India

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

What a wonderful month I spent in Jaipur, the volunteer house is in a great location, very residential but not so isolated you can't get anywhere. The food provided by the organisation is honestly the best food I've tasted in the whole of India (and we travelled around on weekends!). Transport was provided to get safely to and from work, so all volunteers could plan their time off accordingly. I was initially a little nervous about teaching as I'm not a teacher at home, but as long as you listen in your orientation and have the motivation to make a difference, then there is nothing to worry about. Be prepared to spend your evenings coming up with lesson plans so you can maximise your full potential, as well as the kids! All volunteers are there for the same reasons, so it's very easy to make friends in the house, as everyone is pretty like-minded. Anyone who's looking to make a change - whether its internal or external - go for Sankalp.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Dec 21, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Upon arrival in Jaipur Sankalp arranged my pick up from the airport properly. After arriving at the volunteer house the "house mom" Puni showed me around and introduced me to the other people in the house. I immediately felt safe and welcome here.
The next day there was a introduction given by Amita who, together with her husband Prunay, is the contact person of Sankalp that is always available for your questions. I personally liked the fact that Amita did not only spent time on explaining the project but also gave some background information about the country and the city. She also explained the rules in the house which seemed a bit strict at first (no meat, no alcohol and be home at 21:30) but later on it appeared that Amita and her husband are just worried about your safety and when you communicate well with them about the time of coming home they are flexible.
Furthermore Puni's cooking was so good that even as a meat lover i didnt miss the meat just once (btw on the weekend trips you are free to eat and drink whatever you want!).
Speaking about the weekend trips i was surprised about the quality of the hotels. Most of them had a swimmingpool and they all looked nice. Better than I expected. The organisation also arranged a driver (Adjit) who took care of us very well during the weekends. He made me feel safe everywhere.

About the volunteerhouse: the house is located in Murlipura which is a bit out of the centre (30 minutes by tuktuk, only cost you around 2 dollar to go there so no big deal). I liked the location since it is less chaotic in this neighbourhood. Besides people are not so used to tourist here which makes the shopping good and people, especially children, treat you like a celeb.
The best thing about the house is the amazing rooftop terrace for a relaxing afternoon or a night underneed the stars..
The rooms are shared with 4 people and are not extremely spacious. The shower always has really hot water.

About the food: as said before the cooking in the house is strictly vegetarian but Puni's cooking is great. She cooks you lunch and dinner every day. Some people say its a lot of carbs but i couldnt care less, its just delicious! Brealfast you need to arrange yourself.

About the projects: I was lucky to be able to do both the woman empowerment and the orphanage. Both projects i really enjoyed and since they are so different from each other i cant say that one is better than the other. But I must say that woman empowerment might be easier since the conditions in the orphanage can be quite shocking for those comming from a western society (the bathing rituals and the fact that they dont use nappy's when volunteers are not there). You will get dirty every day but that doesnt make it more fun. If you consider the orphanage i would strongly recommend you to think about lice prevention.. i got them (my worst nightmare) but if i would have thought about the possibility of getting them on beforehand i think i would have taken better protection (wearing a showercap with a scarf over it or something).

Overall i would definately recommend doing the work and travel program with Sankalp. The only downside of including the travel it that you have only 3,5 week of volunteering and since Indians have some holidays as well it can even be less.

Program:
Location: India
Posted: Dec 16, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Didnt have a clue what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised.The programme was really good and the living accomodation was fine.The in house cook Puni was amazing and really took care of us.Amita and Pranay were always on hand to answer any questions about the programme.I didnt have a problem at all with the programme apart from other people using it as a holiday rather than a volunteer programme.Luckily this was only one person.But if you pay to Volunteer you are there to give your services however hard and distressing it maybe.You are made fully aware of what you are getting into beforehand.Overall it was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Dec 11, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I arrived to begin my 12 weeks working on the Street Children project in Jaipur in early August 2015. I booked my volunteering experience through Love Volunteers but on arrival found that it was only with Sankalp, the partner organisation administered by an Indian husband and wife team, with whom I would be working.

I arrived to the volunteer house just after Sankalp had thrown three girls out onto the streets with no-where to go. One of these girls was just 17 years old.
Their reason for this was that these girls had written a letter to Love Volunteers voicing their discontent relating to how little of what they had paid to volunteer was going towards the projects. Their complaints had been brought to the attention of the administrators of Salkalp and they were asked to leave. Needless to say I didn't arrive in a very positive environment.

