Paula NavarroPaula Navarro
Lawyer, Spain, volunteer for 2 months, winter 2016/2017
I connected to Lucy and the Ashram through several friends when I started looking for a volunteer program in India, and, since the very beginning, I knew this was the right one. I was given the opportunity to be involved with all the projects, which is really a lot: the residential kids, the Kindergarten, the evening school, … almost 200 kids! and their families, of course, the family is the most sacred institution in India. It was a “back to the roots” process, an immersion in tradition and spiritualism, at some point hard to assimilate for the European mind, but it was always worth it. The energy of the place and the people (especially the kids) is incredible, and there it’s easy to see that you do not need so many things to have a happy life…you can keep it simple and keep it amazingly full. The work I did there (honestly, quite simple compared to my previous work), like teaching, organizing, helping with anything or just being there, has been the most appreciated and thanked of my life. Benares and the people I met there will be in my heart forever, I stay in touch with other volunteers and of course with the management team and teachers, and I will go back as soon as I can. Lucy, thank you so much for making this experience possible and successful, you have an amazing ability to make things happen and effectively impact the people around you, you just make everything better.

Simon ChapmanSimon Chapman
Simon Chapman, Malaysia Visiting the school was one of the most special experiences of my life. From the River Ganges in Varanasi head through a maze of narrow alleyways, dodging cows and monkeys and navigating the traffic of locals and pilgrims. The school itself is housed in a modest four storey building. Upon entering I was immediately greeted with warm smiles and curious looks. The arrival of a visitor was something of an event and I was made so welcome. The boarder students looked resplendent in their robes and were eagerly participating in what I thought where the first lessons of the morning, but infact they had been up before sunrise conducting their various practices including yoga. The school was alive with activity with Lucy constantly juggling how best to orchestrate all the lessons and the well being of the students and teachers. The school has a particularly strong focus on Sanskrit studies and from what I saw and understood the standards are very high. In the afternoon external students joined the classes with a wide range in the age group from 3 to 16 years old. All the students mixed in together and it was certainly a harmonious and family style of community. There were a variety of extra curricular activities available to the students with cricket and a boat ride on the Ganges being obvious favourites with the students. What stood out was the high standards of education that are being achieved. There is a high demand for places and unfortunately the school has to turn away most of the applicants to join the school. There is a need for further funds and external support for the school to evolve and cater for the planned increase in the number of students as well as to support the current level of students.

Mariellen Ward
Breathedreamgo (winner of Outlook magazines Travel writer of the year 2016)
When I was in Varanasi, I took some time out to visit my friend H Lucy Guest and the school she founded and runs right in the heart of the old city between the Kashi Vishvanath Temple and the ghats where the aarti is held.
I am so impressed by this school and the work Lucy is doing to give opportunities to under-privileged inner city kids who would otherwise not get an education. At Lucy’s school, they get three meals a day, computer classes and all the basics PLUS dance classes and spiritual instruction — including yoga. The teachers are all local, and some of them were students at one time.
There are also opportunities for foreign volunteers, if you know anyone looking for a highly reputable place.
Lucy operates on a shoe string budget and has to make up a considerable percentage each month to keep the school going and give these 100+ kids a chance to change their lives. If you can help out with a donation, it would be very much appreciated.

Jules OldsJule Olds
Student, UK
I stayed at the Ashram last August with my brother Ed. Lucy Guest was fantastic from the moment we stepped out the plane in Delhi, we never had to worry as all the logistics had already been organised by Lucy. After the train and multiple Tuc-Tuc rides later we arrived at the Ashram. Nestled being a world famous temple [I forgot the name], the ashram was our place to stay for the following three weeks. After arriving, he instantly felt humbled by the ashram, a place of inclusion, that accepts pupils regardless of the job or background of that pupil’s parent. Something very rare in semi-rural parts of India. Lucy was extremely flexible, instead of a fixed regime, day by day my brother and I were able to experiment with different styles of teaching with different pupils. From trying to help with the small library’s admin to teaching ICT, there were plenty of options, and for me that was fantastic. Most gratifying of all was the ability to see the children genuinely grow over the course of our stay, it began with collage and ended up with our mini-olympics day which got covered by the local media, we saw that our efforts made an impact. It was also difficult, as all our plans had to be adapted to accommodate for the wide spread of year groups, but it forced us to be creative with what we had. Out of the lesson we had plenty to explore, from the famous ghats on the river ganges, to Devatma’s delicious food, everyday we woke up excited for the day ahead. Do prepare yourself for spicy food though, a tip I wished I had received earlier, burning through bottles of water at the dinner table! All in all, the team at the Ashram, from the dedicated teachers, to all the children, and to Lucy. I thank you for make my trip to Varanasi a memory I will never forget, filled with surprise and laughter all the way.

Indy Rishi
we traveled through India for Yoga4Change, we were surprised at the poverty. We noticed a lack of authentic education for the youth. When we were connected on our trip to Yoga Mission, it was the kind of inspiration we needed to show our patrons on the retreat, and the world through our docuseries. The way that the school and foundation are run is respectful to both ancient Indian knowledge and Western education. Everyone on our project was inspired by the children, and the people who serve them. We are all forever tied to Yoga Mission and excited to share the best yoga teachers in the world with the children that Yoga Mission serves.

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