India

Placement at a glance

Age 18yrs+
Volunteer options Teaching and Cultural experience
Support Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country on site support
Project location Southern India
Accommodation On site shared accommodation at school
Working hours Variable and flexible Mon to Fri. Weekends free.
Language English spoken by school director
Getting to project Pick up and transfer from Chennai, 2hr 50 minutes. 6am - midnight £40 midnight - 6am £60
Minimum stay 1 week
Project operates School open mid June - end Sept and open November to end of March (school closed for: 15th December to 2nd week January)
When to apply As early as possible as spaces limited.
Costs FREE 2 week stay exclusive offer for all volunteers registering with Original Volunteers (£125 Registration) on or after the 1st January 2015. Extra weeks are charged at £50. Meals available for all volunteers on site £3 per day. If you are already registered, the first two weeks are charged at £20 per week only. This offer is provided exclusively by Original Volunteers to help support this project in need.

Accommodation info

  • Shop in town Shop in town
  • Bars in town Bars in town
  • Chemist in town Chemist in town
  • Bus regular service Bus regular service
  • Taxis in town Taxis in town
  • Cash machine in town Cash machine in town
  • Bank in town Bank in town
  • Pay phone in town Pay phone in town
  • Internet @ the weekend Internet @ the weekend
  • Laundry - handwash or in village Laundry - handwash or in village

Basics, what to take?

  • Sheets, mosquito net, pillow
  • Toiletries

More info

Accommodation is on site at the school so no travelling each day! The village is small but the local town Villapuram, reachable daily, has all the usual facilities.

Volunteers share a large dormitory room on site and live Indian-style.

Support: From teachers and the school’s director.

Meet the project team

india-team-04

Unlike some volunteer organisations, we take great care in partnering with projects with a deep understanding the local people, community, lifestyle and culture. At the friendly village school you would not be in a better position for support from the school’s founder and director and the friendly staff.

The team in India will help you enjoy the project. Although the daily focus is the education of the children at the school, they will also support you in making a meaningful contribution to the wider community too. Volunteers have also taught cricket after classes, visited poor local families and the school’s partner charity in a neighbouring town.

The benefits of your local in-country team

What is a volunteer coordinator?

Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking.

What experience do volunteer coordinators have?

All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.

9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).

If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!

Who are volunteer coordinators?

At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.

Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.

Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.

Is there only one volunteer coordinator?

Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.

Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out

The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!

What do coordinators do?

Airport pick up

Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.

Liaise with local projects

If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.

Help organise specific placements

Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.

Show you around and help you to locate things

Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.

Provide an orientation on arrival

Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.

This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!

Help you when things go wrong

We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.

If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.

But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.

For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.

Help you when you feel unwell

Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!

Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.

While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.

For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.

Organise excursions

Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.

Return transfer back to the airport

Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!

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India placement details

Here’s everything you need to know about our volunteering project in India, including placement information, how to get there, what to pack and advice on other aspects of travelling.


 

About the project

What are the aims of the school project?

This rural Nursery and Primary School was founded in 2004 to provide a basic and global standard education to children living in underprivileged rural communities aged between 3-8 years, who cannot afford a good education. The school aims to teach the children a range of academic subjects as well as teaching them to love and respect each other.

There are a team of five trained teachers at the school so they are in need of all the help that they can get, with just over 100 pupils currently attending daily. Subjects which are currently taught at the school are: English, Tamil, Maths, Science, History, General Knowledge and Computer Science (without computers).

What will I be doing?

Volunteers are invited to help the teachers, perhaps by assisting or taking a small group when you are ready. Most volunteers taking classes work with the younger children teaching very simple arithmetic and spelling. Do not worry if Maths is not your strength, the timestables and simple adding and subtraction will be enough. No special educational background or work experience is needed in order to work successfully at this school and there are national curriculum books for you to follow.

Are there any other volunteer opportunities?

