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 placement details
Volunteer in India at a small school near the south-east coast and help children with their primary and pre-school education.
Not taught before? Few volunteers if any have teaching experience. The children are incredibly enthusiastic so teaching could not be easier if it is your first time. Often volunteers will share a class together with two or three at the front of the class together. It can often feel like a variety act and is nice and informal.
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.
What are the aims of the school project?
This 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).
Volunteer placements are available at the school at the following times of year: Mid June to end of September, November to mid December, mid January to end of March. If you are only available when the school is closed take a look at our alternative projects in Asia in Nepal and Cambodia which do not close for long school holidays.
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.
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 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.
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. Places are limited and fill quickly, early booking with friends is essential to enable everyone to volunteer at the same time.
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.
What’s included in the project?
Accommodation is included. Volunteers stay at the school in a shared dormitory room which may at times be mixed sex or staying together close by. 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.
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.
Important Update on Visas
Important Update: New rules have just been brought in for the previously recommended visas for volunteering at the school. Please contact us before arranging flights and/or applying for your visa (June 2017). 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.
All activities and excursions can easily be organised easily and independently 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.
|Volunteer options||Teaching variety of subjects at infant and primary school|
|Support||Pre-departure helpdesk, local staff provide in-country on site support|
|Project location||Southern India|
|Accommodation||On site shared accommodation at school or accommodation close by|
|Working hours||Variable and flexible Mon to Fri. Weekends free.|
|Language||English spoken by staff and school director. Local language is Tamil.|
|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 to mid Sept, 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||£50 Per Week for registered volunteers subject to availability. Flights, personal spending, meals, visa, travel insurance and local tours are not included.|
Usually accommodation is on site at the school so no travelling each day, or stay together close by.
Support: From teachers and the school’s director.
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.
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.
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!
Many of our returning India volunteers send us photos of their positive experiences in Asia. Click on the images below to get an idea of what to expect volunteering at our village school project in India.
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?
Yes. The rules have just changed for visas suitable for volunteering. Please contact us before arranging flights or applying for your visa. 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.
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. Email us contact[at]originalvolunteers.co.uk to get the help you need!
Teaching assistant celebrates landmark birthday by volunteering at a community project in India. A Teaching assistant from London decided to celebrate her 50th birthday by volunteering at a Community project in India during the Monsoon season. Chandrika Patel decided not to tell friends and family until just bef...
Simon's visit to the India project I volunteered in India for 2 weeks in July. I didn't want to commit to volunteering for longer as it was my first time and I wanted to leave a couple of weeks for travel afterwards. Looking back I wish I'd stayed for longer. After 2 weeks, I was only just getting the to know the fami...