India

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

IVHQ India is a fantastic program, I would recommend it to everyone. I have just completed my first week of slum teaching and am already starting to plan another volunteer trip with IVHQ! From the drivers, to the coordinators, to my host family, to the placement staff, everyone had been unbelievably welcoming and supportive
I am by no means an experienced traveller, so going to a 3rd world country by myself for 8 weeks was pretty daunting. However, from the time I arrived at the airport I have receive 24/7 support and have alway been kept very comfortable. I opted for the additional orientation week and the coordinators and local staff went above and beyond to help me adjust to any culture shock I was experiencing, as well as make sure I was having a great time. Once at my placement they have continued to make sure I remained just as happy comfortable, and safe.
Overall I have been having an amazing experience with IVHQ, I couldn't be happier! They provide a safe and comfortable way in which you can really make a difference in less fortunate people's lives. It is also the most affordable volunteer organization I've found, with the coordinators insisting on making sure I knew where my money was going. It's a very legitimate organization, free from any kind of exploitation.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Oct 30, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Kath, Thanks for the sharing your experience so far. It is great to read that you have felt supported throughout the whole process. We look forward to getting your feedback at the end of your program and to having you on another of our programs in the future. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

I highly recommend IVHQ India. I have opted for four weeks of volunteering in Delhi, with an extra week at the beginning for induction.

The induction week is a great way to get introduced to India before the challanges of volunteering, and the local staff make it very clear that they are here to help and support us 24/7. Airport pickup is very convenient and stress free. Combined with extensive pre-departure information, we have been well prepared for our experience in India.

Having completed my first week of volunteer teaching in the slums, I am very pleased with my experience. It really feels like we are doing worthwhile work, and my host family makes me feel very well cared for. Combined with frequent visits from IVHQ staff, I feel supported while also making a difference.

Overall, the experience is a very safe way to come and make a difference for people who live hard lives. The programe is both affordable and legitimate. It can be daunting to travel around the world to a new country and volunteer in tough areas, and it's hard to know which companies you can trust, but IVHQ make it accessable and enjoyable without exploiting anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Oct 30, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Abi, Thanks for the support and the feedback. We trust everything is still going well in Delhi and you have settled in properly. We look forward to hearing from you at the completion of your project. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ!

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

I had a great time with IFRE and they were helpful every step of the way!

Program: Gap Year
Location: India
Posted: Sep 18, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I did the Program for Street Kids in Jaipur for three weeks and I have to say that it has been a truly amazing experience! Going into it I was quite nervous, as this was my first time traveling by myself, but I have no regrets in taking the leap. I found out about Sankalp here on Abroad Reviews and it fit my volunteering interests, budget, and location better than other programs I was considering at the time. Pranay and Amita took great care of us, and we felt safe at all times. They were available for most of the day if we needed to talk to them for any reason, and they helped us find good transportation to and from the airport, bazaars, restaurants, etc. We lived in a comfortable house, equipped for all our basic needs, and we were provided delicious meals cooked by Puni. There is a security guard so that only volunteers enter the home, a sign in/ out book for our little outings, as well as a curfew to ensure our safety.
The program itself is wonderful, as you get to interact and really make a difference in these children's lives. We worked for about four hours each day, and spent the time at school teaching the kids math and English, as well as playing with them during their break. They are so sweet and no amount of time with them will ever be enough! With no prior teaching experience, it was pretty cool being able to make up my own lesson plans and to find ways to make learning fun for the kids. If I had more time, I would have loved to try out the other programs, like the orphanage and women's empowerment. Since we're done working around noon, the rest of the day is free time to explore and see all the culture that Rajasthan has to offer. Many people choose to take weekend trips to nearby cities/ states as well.
Jaipur itself has a lot of places to visit, from the bazaars where you can buy exquisite handicraft goods, to the beautiful palaces with so much history. Coming from a western country, all the little things are so enjoyable, such as cows and goats roaming around in the streets, the colorful trucks, and the bumpy rides back home in an auto rickshaw.
Thank you Sankalp for providing me with such a rewarding and fun experience! I really hope to do this again :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 5, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I did the Street Kids Education volunteer program through the 2014 Summer Program. My experience with Sankalp was extraordinary! You get to work hands on with the children and develop your own lesson plans which was really neat. I wish we had more time with the kids, but I will never forget the time that I did get to spend with them. I worked with them about 4 hours a day for 2 weeks. Pranay and Amita, the program directors, took extremely good care of all of us during our stay in India. I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable during the entire program! Transportation was always reliable and everything addressed on their website page and itinerary was followed and legitimate. The volunteer house we stayed at was lovely and well set up. We always had fresh food cooked for us for lunch and dinner by their amazing cook, Puni. I have Type 1 Diabetes and had a hypoglycemic attack during my program and Pranay and Amita both made sure I made it to the hospital safe and that I was taken care of. The program was well organized and the last week of travel went smooth. The various hotels we stayed at throughout our travels were high class and of very nice condition. This program has a lot of flexibility which I thoroughly enjoyed. After you complete your volunteer project, you have the rest of the day to do what you want. This gives you the opportunity to explore India at your own pace/leisure and with your fellow volunteers. There is a security guard at the volunteer house as well as a sign in/sign out sheet to ensure your safety at all times. We also had a brief educational session in the beginning of our program to inform us of the culture, religion, and societal norms of India to help ease the culture shock. Pranay and Amita were always available for questions if you needed anything or had any concerns. I would recommend this program to anyone! I had an amazing experience and built strong friendships with the other volunteers. Most of the money spent on your volunteer program of choice through Sankalp goes directly to the cause you are volunteering for which in my opinion, is pretty cool :).

