India

Volunteering Solutions

I and a few others arranged a dental elective with volunteering solutions.... would recommend people really look around before committing to this program. We had limited exposure to patients. Went to schools where they could clearly afford toothbrushes and toothpastes and delivered OHI there. We also distributed the samples we took with us there. And have no idea what our money actually bought us there other than average accommodation in one of the dentists house and meals which even if we decided to pay for ourselves would have been dirt cheap and this is coming from someone who is off Indian descent and fluent in the language. When we tried expressing our dissatisfaction with the so called organiser there, he turned very hostile. If you want better value for your money and to see it put to good use, so not do a dental elective worry volunteering solutions in India. That's all I can say. Good luck.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 16, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
2
Value:
1

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I had attended the 2015 summer program and really enjoyed it. I wanted to make a review for the program, say some things about my stay, India itself, and tips for first time abroad travelers.
I was using the Verizon 3G network and had lots of coverage, more so than anyone else in my group. If you are doing just brief calling and texting I wouldn’t worry about an international plan at all. But I ended up unexpectedly using a lot of my data coverage for navigating my way through the city with Google maps, as well as finding places of interest and doing quick Google searches on something. You can very easily use up 100 meg and I would suggest getting on some kind of international plan if possible.
For my 3 week stay, I applied for the Visa on Arrival which was very easy and didn’t have a problem getting it. When you go through customs, I just said that I was doing sight seeing and where I was going. They advise in advance not to say that you are doing volunteering as this requires a different visa and is a more difficult process to go through. You might have to check if you need a visa for doing international transfers in a particular country but in China you did not need one. When it comes to travel insurance you usually can tack on some for a little extra if you go with an online travel agency like priceline, Travelocity, Orbtiz…etc.
One major problem that I had was using the ATM machines. They were not reliable at all and most of the people in our group had issues withdrawing money at one point or another. You have to make sure that you are withdrawing from an international bank and not a state bank (you can do a wiki search on the list of banks in India for reference). Unfortunately in the process of discovering this I was blocked out of my account after repeated attempts and had to call my bank to have them unblock my card or wait 24 hours to try again. I only was able to withdrawal money once during my 3 week stay there. It's better just to bring a big wad of cash to last you the whole time as unadvisable as many people say not to do. You can bring credit cards but most merchants, rickshaws, restaurants, and eating areas will not accept them. It was a frustrating experience to have and am glad that I brought enough to survive my trip as I would have been in trouble otherwise. In general, food costs about an average of 250 rupees at a restaurant plus or minus one hundred for a meal with 150-250 for one way rickshaw rides. Higher end restaurants will cost more in the 500 range for a meal. Clothes are also in a 150-250 price range. 3,000-4,000 rupees a week is fine for food, transportation and other purchases though you could get by with less if you just stayed at the guest house.
The heat during the summer was relentlessly uncomfortable. I had to constantly keep a rag around my neck to wipe the sweat out of my face on a regular basis. I could literally just be sitting doing absolutely nothing and be sweating. Most of us after our volunteering activities had to take a cold shower afterwards. I would visit India again but not during the summer.
Pranay handles all of the e-mails and was really awesome in responding to all of my messages and questions that I had. I was really concerned about my first time abroad and wanted to make sure that it was a legitimate organization. There are a number of similar volunteering in India organizations and I wanted to stick with a more reputable one based on the reviews I was reading. He provided me with 6 different references of people who had all done the program before and I exchanged e-mails with them before I committed to it myself. During our meeting in person though he seemed rather disinterested in our group and lacked a kind of proactive engagement to get to know everyone. It was almost as if he was kind of bored with his mind elsewhere, but he was still kind and polite if you spoke with him. All of our guides were really great, spoke with everyone, and made sure we were all together. Our pick up and drop off tour drivers were good for the most part but could not speak English enough to answer any questions we had which was difficult. This can also be unnerving when you don’t know where you are going and traveling down dark alleys in slum like areas. It's also weird when they drive in the opposite direction on the roads, constantly open the door to expectorate, and honk at everyone and everything that is in their path. A behavior pattern I didn’t find out until much later in my trip to actually be normal for their culture…
The tourist companies provided by Sankalp will take you directly to where you need to go and know the locations of all the places. Many rickshaw drivers do not however and will take you to jewelry stores and textile shops (places where they are paid by to get more customers) or request more tips for taking you to tourist sites. Choosing to go along with them is up to you but most of us were not interested and found the experience frustrating.
I was volunteering with the Street Kids and found the experience to be absolutely fine with no problems whatsoever. I regularly volunteer in the U.S. and fully understand all of the logistical problems that come with it. During my stay there were a few people volunteering at the orphanage who openly disagreed with the way the program was run and wrote a lengthy document expressing their disapproval. These particular individuals were not with our summer program and I only heard through the grape vine that there was some heated arguments which ended in their termination of stay at the guest house. I know from experience that this can happen as many volunteers can be overly aggressive. Don’t fall into this trap. If you have a problem, do not write a lengthy document stating the problems. Simply make an inquiry into the areas of concern and schedule a meeting for conversation. One thing that would have been good would have been to ask the level of experience a person has in dealing with kids and volunteering so that there could be a proper placement. For some it was easy but for others it was a first time experience which made things unnecessarily difficult.
The Himalayan hiking was definitely more than I think a lot of us had expected. Two people from the previous group had ended up getting sick and were not able to make it. And two of our own people where having a really difficult time with it but were able to make it to the Triund Lodge with some encouragement from the group and our guide. You definitely need some hiking experience and don’t try it without at least some level of physical conditioning, especially if you have never been in a high altitude location before.
I would have definitely liked a confirmation e-mail sent to communicate an expectation of arrival and last things to consider and think about. Such as (make sure to bring a travel adapter, or name of person who is doing the pickup). Traveling all the way to the other side of the world to an organization that you are not familiar with is a big commitment and I just felt that the communication when it came to this was a little too loose for my taste. Sometimes, like on the visit to Pushkar, we were just sort of left in a city to do whatever without much guidance as to where to go or how to get there. It would have been nice to get more direction or a traveling map on these visits but we seemed to manage it ok without any. One last thing was the age differences. Most of the people there at the guest house were around their late teens and early 20s. Given that I was 30, I was roughly 10 years older than anyone else which was kind of isolating in a way. I don’t know why there wasn’t a more diverse age group but if you are looking for people to talk and socialize with that are in your generation I would check in advance to see what the ages of the people are. When it comes to the program as a whole, it didn’t really blow me away but I trust and would recommend them to anyone interested in visiting India for the first time.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 8, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
10

