India

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I spent one month volunteering in Jaipur in January 2013, traveling on the weekends. The attention the program has given us, as well as hosting, food and transportation was really good. I chose the Women Empowerment volunteering program where me and a girl from NY split and taught together girls from a village near by. I chose the older ones because they spoke more English and because of that I was able to treat them less like children and more like human beings living in our curent planet Earth. i taught them globalizaiton, world currencies, and also did a test in which they had to know what is their talent, work, knowledge, what are resources and what is Indias worst enemy. This was to make them understand that the country they live in has everything, but poverty is Indias biggest enemy, which was indeed the overall answer from each and every single one of them. It has been a life-changing experience for me without a second of doubt. Also because of the wonderful hindi vegetarian food cooked in the house everyday, I turned into a vegetarian ever since - 3 years now - once I realize how people live well and deliciously without our Western unbalanced craving for constant meat. `We had to wake up very early everyday and had a curfew to return home, 8 pm. But it works since we all had the energy throughout the whole day to give to teaching and also see places of Jaipur. In the weekends the program has arranged amazing travels for the volunteers who chose the work and travel program and I have definetely experience a few of the best moments of my life in these travels, as well as in the teaching program. I could see from my girls that the frequency of english speaking volunteers has actually taught them english, and they are able to communicate even though their educaiton doesnt help so much and they are surrounded by a poor village, that in itself it extremely valuable.
On a note: I dont know how it works in India with these things since prices are always different however I do think getting couple a least of computer to teach the girls things like Word, and other basic things would be extremely helpful. I taught them Powerpoint and they all made presentations about themselves. This can be a valuable tool in the future for children who want to thrive in a system that was imposed on them,.
Overall, Sankalp Volunteer is an excellent program and up to today I recommend it to everyone. I am gratfefull to have chosen this program.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Nov 30, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I was there in august of 2014. It was a great experience teaching english and maths to childs that live in risk of social exclusion, although another volunteers were working in an orphanate and another programs that the NGO gets you to chose. It was a invaluable experience because you can learn how that culture and religion are, and how those people live. The NGO provide you tasteful vegetarian food and bring you everyday to your workcenter where you will work 4 hours, the rest of the day you will can enjoy the live in Jaipur.
Don't miss this opportunity to rise your awareness and your knowledge enjoy helping people!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Nov 30, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I arrived Jaipur with an open mind, and tried to have as few expectations as possible.
In the beginning of my stay everything was good. But the longer I stayed, the more I began to realize that there's something sketchy going on here.
Everyone working beneath Preney and Amita(the leaders) seems to be really scared of them, at least at Preney, and they don't seem to have a secure and safe working-contract.
Every time they entered the room people became quite, and walked around on their toes. And when we tried asking common everyday questions to one of the women working at the school she always asked us several times not to say anythinf to Preney and Amita, even though it was just normal things about her life, or about a holiday.

At the end of our stay we went out to meet a friend, and came back home 2 hours after the curfew. We sent a message to let them know we'd be late, but when we arrived back home they threatened to not let us back in, saying we should get a hotel. They also claimed they had been so worried, even though none of them had even tried to call our phones. The day after we went down to talk to Preney about it. He acted like a stubborn teenager and refused to discuss it and try to sort it out. We got thrown out, and had to leave the same day.

Earlier in the program there were to Indian men volunteering, they came back at the same time several times, but no one said a word to them.

I just hate that I put my money into this program, when seeing that most of the money don't even go to the volunteering programs, but directly into the leaders pockets.

I would not come here again, and I would not recommend it to anyone else either. I reckon you can find much better.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Oct 21, 2015
Overall:
2
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

