Volunteering in India : Enrich your Travel Experience
Voluntourism is a concept that has been gaining momentum around the world where travellers combine a desire to help out those less fortunate or make a difference with the opportunity to experience a new country and culture.
With 500 million people in India living in abject poverty, there are numerous projects that are calling out for support in the way of volunteers, support and donations.
While saying that volunteering is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience may sound cliche to some, it is an understatement for those able to see first-hand the potential long-term effects that many projects are having on the future for many Indians.
There is a wide range of volunteer projects for people to be involved with including children’s charities, healthcare, environmental causes, education, empowering women and encouraging small business enterprises.
It’s a matter of doing some research and finding an organisation whose mission strikes a chord with you and is doing its utmost to drive positive change within Indian communities.
A quick online search will show a veritable mine field of third party companies willing to facilitate volunteer placements, manage the paperwork and organise accommodation. To go through these channels, there is always and quite often a substantial fee involved. This is often used to cover administration costs and very little of it is actually seen by the charity themselves.
While this is can be a safe route for some people who prefer more support, there are many reputable charities who charge very little in the way of fees but instead understand the value of the time you can commit to them. Many of these charities can be approached directly so it is advisable to do some research on what organisations or NGO’s are needing volunteers in the region you plan on visiting. You may be expected to provide your own food and accommodation but many of these charities are only too happy to give guidance and support where needed.
The Educators Trust in Goa is one charity whose mission is to provide an education and childhood for local village and slum children. While requiring a minimum one month commitment from long-term volunteers who can teach in the schools, there are no ‘fees’ except a small cost to cover the T-shirt that must be worn and an expectation to look after your own living costs. They also provide many other opportunities for people who are staying in the region for only a short time but still want to help make a difference.
Taking time to volunteer will not only help shape the future of many struggling Indians and their families but it will also give you a sense of achievement and joy from helping them. It can also give you a rare glimpse into the culture and traditions of this amazing country that you wouldn’t otherwise see on the tourist trail.
Important note: Indian authorities now require all official volunteers to apply for an Indian employment visit. Information on this can be found here.
Some useful websites to visit for more information about volunteering in India are: