Marie Lee



Gokuldham is a very special place; a haven of peace and beauty in rural India. From the moment you enter the gates, you are dazzled by the splendid temple, gardens and tranquillity which is present everywhere on the campus.
My experience there was unbelievable – a real immersion into Gujarat, India, with its unique culture, language, food, dress and social mores. I was treated from the first as an honoured guest.
My pickup from the airport was perfect and as we rode through Ahmedabad and the country, I was struck by so many sights: The Gandhi ashram, the fields of tobacco and rice, stalls of vendors crushing sugar cane and the vibrant colours of the saris and temples and produce. My modern apartment was incredible, with 2 rooms and a bathroom, and I was greeted by other volunteers who walked me through the campus and to the dining hall. Food was plentiful and flavourful, and everyone on campus greeted me with bright smiles and ‘Jai Swami Narayan’. The sounds of the prayers echo through the campus and they have an amazing variety of birds, monkeys and even a dairy.
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They also have a huge playing field with football and cricket areas as well as volleyball courts. The children were so friendly and curious and sweet and all the staff members were so hospitable. My classes ranged from helping in the preschool through high school and I was honoured to teach a group of boys from Manipur in the northeast, who had been evacuated from local violence. They were an amazing group of children: brave and gentle and smart and resilient.
At the school, I was able to interact with staff and students and even to give a couple of motivational speeches. I loved taking my class to the well-stocked, inviting library and the state-of-the-art computer lab. I was privileged to be involved in a kindergarten graduation as well as a lovely Holi day celebration at the preschool complete with dances and songs from the children and teachers and culminating with water play and throwing of coloured powders – such fun! Last but not least, I was able to attend a Holi celebration in Sarangpur, at one of the Swami Narayan’s spectacular temple complexes. There, we volunteer were treated like royalty as the festival of colours swirled around us – a truly memorable field trip which included an overnight stay the temple’s hotel. I definitely recommend this experience – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of an organization which is based on spirituality and education. Here, you will find an oasis in the busyness which is often present in India.