Facts You Need to Know Before Volunteering in India.

Many people of good will in and around India are willing to volunteer in support of a worthy cause. These pointers will help a potential volunteer in his preparation process.

Why do you want to volunteer?

The answer to this will help you narrow down your search. There are two broad categories of volunteers

  1. Skilled volunteers.
  2. Unskilled volunteers.

Skilled volunteers always seek to do the following;

  • To practice their skill and gain work experience
  • Give back to the community
  • Learn to apply themselves in a challenging environment
  • Learn to use a new technology or technique in their field
  • From a professional network and make new contacts

Unskilled volunteers are visiting India to;

  • Pass time on their summer break or college holiday.
  • Meet new people
  • Experience a non-conventional tourism tour
  • Bond with friends and family

There are organizations that can accommodate the needs of all these people. The best way to find one is to get a referral from like minded individuals that have successfully volunteered.

Are you looking to support a specific cause?

Many of the NGO’S in India rally behind a chosen need. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Women empowerment. It includes the liberation of victims of sexual slavery and domestic violence
  2. Teaching life skills through poverty eradication methods.
  3. Organic farming. Technology such as hydroponics and biological pest control is taught.
  4. Slum improvement. Decent basic shelters are put up for deserving candidates.
  5. Alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers where troubled youth are assisted.
  6. Talented youth get a chance to showcase their skills while undergoing training.
  7. Families with physically disabled members receive training and support while their children get education help in other areas of life.
  8. Alternative fuel sources and green energy
  9. Religion
  10. Children protection from abuse
  11. Environmental awareness

Liaising with registered voluntary organizations can get you contacts of groups with the above stated goals.

How much are you willing to spend?

All volunteers have to meet basic costs like travel,immigration and vaccinations. The organization you choose may organize your travel arrangements such as flights but you will need to bear the cost.

You may need to research on the vaccinations that are mandatory in your country. Hepatitis B and Malaria vaccines are mandatory in India. It may be advisable to take a temporary medical cover to assist you in case you fall sick while in India.

Additional expenses depend on the organization you choose to volunteer with and the level of comfort you want. You may need to foot the following bills;

  • Training fees. You may need to pay for the skills you will be taught.
  • Some places provide free shared quarters while others charge for private rooms. In some cases, you may need to find your own accommodation.
  • Your meals will not be provided, though some places have communal kitchens where you can cook your own meals.
  • Drinking water. There is a scarcity of good drinking water. You can save some cash forbuying drinking water.

Are you open minded?

It is easy to read about poverty and poor sanitation. It is not so easy to live the life you read about. If you have lived in a comfortable environment that has all the basic comforts of life, you may not be able to adapt to the lifestyle you will find. Be prepared to deal with the following.

  • Different food types. It is advisable to be adventurous, but also cautious when sampling new foods.
  • Cultural differences. The roles of men and women in India are defined and social classes called castes still influence how people are treated.
  • Inadequate toilets. You may experience this if you go deep into rural India, where 20% of the population do not have or use modern toilets.
  • No running water. This is also true in parts of the country where development is lacking. Temporarily forget your shower head and learn to bath in a basin or bucket. These are the things to consider if you want to volunteer in India. Do not let these weaken your resolve to help. Take on the challenge and make a difference.
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