Volunteerism in India is a trend in India today because India is a beautiful country with countless things to do and places to explore while volunteering abroad.
There are hundreds of ways to volunteer in India, whether you are committed to helping underserved communities, want to work with animals, or hope to contribute to conservation projects.
To give you some inspiration for your trip, here are the best ways to volunteer in India in 2021
Instead of just handing over money to people you might see begging, which is rarely a good idea (and never a good idea when it comes to kids), there are ways that travelers can contribute positively.
If you are willing and able to donate your time, there are countless ways you can volunteer for a worthy cause in India.
Whatever your skills and interests, you will likely be able to find a volunteer program that will enable you to provide tangible help as well as spend meaningful and memorable time.
However, it is essential to identify a program that genuinely benefits more than it harms and does not take advantage of well-meaning volunteers, local children, wildlife, or other at-risk people to make money.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top volunteer experiences in India, which Go Overseas has checked out and received excellent reviews about. It encompasses various experiences and programs, from planting trees and saving animals to empowering women and children’s projects.
Why Is Volunteering Important?
According to Indeed.Com, Volunteering is important because it enables individuals to help others selflessly. When individuals volunteer, they may help people, support philanthropic causes and assist their local community.
Additionally, volunteering benefits everyone and is a terrific way to impact the community positively.
Furthermore, volunteering is essential for specific charities because they may depend solely on volunteer work to operate. For example, some organizations are partly funded through the local or federal government and therefore do not have the funds to pay every staff member a salary. In this way, these organizations utilize groups of unpaid volunteers to function. The charity can then remain operational while volunteers help those in need.
Why Volunteer In India?
Engaging youth to face development challenges in India through youth volunteering is not new. India has a rich history of volunteering through religious commitments, philanthropy, mutual aid, and value systems embedded in Indian society.
But, as the new report, “The State of Youth Volunteering in India 2017,” found by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, Government of India, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV), demonstrates, a supportive environment and opportunities are essential to utilizing the potential of volunteers properly.
India has made great progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but much remains to be done.
By actively engaging existing volunteers and mobilizing new volunteers in the concerted action of engaging with the often hard-to-reach communities, India can bridge some of the gaps between policy and implementation.
The Government of India has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that young volunteers participate in the conversation and work towards achieving India’s development goals.
It formulated the first national youth policy during the seventh five-year plan. It launched the National Service Scheme (NSS) and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), both volunteer programs that now have a base of nearly 3.6 million volunteers and 125,000 young people. Clubs across the country, respectively.
However, despite the interest in understanding and encouraging volunteer work in India, many factors must be addressed so that volunteering benefits the volunteers themselves—and, of course, the larger community – in sustainable and equitable ways.
Things You Should Know Before Volunteering In India
When you travel to a different country, you must familiarize yourself with its unique culture and social characteristics. This helps you settle in quickly and avoid misunderstandings. The local Indian culture is varied and ancient. It is affected by foreign influences, different religions in the country, different languages, and tribes.
Exploring India’s cultural heritage is a must when traveling to India and a great way to spend your free time as a volunteer in India.
Keep in mind that there are different laws in every region that you need to know before going to India. India has a complex social structure. You should be aware of this and do the necessary research beforehand. When in doubt, you can follow these simple tips:
- You must be able to identify yourself at all times!
- Carry your personal belongings and documents with you at all times.
- Bring certified copies if necessary.
Check the legal drinking age for the state you volunteer in: Legal ages range from 18 to 25, depending on the form. In some states (the so-called “dry countries”), alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Since the largest cities in India often have a population of several million inhabitants and thus significant problems of poverty, crime rates are to be expected to rise. If you travel alone as a woman, please see some of our advice on female solo travel in India.
Culture and Religion
Indian cuisine is, not surprisingly, as diverse as the country’s different regions. Did you know that India has the most significant number of vegetarians in the world? About 20–40% of Indians are vegetarians. Indian cuisine is famous for its rich use of herbs, spices, and various cooking techniques.
The majority of people in India (80%) practice Hinduism, but there is also a reasonable community that believes in Islam (14%). It is important to respect all religious customs and places:
- Cover your head before entering a religious place.
- Ask permission before taking photos of women and religious sites.
- Sometimes taking pictures is prohibited, and sometimes, places charge for it.
When moving to a different country, it is important for you to become familiar with its unique culture and social characteristics. This helps you settle in quickly and avoid misunderstandings. Regarding Indian culture, please keep the following in mind:
- It is not appreciated to show affection to the public.