So far volunteers have been responsible for the annual school trip, colourful wallpapers and paintings, new school materials, songs, new games and teaching the children (and teachers) many more activities.

Further afield, the school directors also manage a residential home for women with learning difficulties. Volunteers have made group visits here to offer one to one attention, dance and games. These visits were a great success and warmly appreciated by both residents and staff. The directors hope in the future to offer more visits and placements. A shared self-contained apartment will be available for any longer stay female volunteers to live at the home. If you are interested in finding out more or perhaps making a visit during your stay at the school, let us know and we will pass your request on!

Do I need any training or qualifications?

No specific experience is required. For the India school project all you need to do when working with children is have enthusiasm and plenty of energy. Helping the children in India can be rewarding and you may soon find yourself expressing new skills that you didn’t even know you had.


What else do I need to know?

What support is available on the project?

All volunteers are provided with in-country support from their on-site English speaking coordinator, who at this placement is the director of the school where volunteers stay. This will be your first point of contact throughout your stay on the project.

volunteers-pose-for-photo-at-school-with-school-director-and-his-wife-india

Summer volunteers pose for a photo at the school with the school director and his wife.

As you can see, only the most elementary number skills are required!

Will there be other volunteers?

The school can only take a few volunteers at any one time. If you would like to increase your chances of sharing your stay with another volunteer we would recommend a stay during July and August. However you will rarely be alone as volunteers all live on site at the little school with the staff around for support and any help you need. Check out the travel buddy list and our main Facebook page too for others to contact you (leave a post with your project and month of arrival).

What will I be doing as a volunteer?

The focus and need for volunteers is to help the younger learners with simple English and arithmetic following the Indian national curriculum as a guide. You will generally be told roughly what you need to be teaching that week, or if you are very lucky, that day. An example may be spending the morning on adding and subtraction, for example 4+4=8, multiplication, 4*4=16 followed by the afternoon on learning new English words using your own pictures, for example door, chair, ball followed by the children drawing pictures and trying to memorise the spellings for your spelling test the following day. 

Will I have to teach a class on my own?

Volunteers tend to teach only an informal smaller group of children. It is quite rare to be left on your own with a large class unless you chose after arriving to teach the older children specifically. When teaching in the infant section, the usual teacher (who would be teaching your group when you’re not there) prefer to divide up the classes when a volunteer is present and stay close by teaching their other half. This means they can keep an eye on the children, that they are paying attention to you. The teacher may have to teach the whole group in a few weeks if there is no volunteer again so they won’t want them getting into bad habits!

Won’t teaching experience help me?

Not necessarily. In some ways on this project you may find it useful without any teaching experience from home as you won’t arrive with expectations or western style teaching styles which might not be easy to adapt here. Teaching styles can be a little old fashioned in India. The modern and western approach of ‘freedom of expression when learning’ is rare in poorer schools. Teachers in India feel more comfortable when sticking closely to the Indian national curriculum conducting their classes in a formal repetitive manner with their students rigidly paying attention to their teacher in as close to silence as possible. 

What happens if I book with a friend?

All friends are met on arrival and transferred to the school together and will stay together during your stay.

What do I need to take?

For teaching, chalk for writing on the blackboard will be useful together with some individual mini chalkboards for the youngest children to have each to practice their writing on (this saves the cost of paper). There are a few already at the school so just one or two to top up may be useful. For yourself a mosquito net is essential, a water bottle, small locks for your luggage as you will be sharing a room and torch and batteries or wind up torch for longer stays, head torches are popular for middle of the night trips to the toilet, purifying tablets and some Barocca tablets to take the taste from the tablets or re-hydration sachets will be practical.