Comments

I'm looking to take part in the Orphanage program instead of the Street Kids one at Sankalp next month. I was just wondering if I could chat with you about your experience. My email is elizabeth.chand@gmail.com please feel free to contact me if you are interested in sharing more of your experience. Thanks!

Leave Ur Mark

I recently volunteered for 3 weeks working with women on the microfinance internship with Leave Ur Mark. I do think 3 weeks is too short to do something of this nature, but I made the most of my experience. The other interns that stayed for longer made the right decision to come for at least a month and a half. At work, my coworkers were incredible. They would all share lunch with me and I got to try a lot of new Indian curries and rice combos.

I was apprehensive at first, being an American male I did not know how the women I was helping would respond to me. But the staff at Leave UR Mark did a good job of reassuring me, and the woman running the project personally introduced me each woman I was helping to get a loan and learn new skills.

At work since I have a tech background I was able to help both my coworkers and the communities learn more about technology and how to incorporate it into business. I led a few computer classes for the women and helped give some of the women who had more sophisticated businesses some ideas about their future websites. I hope I was able to get them to think differently and enable tech into their work.

My favorite part of the Leave UR Mark experience was staying with all the other interns in the house. We all went through our ups and downs and lots of cultural shock, but it was great to come home and share funny stories with one another over our Indian dinner and make plans to travel together.

Leave Ur Mark pays a lot of attention to their interns and if anyone has a problem they take steps to fix it quickly. The housing they have for interns was beyond my expectations--we even had a swimming pool. That was really crucial in a country like India.

My advice to future interns is to go with the flow. India is not the right country to be in if you like a lot of structure. However if you are okay with letting things happen naturally you will have an incredible and memorable time.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 24, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

This program was everything I could've hoped for and more. My only regret is that I could not stay longer. The home was in an authentic area south of Delhi, within a short walk to our placement and the metro station. Everything was so smooth and convenient, I really think it was worth every penny. While it always seems counter intuitive to pay to volunteer, the service and convenience you get with this program, combined with the awesome experience, make this so worth it. The school was awesome. The kids were so sweet, they got us all gifts on our last day. Very touching and a truly memorable experience. So glad I got to take part in this. Great host family, I always felt welcome and it felt like my home. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Aloha

-Phil

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

Comments

Hi Phil, my daughter is going to Delhi in December, and I was wondering what can you tell me about the safety of the places you go or stay in? all i hear about International HQ is great, but as a mom is always great to get some reassurance!! thanks!!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

IVHQ is a great program, especially the New Delhi program. The program was highly recommended by a friend of mine who did their placement in Peru. I lived with an awesome families while i was volunteering, like many of my other fellow friends who volunteered in the Delhi program. The food was amazing (Chandni is an amazing cook), they took in consideration what people liked and disliked, as well as, switching up the menu items quite frequently. My family did everything they could to make me feel comfortable from tinkering with the air conditions to even trying to fix my laptop! They would even go out of there way to pick us up late at night when we couldn't get a taxi. I honestly felt a part of the family. The actually program itself is well structured and when problems do arise the program director and staff are very willing to help you have the best time volunteering as possible! I have only positives to say about the program.

