For most of us, vacation means no work and getting oneself submerged in a frolic holiday mood. Holidaying is a time when one wants to enjoy life to the fullest and indulge in visiting some of the most exotic locations of the world. India is a fascinating land with an amalgamation of queer places, friendly people, diverse languages, multi religions and a rich cultural history.
Volunteer Tourism in India (Photo: FSL India)
It is one of the largest democratic country with a population if a billion and has an unimaginable geographical proportion starting from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. It becomes a must visit holiday destination to get a complete new experience of life. But amidst all the fun and frolic, have you ever thought about vacation volunteering?
Tourists are visiting India to gain unique experience.
Vacationing at exquisite destinations is passe for vacation volunteering is the new trend India is waking up to. Best defined, vacation volunteering or volunteer tourism as it is better connoted is an activity oriented trip wherein the tourist or the traveller makes efforts to team up with NGOs and other non-profit organization to volunteer and contribute to the region of their visit. Travel agents and tourism experts are encashing on this new sought after trend of volunteer tourism in India and offering a plethora of volunteering, activity based personalized tour package to travellers visiting and travelling in India.
Why is India Being Considered a Sought After Destination for Volunteering?
While India has made a recognition for itself in the world map, it still has a long way to go to become a super-powerful nation. This is only possible when there is development, equality and brotherhood. We have to step out of our own lives and work on building new lives – lives of the under privileged and those who seldom see opportunities to grow! It is also true that the sheer feeling of serving the needy through a non-profit organisation can give you contentment.
Volunteer teaching Computers to students in School.
Rightly said then, “Give thy best and the best shall come to you!”. In a world filled with worldly pleasures, the everyday rat race can tire us down leaving behind an apology and discontentment to say the least. Volunteering then, helps one brush aside the feeling of guilt and bridges the gap between our materialistic and spiritual self. And what better way to volunteer than doing it when on a vacation?
Medical Students spending time at Govt. Hospital in the Village.
The concept of volunteering while on a vacation is fast catching up. A lot of travellers head towards India to do their share of charity. For the charity hungry traveller can find a plethora of volunteer opportunities in India.
Today one can distinctly view two kinds of India: the modern India and the rural one. The former has already made a name for itself among top players of the world in the field of information technology, medical science, art, politics and sports. Unfortunately, the other face of India is still marked by poverty stricken village life, with little or no access to technology and education. Added to all this, an India clutched in age old social stigmas makes it the perfect destination for travel volunteering programs.
Volunteering Services can be something like basic training to how to brush to provide technical support to someone.
As a tourist, one can participate in a number of volunteer programs. One can participate in these programs through various channels but the major way still lies through companies that provide volunteering placements. These companies place keen travellers on tourism volunteering on a project basis and provide travellers with thorough training, orientation, accommodation, food and other necessities to hep them settle in the new environment. For the courageous, the channel is not important – for in a country like India, one can easily pursue such passions independently.
Although, it is advisable that if one is travelling to India for the first time, he/ she seeks for company placement for the new environment and its functioning can be challenging and assistance is readily available and is certainly not hard to seek.
More on Volunteering Opportunities in India
It is always satisfying to give something back to the society – in the form of a monetary donation or by volunteering. If you are planning to volunteer while on your trip to India, then, you got to do some planning in advance to make your visit truly fruitful. There are a number of trusted organisations that provide volunteer programs in India and back projects supporting social development and less privileged section of the society.
Volunteer atleast once a month (Photo: Anitha Karuppiah)
The best way to search for vacation volunteering organisations in India is by searching online. You can specify the type of work you would want to do (be it in the field of education, female foeticide, health systems, etc.) and the preferred location and there would be a plethora of vacation volunteer organizations in India who would come forward to cater to your requirements. Once you have a couple of options at hand, you can work on sorting them out – you can go with just one or take up even two or more volunteering programs depending upon your duration of visit and your interest.
Choosing the Best from an Array of Volunteer Programs
India has myriads of volunteer projects so that each traveler finds something to interest him on his trip to here. Some of the popular programs revolve around tasks like spreading education to the lesser privileged, providing schooling, tuition and assistance-ship, working towards women empowerment, meeting the sick, dying and the disabled, working at orphanages, contributing to various rural development programs, community health programs, environmental programmes, tribal welfare programmes and providing sports related coaching to poor children.
One can expose himself to a variety of projects, covering urban to rural areas alike. Duration too cannot get as flexible as this! Programs with duration as short as two weeks are available whereas six month long programs too are not too much of a problem to find. Most volunteers go for programs that stretch upto a month and more as it gives them ample time and opportunity to stay associated with the program and see their efforts bearing fruits.
Some of the top websites and companies offering vacation volunteering programs in India are:
Live and Learn: This niche organization works towards application of concepts of marketing, administration, and finance towards to solve issues concerning rural India.
Global Volunteers: Global Volunteers is organization behind programs launched for orphaned children in India.
Globaware, Adventures in Service: Globaware stations volunteering opportunities in several countries if the world. In India, it is spearheading programs to fight poverty and hunger.
Baal Ashram, Delhi enroute Jaipur: It houses only boys and runs with a mission to spread educational enlightenment amongst these little boys.
India Study Abroad Centre (ISAC), Mumbai: The organization primarily deals with rural and urban health sectors and works towards areas like HIV/AIDS with the aid of traditional medicine.
Global Dental Relief: Again, as niche as it can get, Global Dental Relief ensures proper dental health amonst children residing in higher altitude locations of India.
Other Important Matters of Concern
Volunteer enjoys to stay with local family.
In most cases, you’ll have to pay for all your expenses which includes accommodation, airfare and food. If you join through a placement agency, then you might also need to pay a meager placement fee. The minimum cost of placement at these placement agencies start from around $250-$300 for two weeks which includes food and accommodation while it can also go up to $500 for longer duration.
Why Volunteering Programs are the Way Forward?
Nowadays, a growing number of baby boomers, teens and travel enthusiasts are taking up volunteer vacations and have come to believe in the concept of working for a cause. People love to combine a holiday abroad with volunteering projects that help them mingle with the locals and absorb the culture of their place of visit. It is true that the concept of volunteering can be inspiring but when you experience the reality, it can be confronting too at times. Yet, it is quite rare for anyone to regret their experience as an Indian volunteer.
Volunteer Tourism is growing in India and attracting everyone to give back something to the society.
It has been observed by researchers that volunteering when abroad attaches a reason to an an otherwise futile concept of traveling for pleasure – not only does it work as better emotional regulator but is also believed to help curb feelings of depression. While volunteer tourism in India is still in its nascent stages, it has tremendous growth prospects in the years to come.
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