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 3, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I found Sankalp right here on abroadreviews.com and I am so glad that I did. I recently spent 5 weeks in Jaipur volunteering with the Sankalp street children program, and I can honestly say it was a life changing experience.

To all the parents out there reading this: I promise you this program is as safe as you can get for volunteering in India. I spent months convincing my own parents that Sankalp is a legitimate and safe organization. As it was my first time traveling alone (and as a female), I was pretty nervous too. Arriving at the airport and transferring to the house is definitely the most nerve-wracking portion of the trip, but when I got to the house and met the other volunteers, all my worries melted away, and yours will too. There are many house rules put in place by Amita and Pranay that are for your protection, there is always a security guard at the house, and if you need to talk to a local, Puni (the cook/best person I know) is always around.

As for the volunteering itself, I signed up for the summer program for the week of travel, but I added two extra weeks of volunteering because I felt that two weeks wasn't enough with the kids. I would absolutely recommend doing this if you're considering the summer program. Most people I traveled with were disappointed that they only had two weeks with the kids and wish they could have stayed longer.

The street children program is fairly well organized and the bonds you form with the kids is incredible. I miss them and think about them everyday. The language barrier is tough, especially with the younger kids, but it is definitely workable. You need to like kids though, and you need to be someone who does not get frustrated easily.

The week of travel at the end of the summer program is absolutely incredible. You can read about it in detail in other reviews or on the website, but the one thing you should be warned about is that you really should get in shape before the trek. Trust me on this one!

One of my favorite parts of this program is that it allows for so much exploration. The entire afternoon (and part of the evening) is open to go into the old city, spend lots of rupees at the bazaars (don't forget to haggle!), see the beautiful forts and temples, and interact with locals. It really is the trip of a lifetime.