- The same applies to nudity, which is severely punished. So, if you are visiting any beaches, please refrain from going topless. You might be severely reprimanded for this!
- Smoking is prohibited in public places.
- It is impolite to eat with the left hand.
It can be annoying to get sick when traveling, and although it is a common concern for travelers that they will develop a stomach disease when traveling to India, there are some basic precautions you can take to avoid this:
- Eat and drink safely: Do not eat undercooked food, avoid street food, and do not drink water from the tap!
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
- Plan how you will receive health care during your stay. Get travel insurance and bring your medication with you, especially if you need special medication.
- Preventing insect bites: You may want to cover exposed skin, use insect repellent, and use a bed net.
- Make sure you are familiar with the routine vaccinations before each trip. These vaccines include MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and the annual flu vaccine. Moreover, the US-based Disease Control and Prevention Agency (CDC) recommends vaccination against hepatitis A and typhoid, as you can catch these diseases through contaminated food or water in India.
Ways To Volunteer In India In 2023
Conservation of animals and wildlife
Did you know that India is the only country in the world where lions and tigers are found in their natural habitat? However, the Bengal tiger is threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans, and the illegal wildlife trade and is therefore considered one of the most endangered big cats in the world.
As a volunteer in India, you can participate in tiger conservation efforts and aid these endangered animals in their incredibly picturesque natural habitat. In addition to hiking and vehicle-based safaris, you will participate in all kinds of tiger protection activities, wildlife management, and community-focused initiatives during your time as a volunteer in India on a wildlife conservation project.
The wealth and diversity of local wildlife groups provide ideal opportunities to volunteer in India. There, you can participate in all kinds of animal preservation. You can, for example, take care of wild animals that have been hurt or abused. Your contribution as a volunteer in India will help biologists conduct observations and search for local wildlife.
If you want to explore India’s fauna further afield, the national parks are a popular travel destination. However, parks won’t be the only place you’ll come close to wildlife. However, parks won’t be the only place you’ll come close to wildlife. Don’t be surprised to see elephants roaming the streets and monkeys trying to steal from you. Seriously, don’t get close to these monkeys!
Biodiversity And Its Conservation
India is one of 17 extremely diverse countries, which means that it is home to at least 5,000 endemic plant species and is bordered by a marine ecosystem. Moreover, India contains three biodiversity hotspots, one of which accounts for 21.2% of the forests covering the land area of the country.
Unfortunately, human encroachment in the past decades has seriously threatened India’s unique biodiversity.
And although the country has made great progress in the past in terms of environmental protection and awareness, there are still many environmental issues that India has to face.
Do you think that protecting the environment is one of the most important challenges of our time? Your motivation to do volunteer work in India can make a difference where it is truly needed! The five most important environmental challenges facing India are:
- Depletion of groundwater
- Land/soil degradation
- Air and water pollution
- Loss of biodiversity
- Greenhouse gas emissions
Many social volunteer programs in India that deal with these issues are in dire need of a helping hand and support as a volunteer in India. In other volunteer work in India, you can take part in projects dealing, for example, with organic and sustainable farming or environmental education.
Community Services Support
Since widespread poverty and inequality are still major social concerns in India, you may want to consider becoming a community volunteer there.
Among the many social issues that the country has to face, there are 5 most urgent:
- Inefficient public health infrastructure
- The lack of adequate sanitation in rural and urban areas
- The significant increase in poverty and inequality rates
There are many social volunteer projects in India that aim to address these issues.
Volunteering with one of them gives you the opportunity to make a big difference in local communities and improve various aspects of the lives of locals.
Volunteer work in India in the field of community development is:
- Child and friend care programs
- Work in local orphanages
- Taking care of street children
- Building programs
- Women’s Empowerment
India is a male-dominated society, with many women having limited education and work opportunities.
The predetermined gender roles that shape the lives of many women often push them towards domesticated and dependent lifestyles. As a result, only two-thirds of women in India are literate.
Rural women in India are among the most disadvantaged in terms of decision-making power and access to development opportunities.
But did you know that rural women are agents of economic and social change?
Studies show that it is a pioneer in environmental protection and that, in many ways and to different degrees; it thrives in its roles as farmers, producer, investor, caregiver as well as consumer.
That is why volunteer programs in India also include women’s empowerment because these need international volunteers to help, educate and provide vocational training, especially for women who live in:
- Rural areas
- Families below the poverty line
Education is the most effective tool for raising the status of women in developing countries.