Flip flops will be a good idea for showering as bathroom facilities can be considered rustic at best! Plastic jug and mug for showering, a plastic sealable container may be practical to store food and snacks. In essence, the best way to prepare for your stay at the school to make your stay comfortable is to think that it will be like camping. You may also want to bring a little cushion to sit on in the classroom as some volunteers like to sit on the floor with the smallest children. It can be a good idea to learn some nursery rhymes with actions before you arrive, the children may know head, shoulders, knees and toes, but there are plenty more they be exposed to. A quick search in You Tube should give you plenty of ideas.

Two girls pose for a photo in the classroom. Facilities are basic, the custom to sit on the floor, so a cushion might be a useful addition.

Volunteer with her class. It’s not easy teaching at this rural school in the heat but it makes it all the more satisfying when your students progress.

What’s included in the project?

Accommodation is included, at the current time the first two weeks are not charged and volunteers only cover the cost of meals. Volunteers stay at the school in a shared dormitory room which may at times be mixed sex. Contact us shortly before travel and we can find out if needed at the time of your visit when everyone has confirmed their travel plans. Local support is provided on site from teachers and the school’s director although only the director speaks English (with a strong accent admittedly but after a couple of days you should be accustomed), he is usually on site most days.

Pick-up and transfer from Chennai airport is automatically organised for all Chennai airport arrivals for approximately £40 if arriving during the day time, this is paid on arrival.

The home for young women with learning disabilities welcomes volunteers from the school to visit for the day to dance and play games. Speak to the school director about arranging a group visit.

tab-india-school02

School children take a drink. Water is still a scarce resource in India, at the school volunteers and children draw water from the well. Volunteers buy bottled water and soft drinks in town.

 

What’s not included?

Flights, insurance, local transport around India, meals (organised at the school for £3 – £4 per day midweek and an entry visa to enter India.

What do I need to wear?

Loose clothing covering the upper arms and legs is essential. Most female volunteers like to wear Punjabi dress, the same as the teachers which can be bought cheaply locally. Anything tight-fitting is regarded as virtual nudity so best to leave tight leggings and tight jeans at home or in your luggage for travelling afterwards.

An alternative for Punjabi dress for female volunteers might be loose palazzo pants and a loose T-shirt which covers the upper arms. For guys, loose cargo pants or chinos and a long sleeved loose shirt is preferred.

What language is spoken?

The language spoken at the school and in this area of Southern India is Tamil and quite different to Hindi which is spoken throughout much of the rest of India. An analogy would be like comparing Welsh to English. It is a very good idea to buy a phrasebook before travel and familiarise yourself with some basic expressions and greetings which you will need to communicate with the regular teachers who will in the classroom beside you, although the director speaks English.

With the children it is preferable to speak in English. English is still the second language of India. Having good spoken English is a sign of a good education and many of the larger firms will expect all their staff to be fluent.

volunteers-play-games-and-spend-time-relaxing-with-children-during-breaktime-india

There are plenty of opportunities to play games with the children during break times and whilst they wait for their bus after classes.

tab-india-school04

Most families work on the land on a minimum wage which is just enough to pay rent and buy basic food.

What visa do I need?

All volunteers holding British passports participating on unpaid volunteering in India, regardless of institution or sending organisation require an employment visa or now more commonly an ‘entry visa’ which lasts for up to 6 months. A tourist visa is not permitted for any stay at the school and immigration police do make regular visits to check all volunteers are on the correct visas. Having a tourist visa may require leaving the country on a 72 hour deportation order – not recommended! 

We will help you at no charge with the required letters to make your application. If you hold another passport, contact your nearest India Embassy or official India visa agency for advice as requirements can vary for different nationalities. If you have any questions on this or any other visas please contact us.

What jabs do I need?

Jabs will be needed for any trip to India. Please visit our jabs section for advice on India travel preparation and what to look out for to stay safe.

What is the money?

The currency of India is the Rupee. British Pounds and American Dollars are accepted in most larger towns although it is hard to change more than British Pounds at any one time. Visa/credit cards are accepted.

What is India like?