If you want to hear more, feel free to email me (curlicarly@gmail.com). I'd love to give you more details or calm your parents fears. :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 1, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I was in Jaipur, India with Sankalp Volunteer Society for 3 weeks working in a local orphanage doing the summer program. First of all, you get a lot for your money. From transportation to and from volunteering, lunch and dinner everyday, tickets and hotel accommodation, etc, the program was worth the price. After arriving in Delhi, there was a driver holding my name card and waiting to drive me and the other volunteers to Jaipur. The summer program consists of 2 weeks of volunteering and 1 week of travel. Most of the volunteer programs are in the morning, so you are able to explore the city in the afternoon with others. There is a security guard living within the volunteer house as well as Puni, the cook. Everytime you would leave you would sign out, saying the time where you are going and who you are with, making sure Pranay and Amita (the directors) know where you are. The volunteer house itself is in a very convenient place.. just down the street from a grocery store and within a residential area in Jaipur and is very nice! The bottom level of the house consists of their office and the kitchen, the second level is for the girls with 3 rooms and 4 beds in each room for a total of 12 beds on that level, and also the eating area/kitchen. The third level has a television and mats to lay on and thats usually for the boys. There is also a roof!! It is a decently tall house so it has good 360 degrees view of rural Jaipur. There are many things to do in Jaipur, such as visit the Bazaars, Sun "Monkey" temple, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, the ancient forts, Water temple, or ride elephants! Just warning, you can spend many, many Rupees at the Bapu Bazaar because of its amazing fabrics, trinkets, and clothing. Us volunteers had a lot of liberty and freedom to go where we want and explore the city, but with a curfew and being safe, which was awesome because we got to explore India and do things we wanted. The 3rd week of traveling was tiring but amazing! We visited Agra, Amritsar, and Dharamsala. Pranay was with us in Agra and Amritsar, where we went to the Golden Temple and the Taj Mahal, and then we drove to Dharamsala to start our trek up the mountains with our guide, Daya. On the trek all food was provided, rain protection (it rains constantly) and shelter on the top! Everything was organized in advance, and after the trek we took a overnight bus back to Delhi where a driver was there to take us to the airport. Overall, the experience was spectacular, and I was able to see so much of India in a very short time, so this program is very worth it. Pranay and Amita will take care of whatever you need and you will have the most fabulous time! Other than being careful what you eat and drink, I have nothing bad to say because my experience in India was so fabulous because of Sankalp! I strongly recommend this program, youll have so much fun! :)

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 31, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Comments

Tessa - my daughter, your age, US citizen, wants to volunteer at Sankalp and I was hoping to connect with you and your parents to have some concerns/questions I have answered. Please reply to my response. Thank you!

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Summer street kids project was worthwhile Amita and pranay really look after their volunteers. The kids are adorable and the accommodation and food provided is great. The travel week after is a great way to end the summer if you only have a short time to explore all the major attractions of india.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 26, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I volunteered with Sankalp for 4 month (January-May 2014) in Jaipur and worked there in the orphanage. It took me some time to write this review, and to find the right words for everything. First of all I want to say that altogether I had a great experience in Jaipur, the children in the orphanage were amazing, and I would definitely do it again! There are positive and negative aspects about the organization, and I will try to write everything down.
It took me several weeks to find some good and affordable volunteering organizations. I finally chose Sankalp, because I`ve read some really good reviews about the organization, and it was not as expensive as other volunteer programs. I always got an answer via e-mail from Sankalp within one or two days, explaining me everything I had to know! At the airport in Jaipur I had to call Amita from the organization because the driver was not there, but after some time he picked me up and took me to the volunteer house! I felt comfortable immediately.
The accommodation in Jaipur was really very good! There are nice rooms and a great rooftop terrace, and the house is really clean and nice! Well, the cleanliness of the rooms and the kitchen is mainly dependent on the volunteers, and sometimes it was just impossible to make all volunteers washing their own dishes. Nevertheless, the house was really nice, and I felt safe and comfortable immediately! The house gave me the opportunity to feel a bit like home in such a different country like India! The lovely cook Puni always brought a very positive atmosphere into the house, and she cooked amazing food for us (lunch and dinner)!! The food is always vegetarian, not too spicy and absolutely trustworthy.

