Voluntourism experience: SECMOL, Ladakh

Pukhraj Ranjan
Aug 7, 2018 · 5 min read

(Transferring articles from my old blog site. This one originally dated May 26, 2014)

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SECMOL or Student’s Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh was founded in 1988 by a group of young leaders including Sonam Wangchuk, in response to the poor state of school education in Ladakh. In those days, 95% of the students used to fail the 10th Board examinations. Through the years, SECMOL has launched multiple campaigns including Operation New Hope, Teacher Training, Youth Camps, etc. to correct this issue. Currently, SECMOL is looking forward to Ladakh’s 2020 Vision which has been formed with the support of multiple SECMOL alumni who are now working with the Ladakh Hill Council.

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At SECMOL, they provide hostel opportunities to students who have failed the 10th board examinations and expose them to multiple skills like understanding solar energy, farming and animal husbandry, day to day science, spoken english and public speaking, under the Foundation year. On our 3 week stint, I taught English to 30 foundation students and my mother helped the students understand Hindi and volunteered in the kitchen. These 21 days led to a lot of memories and a lot of experiences.

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Following is a list of experiences, apart from tourist picture taking, which I indulged in. Some were planned and some were random.

Enjoy!

First day at SECMOL and a swim in the freezing cold Indus River with the students!

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The students in their swimming trunks in ice cold water! Phew!
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Sue, 61 yr old volunteer from UK. She will spend the entire year at SECMOL. Definitely loved swimming in ice cold water. Totally inspiring![/caption]

Random talks, walks and clicks with other volunteers: Ram (TFI Chennai), Swetha (Bangalore), Vinitha (TFI Hyderabad), Sue (UK), Jannis (Germany) and Srimonti, Sayali, Ritika, Anirudh (TFI Pune)

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Late night talks and music in the kitchen
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Singing Ladakhi songs during dinner
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Night discussions with Sonam, founder of SECMOL (on the PM elections and the greatest win of 2014 for BJP)
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Random antics on the river! Not everyone emerges successful

Everyday evening sports. Favourite Game of Ladakhis: VolleyBall! :D

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Also, they turn everything into fun! Washing Picnic: Picnic to wash all carpets and curtains! :)

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Which teenager will you see smile while hand washing curtains?
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After washing, games and swimming by the river!

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Some awkward Selfies in the river by Khardong and Yasin
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Water fights!
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Balancing Act by Gulzaar and Jannis!
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Safe Transport across the cold river: Swetha and Jigmet
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Random Plans to climb rocks near the river with my student led mountaineering group!

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And they dance absolutely anywhere, everywhere: Who cares for company!

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At Alchi Monastery Picnic
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Mutup enjoying his moment with the solar panel music system after the Washing Picnic

Field Trips to Monasteries with other volunteers and students, which are trips where students always want their pics clicked.

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They work equally hard when it comes to helping in building the amphitheatre for SECMOL’s new Youth Centre in Leh

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And of course, how can you leave the Himalayas without White Water Rafting!

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Essentially I met a lot of wonderful people- students and adults, which led to a lot of beautiful experiences. Hope you enjoyed the journey with me! Thanks to all who were a part of it!

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