India, in South Asia, is the seventh-largest country in the world and the second most populous! It is amazingly rich in culture and all your senses will be struck from the moment you arrive in Delhi until the moment you leave for home. Discover the inner peace of Delhi, rich with architecture, human diversity and steeped in history.

From snow-dusted mountains to sun-washed beaches, tranquil temples to feisty festivals, lantern-lit villages to software-supremo cities, it’s hardly surprising that this country has been dubbed the world’s most multidimensional. India values culture and tradition and is the perfect country to be dazzled in, as you discover the treasures that make India so magnificent.

What is the weather like?

India has three distinct seasons although the south of India is warm to hot all year: Summer is from March to June, The rainy season in Tamil Nadu is completely different to anywhere else in India, including Goa. In Tamil Nadu the rainy season is September to November, is lighter than elsewhere and so should not interrupt your experience or travel.

Time difference from UK: GMT + 5.3 hours.


Free time in India

All activities and excursions can easily be organised after arrival. We recommend getting in touch with other volunteers before you go so you can make plans for the weekends and explore together, it’s more fun that way! Add yourself and search on the Travel Buddy list or we can forward your email address to others travelling around the same time as not everyone adds themselves to the buddy list.

India 1 Surf lessons 2

Learn to surf in India.

Surf lessons

Price £9.50

Head to the small fishing village of Tandarayakuppam, 15 minutes out of town. for group or private lessons with the surf school Kallialay, founded in 2009 by two Spanish surfers.

Group lessons are £9.50 and private lessons one to one are £15.


india-paradise-beach-pondicherry

Paradise Beach, Pondicherry.

Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

£10 travel and hostel

Considered the best beach in the region and worth a visit, 2-3 hours should be enough. To get there take a train or bus from Villupuram to Pondicherry.

Train departs 2pm and 5pm, and takes 45 minutes. Then head to Chunnambar Boat House, an entrance fee of approx 30p is required and they will take you from there to the beach for a further £1.20. Take shade, sun hat and plenty of drink and snacks. Swimming is discouraged as this is a government beach and they worry about the currents, so officially paddling only! But you might want to take swimwear just in case you get the chance or find somewhere in a neighbouring stretch.

Price £10 train, hostel, beach.


india-pichavaram-mangrove-forest-boatman

Forest boatmen will help get you into remote stretches.

Pichavaram Mangrove Forest

Price £12

The Pichavaram mangroves are the second largest in India and an essential activity to include. It has grown in popularity since it featured in a Bollywood film.

From Chidambaram, take a bus (10p) or taxi (£7) to the boat house. It can get very hot in the mangroves, take a sun hat or t-shirt to cover your head, plenty of drink and insect repellent and use toilet before you arrive as facilities are non-existent. Options are either guided rowing boat (£1.50 hour) or guided motor boat (40 mins £10).

Rowing boats can get you into the smaller tributaries and unlike motor boats do not scare the wildlife away but you will have to offer to pay the boatman more to go into the smaller streams. Experience best in dry sunny weather.

Price £12 taxi and boat hire.


india-pondicherry-street

Pondicherry is only 45 minutes from Villupuram and is a colourful ex-French colonial town.

Pondicherry Town

Price £10

When you walked the beach promenade and spent the afternoon on Auroville beach to the north of town, head to the Tourist Office and join a walking tour of the French quarter to complete your visit and learn more about the history of this colourful French colonial town. You can also enjoy a tea and coffee at one of the French bistros which have opened recently.

Tourist Office Address:

40, Goubert Avenue. Pondicherry-605 001, India Tel: +91 413 2339497 Email: [email protected]

Price £10 train and hostel.


india-fort-venkatera-near-gingee

The 9th century Rajagiri Fort and temple complex is literally just up the road from the school!

