Project Manvi began in2001 with a desire to provide volunteering opportunities for Sixth Formers and members of staff. Having looked at outside agencies such as Operation Raleigh and World Challenge it was decided that we had sufficient experience and contacts in house to provide an opportunity for boys to travel abroad and volunteer at an affordable cost and where Ignatian principles would be at the forefront.
Using links with the Karnataka Province in India a month long trip was organised in the summer of 2002. We joined forces with a new mission in Pannur village in the impoverished region of NE Karnataka state in South India.
The first trip involved 12 students and four staff. The first week was spent travelling around Karnataka State with a base in Bangalore. Students were immersed in Indian culture and tradition. A number of workshops were undertaken looking at Indian Politics, the Caste system and the status of women in Indian society.
Students visited St Joseph’s Institute Bangalore to share a lesson with their undergraduates. They also visited St Joseph’s College Bangalore and played football against their First team and had a cultural exchange session with their Pre University class.
Visits were made to a Mosque and Hindu, Jain and Sikh temples where they learned about the diversity of religions in India.
Week 2 & 3 were spent in Pannur where the group worked with the children who were being looked after in the Mission. A volleyball court was built and a garden planted. The group visited surrounding villages to observe life in rural India.
Week 4 was a pilgrimage to Goa.
Whilst in Pannur it was agreed that we would develop a long term relationship with the Mission; the aim being to build a primary school for Dalit Children. We estimated it would take 10 years for us to raise the funds to do this and so we made a definite commitment for 10 years.
Ten years on the primary School is built and we are half way through building a Secondary School and pre University College. In 2010 the original 30 children had become a school cohort of over 1250 aged between 4 &16.
Benefits to Wimbledon College
The obvious benefits are to those who actively participate in the trip each year. On average over 20 Sixth formers and four staff go out each summer. They have a unique and authentic experience of Indian life and society. Volunteers are selected by aptitude, they are assisted in fundraising . No-one is turned away on the basis of cost.
The school as a whole has benefitted from its link with a school in India. Through various means pupils become acquainted with development and other issues. Fund raising is a unifying factor.
The project has also enabled links with the wider community who have been drawn in to support it.
Curriculum and other Links
- The project supports the school Mission Statement; it helps develop young men and women of faith for others. It enables young people to see God in all things.
- It promotes social cohesion; it encourages young people to celebrate diversity and invites groups from outside school to participate in the project aims.
- It encourages links with other schools, at primary level where volunteers go into Primary schools to talk about their experiences, with other Jesuit Schools where we share our knowledge and expertise and with the Ursuline High School which now participates in the visit to India.
- Project Manvi is part of the PSHE /citizenship programme.
- Group fundraising encourages financial planning
- Individual fundraising and applications for bursaries and grants enable volunteers to budget and plan their finances.
- There are direct curriculum links to Geography and RE
- Volunteers have to be healthy and they have to take responsibility of maintaining their health abroad through vaccinations, healthy eating and good hygiene practices.
- Continue fundraising to complete the Secondary School &Pre U College.
- Develop curriculum links with the new Secondary School
- Consider shorter curriculum based trips for younger students, especially for Art , Music and Geography
- Review the project on an annual basis after 2012 (10 th anniversary)
Starting your own Project
- You need first to find a partner. Jesuit Mission Companions programme can help here, although there is a strong bias towards Africa. The British Council also offers opportunities to link with schools elsewhere in the world. Their preference is for curriculum links and they are very negative about links which involve charity.
- Make an inspection visit if you can. Speaking face to face is much more productive than trying to do things via email or telephone. It also enables you to see for yourself conditions regarding transport and accommodation.
- Consider whether you want to arrange travel yourself or via a travel agent. Booking a group ticket directly with an airline is usually cheaper and more straightforward; most airlines take bookings a year in advance, give you four weeks to confirm numbers and don’t demand final payment till 8 weeks before travel. You can change names up to this point. The earlier you book the cheaper it will be. BA has a very good group travel department. Not all airlines will deal with individuals however in which case you will have to go through a travel agent.