The idea of volunteering in India is something that thousands of people consider on an annual basis. India is often viewed as one of the developing nations where volunteer help is most needed, as well as offering a chance to experience an entirely different culture to the Western experience that potential volunteers grow up with.
However, much is assumed about volunteering in India, and sometimes without fact to back up the assertions.
If you’re considering volunteering in this vibrant and diverse country, you need to know the reality of what such an undertaking involves; the best-kept secrets that are only known by those who have been there, seen it, and done it.
Read on for a comprehensive look at the realities of volunteering in India and the little-known secrets that you’ll want to take advantage of when choosing how you may spend your time.
India is more developed than you may expect.
For most people, the image is probably fairly rundown and derelict; mud roads, crowded streets, and a lack of facilities. This is the image of India that is often presented to the Western gaze, reinforced by TV shows and movies that don’t depict India for what it truly is.
Yes, there are areas of India that are exactly like you may be expecting in terms of poor facilities.
However, India is a developed nation with a healthy economy, vibrant mega-cities, and a tourist industry that is well-accustomed to dealing with visitors. Don’t assume that volunteering in India means living in a small village and working with meagre access to facilities; that may be the case, but you may also find yourself in an urban location that is almost identical to your home country.
If you’re worried about going without modern conveniences during your time in India, then you don’t need to be concerned.
The infrastructure is good, the internet is widely available in cities, and in many ways, the country is a picture of 21st-century living.
There is obviously more work needed in certain areas, but don’t assume that India as a whole is going to be stereo typically dirty, grimy, and undeveloped.
Volunteering in India takes on a wide variety of different experiences, so you can find something that suits your skills.
While you may associate volunteering in India with working in small, rural communities, there are actually a wide variety of different programmes available that offer a very different experience.
Below is an overview of some of the realistic volunteering programmes you may wish to join.
Computer literacy is just as important in the developing world as it is in the western world, so teaching computer literacy is a worthwhile and beneficial way of spending your time volunteering.
You can help an entire generation expand their horizons by introducing them to working with computers, the internet, and even basic programming skills.
Medical care is one of the more standard, well-known volunteering opportunities available in India, but you don’t have to be a doctor to be a viable candidate.
While classic medical assistance, such as that provided by medics or nurses, will always be valuable, there are plenty of less-conventional options such as working in yoga, meditation, or elderly care.
Educational work comes in a variety of different forms. You can work with young children, helping them to educate themselves for future life. Or you can work with adults, teaching English or just helping them learn the skills they need to make the most from their life experiences.
You do not need teaching qualifications to perform this kind of work; though it’s beneficial if you have them, there are plenty of opportunities for those without prior experience too.
Movement and sports are a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. By volunteering as a sports coach, you can enrich lives while encouraging a sense of fun for both adults and children.
A wide variety of different sports can be coached throughout India, so target your experience towards a sport that you already enjoy and know how to help others participate in also.
Women’s empowerment initiatives are relative newcomers to the volunteering roster, but can be incredibly fulfilling. India is not alone in having issues with domestic abuse and lack of female empowerment, but it nevertheless is an issue that you can seek to help address through volunteering.
You can volunteer in women’s refuges, or provide educational work in communities that can help bring a new source of empowerment to an otherwise often-neglected group.
One of the more well-known options for volunteering in India is working with vulnerable children. This can mean providing assistance in refuges, or working in the community to help educate and provide support to families who may be struggling.
While there is no doubt that this kind of volunteering can take an emotional toll, it’s also some of the most worthwhile and genuinely life-changing for the people that you assist.
India is a rapidly expanding and growing country, with a fierce economy and strong plans for the future. As a result, there are endless construction projects ranging from business offices to development of affordable housing, all of which need assistance from overseas volunteers.
This is work you can do even if you have little to no experience within the construction industry, and can give you the opportunity to truly shape the future of an emerging nation.
As you can see from the options above, one of India’s best-kept secrets is that the volunteering options are rich and varied. There is something for everyone in this sprawling, stunning country, so you should be able to find a volunteering opportunity that suits your personal skill set with relative ease.
One of the best-kept secrets about India is that volunteering in the country is not quite as alien as you may have been lead to believe. India is a country of languages — it’s thought that most Indian citizens have experience of at least five different languages or dialects — and English is one of the official languages of the country.
As a result, you won’t have to worry too much about making yourself understood or navigating through the country, which will help you settle in and make the most of your experience.
While it’s helpful to carry a pocket phrasebook, especially in less urban environments, for the most part you will be able to move through India with ease even if you only speak English.
You may have heard of the issues that travellers and volunteers can experience with the water in India.
What you have to remember is that this reputation is well-earned, and you will have to take all precautions when it comes to drinking water. Bottled water is readily available and will save you a huge amount of discomfort; it’s unwise to assume you will be fine to drink tap water as you normally would at home.
The problems are very real, so you will definitely want to continually invest in clean, bottled water during your time in the country.
While volunteering in India is hard work, work is not the only thing you will have the chance to do during your time in the country.
Most providers ensure they provide suitable exploration time, allowing you to experience the wonders of the country as a tourist as well as a volunteer.
You’ll be able to take in the sights, marvel at the stunning vistas, and generally explore as you normally would outside of your assigned volunteering times. It’s hard work, but there’s plenty of time for play in most schedules too.
One of India’s best-kept secrets is their open, welcoming, and downright pleasant attitude to volunteers.
Volunteers are widely welcomed, their contribution appreciated, and you will find yourself part of a local community in a very short time.
Some prospective volunteers wonder how their efforts will be perceived when they land in their host country; if you have these concerns about India, then you can be reassured that you will be seen as nothing but a beneficial, helpful, and appreciated worker.
The culture in India encourages adaptation of foreign workers, so you will experience nothing but pleasant greetings and integration into the culture for the entire time you are volunteering in the country.
Not only will this make your experience more comfortable and pleasant, but it will also allow you to achieve as much as possible during your volunteering efforts.
Volunteering in India may be very different in reality to what you have been led to believe the experience will entail.
There’s so much help you can offer in this vibrant, fascinating country, so if you want to make a difference in the world while enriching your own experience, why not head to India and learn a few secrets of your own?