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Carol Griffin

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India in Southeast Asia is one of the prime volunteer destinations which one should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is a vast country, with about twenty percent of the world’s population, and has a diverse history, culture and landscape. In my 15 years of volunteering across various nations, India has been a country that I’ve returned to thrice. Volunteer programs here offer a lot of opportunities for everyone, no matter what causes you want to support. I love the Indian people, the country’s various subcultures, and its amazing cuisine. Last year I embarked on my third Indian volunteer trip, and it was quite a memorable one too.

As a developing nation, India is a place of contrast. On one hand, you have the India that is achieving new milestones in technology, finances and other yardsticks that are recognized globally. On the other hand, it is a nation with one of the largest poor populations, who live in poverty and lack access to basic necessities like good food, clean water, education and even shelters. As a volunteer, I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of the those in need. I am quite grateful that I have had the opportunities to do so, in India and other neighbouring countries within Southeast Asia.

Anyone Can Contribute to the Benefit of Indian Society

Volunteer travel in India is one of the causes that thousands of individuals from across Europe, North America and other parts of the world participate in. The country of more than 1.2 billion people has ample volunteer project options for everyone. It does not matter if you are a tourist who wants to volunteer, a gap year or exchange student who’s in India or a social worker. You will have an amazing experience as a volunteer there. Besides, finding volunteer programs online is quite easy.

All you need to do is look for the right volunteer organizations before you start on your trip. In case of India, there are quite a few reputed organizations that offer quality programs at very reasonable fees. It is up to you to do your research and find the best one for your needs. Book well ahead of your volunteering trip and you can find good deals on accommodation, food and local travel. All of these are generally included within the volunteer program fees itself.

Spending Some Good Time Helping Little Kids

In my experience, the education of children is one of the causes I felt the most for. There is a high illiteracy rate in rural and semi-urban society, as many children come from poor families and they can not gain admission to the better schools. I was keen to teach English at one of the primary schools at Dharamsala, where my volunteer centre was located. I had signed up with a different volunteer organization this time and enrolled in their teaching project for school kids.

It was great seeing the joy in the children’s faces and to my surprise, all of them were eager to learn whatever I was teaching. I later spoke to one of the program coordinators and learnt that the kids were generally receptive to foreign teachers, and quite excited each time someone visited them.

Volunteer Projects You Can Participate in To Help Kids

There are several other projects to help Indian kids which you can be a part of if English lessons are not your forte. For instance, you can teach them some basic computer skills, spend some time with them during art class, share your experiences and do much more. My program coordinator was quite helpful as was the translator guy.

Due to my prior visits, I do know some Hindi words and phrases that came in handy during my stay. Overall, the staff went out of their way to make us feel at home. In fact, I would say that this visit felt better than my past ones. The program just felt more organized this time. Volunteer work in India has been made easy by the advent of newer, more honest volunteer organizations. What these young men and women (the organizers, coordinators etc.) are doing is admirable. By choosing the right organization, you can be assured that your contributions are being put to good use.

Several Volunteer Projects To Contribute For

As a volunteer, you can participate in projects that contribute to different causes like, women empowerment, renovations, health-care and health awareness, summer camps for children, street children welfare projects and more. You can consult with past volunteers or read online reviews for various programs to make an informed decision.

Indian volunteer programs focus on improving the standard of livings for those in need. To think that many of these people even lack basic amenities that are abundant to us, saddens me a lot. I am convinced that I might want to visit Indian again, just to help out a little more. If you can bring a little joy and contentment to the lives of these unfortunate populations, I urge you to do so. Just a little bit of your time, dedication and effort can brighten their futures and bring a smile to their faces.

Please do share your Indian volunteer experiences with me below. If you have any questions or queries about volunteering in India, I can try to help you out.

Are you a foreign individual who is keen on visiting India this summer? In that case, you can enroll in a volunteer program. As a volunteer myself, I have felt that the country has a huge unprivileged population, especially in the rural areas. India is one of the most popular volunteer destinations for backpackers, tourists and gap year students and professionals. Every year, millions of individuals come down to Southeast Asia, to participate in various programs. Most of these focus on improving the living standards of the poor and needy masses.

You can help women and children get access to basic amenities like food, water and shelter. Some projects involve spreading basic education for rural children, building or renovating shelters and schools and helping out in extracurricular activities. Other volunteer projects deal with purposes such as women empowerment, computer education, basic healthcare training, skills development and more. If you are interested in contributing as a volunteer in India, there are ample options for you.

Here are some things to keep in mind before your proceed on your Indian volunteering journey.

1. India is culturally more diverse than a lot of other countries and it might take you a little while to get used to the norms there.

2. Apart from volunteering during the weekdays, you can go on sightseeing tours on your weekends there. You should always inform your program coordinator before your trip, due to security reasons.

3. You can also choose add-on tour packages that are offered by the volunteer organizations themselves.

4. Dharamsala in Northern India is one of the most popular volunteer destinations for volunteers. You can look online and find volunteering opportunities in other parts of the country too.

5. Volunteer program coordinators can suggest the best food and accommodation options according to your budget. However, you can choose your own, provided that it is not too far from  your volunteer center.

6.Remember that the fees you have paid to an organization include the costs of food, accommodation and transportation. Be wary of any significant extra costs in these aspects as you shouldn’t have to pay more for these amenities.

7. It is crucial to choose only reputed volunteer organizations for a smooth, honest and hassle-free volunteer experience. See what other volunteers are saying online about a particular volunteer program or organization.

8.Program itineraries are pre-planned and most volunteer coordinators provide information beforehand. It is advised that you book your travel and accommodation options beforehand.

9. There are options for you to extend your stay, beyond the specified duration of your chosen volunteer programs. For this, you need to pay on a daily or weekly basis.

10. Stay friendly with the local people and do not dress or behave in a manner that gets you too much attention. Locals can help you prevent getting duped by local transport providers or shop owners.

11. Remember that India is a tropical country and that temperatures might soar well above 30 degrees Celsius at times. Things to carry include water bottles, sun protection, mosquito repellents and basic medication.

12. Take the appropriate vaccinations required for first-time travellers to India. This will help to protect you from the most common diseases and ailments faced by most volunteers. Do ensure that you have taken vaccines for Hepatitis A & B, Yellow fever, Tuberculosis, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Malaria and Rabies.

13. Health-care is available and emergency situations can be handled by volunteer program coordinators. If you are suffering from any chronic illnesses or get sudden attacks or bouts, do inform them beforehand.

14. Some of the key projects that you can participate include –

* Childcare
* Women empowerment
* English lessons
* Basic computer lessons
* Street children welfare
* Renovation projects
* Summer camp activities
* Health-care

15. Learning some basic Hindi words can help you communicate better during your stay, as it is the most widely spoken language in major volunteering locations.

If you are considering coming down to India for volunteering, getting in touch with reputed volunteer India organizations is your best option. You can find all necessary information about program details, schedules and more. Most of these organizations ask volunteers to deposit fees prior to visits. This is done in order the ensure that the travel and transport options are ready when a volunteer touches down in India.

Volunteer While Also Enjoying Indian Culture & History
There are quite a few add-on tour options for volunteers during their stay in India. By participating in these, you can explore the important landmarks and natural beauty of India. You can take trips to locations like the Taj Mahal, go trekking in the picturesque Himalayan mountains, go on an adventure in Manali, visit the historical city of Jaipur, and do more. It can be the experience of a lifetime. So, you can make a marked difference in the lives of Indians, while having an amazing time. Are you interested in volunteering in India? Well, this guest post will be quite helping hand for you.