Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. As of 2011, the city had a population of 3.1 million whilst its 2021 population is estimated at 4.0 million. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, due to the dominant colour scheme of its buildings. There are over 250 slum areas in Jaipur accounting for roughly a quarter of the city’s inhabitants.
These slums have little or no running water and very limited if any sanitation facilities; water has to be brought in my tanker and bathing and washing is often in the open air at communal taps.
There is little money for food, medicine and other necessities. Nonetheless the inhabitants are keen for their children to obtain an education and generally make sure their children turn up to school clean and neatly dressed. Discipline is not an issue as young children in the slums are keen to learn.
In balwadis (pre-primary/kindergarten schools) they are taught in Hindi. However, we believe that mastering the English language, which is the language of tourism and commerce in Jaipur, will help them get a job or further education. It may enable them to move out of the cycle of deprivation which they suffer having to live in very impoverished conditions.
Parva School and the Zindagi Foundation School were both founded by Shahadat Ali in 2010 and 2020 respectively.
Parva means fulfilment; Zindagi means life.. Both schools strive to help the children develop their self-confidence and self-esteem so as to empower them now and in the future.
Parva serves a slum of approx 400 inhabitants atop a municipal rubbish tip on the edge of the city and backing onto a nature reserve.
Shahadat started at a time when the children in the slum survived by begging and rummaging through rubbish to find things to sell. He started by sitting under a tree with a handful of children and their mothers, teaching them how to read and write and do basic maths.
The initiative was given a tremendous boost with the arrival of Lizzie Godfrey, a former charity volunteer and professional card player. She set up a small cottage industry for the mothers making gift bags and cards which are sold in the UK and France. This gives them an income and frees up the children who can now go to school rather than work in the dump. Lizzie also started fundraising in the UK, providing the means to employ two teachers, bring in computers, basic healthcare and scholarships for some of the children with particular talents. The community was so encouraged by all this that they rallied to raise the money themselves to build a small brick building to house the school.
For the last decade Shahadat has devoted his life to educating these children for free.
Shahadat’s second school - Zindagi Foundation - is located in Harmada to the North East of Jaipur and approximately 6 kilometres from Parva.
Whereas Parva owns a brick built structure with plastered walls inside, mains electricity and a smooth concrete floor, Zindagi has to make do with a room measuring 12 x 12 feet rented for 2 hours a day.
before relocating to an open space between buildings two streets away where lessons
for a new group of pupils continue (for another 2 hours).
Parva is currently home to 20 students; Zindagi has 60 with more keen to be admitted.
In September 2022, Do SlumThing started paying modest salaries to Shahadat and up to 5 part-time teaching assistants who divide their time between Parva, Zindagi and a community of beggars who live beneath a motorway flyover in the city centre. We refer to the latter as “Under the Bridge” where we provide basic pastoral care for 30-40 children but little in the way of formal teaching.
At Zindagi we also provide school equipment and organise periodic medical examinations for the whole community.
We also sponsor a food distribution program for 120 or more children in all three locations which focussed on the daily provision of fruit and protein.
Any child who graduates from with Parva or Zindagi and wishes to continue their studies elsewhere is eligible for one of our bursaries to cover the cost of private tuition, books and uniform.
Do SlumThing does not charge any administration fees and will provide a complimentary meet and greet at your arrival point in Jaipur and arrange free transport to and from Parva or Zindagi for your first school day.
Volunteers pay for:
You will be asked to provide either a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or character and/or employer references before volunteering. A basic DBS check costs £23 and is available for people working in England and Wales. It usually takes up to 14 days for you to receive your certificate.
You may have already booked your own flights and made your own travel arrangements. If not, get a flight to Jaipur International Airport (JAI).
Here in the UK the online E-VISA application process is relatively straightforward and an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) will be sent to your email within 48 hours. This is not a visa as such but an approval printout that you present to the Immigration Desk on arrival in India. Here they will stamp your eVisa in your passport.
Go to: indianvisaonline.gov.in
Please note that the Government of India has not authorised any agent or intermediary to charge any fee for this service.
Important: Volunteering visas are difficult to obtain and require original invitation letter from a local NGO. They are issued from Delhi and can take up to nine months to obtain. Most volunteering agencies use tourist visas for short term (less than 2 months) volunteers.
For local contact details for visa purposes you may give:
Whether arriving by air, bus or train arriving by bus or train, we will arrange for you to be met by one of our trusted tuktuk drivers and transported to your accommodation. There will be no charge for this.
Juber and Tofik have worked with us for years. Both speak English and know the city and slum areas well.
You can contact Juber direct on WhatsApp.
Jaipur is a touristic city and offers plenty of accommodation including home stays at a affordable prices.