9th century Rajagiri Fort

Price £10

Literally up the road from the school, the fort and temple complex cannot be missed. Bus to Gingee and then take a taxi to entrance. As with many Indian places of historical interest there are few visitor facilities and the this is the case at the Gingee complex, no toilets or cafe so take lots of drink, sun hat and lots of food. A guide is not needed to climb to the top. Plan to arrive at 9:30am before too hot and avoid grey days as the clouds may be low and obscure the view. Wear walking shoes or trainers as terrain tough and take camera. There are other sights here but start with the fort climb as the view will be the highlight of the complex. Should reach top with breaks along the way by 1pm.

You can see how much energy you have left when you come down for the temple or make a second visit.

Price £10 including travel.


India 3 Kerala backwaters

Visit Kerala if you have time before heading home.

Kerala backwaters

Variable

The Keralan backwaters are a network of lakes, rivers and canals lined by over hanging picture book palm trees and fishermen passing by in handmade boats. Allow 4 to 5 days to see the waterways and beaches. Regular trains from Villupuram station to either Nagercoil or Cochin. Kerala houseboats with crew and meals start at £100 per person per night.For budget travellers, head to Kollam, 60 miles south of Cochin and pre-book a canoe and guide on Munroe island for a couple of hours, approx. £7.


india sri lanka nda haei ov

Go crazy and add on a trip to Sri Lanka after your volunteering.

Sri Lanka

£90 rtn flight

Add another country to your trip and hop over to Sri Lanka. As the crow flies it’s only 200 miles away. Fly from Chennai, from £45 each way, or take the train, bus and ferry for approx. £50 each way.

Visa on arrival. Coming from India, a Yellow Fever Certificate will be needed.



What happens after I have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
  • You will also receive an email confirming your place and guiding you through the next steps in preparing for your trip.

Below is an example timeline of what to do next after booking

  • At anytime : As soon as you have booked with the once only registration fee, you will need to get a return flight to Chennai. Flights can go up considerably over time and you may save one or two hundred pounds by buying early. There is generally no difference in cost between a two week or eight week return flight so if you can afford to cover your weekly stay and have the time available it can be more economical to stay longer. Most volunteers  say they would have stayed an extra week if they had realised. Most flights from the UK arrive either extremely early in Chennai or very late at night but a pick up and transfer is available 24/7 regardless of time of arrival. The driver is quite used to this. Search for flights on the website skyscanner.net or call a few agents (Dial A Flight, Trailfinders) and ask for their best quote before you make a purchase.
  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates.
  • 3 to 4 weeks before travel: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are essential and need to be started before travel – consult a good pharmacist about 2 weeks before travel. There is occasionally the need to have a Yellow Fever jab and acquire a certificate to obtain your visa and you will need one if you plan to add on a trip to Sri Lanka after your stay. If you would rather not have the Yellow Fever jab for India, it is a good idea to contact your nearest India Embassy or Consulate as soon as you can to see if it is a requirement so you have enough time. Visit our travel health section for more advice on how to get your jabs organised.
  • Anytime before travel : Arrange suitable travel insurance – this can often be bought at the same time as your flight, ensure medical bills and repatriation are included as medical bills can soar in India without adequate insurance.
  • 4 Weeks before travel apply for your visa: An entry or employment visa is required before travel to India for UK passport holders. Unlike some projects where bureaucracy can be simply a case of politely ignoring the official line and keeping your head down, in India spot checks by officials throughout the countryside are commonplace. If you are a British passport holder, you are strongly advised to obtain an employment visa to prevent any problems. The usual official response is immediate departure home or to a neighbouring country, Sri Lanka or Nepal. When applying for your visa, do not apply too early but allow enough time for last minute bureaucracy requirements or changes which happen from time to time. 5 to 6 weeks should allow enough time.  The basic process is apply online, then print and send the form to the consulate with your actual passport, not a copy. You are strongly advised to pay the extra postage for special delivery with tracking there and include an additional special delivery envelope for the return journey back to you even though this may cost approx. £7 each way. Without a passport it will not be possible to swap project and travel elsewhere so it is worth paying the extra to make sure your passport is not lost in the post. If you live in or near London it may be advisable to drop off your passport and form and collect in person. We will prepare your invitation letter and other details you may need. Please email us at any time should you need anything. Current as of November 2014, the employment visa lasts for 6 months and costs £285, an entry visa costs approximately the same as a tourist visa and is £95.
  • As soon as you have your flight to Chennai: Email us your flight to organise your pick up.
  • At anytime : pay for your project – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
  • We will organise your pick up and transfer from Chennai airport automatically when we receive your flights.