Once a woman sees herself as belonging to a group – of students or workers (outside the family), she begins to see herself as a worthy and valuable contribution to society.
This increases self-esteem and paves the way for eliminating gender inequality. Hence, volunteer work in India must also include the topic of women’s empowerment.
Work In An Orphanage
Before deciding on a volunteer program in India that participates in orphanages, ensure that you are prepared for your mission and understand what to expect.
While working with orphans may seem noble at first, it is important to realize that more than 80% of children living in orphanages are not orphans.
They are separated from their families because they are poor, disabled, or from an ethnic minority or because they suffer from other exclusion factors.
Many of these children have experienced violence or abuse and psychological trauma.
For this reason, it is imperative that the volunteers have the appropriate skills. If not, you may put yourself and your children at risk.
Therefore, if you wish to do volunteer work in India at an orphanage, you must fulfill at least one of the following requirements:
- Experience working with traumatized children
- Childcare training
- Training as a psychiatrist
- Training as a social worker
- Teaching in India
Although India can achieve a high level of education, there is still a lot of potential and a need for international volunteers to support local schools, especially in rural areas.
Although there are many initiatives to work on the issue of poor education, it remains a source of concern in India.
Projects that focus on helping educational initiatives focus on providing local children with the opportunity for a better education. This is an excellent opportunity for children who otherwise cannot go to school.
Volunteering as a mentor for these children is very rewarding and will also help you grow as a person. To work on educational projects in India, you must be:
- Willing to take on challenges
In some volunteer programs in India, you can find yourself studying in an outdoor classroom, and the need for creativity and improvisation is paramount.
As an Education volunteer in India you will work in a team and if you have the necessary skills then you might get an opportunity to plan lessons independently.
If you decide to work as an English teacher, it will help improve vocabulary as well as students’ spoken English skills.
We recommend that you make use of your creativity to organize educational games to play with children.
There is no firm deadline for applications. However, we suggest applying as early as possible. Having more time to prepare makes it easier for you to fundraise, and for us to advise you on preparations. Some combined travel and volunteer trips require at least four weeks to process an application, arrange for travel, and advise you properly on how to prepare.
If you decide to go with us at the last minute, just contact to us to check program availability and go-head
We review your application and send approval within 48 hours.
No, you don’t need to submit any document.
Yes, you will need a Visa to come to India. Each country varies on the specific Visa rules, so please check this thoroughly in advance by reaching out to your country of origin’s embassy along with the Indian embassy. Many online websites offer more information on how to apply for Visas, the costs, and other important information. Keep in mind that you usually need several weeks to receive an Indian Visa, so start ahead in your planning. Also note that Visa is valid from the issuing date NOT the date of travel. Please contact us with specific Visa questions so we can further guide you in the right direction based on your country of residence.
You will be in charge of booking your own flights. You need to arrive at Jaipur International Airport, pickup is provided. Pickup can also be arranged from Delhi International airport at a nominal cost.
Our driver, working with the Sankalp Team, would be there to receive you at the Jaipur / Delhi airport, holding placard displaying your name. You will be picked up and taken to your volunteer house by a car. Volunteers need to send us their arrival information at least a week in advance.
It is advisable, but this may vary. We recommend taking a health travel insurance plan in the case of sickness or incidents. Travel insurances can also help cover lost/stolen luggage or items, as well as rare emergencies at home. This is completely up to you.
We highly encourage you to receive vaccinations before coming to India. As we do not have your medical background, we cannot provide specific medical answers, but can offer guidance. It is important to discuss with your doctor or home travel clinic before traveling so they can advise you on what health preparations to arrange. Again, make sure you communicate with them several weeks before traveling, as some vaccinations will need to be administered more than once.
In Jaipur, you will stay at the volunteer house. The volunteer house stays up to 30 people. Volunteers share rooms, although male-females are separated. In Dharamshala, Bangalore, and New Delhi you will stay with a host family.
The Jaipur volunteer house offers free 24×7 wifi that can connect to your devices. At other locations you will find internet access within the area.
All the volunteer program sites are very safe. You will be among our staff too. The volunteer house is in a secure area, and staff members are on duty 24 hours a day. The volunteer house is very well maintained and structured to protect all travelers. For more information, visit How We Keep You Safe. Section.
After you have signed up for the program with us, you will receive pre-departure information. It will have the contact information of all the people you can contact in an emergency.
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