Where can you get spectacular Bollywood shows, delicious spicy food, golden sand beaches, snow-capped mountains, sacred cows, and an intense sensory overload? Why it’s India of course, the largest democracy in the world. Volunteering here will give you all of those adventures and allow you to connect with the heart of India: its people. There are options for everyone from home stays to living in a house with other volunteers. You will immerse yourself in the culture in one of the most populated countries in the world and have many opportunities to have an impact on the local community depending on your interests and experience.
Know Before You Go:
A visa and passport are required for entry into India, and the cost will vary depending on your country of citizenship. In order to volunteer, it is most likely that you will need an employment visa, but be sure to check the Consulate General of India for updated information. It is also wise to check the Center for Disease control website for updated health requirements and suggestions on how to keep yourself healthy while traveling. As for money, once you arrive it is a very affordable place to be. Since most volunteer programs include housing and all meals, your expenses will be determined by how many excursions you go on. Travel can be done for as little as $20 per day.
You can volunteer pretty much anywhere in the country, but here are some of the most popular.
- New Delhi
- Tamil Nadu
Volunteer Placement Options
Orphanage Work & Working with Street Children
There is an incredible need for volunteers working in orphanages and with street children. These are placements for people who love working with children and want to make an immediate difference. In orphanage placements, volunteers teach and organize extra-curricular activities, craft projects, games and help the children get ready for the day. For many of these placements, volunteers live on site, so this provides many opportunities to really establish deep connections with the children which ultimately leads to a greater impact. Street children live mainly in the cities in the hundreds of thousands. They are not able to go to school because they have to work to survive. You will be teaching basic lessons and organizing fun activities to provide a supportive learning environment and a break from their difficult lives. More importantly, you will be a role model and provide care and affection they desperately need.
Teaching or Coaching Sports
Volunteers teaching English will work at local schools with students of all ages. Classes are large, but the students are highly motivated knowing that learning English will help them in the future job market. To be successful in this position all you need is to be a native English speaker and have a love of working with people at any age level. If the classroom isn't for you but you still want to work with kids, coaching sports provides a perfect way to share your knowledge of games and collaboration skills to inspire children and build their confidence. There are many popular sports in India including volleyball, basketball, tennis, soccer,and cricket. Coaches assist with setup, helping athletes develop their skills, and help the local coaches.
Working as a healthcare volunteer, usually requires specific experience and training. Medical students find these placements to be a great way to gain experience and expand their skills. Volunteers may take part in a variety of rotations in different departments of clinics and hospitals taking care of patients but also providing education.
Free Time Excursions
Even when you go to India to volunteer, there will be plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas. You can even travel for a few days before or after your volunteer placement to really get a feel for the country. Topping the excursion list is, of course, the Taj Mahal built by emperor Shaj Jahan in memory of his wife. But also take a trip to the city of Varanasi to witness pilgrim devotions at sunrise, Ajanta Caves, the desert city of Jaisalmer or the beaches of Goa. Also take time to explore the surrounding area where you do your volunteer work.
How to Get There
Like most of us, you may not have an unlimited budget for your trip. Fear not because there are many opportunities and plenty of people who are waiting to help you volunteer in India. Crowd funding is a great way to let your family, friends and social networks help fund your trip. The internet is also full of scholarships and grants for international volunteers. If your town has a local Rotary Club, talk to them. They may be willing to chip in as well. Extra airline miles hanging around? Cash them in for your flight which can take a bulk of the expense off of the trip.