ensure we are easily searchable by Google. He/she will also manage requests and questions we receive from volunteers through our website and then work with the Founder of the school to select volunteers and place them in an approrpriate role. The goal of this position is to be a point person between Mother Miracle and volunteer(s) to ensure a mutually successful experience. 

Other Specific Projects Needing Support: 

  1. Filmakers and video editors to make short promotional videos for the school!! Ideally needed for winter 2017.
  2. Recycling for Rishikesh! We are about to launch an exciting recycling project to clean up Rishikesh, and make it a model green city for all of India. The project will completely transform the trash collection system in our city by introducing recycling and creating much-needed community jobs. We would love support from anyone to help get this project off the ground. The vision is there, and we will happily provide clear direction to all willing volunteers.
  3. Primary care doctors, experienced school teachers, certified yoga teachers, art teachers, music teachers, and athletes who can teach sports (volleyball, badminton, table tennis (ping-pong), and chess) are always a welcome addition to the team. We would also love talented musicians to come and play for our kids.
  4. Support our Computer Institute: calling all experienced programmers, coders, and people who love computers. We need volunteers to help teach Microsoft Office, QBASIC Progamming Software, C Language, web design, and internet basics (how to create an email account, how to send emails, searching the internet, etc.) Our free vocational training & computer institute serves adults in the community, some of whom have never seen a computer in their life! We also teach computer proficiency and programming to our students. Volunteers for both groups would be phenomenal.
  5. Build a rooftop garden with vegetables and an automatic watering system! Work with our kids to build the garden and teach them how to plant and grow vegetables.

Past Projects by our Wonderful Volunteers:

  • Built and launched an updated Mother Miracle website
  • Designed logos, letterheads, and promotional materials
  • Served as administrative assistant to help with financials, bookkeeping, organization
  • Spent one or more days playing with the children at Mother Miracle and visiting them in their homes
  • Shared new creative art and sculpture projects for the kids to try in Art class
  • Taught new tailoiring and knitting techniques and patterns to women in our Empowerment Program
  • Assited the Executive Chef in the bakery making breads, cookies and cakes – Yum!
  • Took on leadership roles in the school managing staff members and projects
  • Eye doctors, dentists, and primary care doctors have volunteered for one or more days to do check-ups for the kids
  • Registered nutritionists have evaluated our school meals and suggested improvements to the menus. They have also collected and reported important information about our children’s height and weight.
  • A pilot from an American Airline came and taught them how to fly. It inspired a few of our kids to seriously want to become pilots!

What our Past Volunteers Have to Say

Website buildout, marketing & communications

This organization and its Founder, Shahla Ettefagh, are the real deal. It’s not often one comes across such a visionary leader who is also loving, selfless, sincere and able to get things done. I have seen first hand the classrooms and school facility, as well as the business side of the organization, and I can vouch for the authenticity of their mission and that every dollar donated is going directly to the children. Although Mother Miracle is infamous in the city of Rishikesh and has a top reputation with the local community, it is unfortunate that more people outside of Rishikesh are unaware of the school’s mission and impact. I urge all potential donors, sponsors, and volunteers not to delay or hesitate if they are considering getting involved! It is a blessing and privilege to be able to contribute to this work.

It took one dinner conversation with Shahla for me to decide to cancel all my future travel plans and stay to volunteer. My first project was to build Mother Miracle a new website, which I completed with the help of my travel companion. Shahla, Kusum, and the other staff members of Mother Miracle immediately embraced me as though I was family. The more I learned about the school, its philosophy, and the measurable impact it was having on its students and their families, the more I wanted to help. I began volunteering 7 days a week, 6-10 hours a day, and it didn’t feel like work! I looked forward to helping everyday.

The students of Mother Miracle have overcome tremendously difficult situations – being born into the poorest of families, often with abusive parents and little food at home. Mother Miracle gives them an opportunity to succeed, feel worthy and become empowered by giving them the best education, healthcare and nutrition, and then finding them sponsors to support their pursuit of higher education!

