I recently met a German friend who came over to India for a 3 month internship. When I asked about his plans here, other than work of course, he said he would visit Agra, for the regal Taj Mahal, Goa, for the exhilarating party scene and Varanasi, the holiest place in India.
I was probably surprised when he mentioned Varanasi because I have never considered it to be a must visit. To me, this holy town represents a lost opportunity, with the current amount of waste and chaos that engulfs it. Thus I planned to visit Varanasi only to wash away sins or to perform last rites of the deceased, if and when such a need arose.
This didn’t stop him. He went there and when I asked him for his feedback, all he had to say was about the street children there. I also think he was trying to be polite while describing the place because he might not have wanted to offend my Indian sensibilities ! But he was really taken aback by the plenty of street kids who were running around amongst the naked sadhu’s and the cremation grounds. He explained vividly their expressions and their discussions.
Somehow his description of the visit tuned me to search more about this place and I came across a campaign in Varanasi where through an extremely innovative way, street children are being engaged and motivated to learn things for just 2 hours a day. This is an initiative by Ajeet Singh and on his journey of doing right, he has started keeping children off the street by making a classroom out of an old boat, now lovingly called the Varanasi Boat School. This school has great potential and can undergo a magical transformation with a helping hand from people like us.
How can you help:
As travel bloggers, sustainable travel should be on top of our agenda, making sure everyone inside and out works towards keeping the culture of such places alive and strengthening the local community.
As a small token, do go ahead and donate whatever little you can here. Let us make the difference we can and make sure Varanasi is still on the top list for the tourists as well as us Indians, This campaign needs Indians, India needs Indians.
You could find more details to help Varanasi children here. This is a campaign run by Tata Capital- Do right. Do go ahead and support them!
Picture source: Google:)