Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in India

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Teach & Learn in India

 

India has a multitude of NGOs that welcome volunteers, only a small amount of which we have so far listed here.

 

Grassroots Volunteering in India

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:

SECMOL

www.secmol.org

The Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh was founded in 1988 by a group of young Ladakhis. Today they organise activities for Ladakhi youth, run a campus for students and develop solar energy projects. They take on a small number of volunteers for a minimum of three weeks to organise English conversation classes. Check their site for the dates they welcome volunteers. They would also like volunteers in January to teach ice-skating, figure skating, or hockey.

Where: Ladakh.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers normally stay in a shared room at their Campus 18 km from Leh town, contributing around £5 per day towards their keep.

Volunteering in India

 

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Tong-Len

www.tong-len.org

Tong-Len is active in attempting to help displaced communities in northern India through a range of education and health based projects. Volunteers are sought to help in tent schools and health clinics.

Where: Kangra valley, north India..
Accommodation & Costs: Tong-Len does not take any responsibility for your lodging or food expenses but are happy to help you find accommodation or offer you guidance on this matter. Long term accommodation is available for around £30 a month.

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BGM Social Service Care

www.bgmcharity.org

BGM strives to uplift the weaker sections in the society with special emphasis on the basic needs of women and children. BGM also concentrates on education of poor children. No qualifications are needed but they welcome volunteers with different skills and qualifications, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, etc.

Where: Trivandrum District, Kerala.
Accommodation & Costs: BGM can currently accommodate seven to ten volunteers at a time in the founders home for €70 per week, including three meals a day.

 

Other Opportunities to Volunteer in India

WorkingAbroad Projects, a non-profit company aimed at providing local organisations worldwide with need based volunteer support, has a programme teaching English to Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, Northern India, the centre of the Tibetan exile government and the residence of H.H. Dalai Lama. As a volunteer English teacher, volunteers will work alongside permanent teachers to offer a chance of further education to young Tibetan adults. The main goal is to educate Tibetan refugees in India, in order to improve their work perspectives once they are back in Tibet. There is a one-off application fee of £135 for those volunteers who apply and are accepted on the programme but you will get accommodation and food at the school every day, and a small amount of pocket money every month.

A locally based organisation in the Dharamsala region of northern India, home to 10,000 Tibetans including the Dalai Lama, is Lha Social Work. Run by a staff of ten full time Tibetan employees they are assisted by both prearranged volunteers and those who drop by their office in McLeod Ganj. Most volunteers work directly with Lha, while others are placed throughout the community with other NGOs, Jobs could include raising funds for the Tibetan Film Festival, social media, fashion design, or teaching guitar at a performing arts theatre. They also provide a reception and orientation service to offer volunteers a smooth transfer from their arrival at Delhi International Airport to Dharamsala.

Along with some paid jobs, Soul and Surf have some roles that they offer on working holiday type deals, for meals and accommodation, surfing lessons and yoga classes. They look for travellers, already in India or in Southeast Asia, to work as cafe service assistants for a month or two throughout their October to May season.  The work is six hours maximum a day, at variable times, six days a week.They also need couples to meet and greet guests, keep standards and make sure everyone does their jobs with a kind of owners view on things. Travelling chefs can also drop in for a month or two to assist in the kitchen for a few hours a day, learn some local dishes, swap ideas, add some of your own healthy living dishes to the menu, and help their chef with western ideas of service, presentation, organisation and standards.

Volunteer Work in India

 

SSUAVS put quite a lot of emphasis that this is a free project (mentioning the word six times) in the information they provided us via our questionnaire but it was only on visiting their site that we saw mention of a $350 deposit. To be fair a year had passed before we got around to our site redesign and update and took a proper look at them, so perhaps this is a new policy. Either way, in a country where eating is cheap and a quick perusal of a hostel booking site reveals dorm beds for not much more than £1 a day, this 11 day project no longer makes our cut. However, as the project, concerned with marginal and poor sections of society in rural parts of Rajasthan, looks a worthy one (and I don't like to waste all my typing and they did add a little smiley face) you are welcome to decide for yourself.

 

Help Exchange Networks in India

Workaway - https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-IN.html
HelpStay - https://www.helpstay.com/projects-abroad?keywords=India&XID={XID_HASH}
HelpX - http://www.helpx.net/hostlist.asp?host_region=981&network=9
WWOOF - http://www.wwoofindia.org

 

Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in India

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.

 

Volunteer Experiences*

A Week-in-the-Life of Jeannie: Nomadic Chick - Jeannie Mark describes one of the twelve weeks she spent as a volunteer in a small village in India.
Volunteering in India with Children - Alaina McGregor, of Jandals and a Backpack, volunteered for two months at The Educators Trust, a children’s charity in Goa, India that provides an education to slum and street children.

 

* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Images courtesy Kiran Jonnalagadda and José Carlos Babo