Full-Time Volunteer Needed for Manzil

By tdomf_ecbf4|4th May 2009
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A full-time volunteer for Manzil, a youth empowerment and learning center in Khan Market, New Delhi


Minimum of a six-month commitment. Prefer one year or longer.

Start Date:

The start date is flexible, but we would prefer the volunteer to start in July 2009 so that the outgoing full-time volunteer may assist in training. The preferred start date should not be a deterrent from applying.


In operation for over a decade, Manzil (www.manzil.in) has touched the lives of over 4000 youth from local low-income backgrounds by engaging their critical thinking skills, broadening their educational exposure, and creating opportunities for the exploration of extracurricular and creative talents. Flexibility, a family atmosphere, and the internal encouragement of leadership development are all essential ingredients of the Manzil experience.

At Manzil, students are given the opportunity to learn but also to share. In its daily academic classes, the students themselves teach each other in basic subject areas such as math, spoken English, and basic computer skills, while also expanding to nurture non-academic talents in theatre, music, and the arts. Manzil strives to make learning more interesting, process-oriented, context-sensitive, and linked with experiential understanding. In addition to classes, Manzil also arranges learning trips to enable its students to interact with different communities in the city and throughout the country. The goal of Manzil’s programs is to provide a space where education goes beyond academic learning to include a child’s motivations, aspirations, dreams, unique talents, and qualities.

Manzil was started by Mrs. Indira Gulati, a mother of a child with special needs and a teacher of 30 years, and her son Ravi, an MBA from IIM-Ahmedebad. In 1996, Ravi was approached by Hemant, a neighborhood child asking for help with his math homework. Ravi witnessed how ill-equipped the government schools had prepared the boy for understanding, and he agreed to take on the task of tutoring him from the very basics. Soon Hemant’s friends began joining him, and it didn’t take long for the Gulati home to become a destination for the local ambitious and curious youth.

Manzil’s growth has been an organic process: Manzil retains a family atmosphere and maintains sensitivity to the needs and interests of its students. While the organization currently has approximately 150 students in its programs, many of its former students come back to learn more, and to volunteer with Manzil. Recently, it has acquired two apartments in neighboring Sujan Singh Park to be used as classrooms, and many classes have shifted or are in the process of shifting.


Most of the children come from working-class migrant families that came to New Delhi in search of a better life. Almost all the children who come to Manzil hail from the servant quarters nearby; most of their parents serve as drivers, cooks, maids, domestic helpers, etc. The families generally value education as a stepping-stone to securing good jobs and better futures. Many of the older Manzil students, while still in school, take on part-time jobs (such as office assistants and computer operators). School dropouts generally get menial jobs and contribute to the family financially. Most students associated with Manzil live in one-room tenements or servant quarters tucked in between the affluent colonies surrounding Khan Market. The youth at Manzil are lively and fun. Some are great musicians while others enjoy theater. Some are involved in candle-making businesses and are quite artistic. Most are sincere and dedicated. Overall, the Manzil youth are confident and willing to take responsibility. They will befriend you immediately.

Relationship with Indicorps:

Two Indicorps fellows have volunteered at Manzil and have had exceptionally positive experiences. The first volunteered prior to his fellowship and came to Indicorps singing the organization’s praises. The second is a current August ’08 fellow working to transition Manzil to a management structure that is entirely student-led and sustainable; he will be with Manzil until the end of July and would preferably be involved in the orientation of the incoming full-time volunteer.

Position Description:

The volunteer will be expected to help inside and outside of the classroom, creating learning opportunities of all kinds and encouraging leadership-building.

In the classroom, the volunteer will be of best use in the English and arts classes, although not in these exclusively. The volunteer will not assume the role of teacher, but will adopt the qualities of a guide, giving the teachers and upcoming teachers (UTs) regular and useful feedback, hosting teaching workshops and seminars, introducing and integrating new ideas and concepts, encouraging creativity, but also getting involved more directly at times and leading a class of students as well. In the English classes, this will be most pronounced as a fresh batch of UTs will have just assumed their new roles as full-fledged teachers and will need special attention. In the music, painting, and drawing classes, an outside perspective is always appreciated to break any routine and to challenge once again to be creative and to adapt and adopt.

Outside the classroom, the volunteer should identify and create opportunities for empowerment. Whether it is career counseling or creative expression or creating alternative livelihoods or teaching the motivation behind and skills of documentation, the volunteer should introduce and foster outside perspectives while leading by example and encouraging the youth to manage responsibilities, set expectations, work in a team, and develop self-understanding and acceptance.

The volunteer will be expected to work about eight hours a day, six days a week, with regular evening activities and interactions. There may be great variation in scheduling; a volunteer should expect to be flexible. A typical day might end after 10pm, and there will also be some occasional early morning events.

Living Arrangements:

The volunteer may share three meals a day with the Gulatis at their home in Khan Market.

There are two options for sleeping accommodations:

1) The volunteer may stay in a Manzil apartment that doubles as a classroom during the day. All Manzil classrooms will be within five-minute walking distance. This is where the current Indicorps fellow stays. This is also where a large percentage of Manzil’s students live with their families. The accommodations are very modest. The volunteer should be comfortable with having bucket showers, using communal Indian-style toilets, and essentially living simply. Electricity and all utilities will be covered by Manzil.

2) The volunteer arranges accommodations on his/her own.

Alcohol-, tobacco- and drug-use will be strictly not possible for many reasons, including the social stigma attached to such practices within the living and learning community and because the volunteer will be, at all times, a role model to the students and a representative of Manzil.

While Manzil will provide room and board, the volunteer will be entirely responsible for travel and visa arrangements to and from Delhi and any additional living expenses.


Along with a resume, please answer the following questions in 1-2 pages:

Why are you a strong applicant for this position? What qualities do you possess that would contribute positively to the Manzil community? What experiences have you had in the past that will prove relevant to volunteering with Manzil? Please be specific.

In your resume or letter, please be sure to include your current phone number and to also answer the following question:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how well can you speak Hindi?

(While language proficiency is not a prerequisite, applicants exhibiting a working familiarity with Hindi are favored.)

Please apply by sending your letter and resume to mail@manzil.in with Full-Time Volunteer Applicant in the Subject Header. We would like to receive all applications by May 20, 2009, although extensions may be granted.