During our induction, the project co-ordinator (the wife, for the husband speaks very poor English) told us more regarding India as a whole rather than the projects they oversee and what we'd be doing day to day.
The main issue was that most people only discovered during this induction that they would NOT be working for an NGO. Love Volunteers claimed Sankalp was a non profit organisation as do several sites on Google. In fact the Sankalp website still states they work with NGO’s. I never worked with an NGO during my 3 months.

Also within our induction volunteers learnt that instead of 'helping' at a school you would in fact be put in front of 5-12 children who speak very little English with no idea of where they are at with studies to teach them English and Maths. She also told me false information regarding the level of my class. Which as it turns out she knows nothing about appearing for only a few minutes three times during my three months at the school and barely associating with the children. This is just one example of many that reveal the lack of regard for both the volunteers and the projects shown by the two administrators of Sankalp.

On arrival at the school I found that there were in excess of 50 children in 8 classes with only one teacher. Each time a new volunteer arrived they were given a group of children and there was little continuity with the teaching. If there was only one volunteer at the school they keep their one class whilst the main teacher is expected to teach the other 7 classes, all at different levels.
Although the school has been open for 7 years there are no desks, two classes to each room, 3 classes taught outdoors under a shelter and very few teaching facilities.

Each volunteer had a different method of teaching, being of different cultures and nationalities, most with zero teaching experience and with no instruction and very few books on what to teach. There was no record of what previous volunteers had taught before. This resulted in the children being taught the same things over and over. In fact, a system of keeping the tests that are completed every Friday in a folder to show where each class was up to was only implemented a week before I arrived after Love Volunteers began questioning the setup of Sankalp due to the amount of complaints they had been receiving from previous volunteers.

I could go on and on regarding how disappointed I was with Sankalp throughout my stay there:
- 80% of the volunteers left early due to them being so unhappy with the setup of Sankalp.
- The lack of structure within all the programmes for example: The Women Empowerment programme that has very little to do with women or empowerment seeing as the girls are all below the age of 16 and learn nothing to do with the rights of Indian women but are only taught such things as English nouns and body parts. Again, like on the Street Children programme there was no record of what had been taught to the girls by the previous volunteers.
-The state of the volunteer house: the paint and plaster in the living rooms are peeling away drastically, the beds are horrifically dirty and volunteers are expected to buy their own work clothes, cleaning products and toilet paper.
- The 9:30pm curfew in place for everyone till two 50 year old Indian men came back each night at around 11pm and nothing was said...

This is just a very short list of examples of what I saw that was wrong during my three months working with Sankalp.

Steps were being taken whilst I was there to improve what the girls complained about: storage shelves were placed downstairs to hold pens, paper, pencils and other school essentials. New folders were given to us to keep the tests the children did each Friday in order to keep a record of what they had studied previously. It’s just a shame that it takes people complaining and Love Volunteers to start asking questions before the administrators decide to take any action towards improvement.

I can see how far Sankalp have come since being launched in 2006. During my 9th week myself and several volunteers were called downstairs to ask what Sankalp could do to stop receiving so many complaints. This was the first time I got any real answer to where the money was going (into their pockets and then spent as they see fit: her words not mine) and saw the pictures showing how far they’d progressed. Yet with the amount people are spending to volunteer compared to how much it costs to live in India, plus the amount of volunteers they’ve had through the years I’m afraid in my opinion they have not progressed enough.

