Bal Ashram – Varanasi, India

Hi! This is Michele, the founder of Robin Travels.
In April 2010 I visited Bal Ashram in Varanasi which is part of the AGHOR FOUNDATION, “a foundation in India that runs a family of social initiatives flourishing in the sacred city of Varanasi.

Bal Ashram is a peaceful place near the Ganges river where the Italian couple Camilla and Lorenzo manage a school and run several projects:

  1. Bal Ashram: an orphanage whose purpose is to offer a stable and culturally rich environment in which children can grow and develop
  2. Anjali school: a primary educational institution
  3. Project Shakti: helps to empower young underprivileged women. The main objective of the project is to help women become self-sufficient through training and the development of new skills and competencies
  4. the Eco-center: the aim is the transfer of in-depth knowledge about environmental conservation

A more detailed list of their activities can be found here, most of them related to Bal Ashram.

My visit in a nutshell

Bal Ashram was founded by the Indian monk Baba Harihar Ramji in 2000. Since 2006 Camilla and Lorenzo have been a part of the ashram management. They speak Hindi fluently and are fully dedicated to their project. The goal of the Aghor Foundation is to provide a clean and tidy environment where children and adults can get an education as well as develop and better understand themselves.

The daily ritual I found particularly interesting is a one hour long meeting before the start of the lessons. During this meeting, the teacher tries to find out what the prevailing mood is in the classroom. For that, all children can choose to put either a black, white or green ball into a basket, black expressing a bad mood, white neutral and green a good mood. Depending on the dominant colours, the teacher plans the day’s activities.

Another daily activity is meditation to help the children empty their mind and let their thoughts flow. If certain children have emotional issues, the teacher addresses them personally after the meditation to share their thoughts with the class. This helps to create an open environment for the deeper feelings of each child in the group and an individual, dynamic approach to everyday teaching.

After my three-day visit, I was really happy: Robin Travels have just recently been launched and I already found a school.