There are several rules for volunteers, and in the first 3 months I was always fine with them. We had to be back by 9pm every evening, the lights (and TV) in the common rooms had to be switched off by 11pm (to avoid noise for volunteers who want to go to bed earlier), and the air condition was not turned on before 10.30pm. There was a rule which said that we were not allowed to attend yoga classes (or anything like that) within 5km distance of the house, to avoid strange people following us. But for me this rule didn`t make sense, because nearly every person and every rickshaw driver in this area knew our volunteer house anyway. It made it difficult for us to do activities like this in the afternoons, because going to a yoga class far away and pay 400R for every single rickshaw ride made it just too expensive. Nevertheless, I chose an organization like Sankalp on purpose, because I really wanted to feel safe when I go to India alone for such a long time. So in general I was fine with the rules, because it made me feel better that someone realizes if you are not back in the evening. I guess in my last month I just got a cabin fever, and the rule to be back by 9pm every day got a bit annyoing. Most of the time I didn`t plan anyway to stay outside of the house longer, but sometimes it was difficult to have a stress-free dinner in a restaurant with this curfew. I think this rule shouldn`t be there on, for example, Sundays, because sometimes when we travelled in the weekend we had to take a train back on Sunday early morning and missed a whole day of sightseeing. Maybe they can offer to send a driver to the train station when volunteers come back a bit later, to still make sure that everyone comes back safe. Probably everyone would be happy to pay for that! In my 4 month stay the curfew was sometimes more and sometimes less strict, this made it also a bit confusing for me.
Well, altogether I think when you stay there for only 2,3,4,...weeks, the rules shouldn`t be an issue at all. We all came there for volunteering and doing something good, so it is good to adapt a bit to the rules of the house. I just had problems with the rules after being there for so long, because the rules (being back by 9pm and being not allowed to get close to Indian people or neighbours) made it difficult to get to know the real culture.
Nevertheless, altogether I think it is good that you can feel safe there, because there is someone who makes sure that everyone comes back to the house safely. So even if some volunteers were annoyed by the rules sometimes, I think it is the only way to take care of such a big group of people!
So if you want to feel safe and are a bit worried or scared of going to India alone, then Sankalp is definitely the right choice for you! If you want to explore India by yourself and do whatever you want in you free time, then you shoud maybe look for something else.

The most important part was the work in the orphanage. This was definitely a very rewarding experience for me! Before I started working, I`ve heard horror stories from the other volunteers who worked there, about women hitting the kids with a stick and about the bad conditions there. First I was shocked that Sankalp supports an orphanage like that and hires staff who hits the kids. But in the orientation I came to know that it is a government orphanage, and that Sankalp cannot change the conditions or the staff in the orphanage- they can only send volunteers there, to make life for the kids a bit easier. When I went to the orphanage first, I didn`t look at the bad things at all. I was only focused on the kids, who were so excited and happy when we came. This was the best thing of every day: seeing the shining eyes and the smile of the children when the volunteers arrived – the only people who hugged them, kissed them and payed attention to them in a positive way. Yes, the conditions in the orphanage were indeed bad, but in India I think it can be even worse. I think as a volunteer it is much easier to focus on the fact that these kids get clothes and food there, they get washed and stay inside a house – a better life for them than staying on the streets on their own. But still, I think it could be so much nicer there for the kids! The children (1-7 years old) sleep in one room, and are locked there in the morning until the washing starts. It was definitely not good for them to be put together in this age range, because some of the older boys were aggressive sometimes, and just didn`t know how to treat the babies. The disabled kids were the poorest ones, because they were seriously treated like non-human-beings!
In the mornings we helped the staff to wash the children and dress them. Then we had time to “play” with them. This was really difficult, because they had no toys! Well, the orphanage had toys, but they didn`t give them to the kids…who knows why!! The problem was that the children were not used to toys, so they didn`t even know how to play with them. When we once got toys from Sankalp for the orphanage, the kids were fighting for the toys and broke them, or even threw them out of the window. Another really bad thing was that the children were not allowed to leave the house, or even the floor they stayed on. There was kind of a garden outside, but the kids were never allowed to go there. This was really sad, because sometimes the children just didn`t know what to do with their energy, they couldn`t run around or play under the sun. I hope that Sankalp has the influence one day to change that, and that there are enough volunteers to maybe split the children and just take small groups of them outside. Here I have to mention that most of the time we were only 2 volunteers in the orphanage, and there are so many more volunteers needed for this project!!
Around noon we also helped to feed the kids. In general our working time was from 8.30 – 12.00, and even when the free afternoons were a bit boring for me sometimes, I was totally exhausted after these 3 ½ hours. I always tried to understand the way how the staff handled the kids. I know that the Indian culture is different, and that using sticks or slapping the kids is still common in some parts of India, at home and in schools. Nevertheless, this was the most difficult thing for me to accept! The women who worked there were in general a bit rough, and they didn`t handle the children with kid gloves. I think the major problem is that we all come from a probably nice childhood and have a lot of sympathy with the orphans in such a home, so we just want to hug them and kiss them and take them home! But for the women who worked there, these kids also have to learn discipline and have to be prepared for a life in which probably no one will ever handle them with kid gloves. These women also came from a lower life standard, and I think that their way was just the way they learnt, and the way they treat their own children. So I always tried to see these women not as "monsters", but as women who just don`t know better. But coming from the western world, in which “discipline a child with corporal violence” – even if it is “just” a slap on the back – is extincted since around 40 years, it was very hard and sad for every volunteer to accept this. Once I saw a man who worked in the orphanage office, hitting two boys, and I stopped him and told him that this is wrong, and that there is never a reason to hit a child, not matter what the child did. After that, Pranay from Sankalp told us that we are not allowed to intervene in something like that anymore, because with this behaviour we risk to get kicked out from the orphanage. This made me very sad, and I felt like not fighting for the same thing with the organization I worked for, and that even the organization may also see "slapping a child" as the best way to discipline it. This was the time when I started being not sure about the whole organization anymore, because I realized that we just had different opinions about how to deal with a child. I just hope that one day everyone in the world will learn and know that there are other ways how to discipline a child! The kids in the orphanage were aggressive sometimes and hit each other, because this is the only way they learn. You cannot expect that the children behave well, when no one ever explains them why some things are right and others wrong. When their only punishment is a slap, than they will never understand why their behaviour is bad.
Still, I think that Amita and Pranay try to do their best and only want the best for the children. I am sure that they only want the best for these kids. I just think that they have another, maybe for us "old-fashioned", way of thinking.

