Finding Volunteer Programs in India - Where to Start
India is a very beautiful country to visit for a holiday. It is also a great place to work as a volunteer as there are so many issues where the Government assisted by non-profit organizations is working hard to address. Some of the top priority concerns include literacy, displacement, health, poverty, women empowerment, animal welfare, human rights, displacement of tribal people, and child labor.
Where do you start looking?
The best way to start is by looking up directories of internationally reputed non-profit organizations such as UNIFEM, UNICEF, UNESCO, Child Relief and You (CRY), CARE, USAID, YMCA, YWCA, Bread for World (BFW), CARITAS, DIAKONIA, CIDA and SIDA among others. The advantage of working with established and internationally reputed non-profit organizations is that, they are well organized and have adequate infrastructure and network both at regional and national levels. This is very important when you are volunteering for the first time in an environment that is so different from yours. The experience you gather from your first encounter with volunteer work in India would help you decide your future course of action.
Another advantage you get from starting out with such well-established organizations is that they can provide you appropriate guidance and training so your intervention would be as meaningful as possible. Once you establish a relationship with such non-profit organizations, you would gain access to a wide choice work round the year as well as a large network of smaller local organizations. From this platform, you would be able to identify legitimate NGOs (non-governmental organizations) which do genuine work in your areas of interest.
Be prepared for India
The NGO that offers volunteer programs would definitely brief you of the dos and don’ts in the country. Nonetheless, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Most rural regions in India are malaria and filaria prone. Therefore, you need to use mosquito net at bedtime and appropriate mosquito repellants during daytime. Wherever possible ask for prophylactic medication.
- Be aware of the cultural differences of the country. Avoid physical contact of any kind, including handshake as touching between men and women is considered as inappropriate behavior. Women need to keep their body covered as showing of legs, cleavage, midriff goes against the culture of the country.
- Though there are cities and states where beef is served openly, in most places eating beef is considered a sacrilege. Pork is tolerated, though not common.
- Consuming alcohol in public is frowned upon - both for men and women. Women who drink and smoke would project a negative image of character.
- Life in villages and remote rural areas is simple and often lacks basic amenities such as toilets and closed batch enclosures. Find out the details of the place where your work is assigned, so you would not be faced with situations such as these.
- The water is not safe to drink even in large cities. Ensure that you carry a water purifier with you at all times.
- Women are not safe at night in most places. Be careful that you do not travel at night alone.
Money matters and other advantages that India offers you
You will find that volunteering in India is very reasonable from the cost point of view. Since the currency of US is much stronger than the Rupee, you would find that you are financially comfortable on budgets as low as US $400 per month.
Besides, you would have the opportunity to learn many things that are unique to this country such as yoga, meditation, classical dance, folk songs among others. India is also an outstanding tourist destination. You could always combine your volunteer trip with a vacation and get the best of the both worlds.
- http://www.ngosindia.com/ngos.php - this is a comprehensive portal that gives you not only a state-wise list of non-profit organizations in the country, but also describes key issues and development focus of the country
- http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/work/volunteer/volunteer_programs_india.shtml -
- you will find here listings of a wide variety of volunteer programs, dates, prices, and the like. This is an excellent place to start your search.
- http://www.volunteerabroad.com/India.cfm - this is a website that lists leading national NGOs (non-governmental organizations)