Thank you for submitting such a long review, which also happens to be our first Negative feedback since 2004. Here we would like to point out to the readers that Egreenwood and two other volunteers had been terminated from the Program due to noncompliance of organization rules and safety requirements. The Current Negative Review is in response to the above which has been fabricated and created by their own imagination. Please also note the following points: 1. Safety of the volunteer is our Primary objective. India being a mix of many cultures, religions, faiths and regional diversity Requires discretion on the part of the volunteers and they are required to adhere to the rules laid down for their own benefits, including house timings. 2. If 90% volunteers left unhappy from our organization then your Negative review would not have been the first one. 3. Running and Handling an organization such as this for over 10 years is not a Child's play and not every 20 year old has the experience or intellect to understand the complexity and the effort that is required to balance human and other resources. 4. Organization funds: Kindly note that no volunteer/health/childcare/Other organization in the world can survive without creating revenue for its future development and sustainability. We are not funded by the Govt. of India, neither we get any grants or special privileges. We have to develop and create our own resources in order to fulfil our commitment to help the underprivileged. Be it Land and building, Human resources, Transportation or Technical infrastructure. 5. Please note Macs, laptops, iphones, mobile phones are not status symbols, they are necessities. Be known that Apple has created a technical ecosystem that works best with its owned manufactured products. Surprising you found it wrong on our part making use of good technology for office work. And yes we have multiple parental homes and ancestral properties which is "none of your business" to get involved in and our personal matters. We Respect all Volunteers and seek the same Respect for ourselves to continue our efforts for creating a better environment for the underprivileged. Thank You.
With regards to this being Sankalp's first negative review: I myself had a negative experience however did not want to leave a review due to wanting to put the whole experience behind and forget about it. At least 5 of my volunteer peers who were present at the same time had negative experiences and I know for certain that two of them have not left any sort of review. I assume this is what many of the others do. One of my fellow volunteers who had a positive experience was specifically asked by sankalp to leave a positive review, which could contribute to the large disparity. Sankalp said that this review was "fabricated and created by their own imagination" however they responded in a similar way to a negative Google review by saying "Fake review. Individual does not exist." That Google review was made a year ago. In terms of volunteer safety being the primary objective: in the afternoons my 2 volunteer friends and I (three females) travel back to the volunteer home via rickshaw. On this particular occasion, the rickshaw driver was trying to rip us off and kept asking for an unreasonable price. The driver became verbally aggressive and we were becoming scared. Puni, the house keeper, saw this so went inside to get Pranay (the owner of Sankalp) - when Pranay finally came out, he went over to the driver, spoke a few words with him (which we did not understand), then turned to us and told us it was our problem and none of his concern then just walked back inside. We were left completely alone to handle the situation ourselves despite feeling threatened. Following Pranay's exit, the driver became more aggressive and we ended up paying him a large sum of money before running inside. But, all in all, if you're young, are happy to follow strict and sometimes unreasonable rules, don't ask questions, don't listen to staff concerns re pay etc., and don't make your own plans (e.g. pay for all of their more expensive programs), then you'll have a fine time.
The reason there are so few negative reviews is Pranay &Amita do not give out the site and password to those they think will be negative review. Several in our group were excluded because they were not totally taken by Sankalp organization. Any one who was critical was not even told about this site.
SANKLAP VOLUNTEER IS THE FRAUD ORGANIZATION...EVERYTIME I AM FRUSTED HERE..... CHARGES IS TOO HIGH AND ZERO FACILITY....VERY DIFFICULT TO TALK WITH PRANAY...DON'T KNOW THE ENGLISH... THEY PROVIDE ZERO SERVICE AFTER HIGH CHARGES
SUCH FRAUD......
I had a very similar experience to you except I did 4 weeks in the orphanage program. The majority of the volunteers who worked in other programs often shared how the staff seemed very intimidated by Pranay and I had first hand experience of feeling intimidated with him raising his voice and becoming very angry. My friends and I tried very hard to negotiate the curfew as we had plans to travel a little further (without using their expensive travel programs - which may have been why they were so inflexible with us). We planned to arrive back monday morning thinkng there wouldn't be any safety concerns as it would not be night. Without any rational explanation this idea was completely banned. My friends and I decided to go anyway and as a consequence were banned from volunteering for a week. I accept that there was a consequence as we went against their wishes, however instead of punishing us they punished the children who had to go a week without any one looking out for their welfare. It was heartbreaking.
Please be known that earlier last month 3 volunteers were suspended from their respective programs due to misconduct and non compliance of the safety norms set by the organization in India. Sankalp takes safety issues for all international volunteers very seriously and it is the responsibly of the volunteer to comply to all the rules laid down by the organization for their own benefit. India is not as any other country in the west. It has completely different social dynamics which has to be understood and followed by all volunteers. We accept all creative criticism but not that is fictitious or specially written to damage the reputation of Sankalp Volunteer.

AIM Abroad

I am really glad to have found such a wonderful organization in India .Aimabroad runs their own projects including Orphanage , Slum School , Special need school , Slum clinics and program for women Empowerment .I had an opportunity to participate in multiple projects , Accomodation at volunteer Guest House was wonderful and food was delicious .
All the projects are for the welfare of rural communities in India .

Faridabad city is also well connected to various cities by buses and Trains, this helps a lot in organizing weekend trips .
There is no registration fee involved and participation fee is very affordable .

So i would definitely Recommend this program to future volunteers .