India specific questions

Do I need experience?
Volunteers do not need any experience to be a successful volunteer at the school. Lessons are taught informally, often sitting on the floor in a circle and shared between volunteers in the same classroom. The only requirement is to come with an open mind and be able to adapt to a completely new way of life at this little rural school.

Where will I be staying?
Volunteers stay on site at the school. Conditions are basic and should be considered rudimentary, drawing water from a well to wash in, although there is a private toilet cubicle, it is a squat toilet! Anyone who has enjoyed the challenges of rustic camping and music festivals will generally find the facilities acceptable. Volunteers share the same bedroom dorm style. Volunteers normally travel together into the local town for evening meals. There is also an opportunity for female volunteers to live in at a home for mentally disabled young women about 20 miles from the school and help with stimulating activities. Speak to the school director after arrival if you would like to get involved.

Do I need a visa for India?
It is not possible to volunteer on a tourist visa. All visitors to India who will be volunteering require either an ’employment’ OR ‘entry’ visa and this needs to be obtained in advance. We can provide letters from the school if required, please email us. The local immigration police make regular checks on the school to ensure all volunteers have the correct visas. In the case of any volunteer having a tourist visa the police issue a 72 deportation order to leave the country which is strictly enforced. 

Do I have to arrive on a particular date?
There is no fixed start date. Airport pick ups can be arranged for any day at any time 24/7. Although it makes sense to arrive early in the week to get settled in and make friends before the weekend when volunteers get together and head to the coast to explore and relax.

Will I be placed with my friend/travel Buddy?
Everyone with friends are met together at the airport and stay at the school together, no one is split up!

I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
Take a look at the Buddy List, our main Facebook group or pop us an email after you’re booked and we’ll connect you up!

Will I need any jabs?
Sadly for India, yes a few jabs and boosters will be needed. Hepatitis A; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus; Typhoid usually advised. Cholera; Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis may also be recommended. Malaria tablets not generally recommended for this southern part of India (Taken from the nhs website fitfortravel 21/08/13). For up to date health advice please consult a trained travel health professional or your doctor. A Yellow Fever certificate is not required if you are arriving by air straight from a ‘non-infected’ country or from a country where they have ‘disinfected’ the plane (for example if your plane landed in Africa first to refuel and pick up passengers). For more information on the rules regarding Yellow Fever by the World Health Organisation please visit : http://www.who.int/ith/chapters/ith2012en_countrylist.pdf

Do I need to bring anything for the children?
All basic materials are provided and the school follows its own curriculum. Most volunteers take their own supply of pens, felt tips and notebooks. A Tamil phrase book will be useful (the local language).

Should I bring anything for me?
A mosquito net is an essential. We will provide you with a list of things to take upon booking and update you shortly before travel if the project recommends volunteers bring anything out with them. Clothes-wise, because volunteers live at the school, conservative clothes are essential whilst at the school, trousers or a long skirt ideal. Most female volunteers find Indian-style hareem pants (available from Primark stores in the UK for £5) practical.  Many female volunteers buy saris after arrival to use whilst teaching to experience the culture and fit in with the local teachers!

How can I keep in touch with home?
Internet can be accessed in the local town, volunteers often pop into town on a daily basis for meals.


Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email [email protected] get the answers you need!

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