I think the fact that during my three months I didn’t see one volunteer out of 40 leave satisfied with their experience shows how successful Sankalp really is.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Dec 8, 2015
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I spent one month volunteering in Jaipur in January 2013, traveling on the weekends. The attention the program has given us, as well as hosting, food and transportation was really good. I chose the Women Empowerment volunteering program where me and a girl from NY split and taught together girls from a village near by. I chose the older ones because they spoke more English and because of that I was able to treat them less like children and more like human beings living in our curent planet Earth. i taught them globalizaiton, world currencies, and also did a test in which they had to know what is their talent, work, knowledge, what are resources and what is Indias worst enemy. This was to make them understand that the country they live in has everything, but poverty is Indias biggest enemy, which was indeed the overall answer from each and every single one of them. It has been a life-changing experience for me without a second of doubt. Also because of the wonderful hindi vegetarian food cooked in the house everyday, I turned into a vegetarian ever since - 3 years now - once I realize how people live well and deliciously without our Western unbalanced craving for constant meat. `We had to wake up very early everyday and had a curfew to return home, 8 pm. But it works since we all had the energy throughout the whole day to give to teaching and also see places of Jaipur. In the weekends the program has arranged amazing travels for the volunteers who chose the work and travel program and I have definetely experience a few of the best moments of my life in these travels, as well as in the teaching program. I could see from my girls that the frequency of english speaking volunteers has actually taught them english, and they are able to communicate even though their educaiton doesnt help so much and they are surrounded by a poor village, that in itself it extremely valuable.
On a note: I dont know how it works in India with these things since prices are always different however I do think getting couple a least of computer to teach the girls things like Word, and other basic things would be extremely helpful. I taught them Powerpoint and they all made presentations about themselves. This can be a valuable tool in the future for children who want to thrive in a system that was imposed on them,.
Overall, Sankalp Volunteer is an excellent program and up to today I recommend it to everyone. I am gratfefull to have chosen this program.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Nov 30, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I was there in august of 2014. It was a great experience teaching english and maths to childs that live in risk of social exclusion, although another volunteers were working in an orphanate and another programs that the NGO gets you to chose. It was a invaluable experience because you can learn how that culture and religion are, and how those people live. The NGO provide you tasteful vegetarian food and bring you everyday to your workcenter where you will work 4 hours, the rest of the day you will can enjoy the live in Jaipur.
Don't miss this opportunity to rise your awareness and your knowledge enjoy helping people!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Nov 30, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I arrived Jaipur with an open mind, and tried to have as few expectations as possible.
In the beginning of my stay everything was good. But the longer I stayed, the more I began to realize that there's something sketchy going on here.
Everyone working beneath Preney and Amita(the leaders) seems to be really scared of them, at least at Preney, and they don't seem to have a secure and safe working-contract.
Every time they entered the room people became quite, and walked around on their toes. And when we tried asking common everyday questions to one of the women working at the school she always asked us several times not to say anythinf to Preney and Amita, even though it was just normal things about her life, or about a holiday.

At the end of our stay we went out to meet a friend, and came back home 2 hours after the curfew. We sent a message to let them know we'd be late, but when we arrived back home they threatened to not let us back in, saying we should get a hotel. They also claimed they had been so worried, even though none of them had even tried to call our phones. The day after we went down to talk to Preney about it. He acted like a stubborn teenager and refused to discuss it and try to sort it out. We got thrown out, and had to leave the same day.

Earlier in the program there were to Indian men volunteering, they came back at the same time several times, but no one said a word to them.

I just hate that I put my money into this program, when seeing that most of the money don't even go to the volunteering programs, but directly into the leaders pockets.

I would not come here again, and I would not recommend it to anyone else either. I reckon you can find much better.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Oct 21, 2015
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

Thank you for submitting such a long review, which also happens to be our first Negative feedback since 2004. Here we would like to point out to the readers that Egreenwood and two other volunteers had been terminated from the Program due to noncompliance of organization rules and safety requirements. The Current Negative Review is in response to the above which has been fabricated and created by their own imagination. Please also note the following points: 1. Safety of the volunteer is our Primary objective. India being a mix of many cultures, religions, faiths and regional diversity Requires discretion on the part of the volunteers and they are required to adhere to the rules laid down for their own benefits, including house timings. 2. If 90% volunteers left unhappy from our organization then your Negative review would not have been the first one. 3. Running and Handling an organization such as this for over 10 years is not a Child's play and not every 20 year old has the experience or intellect to understand the complexity and the effort that is required to balance human and other resources. 4. Organization funds: Kindly note that no volunteer/health/childcare/Other organization in the world can survive without creating revenue for its future development and sustainability. We are not funded by the Govt. of India, neither we get any grants or special privileges. We have to develop and create our own resources in order to fulfil our commitment to help the underprivileged. Be it Land and building, Human resources, Transportation or Technical infrastructure. 5. Please note Macs, laptops, iphones, mobile phones are not status symbols, they are necessities. Be known that Apple has created a technical ecosystem that works best with its owned manufactured products. Surprising you found it wrong on our part making use of good technology for office work. And yes we have multiple parental homes and ancestral properties which is "none of your business" to get involved in and our personal matters. We Respect all Volunteers and seek the same Respect for ourselves to continue our efforts for creating a better environment for the underprivileged. Thank You.
I had a very similar experience to you except I did 4 weeks in the orphanage program. The majority of the volunteers who worked in other programs often shared how the staff seemed very intimidated by Pranay and I had first hand experience of feeling intimidated with him raising his voice and becoming very angry. My friends and I tried very hard to negotiate the curfew as we had plans to travel a little further (without using their expensive travel programs - which may have been why they were so inflexible with us). We planned to arrive back monday morning thinkng there wouldn't be any safety concerns as it would not be night. Without any rational explanation this idea was completely banned. My friends and I decided to go anyway and as a consequence were banned from volunteering for a week. I accept that there was a consequence as we went against their wishes, however instead of punishing us they punished the children who had to go a week without any one looking out for their welfare. It was heartbreaking.

