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Machiplavu, Adimally, Kerala, South India


Carmel Jyothi special school is situated in the idyllic hill town of Adimally amongst the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala. This town is the main spice trading and producing centre for the region. Adimally is about 100km from Cochin and 30km from Munnar – the picturesque hill station well known for its manicured Tea and Cardamom plantations. It takes about two hours to drive from the Yearoutindia base in Cochin to the volunteer house at Adimally.

Information about the Special Needs School:

Due to the lack of infrastructure (aggravated by the stigma of "bad karma" associated with disabilities) special needs individuals are often left to their own devices in the community. This school has now become a refuge for children with physical and mental disabilities. The Principal and staff of the school also actively seek out such cases in the region and provide care and support for them. They try to diagnose, nurse the children and encourage their necessity to socialise by giving them the opportunity to engage in mental and physical activity at the school.

Carmel-Jyothi School has approximately 70 pupils; 30 of which are full time residents. The school is run by nuns from the nearby missionary and employs 7 teachers and a number of staff largely made up of former pupils. The school provides a bus service for children from the neighboring communities and other remote areas.

Disabilities are wide ranging. Some, such as those with visual and or hearing impairment have no learning difficulties but simply do not have access to learning mediums such as sign language or Braille. This is typical of many forms of disability (in India as a whole) that, with correct care, would have seen some of these children enter mainstream school. Others however have severe physical, mental and (perhaps due to a lack of correct management of their situation) psychological conditions and would ideally be subject to one to one supervision.


Carmel Jyothi has numerous accolades to its credit including awards such as the Special needs school using Most Innovative Teaching Methods and providing medal winners at national level sports competitions!

As well as the school, the nuns help organise several cottage industries to help fund the school. These include growing and selling fruits, vegetables and flowers, making Holy Communion wafers for the churches and making paper bags.

Volunteer Positions:

Due to the specialist nature of the school volunteers are required have some experience in teaching/supervision of special needs children and or psychotherapy / physiotherapy.

The pupils have limited lesson structure as there is a high pupil to teacher ratio. With this in mind volunteers may be expected to join in classes as support but graduate to teaching a small class on their own. However due to the lack of syllabus the volunteer has almost a free reign as to what to teach! The school users (amongst other things) are taught basics of how to look after themselves, dance, basic language including English alphabets and numbers, art, yoga and sports - a favorite of which is cricket.

Classes are loosely organized into ability, as disabilities range from conditions such as ADHD, deaf and dumb to severe Down’s and Fragile X syndromes and MS.

At certain points throughout the day there will be opportunities where you can have one-to-ones with the children. There has also been a recent addition of a "sensory tent" by Abigail - a previous Yearoutindia volunteer, to increase stimulus especially for those that are sensory impaired.

Limited English and the Keralan language of Malayalam (with which YOI can help you to learn the basics) are spoken in the school.

Carmel Jyothi - Main Building

On the Beach with Abigail

Akil (Loosing his eyesight) &
Little Jinsy (coping with Polio)

Work Schedule:

To enable a sense of continuity, we request our volunteers to commit to a minimum of 4-8 weeks. This will help the children get used to you and also enable you to settle into the school routine and the community. We have a maximum of two volunteer places available at any one time at the school. These can be extended according to the needs of the children and the availability and skills of the individual volunteer. You'll usually teach about four-five hours a day, Monday through Friday and have about 2 hours each day to collaborate with the staff and prepare for classes. The rest of the day is free time....well, almost!

Carmel-Jyothi offers a unique opportunity to make significant and lasting changes to a school and therefore improving the quality of life of the children and adults there.

Principal and Teachers

Program Schedule

4/8/12 Week Teaching/Assisting at Special Needs School in rural Kerala/South India:

Lessons commence from 10:00am and finish at 4:00pm, with half an hour for lunch Monday to Friday. The rest of the time is free time, although some of which may be spent designing lesson plans or making educational material for the school. At weekend a popular place amongst former volunteers to relax is Munnar (45 minutes by bus) which provides breathtaking scenery. Situated in the Western Ghats, Munnar offers an abundance of wildlife (including occasional sightings of elephants, leapords and tigers) and all the exotic fruit, tea and spice you could ever want. Yearoutindia has staff and accommodation there including a tree house complete with double bed and hot running water!

The location being rural, volunteers will need to be resourceful, flexible, patient, adventurous to an extent and above all have a big heart to work with these children. Please note that work schedules are planned taking into consideration the current timetable of the school and teaching volunteers must be flexible enough to adapt to the teaching needs of the school.

Program duration & cost:

RT-SNS107- Special Needs Teacher / Assistant

Please read our Do It All Program page for opportunities to mix and match various volunteering activities according to availability.