I met some of the original students of Mother Miracle and was extremely impressed. Not only are they extremely intelligent, they are warm-hearted, polite, well-mannered, kind, and they are working so hard to lift their families out of poverty. Their love for each other and for Mother Miracle School was heart warming. They were so committed to coming back to the school and helping however they can in gratitude for the support they had received.

This is truly an incredible organization and I encourage anyone and everyone to support in any way you can — donations, child sponsorships, volunteering or sharing through social media are four great ways to get involved.

Julia Stewart

2016, Self-employed

Played with the kids at school 

I first visited Mother Miracle in March of 2016 during my first trip to India. My experience at the school has been life changing in so many ways and it has been one of the primary reasons I visited Rishikesh 5 times in 2016. When I first arrived I didn’t know what to expect, but after spending so much time with the kids I’ve seen how intelligent, talented, polite, and very respectful they are. You see how the sponsors and staff have enriched the lives of these children. You see talent and intelligence that may have gone to waste had it not been for the school giving them the opportunity and support to shine.

The school is almost a hidden gem. It’s not hard to find, it’s not far from popular areas, but so many travelers that visit Rishikesh are unaware of its existence. Personally, it’s the highlight of every trip I make. Seeing Jahanvi, Garima, and Vishakha practice for and compete in dance competitions, playing chess with the kids, watching volleyball games, yoga, karate, and celebrating various events with the kids and staff has been amazing. Seeing their smiles and how happy they are despite a long list of hardships their families face has been eye opening.

I’ve become very close to some of the children and their families and on many occasions visited their homes. Some of them are like my own family now and we’ve kept in touch between visits.

Peter Manis

2016, Senior Software Engineer, Google

Played with the kids at school

I am falling short of words in expressing my joy about your wonderful heaven and the little wonders there. I told you that I consider myself family now, but as they say, actions speak louder than words. Hence, it’s now time to act. I am even ready to go door-to-door to reach people, because if every household contributed even as little as 1kg of food every month, we could easily get the kids’ nutritional needs taken care of. So this is the initial plan. I am quite an emotional person, and if I get attached to something or someone, I can even die for that cause. […] Well, here I am, just following my heart in this case, because many things have happened in the most unexpected ways and there is some energy driving me close to this cause. For the first time in my life, I sensed what true happiness is. What a bliss it was to be with the kids and get to know you and see your journey! I want to retain the energy inside so that it becomes strengthened and more effective. At last, I dedicate these lines to you.

Aparna Pande

2011

Career Development

In November 2010, I was introduced to the children, teachers, and Ms. Shahla Ettefagh, the founder of Mother Miracle School. I fell in love with the school’s mission, Shahla’s passion, and the children’s smiles. “Dave sir,” as I am affectionately called, vowed to return. Last November, and again in April 2012, I did return to teach at the Computer Institute. The students, much like here in America, did not know how to find a job. The current Career Development workshop introduces the job search process called “I love DIWALI.” DIWALI is a celebratory Indian holiday of light and joy. The students learn how to introduce themselves to a group, write an interesting resume (CV), share personal stories in their interviews, and impress prospective employers with their confidence and poise. Over 50 students have graduated from the workshop and are working to complete their resumes. Some have already been hired in professional positions! Students and their teachers give the workshop a ‘big thumbs up!” Mr. Yogesh, the head of the free Mother Miracle Computer Institute, and I are working toward offering this workshop on a quarterly basis.

Dave Blackburn

2010

Kindergarten English teacher

The year I went to India was one of the hardest and most amazing years of my short, eighteen-year life. I had just entered my freshman year of college after moving to a new city, and, just as notably, experienced a severe case of depression that had been steadily getting worse over the months. […] Slowly, Shahla and all her children enfolded me into their school. And it was with that love that something in me began to heal. I felt my own eyes take on the same glow as the children, and my smile regained its power. To anyone reading this, I would strongly encourage you to support this school in any way that you can, not only because of the way it has saved the smiles of so many Indian children, but also for the way it has saved my life. And for that I am eternally thankful.