Well, I just can tell everyone who wants to volunteer- and really wants to do something good- go to the orphanage wehere I was! And don`t look at the bad things. As sad as it is: you cannot change the way how the kids are treated, you cannot change the mind of the women who work there - you just can make the life of the children a little bit better. With the volunteers these children will learn how it is to feel loved. Every single volunteer is so much needed there! Most of all the disabled children need so much love and care! But with only 2 volunteers and 30 children full of energy, which all want to sit on you and play with you, it is nearly impossible to also take care of the disabled ones. After being in the orphanage for so long I really felt that I have done something meaningful, and I hope that many more volunteers will help in the orphanage!

I want to recommend Sankalp, because I had a really good time there! India is an amzing country, and I never made any bad experience or felt unsafe.
There are one or two things I want to mention:
- the car for the volunteers should have seat belts (this is probably the most important point when it comes to "safety"!)
- no volunteer should be forced to do a project. When someone can not deal with the orphange mentally, then it doesn`t help to force the volunteer to go there. Even if we got there to do something good and volunteer, everyone should also enjoy this experience a bit.

Thank you fpr the great experience!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 23, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
7

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I volunteered with CCS in Dharamsala, India for 5 weeks after graduating high school. It was the perfect program for a young girl traveling alone. While I still had prior travel experience, I really wanted to feel safe in a country with customs I wasn't familiar with. CCS not only offered me unbelievable opportunities for volunteering and making a difference, but also cultural learning, outings, and plenty of time to travel and explore on my own. The staff is awesome! Very friendly and fun to be around. They are always there for you if you need help or have any questions, but still leave you plenty of room to feel independent to make travel plans and explorations on your own.

While CCS is a bit more expensive than other programs it's worth every penny. You're cooked safe food three meals a day and taken to cultural outings and lectures to learn more about the country you have visited. It's a much more dynamic program with well rounded activities. I never once felt unsafe or unsure of where I was or what I was doing. This program not only made me love my time in India, but also proved to prepare me to travel alone in the future.

I HIGHLY recommend CCS for any travel, regardless of their previous experience, age, or who they are traveling with. Our house had volunteers from all over the world, ages ranging from 15 to 82.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 11, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

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