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

Comments

Hi - I'm looking to volunteer with IVHQ on their Madagascar Teaching scheme. Has anyone had any experience on this particular scheme? Thank you
Hi Helen, Thanks for sharing a little about your experience volunteering on our India - Delhi program. It sounds like you were really well looked after by your hosts, which is great to hear and we are glad it was such a positive experience. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ!

Active Internationals

Hi I am Edyta from Warsaw Poland.

I came to India on a personal trip in December 2014. While moving around in India for about two months I wanted to give back to this wonderful country.
I chose to volunteer with Active Internationals at their project in Pushkar.

It was a great experience to live in the holy little town, which on one side is hills and the other side is desert. Such a beautiful place. I was living very close to a temple and could observe pilgrim coming there everyday. Every evening I used to go to the sun-set point by the lake.

My volunteering experience was also great. I was involved with two projects in a day. In the morning I was teaching at a girls school where I was in-charge of teaching them math.
In the evening project I was involved with a tribal community and was working in the women empowerment project.

It was an overwhelming experience and I am completely changed. My initial stay in India before the volunteering allowed me to see prominent places in India, but the volunteering done for a month, changed my perspective about the country.
It is a great place to visit.

I am thankful to Active for such a wonderful experience.
God Bless You!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Apr 28, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Active Internationals

Yo soy Neville de México. Llegué a la India con el objetivo de servir a la comunidad en mi programa de voluntariado. Todos mis objetivos estaban satisfechos con ActiveInternationals y me complace recmmend ellos.

He participado en el Programa de Voluntarios de Jaipur y realmente aprecio el proyecto de enseñanza de informática enseñar los niños pequeños los conceptos básicos de las computadoras.

Para mi imaginación, que nos obsequiaron con computadoras de calidad muy resistentes y buenos. Los niños les encantó la experiencia y en los últimos 10 minutos de nuestra clase que utilizan para ver películas de dibujos animados en el PC.

I un muy feliz con mi contribución y la ayuda por ActiveInternationals.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Apr 24, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

It was an amazing experience in India. Sankalp is organized an keeps track of the needs of the volunteers. I've helped in the orphanage and it was great.
I strongly recommend the experience and the organization.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Apr 22, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
10

Active Internationals

I participated in the volunteer and travel program for 11 days with two of my friends. We were joined by four participants from different countries.

Our program started in Delhi and concluded there, which made it so convenient for us to book the flights from Amsterdam. The weather was absolutely fine and the arrangements were just the best for what we paid.

The best moment was definitely to see the Taj Mahal, but there was so much more to do every day. We really enjoyed a great exchange of ideas with fellow travelers and the people we met on our course. I specially enjoyed my volunteer activities in Pushkar and found it a very suitable place to spend more time.

The activities, food and workshops made the whole experience so different. Last year I was in Thailand for a similar program, but hardly had an opportunity to mingle with the local community. This one by Active was absolutely brilliant.

Way to go!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Apr 22, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

My volunteer experience was better than I could have ever anticipated. IVHQ works with you from beginning to end to ensure that you are not only prepared but happy, comfortable, and adapting well in country. Before my departure, the main staff were always eager to answer my questions to their fullest capability and ease my nerves. Once I landed in India, the staff was waiting for me at the airport to take me to the volunteer house for orientation. Every person and host i encountered was friendly and welcoming. It made the culture shock bearable and the new experiences exciting!

You are constantly in touch with IVHQ staff. By the time I went to my home stay I was already well connected with the staff and they continued to stop by every project twice a week. You always have someone to ask questions to, to help with any problems, or simply to feel connected and not alone in a new place.

Besides their mentoring, everything about my placement and experience was just simply fantastic. I taught a school where I fell in love with the kids, was constantly welcomed with open arms by the other teachers, and met so many different people from different places.

If anybody wants to volunteer overseas IVHQ is the absolute best option and best deal for your money! It's the cheapest and most amazing program out there. :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Apr 14, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Catherine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your recommendation of our program in India - Delhi. Your 8 weeks on our Slum Teaching project sounds like it was truly memorable and we are glad that we were able to facilitate this for you. We hope to see you on another of our volunteer programs again in the future.

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