It was within Mother Miracle School that I found my haven. […] I worked primarily with the younger children (from ages three to seven) teaching a reading class, as well as holding an after school program for those in Lower Kindergarten. These children stole my heart. My relationship with them transcended any type of teacher-student relationship that I had ever experienced. Almost every day I played with these children during recess, taught them games, spelling and songs, and disciplined them. Although they often utterly exasperated me, I was utterly in love as well. Living in a small city, I often ran into one of my students, making them practice their English (“Hello. How are you?” “I’m fine, thank you. How are you?”). They began inviting me to their houses for chai, and sometimes dinner, meeting their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, listening to their family stories and hardships, as well as being shown their one-room homes. We communicated in a combination of English and Hindi, turning the teacher-student relationship upside-down by making me the student. You learn the most interesting ways of speaking from five-year-olds!

Sanchi Kaneko

2009

Ready to sign up? Tell us about yourself and we’ll be in touch shortly. 

Volunteer FAQ

What are the volunteer hours?

Hours vary depending on the volunteer’s duration of stay and project focus. Some volunteers enjoy working full time, while others assist for part of the day, or a few times a week. If it is a good fit, we can be flexible and will do our best to work around your schedule.

Whatever your hours, please bring your passion and commitment! This means being on time, reliable in your communication and attendance, and taking responsibility for the quality of your work. It is always okay to say no to a task, but once you agree, please follow through. We are counting on you!

Here are some examples of activity timings:

  • Assisting with academics in the classroom:  8:30am – 3:00pm
  • Tutoring children who are behind in their studies:  8:30am – 3:00pm
  • Teaching computer class: Primary school students 8:30am-1:30pm; Adult training 8:00am-9:30am
  • Teaching music and dance: 12:30-1:30, Saturday 9:00am – 1:00pm
Do I have to speak Hindi?

No, Hindi is not required. But if you feel inspired, you can learn a few Hindi phrases and greetings to make a good impression with the kids! All of our classes are taught in English, and strong English proficiency is required if you plan to teach in the primary school. You can speak any language to teach or assist with classes like arts & crafts, dance or yoga.

Is there a dress code?

Volunteers are expected to respect the modest Indian culture. Please cover your legs to the ankles (no shorts or skirts), cover your shoulders (no tank tops), avoid low necklines and the display of tattoos, and no tight-fitting clothing. Volunteers should not wear clothing advertising drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or other substances or activities which are not child-appropriate.

Do you have recommendations for housing and transporation?

If you give us enough advance notice of you arrival, we can assist with your adjustment to Rishikesh. This could include helping to pick you up at the train station or nearby airport, or helping you find a hotel, guest house, or apartment near our school. Once you arrive, we will give you a warm welcome by giving you a tour of the school and helping to orient you to your tasks.

Suggested housing near the school. For all bookings, please say you are a volunteer for Mother Miracle to get the best rate!

  1. ($ – 500-600 rupees/night) Laxmi Guest Lodge: very basic rooms, run by lovely local family, closest guest house to the school, nice view of Ganga. Mother of the house will cook meals or make Chai for you upon request. Free WiFi available from school, but low signal. 1 minute from school’s bakery for morning espresso and treats! +91(941)132-6063
  2. ($$ – 600-800 rupees/night) Kailasa Guest House, Rishikesh: modern and clean with a quiet courtyard and rooftop seating. Comfortable and warm rooms. WiFi not included but can access strong connection for extra fee. 4 minutes walking from school and bakery. Located in local residential neighborhood of Shisham Jhari.
  3. ($$$$ – 3,540 rupees/night) Hotel Vasundhara Palace – One of the best hotels in Rishikesh with a delicious Western-friendly restaurant on the ground floor.
  4. ($ – 10,000 rupees/month). Green Cottage Guesthouse: Clean, long-term furnished studio apartments for rent with basic kitchen and private bathroom. Can rent for a few months to several years. 10 minutes walking distance from the school and located in a very quiet and safe residential neighborhood of Kailash Gate. The landlord is named Cippy Bhatt and he is wonderful. We highly recommend this place for anyone considering a long-term volunteer engagement in Rishikesh. Contact details: +91(989) 754-3167 and facebook page: @GreenCottageRishikesh.

