The Kullu Project

Long Term Volunteer Opportunities in the Indian Himalayas  

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A Kullu Project success story please read about Ravinder ( Raku) 

His name is Ravinder but his friends know him as raku. Raku was identified by United World College student volunteers working on a community service project, the Kullu Project, in rural Himachal Pradesh,  India.  Raku applied to the United World Colleges, and after an extensive interview process, he was offered a place at the UWC of the Atlantic.  The cost of his schooling would be £40,000 or $US 80,000.  A small group of alumni, impressed by Raku’s incredible potential, committed to raising his tuition fees. 


RAKU with His elder brother and Kullu Project Volunteers


Raku was born in a small village in the Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh, the third child of his parents. When he was two years old his father, a farmer, died.  A couple of years later, Raku and his siblings were separated when Raku’s mother took Raku and his older brother to the city of Kullu while his sister stayed behind.  Soon after, circumstances led Raku’s mother to abandon the two boys.   They spent the next few years between maternal aunts and several orphanages, eventually finding their way to the Jibhi orphanage where they lived until Raku was 16 years old. It was there that he first met the UWC Kullu Project volunteers. 


Despite his many challenges, Raku truly made the most of his opportunities. He studied hard, exceeding the expectations of his teachers and society.  Simply the fact that he was daring, intelligent, and resourceful enough to apply to the UWCs is indicative of his unique potential and enterprise.  In fact, when Raku was offered an interview at the Mahindra UWC of India, he became the first boy from the orphanage to travel beyond New Delhi. During his stay at Mahindra for interviews and proficiency exams, Raku was able to get a better idea of the academic and social environment of a UWC, and truly felt at home.  

This opportunity radically changed the course of Raku’s life, but its impact will go beyond that thanks to his initial interactions with the Kullu Project Volunteers from UWC: not only does Raku truly have the potential to create change in his community when given the proper tools, this also represented an important opportunity for the UWC movement. As Neil Richards, Principal of Atlantic College, observed, “This is what UWC is all about, students working on community service projects, and finding the most deserving students, like Raku, to bring into the UWC community.”

The United World Colleges are intended to be environments where individuals from seemingly insurmountably diverse backgrounds can gather to learn from each others' experiences, places where having been denied opportunity in the past does not mean being denied opportunity in the present.  Raku personified this mission.  We are certain that the education he received there has given him opportunities to contribute on a larger scale to his community and country. 




Just to give you an idea of what is required for sponsoring a child through an education program here is a break down of what was needed:

$80,000 (£40,000) was raised  to cover tuition and boarding fees at Atlantic College, travel, and other expenses.  Raku worked to earn what he could for pocket money and other expenses of being a student at Atlantic College.  


- Atlantic College Scholarship Costs for 2008 – 2010 period:

            1st year tuition and boarding fees (Sept 08 – May 2009): £18,400/ $36,691

            2nd year tuition and boarding fees (Aug 09 – May 2010): £19,000/$37,890

- Pocket money:  £300 per term =  £1,200/$2,393 (this will be raised by the Kullu project, as well as Raku’s summer and winter holiday jobs in Wales)

- Travel (1 return flight):  £700/$1,396 (generous donation already received)

-  Additional travel as required by student/college development:  £700/$1,396

Total:        £40,000/$79,768

(Currency conversions were done using July 1, 2008 rates.) 




Below is a statement from Raku and as you will read his achievements have gone above and beyond what you would have thought possible for someone dealt his cards. He truly is an inspiration and example of what hard work can do. He is now advocating for the orphaned children in the Valley as he feels he can now be their voice. He is developing the idea of the H.O.P.E project (Helping Orphanages with Poverty Elevation) alongside and with help from the Kullu Project. He beleives that providing vocational training to the children for when they have to leave the orphanages will equip them with the income gnerating skills they will need. 


"I had the privilege of joining Untied World College of the Atlantic on a full sponsorship where I received my International Baccalaureate or otherwise known as IB diploma. Following the high school diploma I was able to secure a four year scholarship for Westminster College here in Fulton Missouri, where I got my bachelor of arts degree in International studies. I took various business courses during my undergrad years, due to which I had developed an interest in the field of business. Therefore, I decided to pursue my higher education in Business. I got my master’s degree with entrepreneurial leadership specialization. The two year program involved intense yet thorough business plan writing, through which I learned how to lead and create solutions in a world of constrained resources, environmental challenges and competitive global markets.

During my undergraduate years I was awarded work study job as an office assistant under the admission office. My duties included organizing and preparing packages as well as coordinating admission of accepted students. My work also included finding effective ways for recruitment and advertisement that helped the department in making the college campus diverse. Furthermore, I continue to work in the area of recruitment during my graduate school. I worked as an office assistant for the Enrollment office. My duties included coordinating enrollment of accepted international students and preparing necessary documents. Some of the other job duties included answering phone calls, advertisement, and assisting in recruitment process. For about four years I have been working as a Forensic Rehab Specialist at the Fulton State Hospital. More specifically, I have been working in the Social Learning Program. Working as team, facilitating and leading daily activities, assisting clients, are some of main duties. Other duties as a Forensic Rehab Specialist are to report behavioral data, maintain a safe environment, and data entry.

With the orphanage kids the most important thing that I have believed made a difference is to let the kids know that you are there for them and that you truly care for them. Knowing that there are people in this world who truly care will definitely help the kids in doing something meaningful. As long as I was in the orphanage, I always sensed that the kids felt that nobody cares how good or bad they do at studies or life in general. I remember when I met kullu project volunteers, it made me think of world outside not just of the Kullu Valley but India. Also, the volunteers inspired me to do better in studies and helped me to change the direction of my life.

With the help of Ankit Sood and Gaurav Malik I have been working on this HOPE initiative .  I think the HOPE Initiative focuses on the importance of providing lifelong skills to the orphan children. I personally believe that teaching or providing resource where these kids can gain vocational / tourism / technical skills, is vital for there post orphanage life"