Looking for volunteer travel in India? While for most travelers, India is about exotic locales, rich history, and a vibrant culture, that attract, but for others, the thought of giving back to society and working, even if it is for a limited time, for the society’s backward and unprivileged, have been the most powerful draws to come to India.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities to come and share your happiness with the disadvantaged and unprivileged sections of the society in India. Most of these volunteer opportunities are directed towards constructive makeup, allowing one to work in sectors such as education, imparting soft skills, and developing a positive outlook amongst the society’s marginalized lot.
This is also the reason why such opportunities are popular with the international community of travelers coming here, who want to contribute concretely to the comprehensive good of society.
Let us find out the five most prominent places where you can constructively volunteer travel in India and leave a positive impact. Most of all, volunteering with such organizations is a wonderfully, soul-enriching experience that most of us definitely cannot afford to ignore.
- Salaam Baalak Trust, New Delhi: The Salaam Baalak Trust is located in the chaotic Paharganj area of New Delhi and is directed towards providing shelter, food, and support to the city’s homeless street children. The organization also brings about various initiatives such as the popular City Walk program, which are the tours along the city’s back-streets of Delhi, led by the children themselves who have been trained as guides.
The trust has some great opportunities for volunteers with a wide range of skills. There is a space for cultivating creative expressions, computing skills, health care, marketing, etc. amongst children. The trust also offers internships and arranges for accommodation for the volunteers at a nominal cost.
- Rural Organization for Social Elevation, Uttarakhand: The R.O.S.E or the Rural Organization for Social Elevation, located in the Kanda district of Uttarakhand is an important organization that aims to improve the quality of life, including the health and educational aspects of the rural poor people in this part of the country.
The theme is essentially community development. Projects are organized throughout the year for international volunteers to contribute to various activities like teaching, construction farming etc. Besides, there is also a great scope to understand the local culture and traditions of the local community as the opportunity to live with the local people is always there for volunteers.
- New Light, Kolkata: New Light is based deep in the red light district of Kolkata and aims to offer comprehensive community services to those affected by the grave phenomenon of human trafficking, and child and sexual abuse. The organization was started with the caring of only 9 children and has since then, grown to serve more than 250 individuals across a diversity of age groups.
The organization serves to include educational support, healthcare, recreational, nutritional, support for HIV/AIDS, and generation of income for the women and their children. It also provides legal aid for the victims and organizes advocacy against gender violence present in the fabric of society. Volunteer opportunities are available, especially in the areas of teaching and nursing and the minimum duration for which they have to work is 14 days.
- Seva Mandir, Udaipur, Rajasthan: With experience of working in the development sector for over 40 years, Seva Mandir is one of the largest non-profit enterprises in India. There are plenty of opportunities to work at Seva Mandir.
Opportunities are provided to volunteers in the areas of their interest and also in the areas that match their experience and knowledge. Seva Mandir works with more than 3, 60,000 people out of which over 12,000 children from disadvantaged groups receive a quality education, 8,000 women and children receive critical health services and many more achieve food security with sustainable livelihoods provided by the organization. In addition to this, more than 9,000 women approach gender equality by achieving financial independence with the help of women’s groups and other cooperatives.
Volunteers working with Seva Mandir include helping them with day-to-day work, conducting research, developing training modules as well as undertaking independent assignments. Volunteers are provided with fully furnished guest houses or dormitories. However, they are responsible for their own meals.
- Sadhna Village, Pune: The organization works for the intellectually disabled and underprivileged adults and is based in Pune. The focus of the Sadhna Village is on education and it is taking in volunteers since 1995. The volunteers assist the residents with various workshops, community development projects directed towards women and children as well as other cultural activities.
The organization asks for a minimum of two- month’s commitment from the volunteers. Accommodation and meals are provided. However, the village does not receive any government funding and thus donations are welcomed.
- Ladli: Ladli, which literally means “a loving girl” is relatively a small organization that serves for the vocational training of about 100 orphaned, destitute, and abused children. Ladli invites volunteers to work in a number of fields such as child care, English teaching, and various other vocational and recreational activities for children.
At any time during the year, there are about 2 to 3 overseas volunteers. Work is not time-bound and volunteers can work for any duration as they like. Working with children is one of the most rewarding times of life for anyone and helping them learn is most fulfilling. Most of the work is flexible so that there is a lot of freedom to work for volunteers at their own pace and time.
There are a number of important things that should be kept in mind before deciding to volunteer at a foreign place. Let us see those pointers.
- Choosing an Organization: Choosing an organization is the first and one of the most important steps. Consider only those organizations that can utilize your skills to the maximum and are able to best put those skills in the receiving group who can benefit from them. This can be a tough task and needs a lot of research before actually taking a plunge. The most important thing is that the organization should give you ample space to freely and fully express yourself.
- Time Obligations: This aspect needs realistic thinking about how much time you can devote toward a project. On the part of the organizations, it varies. While some groups do not put any obligation on you regarding the time you can devote, with others, you may need to put in at least a month. Ideally, to make any positive impact, you should be ready to put in at least a month or more. This is also an ideal duration to actually understand the culture and needs of the receptor group and comprehensively impart the benefits.
- Money: Money is of course important and most of the volunteer organizations expect you to cover the costs of your food, transport, and accommodation. Besides, some of them may also expect you to actually donate toward their funds. Thus, again, research is important as to where and how you would be living and the living costs of that area. Use your budget with discretion and use any money that you may be spending for beneficial purposes.
- Working hours: It is necessary to think about working hours before signing up for an organization. Most of the organizations require you to work full time which is usually the office hours of 9 to 5. Move ahead only if you are comfortable with such a schedule or else if you need greater flexibility choose a different organization.
- Transparency: An organization’s transparency is probably the most important facet to consider before joining. Not all organizations that have volunteer openings are good and are doing necessary, ethical work, developing communities or ecosystems. Moreover, many organizations are also not transparent about how they spend their money. Thus, select only honest and reputable organizations that are open about how they spend their money so that any effort you would be making should be towards a positive and conclusive goal and not just a waste of your time.
Volunteering in a foreign country, in mostly uncomfortable and unfavorable conditions, but bringing smiles to the faces of people and children can be the most satisfying experience of a lifetime. This is one of the best ways not only to make inroads into different cultures and social settings but also into the very hearts of the people.
With a great number of flexible options available to volunteer as you travel, giving back to society as you explore this beautiful world is not at all difficult. Come and volunteer in India and you will experience a life-transforming adventure that you would have never hitherto experienced before.