Transportation:

For private taxi, we recommend Many Tour & Travels: +91(885) 953-4242, vijaymany@gmail.com. Manny is the owner and a good friend of Mother Miracle. Say that you are a volunteer with us, and he will take care of you!

Arriving by flight – the closest airport is in Dehradun. There are daily flights available from Delhi to Deradhun for $30-$60USD depending on when you book. It is a short 45 minute flight. Once you arrive in Dehradun, there are government taxis available with fixed prices to take you to Rishikesh. It should cost about 800 rupees.

Arriving by train – You can catch a train from Delhi to Haridwar and it takes about 7 hours. We recommend taking 2nd class or 1st class, which is much more comfortable and for only a little extra money. Once you arrive, there are government taxis with fixed prices to take you to Rishikesh. It should cost about 1,000 rupees and take 40 minutes to get to Rishikesh.

Arriving by car – You can hire a driver from Delhi to take you to Rishikesh. It will take about 6-7 hours, and prices will vary. This will be much more expensive than the train and you will likely face traffic.

I want to bring a donation for the school. What should I bring?

If you want to make a donation, it is best to either donate online to our general fund, or wait until you arrive in Rishikesh to purchase the items you wish to donate. Many visitors and volunteers bring candies, toys, pencils, and markers from abroad, but all these items are readily available right here, and at much lower cost!  We already have plenty of pencils and art supplies in our school, so we recommend waiting until you get here so that we can work together to discuss the most pressing needs of the school. Plus, you can travel lighter and help support our local economy! If you plan to raise money from friends and family before coming, please send us an e-mail to info@mothermiracle.org to ask what is most needed. Thank you, you are the BEST!

Here are some examples of how you could treat our kids: 

Buying apples or oranges from our local market – 400 apples or oranges for 400 children and staff costs just $200USD.

Sponsoring lunch for a day – our nutritious “all you can eat” lunch costs $185 a day for our staff and students. This is a daily expense.

Is there a fee to participate as a volunteer?

No, there is no fee. We are grateful for your time and appreciate that you want to share your energy with us!  If you enjoy your time at Mother Miracle, and believe in the work we are doing, we always appreciate volunteers who help spread the word to their friends and family, or consider getting further involved by sponsoring a child or making a donation.

What Indian customs should I be aware of?

In Western culture, it is common-place to exchange hugs with people of the opposite sex. This is not considered appropriate in India. If you are a man, please do not touch or hug any of the female students and do not shake hands with any of the Indian female staff members. Instead, it is the custom to put your palms together in prayer position and say the respectful Indian greeting of “namaste.” If you are a woman….

What are the expectations for behavior?

To maintain a positive environment for our children, we are a drug, smoking and alcohol free school. No vulgarities or obscenities will be permitted while working in the school, and all students, teachers, and staff members must be treated with the utmost respect. We maintain a strict zero tolerance policy in which volunteers out of compliance will be asked to immediately leave the school, and their volunteer term will end.

Does Mother Miracle have a religious affiliation?

Mother Miracle School welcomes people of all faith backgrounds and is not associated with any religion. The volunteer must NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to convert students, fellow volunteers, students’ families, or anyone else associated with Mother Miracle School to any religion. Please respect the religious beliefs and customs of the local people and avoid any action which has the potential to offend or convert.

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