AIM Abroad

I am really glad to have found such a wonderful organization in India .Aimabroad runs their own projects including Orphanage , Slum School , Special need school , Slum clinics and program for women Empowerment .I had an opportunity to participate in multiple projects , Accomodation at volunteer Guest House was wonderful and food was delicious .
All the projects are for the welfare of rural communities in India .

Faridabad city is also well connected to various cities by buses and Trains, this helps a lot in organizing weekend trips .
There is no registration fee involved and participation fee is very affordable .

So i would definitely Recommend this program to future volunteers .

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 19, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Program:
Location: India
Posted: Sep 6, 2015
Overall:
4
Support:
4
Value:
4

Comments

Hello, I would like to share the experience I had with IFRE in India. I have recently come back from a one month summer volunteering project where I worked in a slum school in Faridabad. Overall, I had an incredible and very positive experience in the country. However I also experienced a couple critical points with IFRE: 1) According to what I had to pay for this four week volunteer program, I realized during my work experience that certainly not a lot (if any) of the money reaches the school. There are no proper tables, no exercise books and few reading books in the school. For this reason I am wondering how the 1,899$ that I paid for this trip has been used by IFRE. 2) I noticed that IFRE does not require any background checks of the volunteers. Anybody, whether with good or bad intentions can work with the children in the school. This could be a potential danger for the students. 3) Volunteers do not need any teaching experience to work in the school. Additionally, no lesson plans or instructions on what to teach the pupils were given to me when I arrived in India. 4) I had difficulties with the payment of the trip; I was overcharged on one occasion and asked to repay the entire program fees on another occasion. Also, I had to email IFRE for an invoice. 5) Unlike mentioned on the website, where it states that "IFRE's staff also visits each volunteer every 1-2 weeks", the other volunteers and I got no such visits within my 3 week stay in the school. 6) IFRE (or Global Crossroads who IFRE works with) did not follow the program mentioned on the IFRE website accurately. For example I did not get to visit the city of Ranthambore at all. Unfortunately no alternative excursion was proposed to me. 7) On one occasion, my parents contacted the country coordinator in India and he gave them incorrect information about my location in the country. 8) During the time I was sightseeing, I was asked by the local IFRE/Global Crossroads contact to give extravagantly high tips to the drivers and guides. Therefore I do not recommend traveling with IFRE Volunteers.

Projects Abroad

I can not say enough good things about Projects Abroad. I was referred to this organization from a friend of mine and could not have been happier with the result. From the minute I signed up, there was immediate and constantly available support from my volunteer advisor, the travel team, etc. The amazing projects abroad staff took care of booking my flights, bus fares, host family accommodations, and work placement. I never felt uncomfortable or unsure of what was going on prior to my departure to India.
Once I got to India, I was placed with a great host family. The thing I was worried about the most was the language barrier- turns out my worries were for nothing, because my host family spoke perfect English. They took me on all their family outings and different places around the city. I felt like another member of the family. I had my own room and my own bathroom, definitely not something I was expecting and it was very gracious of my host family to let me use for my stay there. I also enjoyed spending time with the other volunteers from Projects Abroad. It was fun to meet kids my age from all over the world and share a mutually new experience. The Projects Abroad team in India held weekly events for us to attend and get to know each other better-a definite benefit when you're in a new place!
Futhermore, my volunteer placement was better than I could have ever asked for. I was in India as a veterinary volunteer and worked with a veterinarian who worked mostly with livestock. Not having much experience at all with livestock, the attending veterinarian and staff members were very patient with me as I learned. The best part about my placement was being able to do many things along with the vet instead of simply observing all the time-I thank Projects Abroad for setting me up with the veterinarian who allowed me to develop the practical skills I was able to there that I would not have been able to otherwise.
If you are looking for an organization to volunteer with, this is the organization for you. Everyone I interacted with throughout the traveling process was friendly and helpful- they knew how to get me the answers I needed to the questions I had. If I ever plan to do volunteer work abroad in the future, I will use Projects Abroad again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 20, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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