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Sep 19, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Program:
Location: India
Posted: Sep 6, 2015
Overall:
4
Support:
4
Value:
4

Comments

Hello, I would like to share the experience I had with IFRE in India. I have recently come back from a one month summer volunteering project where I worked in a slum school in Faridabad. Overall, I had an incredible and very positive experience in the country. However I also experienced a couple critical points with IFRE: 1) According to what I had to pay for this four week volunteer program, I realized during my work experience that certainly not a lot (if any) of the money reaches the school. There are no proper tables, no exercise books and few reading books in the school. For this reason I am wondering how the 1,899$ that I paid for this trip has been used by IFRE. 2) I noticed that IFRE does not require any background checks of the volunteers. Anybody, whether with good or bad intentions can work with the children in the school. This could be a potential danger for the students. 3) Volunteers do not need any teaching experience to work in the school. Additionally, no lesson plans or instructions on what to teach the pupils were given to me when I arrived in India. 4) I had difficulties with the payment of the trip; I was overcharged on one occasion and asked to repay the entire program fees on another occasion. Also, I had to email IFRE for an invoice. 5) Unlike mentioned on the website, where it states that "IFRE's staff also visits each volunteer every 1-2 weeks", the other volunteers and I got no such visits within my 3 week stay in the school. 6) IFRE (or Global Crossroads who IFRE works with) did not follow the program mentioned on the IFRE website accurately. For example I did not get to visit the city of Ranthambore at all. Unfortunately no alternative excursion was proposed to me. 7) On one occasion, my parents contacted the country coordinator in India and he gave them incorrect information about my location in the country. 8) During the time I was sightseeing, I was asked by the local IFRE/Global Crossroads contact to give extravagantly high tips to the drivers and guides. Therefore I do not recommend traveling with IFRE Volunteers.

Projects Abroad

I can not say enough good things about Projects Abroad. I was referred to this organization from a friend of mine and could not have been happier with the result. From the minute I signed up, there was immediate and constantly available support from my volunteer advisor, the travel team, etc. The amazing projects abroad staff took care of booking my flights, bus fares, host family accommodations, and work placement. I never felt uncomfortable or unsure of what was going on prior to my departure to India.
Once I got to India, I was placed with a great host family. The thing I was worried about the most was the language barrier- turns out my worries were for nothing, because my host family spoke perfect English. They took me on all their family outings and different places around the city. I felt like another member of the family. I had my own room and my own bathroom, definitely not something I was expecting and it was very gracious of my host family to let me use for my stay there. I also enjoyed spending time with the other volunteers from Projects Abroad. It was fun to meet kids my age from all over the world and share a mutually new experience. The Projects Abroad team in India held weekly events for us to attend and get to know each other better-a definite benefit when you're in a new place!
Futhermore, my volunteer placement was better than I could have ever asked for. I was in India as a veterinary volunteer and worked with a veterinarian who worked mostly with livestock. Not having much experience at all with livestock, the attending veterinarian and staff members were very patient with me as I learned. The best part about my placement was being able to do many things along with the vet instead of simply observing all the time-I thank Projects Abroad for setting me up with the veterinarian who allowed me to develop the practical skills I was able to there that I would not have been able to otherwise.
If you are looking for an organization to volunteer with, this is the organization for you. Everyone I interacted with throughout the traveling process was friendly and helpful- they knew how to get me the answers I needed to the questions I had. If I ever plan to do volunteer work abroad in the future, I will use Projects Abroad again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 20, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Volunteering Solutions

I and a few others arranged a dental elective with volunteering solutions.... would recommend people really look around before committing to this program. We had limited exposure to patients. Went to schools where they could clearly afford toothbrushes and toothpastes and delivered OHI there. We also distributed the samples we took with us there. And have no idea what our money actually bought us there other than average accommodation in one of the dentists house and meals which even if we decided to pay for ourselves would have been dirt cheap and this is coming from someone who is off Indian descent and fluent in the language. When we tried expressing our dissatisfaction with the so called organiser there, he turned very hostile. If you want better value for your money and to see it put to good use, so not do a dental elective worry volunteering solutions in India. That's all I can say. Good luck.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 16, 2015
Overall:
1
Support:
2
Value:
1

