"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.", said the traveller.
Some travel for the sheer sake of it. Some do it to explore. Others do it to appreciate and marvel at all that the world has to offer while a few others do it to soothe their ache to explore the unknown. Then there are the select ones who re-instate the mutual system of give and take. Every land that they step foot in, transforms them. Enriched by their experiences, they dream to make a difference. These are the change-makers who relive their travel tales through more than just a couple of photographs.
Voluntourism or engaging in voluntary work and travelling for the same has picked up in India as more and more people today opt to travel for and with a cause. However, the concept stays rather vague as there is a lot of confusion around it. So here’s a little briefing on how and where you could begin with your voluntary travelling.
Put forth are some of the best 15 organisations that offer volunteer programs for travellers, across different locations in India.
1) Spiti Ecosphere
This social enterprise proves that you can serve as more than just an admirer of the hills. You can contribute for a wide array of activities in this valley of Himachal Pradesh. Right from the building of green houses to the desk work in offices, you could choose to leave an impact by indulging in what you are good at.
The main focus of the organisation are the triple-fold goals of conservation, development and economies. As part of volunteering work, they offer engages in the daily village activities as well as physical construction of solar passive structures. Find out about their program in detail on spitiecosphere.
2) True Travellers Society
Fusing the efforts of locals with the tourists, the True Travellers Society compiles a host of International volunteer programs that you can apply to. They believe that one of the most efficient ways to 'truly travel' is through volunteering.
In addition to this mediation, the website also helps you connect with resources like fundraising ones that could help materialise your planned trips. Make your travel worthwhile through this travelling forum, True Travellers Society.
3) Sikkim Himalayan Academy
Offering an insider's insight into the hilly paradise, this institution lays out an opportunity for you to proceed beyond just the sightseeing potentials of Sikkim to explore their real resources - the people. The Sikkim Himalayan Academy is a non profit school for the underprivileged children from the remote areas of the state.
As a volunteer, you could contribute as an English teacher to the Academy. The dream is to open up the prospects of creating facilities for the provision of quality education, health and a positive learning environment embedded in the indigenous culture and languages. Find out how you can work with the Academy here.
4) Root Institute
Located in Bodhgaya, Bihar, the following is a socially inclined meditation and study centre with various courses. The organisation opens up tremendous chances for you to study, practice and assist with the teachings of Buddhism as a general help to the spiritual programs of the institute.
Your work can involve initiatives like running short workshops, nursing and coordinating for health programs and also provide psychological aid through the work of physiotherapy/occupational therapy. Avail the chance to scour the philosophy of the peoples and volunteer for promotion of the same through the Root Institute.
5) Druk White Lotus School
Ladakh tops the list of every spirited and adrenaline-pumped traveller. As you are left in awe of the place, this enterprise allows you to work for the betterment of the locals through their educational as well as general livelihood.
The specificities of the work range from teacher training, sponsoring a disadvantaged student to landscaping of school campuses, creation of sports facilities and other infrastructural support. Know more about the volunteer work offered by Druk White Lotus School here.
6) Louisiana Himalaya Association Inc.
The charitable trust, based in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh is set as a social work organisation supplying essential resources for Tibetan refugees, the local Indian population, and people from the Himalayan regions.
The nature of activities involve skilled and unskilled as well as long term and short term assistance in volunteering for community related activities. The main task is of aiding the rehabilitation and assimilation of the refugees into the Indian community. Answer your queries about the details of the LHA program here.
Operating from and in the Central Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, this not-for-profit grassroots organisation aims to create opportunites for the regional communities through integrated rural development.
To work with them, your skill and experience in a diverse set of occupations can be valuable to the enterprise. Aarohi has room for doctors, community health managers, art & craft and theatre teachers, administrators and other learned persons. Join hands with them to contribute.
8) Visakha Society for Protection & Care of Animals
Extending the right to a proper livelihood to animals, the VSPCA in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, works for rescuing and providing shelter homes to large and small animals subject to atrocities like illegal trade, abandonment, abuse or neglect.
The aim for volunteers is to improve the welfare and adoptability conditions of shelter animals also through the job of informing other people about the same. Gather more knowledge about working with the VSPCA.
9) Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology
As an initiative to promote the conservation of reptiles and amphibians on the Indian subcontinent, the Centre relies on scientific research for the former's success. It functions as one of the oldest and most reputed non-governmental organisations of Asia.
Volunteers are expected to cope with the tasks involved in the daily runnings of a zoo and its maintenance, and contribute to the education and outreach programs. Get in touch with the organization to do your bit towards the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology.
10) Sadhana Forest
The base camp of the project is situated in Southern regions of India by the founders of this project. Going by the targets of ecological living and sustainable living, it is working through various ways to support this vision in rural villages.
The options for volunteering cover the expanse of tasks like water conservation, planting trees and maintaining the vegan-organic garden. To take up these responsibilities, scroll and apply through their official website.
As a measure to conserve the flora and fauna of the environment, the organisation of Aaranyak aims to guarantee a secure future for all threatened species by generating awareness in and around the Assamese city of Guwahati. The main concern is around the maintenance of the ecological balance of the neighbourhood.
The course of action of the organisation works through different ways to mitigate the impact of changing climate in North East India. Volunteers are accepted from all age groups, as long as they have a dedicated interest in wildlife conservation. Contact Aaranyak for further details.
12) Mother's Hope
The mission for this set-up is "rebuilding hope" and the focus is to provide for pregnant girls undergoing crisis pregnancies, victims of sexual abuse, and infants needing a permanent home, operating from Dimapur, Nagaland.
The volunteering subsumes within its program, awareness and advocacy about the facilities provided by the organisation. Efforts to counsel and facilitate baby care are a part of the aims and motives of Mother's Hope.
The organisation of Dakshinayan is set in the Rajmahal Hills of Jharkhand. The organisation places emphasis on education, health care, self-reliance and utilization of available resources in the area and motivate the people to work for their own cause.
Besides helping in the understanding of development and the significance of education for the locals, the social enterprise also invites volunteers for working towards the resolution of inter-cultural issues. Pick your field of interest and work with Dakshinayan.
14) Haji Public School
Built in the remote village of Breswana, Jammu & Kashmir this school had begun with the intention of "making education accessible to the inaccessible". The founders work as facilitators for taking students closer to their goals and aspirations.
The volunteering encompasses the roles of short term and long term primary school teachers along with indulging in the medical or media activities organised by the school. For starters, view their particulars here.
15) Worldwide Fund India - Green Hiker
The Green Hiker campaign is an initiative to protect the Himalayan region from degradation at the cost of an increased tourism value. The attempts focus on bringing to notice, the vulnerability of the Himalayan ecosystem.
The program is welcoming volunteers to advocate the adoption of certain disciplines on part of tourists and tour operators in order to safeguard the pristine form of the Himalayan region. Pool in your efforts in support of those of the World Wide Fund initiative beginning now.