1.0 About iSpiice and Our Volunteers
1.1 What does iSpiice stand for?

iSpiice stands for Integrated Social Programs In Indian Child Education. iSpiice provides international volunteers with the opportunity to genuinely improve the lives of women and children in the rural villages of Dharamsala.

1.2 Where is iSpiice located?

The iSpiice Volunteer House and Programs are located in Dharamsala, Himachel Pradesh. We’re far from the hecticness of Delhi and the crazy side to India. The Hindu culture lives by the deeply ingrained philosophy that “guest is God,” and our volunteers will really notice this when working in the villages of Dharamsala.

The area is famous for its lush green vegetation, sheltered by the magnificent snow capped Dhauladhar range in the Himalayas. We’re close to Dharamsala town and McLeod Ganj town, however the house and our work is situated in Palampur town.

1.3 Who Volunteers with iSpiice?

iSpiice volunteers come from all corners of the world and from all walks of life. Participants share similar motives for volunteering such as a passion for helping others and the desire to meet like minded people while travelling.

Participants are welcomed from the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit. Children under the age of 16 are only accepted if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Volunteers join iSpiice individually, as a couple, with a friend, in a group and we also take large groups of university students who come every year from USA and France.

2.0 My Placement and Volunteer Programs
2.1 What will I be doing?

Volunteers typically work from Monday to Friday for a total of 4- 5 hours per day.

iSpiice Volunteer Programs focus on education, care and empowerment. These are carried out in various partner centers such as Schools, Child Care Centers, Slum Housing, Work Groups and so on. While the requirements of each community group will differ there are some common activities that we offer for our volunteers and of course the communities we support.

2.2 Can I choose my Programs?

Volunteers are given the opportunity to select their preferred Program and we will do our best to secure these Program. In some cases, we may already have Program running that we need to maintain. You will soon understand it depends on the most important community needs at the time of your stay.

2.3 Do I need to have specific skills or qualifications?

There are no specific educational requirements for our Programs (except those working in Health Care) and anyone with a heart to help is welcome. Proficiency in English is required and volunteers should be patient, compassionate, committed and willing to learn.

Programs require people who are outgoing and friendly with a good sense of fun and who will be able to fully immerse themselves into daily life in the various work areas and the community. It is important that you are able to work off your own initiative when required. An enthusiastic and positive attitude for all volunteers is a must.

2.4 Do I need to have a background in teaching to take the English classes?

No you do not require a background in teaching, but you do require passion and patience. We have plenty of course work guides and other teaching materials for you to prepare your lessons once you arrive.

2.5 I am not a native English speaker. Can I become a volunteer?

English need not be your mother tongue but you must have an advanced level of English to participate in the program. If English is not your first language the Placement also presents a great opportunity for you to improve your own English language skills.

2.6 What is the minimum and maximum amount of time I can commit to?

2 weeks is the minimum amount of time you can volunteer with iSpiice and 12 weeks is the maximum. Our volunteers that come for 4 weeks or more enjoy having more time to immerse themselves into the Indian culture – getting to know our village, their work and the local people very well.

2.7 Can I start my program on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday?

If you are flying to Dharamsala you can arrive any day of the week, we’re flexible. We have however found it’s easier for our volunteers and community if you arrive on the weekend and start work on a Monday.

For all volunteers being collected in Delhi, they must arrive on the designated Sunday start dates. Here they will be met at the airport and travel by overnight bus or train to Dharamsala, with an iSpiice staff member.

2.8 Will I be working with other volunteers?

This will depend on volunteer numbers and volunteer preferences but most often you will carry on volunteer activities alongside a partner or in small groups. If you apply along with a friend/partner we can place you together in the same Volunteer Programs.

3.0 Travel and Add On Tours.
3.1 Can I choose my ‘Add On Tour’ when I arrive?

Not in all all cases. We suggest to our volunteers please tell us before arrival in India.

3.2 Will I have time for sight-seeing and in-country travel?

Weekends and evenings are at your disposal to explore the local area and pursue personal hobbies. There are many activities to enjoy in the area such as yoga, meditation, temple visits and shopping. Program offers four Add On Tours at the weekend as an additional extra, visiting the Jaipur & Taj Mahal in Agra, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, adventure trip to Manali and trekking in the Himalayan mountains.

3.3 Can iSpiice help with booking onward travel?

Of course! If you are continuing travel in India after your Placement ends iSpiice can assist with onward travel, offering advice for itineraries and travel bookings.

4.0 Services and What’s Included?
4.1 Will I have to arrange my own transport during my Placement?

No, iSpiice will provide private car transfers to and from your work Programs and organise every means of transport throughout your stay including Add On Tours.

4.2 Will I need to prepare my own meals?

We have fabulous cook that make authentic home style Indian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day (all of which are included in your Placement Fees). We mainly serve vegetarian food (lentils, vegetable curries, eggs, rice, and Indian breads) but can cater to any dietary requirements if you give us some warning. Our volunteers miss the iSpiice food when they’re back in their home countries.

4.3 Can I fly to Dharamsala instead of catching a bus/train from Delhi?

There are generally three flights per day from Delhi to Dharamsala. The iSpiice house is only 45 minutes from the airport and one of our staff members will pick you up and drop you off. You will need to book the flight at your own expense and inform us of your flight details.

4.4 What is the accommodation like? Will I be sharing a room?

Accommodation is large house in rural Dharamsala. The house is comfortable and the location is beautiful with access to all local amenities. Accommodation is very communal – food is eaten together and bathrooms and living spaces are shared. The number of people you will share with depends entirely on the number of volunteers we have in the house, but the maximum number of people in a room is 4. And in case you were wondering we have western toilets and hot water.

4.5 Is the accommodation safe? If I have valuable objects, where can I put them?

There is of course always a slight risk wherever you live, but iSpiice is not located in turbulent or unsafe area. Take the same normal precautions with your things as you would anywhere – don’t leave valuables out in the open. For extra precaution there is a locker available for highly valuable items.

4.6 Is there a washing machine at the iSpiice house?

As with most Indian homes, there is no washing machine at the iSpiice house. You will have to get used to the Indian way of washing your clothes by hand and drying when the sun is out.

5.0 Before My Arrival
5.1 What do I need to do before I arrive?

Read about our Programs and Placements

  • Submit your APPLICATION FORM via our website.
  • Once your Application has been ACCEPTED, please pay your application fee via PayPal.
  • Book your flights to Delhi (or in some cases Dharamsala)
  • Apply for your Indian visa in your home country. This often requires sending away your passport, so please give yourself enough time.
  • Visit your GP or travel doctor to discuss immunizations.
  • Purchase travel insurance.
  • Inform your bank that you’re travelling to India if you plan on using your local ATM card.
  • Change some money to Indian Rupees (around $100 USD).
  • Take photocopies of your passport, visa, travel insurance and flight details
5.2 How far in advance should I apply for iSpiice Volunteer Programs and kind of visa is require?

To give enough time to make necessary arrangements we advise you apply at least 1 to 2 months prior to your preferred start date. Program dates can fill up fast so the earlier you can make your application the better. Receiving an appropriate Visa for volunteering purpose is the volunteer’s responsibility. iSpiice strongly recommends all volunteers to apply and get an appropriate visa before departing for India, please check with your local Indian Embassy in your country for more details. If needed, iSpiice does provide with written document which would help volunteers in getting the Visa.

5.3 What immunizations are needed?

Please check with your local travel health departments. The general list is as follows:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Rabies
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever
  • Malaria
  • Japanese B

Some of these are placement-specific and seasonal, so again refer to your health professional for guidance.