Please enter the following numbers in your contacts
You can use your own mobile phone but must make roaming arrangements or buy a cheap SIM card that can be used to make calls in India. Getting a SIM card in India has now become a little bit complicated for security reasons. Shahadat or Juber should be able to help.
You will be working for our local partners Shahadat Ali and his wife Usha with your time most likely divided between two or more locations.
Parva school is located at:
There are two classrooms; one for junior and one for senior children.
Where possible arrange to meet with Shahadat at your accommodation the day before you propose to start work at the school. This will give you the opportunity to agree on what, who (what age group), when and where you will teach.
For your first visit either Juber or Tofik will collect you from your accommodation at a pre-agreed time, take you to School and return you home after you’ve finished teaching. Again, for this one day, the cost of your driver will be borne by us.
Should you decide to retain their services beyond the first day, feel free to make your own private arrangements with them. The usual daily charge is around INR 800 (£8) per day.
Teaching experience is not essential. Passion and commitment are far more important.
Shahadat prepares his students for Indian national exams and therefore follows the government syllabus. This tends to be rather dull and laborious. We therefore encourage you to be creative. If you have a passion for a particular subject, feel free to share that passion with your students.
The school is open all year round although barely a week goes by without a day lost to some religious festival or other. This despite the fact that the school itself has no defined religious affiliations.
Shahadat and one or more of his assistants currently teach at Parva from 10.00 till 12.30am Monday-Saturday and then at Zindagi from 2.00 till 5.30pm but we don’t expect our volunteers to work at weekends or at more than one location on any given day.
The seniors (aged 10-15) are taught in English but this does not mean that they are fluent, far from it. You will often need to repeat words or simplify. Just as you will struggle to understand their accent, so will they to understand yours.
The juniors (aged 2-9) know no English.
As a safety precaution you should not wander off in the slum nor visit the children’s houses on your own during your free time. Follow the advice given by Shahadat as he has experience of the area.
Walking the streets can be quite hazardous as there is little in the way of pedestrian pavements or crossings. Traffic is noisy and chaotic. Cars and trucks are actually encouraged (!!) to use their horns to alert other road users to their presence.
Tuktuks are legally required to have a meter fitted by no one uses them. You therefore need to agree the fare in advance. If in doubt ask someone at your hotel for guidance on price.
Alternatively, taxis can be hailed vie the Uber App.
We advise you to bring a debit card with you and withdraw at ATMs.
You can take British pounds, Euros, US or Australian dollars and change them in currency exchange shops.
Things are much cheaper in India but prices are often increased for foreigners. Be prepared to bargain. Watch out for pickpockets and scammers
Inoculations or malaria tablets are not mandatory. Each individual should decide on the risk. So far, there have been no cases of volunteers contracting malaria or dengue fever.
Anti-malaria medication will not stop mosquitoes biting. 95% of the mosquitoes do not carry the malaria or dengue parasite. However, they can be painful and itchy. You should take plenty of sprays and ointments. Make sure you use them. Also carry an After-Bite ammonia stick.
Cholera is transmitted through water. Do not drink tap water. Only drink bottled water which is cheap and easily available.
Do not eat food from roadside stalls unless you have a strong stomach. Restaurants are good and pretty cheap.
A lot of the people in the slums are Muslims. Consequently, women should be dressed in conservative and respectful fashion. Be careful about taking photographs of Muslim women and be guided by local staff.
If you have spare capacity in your suitcase, please take general use medicines. We can send you a list. Also, if you have old phones and tablets you do not use anymore, these can be donated to Shahadat (just be sure you unlock it first!).
India is generally a safe place to travel. The people are friendly to strangers. However, you may have read that there have been a few well publicised instances of violence against women which have included rape and murder. Go SlumThing does its best to ensure volunteers’ safety and to prevent incidents. Nevertheless, we advise volunteers to be vigilant and take care.
In the event of a violent incident, do not hesitate to call the police or seek help from passersby. However, we suggest you call Shahadat first.
You should be careful what you say to the police. As you are most likely on a tourist visa, you should not strictly speaking be taking paid or unpaid employment of any kind. Most if not all volunteers from all volunteering agencies use tourist visas for short term volunteers. Thus, you should state that you are in India for the purposes of tourism but you are visiting projects at which your friends work. You have agreed to help occasionally.
DO NOT ADMIT TO WORKING IN AN UNPAID CAPACITY.
To prevent unfortunate episodes, take some simple measures:
DO NOT LET SUCH INCIDENTS SPOIL YOUR TRIP
Many volunteers claim to have had a life-changing experience as evidenced by these “before” and “after” photos of Nicola and Edwin.
These maps detail the route from the main railway station to Parva School: