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Volunteer in India School Project

Volunteer in India - Trip Info
 

Trip info for India

Country: India

Book your placement with £145. Then stay FREE for first 2 weeks, and then £50 for week 3 and beyond.

Change lives and volunteer in India 2015 - 2016

Volunteer in India

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.

 

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Volunteers and children pose for a photo after classes. Like most schools in rural India, the school is a low cost private school but fees are waived for 5% of the poorest and 25% of students get discounted rates.

About the Project

How does the project in India work?

This Nursery and Primary School was founded in 2004 to provide 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 in India

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.

Volunteers are invited to help the teachers and children supporting their daily activities and sharing their knowledge. No special educational background or work experience is needed in order to work successfully at this school.

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.

No formal teaching is required, simply following a textbook is enough.

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The home for young women with learning disabilities, 20 miles from the village school 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.

Are there any other volunteer opportunities?

Currently most volunteers are teaching at the school which is the primary focus at the moment. 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!

Volunteer in India

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

Do I need any training or qualifications?

No specific experience is required. For the India project all you need to do when working with children is bring 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's included in the project?

Accommodation is included. Volunteers stay at the school in a shared dormitory room. Usually there are enough beds to go around but between the middle of July and September, when volunteer numbers rise it may be a good idea to bring a camp bed to sleep on if you want to make sure you are covered. 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. Camp beds are usually better to keep off the ground and away from any creepy crawlies. In the hottest weeks of the year, volunteers often prefer to sleep outdoors so it may be a practical item to take in any case. Local support is provided on site from teachers and the school's director.

Pick-up and transfer from Chennai airport is automatically organised for all Chennai airport arrivals for approximately £40, paid on arrival.

What's not included?

Flights, insurance, local transport around India, meals (organised at the school for £3 per day midweek or with other volunteers in town at the weekend) visas.

Clothes for teaching

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.

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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.

 

About India

What can you tell me about India?

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.

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Maths and English are both taught by volunteers. But do not be put off by Maths, as you can see, only the most elementary number skills are required!

Climate: India has three distinct seasons although the south of India is warm to hot all year: Summer is from March to June, Rainy season from September to November, although the rainy season in Tamil Nadu is nowhere as heavy as the rest of India so should not interrupt travel as much as the rainy season might in Goa/Mumbai/Delhi.

Time difference from UK: GMT + 5.3hrs

Support

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.

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

Other volunteers

Will there be other volunteers?

We will Buddy you up with another volunteer so you can fly out together, just let us know at the time of booking. Even if you do travel alone, and about 9 in 10 do, 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 happens if I book with a friend?

All friends are met on arrival and transferred to the school together. Everyone stays at the school you all friends are kept together, not to worry!

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Two children pose for a photo inside the classroom. Facilities are basic and it is the custom in India for children to sit on the floor. Teachers have chairs but it is sometimes nice to sit on the floor with the children when teaching so you can be at their eye level. A cushion might be a useful addition.

What to Take

What do I need to take?

For teaching, chalk for writing on the blackboard will be useful together with individual mini chalkboard 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, 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 and 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.

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There are plenty of opportunities to play games and spend time relaxing with the children during breaktimes and whilst they wait for their school bus after classes.

Language

What language is spoken?

The language spoken at the school and in this area of Southern India is Tamil. It is a good idea to buy a phrasebook before travel and familiarise yourself with some basic expressions and greetings. 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.

Visas

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 which lasts for up to 6 months. This will also cover you for free time touristic activities after your stay at the school.  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.

Jabs

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Paradise Beach, Pondicherry.

Paradise Beach, Pondicherry

Price £10 train, hostel, beach

Considered the best beach in the region and worth a visit, 2-3 hours shoud 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 paddlling only but you might want to take swimwear just in case you get the chance or find somewhere in a neighbouring stretch.

Pichavaram Mangrove Forest

Price £12 taxi and boat hire

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.

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Forest boatmen will help get you into remote stretches.

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

Pondicherry Town

Price £10 train and hostel

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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

9th century Rajagiri Fort

Price £10 including travel

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.

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The 9th century Rajagiri Fort and temple complex is literally just up the road from the school so should not be missed!