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I had attended the 2015 summer program and really enjoyed it. I wanted to make a review for the program, say some things about my stay, India itself, and tips for first time abroad travelers.
I was using the Verizon 3G network and had lots of coverage, more so than anyone else in my group. If you are doing just brief calling and texting I wouldn’t worry about an international plan at all. But I ended up unexpectedly using a lot of my data coverage for navigating my way through the city with Google maps, as well as finding places of interest and doing quick Google searches on something. You can very easily use up 100 meg and I would suggest getting on some kind of international plan if possible.
For my 3 week stay, I applied for the Visa on Arrival which was very easy and didn’t have a problem getting it. When you go through customs, I just said that I was doing sight seeing and where I was going. They advise in advance not to say that you are doing volunteering as this requires a different visa and is a more difficult process to go through. You might have to check if you need a visa for doing international transfers in a particular country but in China you did not need one. When it comes to travel insurance you usually can tack on some for a little extra if you go with an online travel agency like priceline, Travelocity, Orbtiz…etc.
One major problem that I had was using the ATM machines. They were not reliable at all and most of the people in our group had issues withdrawing money at one point or another. You have to make sure that you are withdrawing from an international bank and not a state bank (you can do a wiki search on the list of banks in India for reference). Unfortunately in the process of discovering this I was blocked out of my account after repeated attempts and had to call my bank to have them unblock my card or wait 24 hours to try again. I only was able to withdrawal money once during my 3 week stay there. It's better just to bring a big wad of cash to last you the whole time as unadvisable as many people say not to do. You can bring credit cards but most merchants, rickshaws, restaurants, and eating areas will not accept them. It was a frustrating experience to have and am glad that I brought enough to survive my trip as I would have been in trouble otherwise. In general, food costs about an average of 250 rupees at a restaurant plus or minus one hundred for a meal with 150-250 for one way rickshaw rides. Higher end restaurants will cost more in the 500 range for a meal. Clothes are also in a 150-250 price range. 3,000-4,000 rupees a week is fine for food, transportation and other purchases though you could get by with less if you just stayed at the guest house.
The heat during the summer was relentlessly uncomfortable. I had to constantly keep a rag around my neck to wipe the sweat out of my face on a regular basis. I could literally just be sitting doing absolutely nothing and be sweating. Most of us after our volunteering activities had to take a cold shower afterwards. I would visit India again but not during the summer.
Pranay handles all of the e-mails and was really awesome in responding to all of my messages and questions that I had. I was really concerned about my first time abroad and wanted to make sure that it was a legitimate organization. There are a number of similar volunteering in India organizations and I wanted to stick with a more reputable one based on the reviews I was reading. He provided me with 6 different references of people who had all done the program before and I exchanged e-mails with them before I committed to it myself. During our meeting in person though he seemed rather disinterested in our group and lacked a kind of proactive engagement to get to know everyone. It was almost as if he was kind of bored with his mind elsewhere, but he was still kind and polite if you spoke with him. All of our guides were really great, spoke with everyone, and made sure we were all together. Our pick up and drop off tour drivers were good for the most part but could not speak English enough to answer any questions we had which was difficult. This can also be unnerving when you don’t know where you are going and traveling down dark alleys in slum like areas. It's also weird when they drive in the opposite direction on the roads, constantly open the door to expectorate, and honk at everyone and everything that is in their path. A behavior pattern I didn’t find out until much later in my trip to actually be normal for their culture…
The tourist companies provided by Sankalp will take you directly to where you need to go and know the locations of all the places. Many rickshaw drivers do not however and will take you to jewelry stores and textile shops (places where they are paid by to get more customers) or request more tips for taking you to tourist sites. Choosing to go along with them is up to you but most of us were not interested and found the experience frustrating.
I was volunteering with the Street Kids and found the experience to be absolutely fine with no problems whatsoever. I regularly volunteer in the U.S. and fully understand all of the logistical problems that come with it. During my stay there were a few people volunteering at the orphanage who openly disagreed with the way the program was run and wrote a lengthy document expressing their disapproval. These particular individuals were not with our summer program and I only heard through the grape vine that there was some heated arguments which ended in their termination of stay at the guest house. I know from experience that this can happen as many volunteers can be overly aggressive. Don’t fall into this trap. If you have a problem, do not write a lengthy document stating the problems. Simply make an inquiry into the areas of concern and schedule a meeting for conversation. One thing that would have been good would have been to ask the level of experience a person has in dealing with kids and volunteering so that there could be a proper placement. For some it was easy but for others it was a first time experience which made things unnecessarily difficult.
The Himalayan hiking was definitely more than I think a lot of us had expected. Two people from the previous group had ended up getting sick and were not able to make it. And two of our own people where having a really difficult time with it but were able to make it to the Triund Lodge with some encouragement from the group and our guide. You definitely need some hiking experience and don’t try it without at least some level of physical conditioning, especially if you have never been in a high altitude location before.
I would have definitely liked a confirmation e-mail sent to communicate an expectation of arrival and last things to consider and think about. Such as (make sure to bring a travel adapter, or name of person who is doing the pickup). Traveling all the way to the other side of the world to an organization that you are not familiar with is a big commitment and I just felt that the communication when it came to this was a little too loose for my taste. Sometimes, like on the visit to Pushkar, we were just sort of left in a city to do whatever without much guidance as to where to go or how to get there. It would have been nice to get more direction or a traveling map on these visits but we seemed to manage it ok without any. One last thing was the age differences. Most of the people there at the guest house were around their late teens and early 20s. Given that I was 30, I was roughly 10 years older than anyone else which was kind of isolating in a way. I don’t know why there wasn’t a more diverse age group but if you are looking for people to talk and socialize with that are in your generation I would check in advance to see what the ages of the people are. When it comes to the program as a whole, it didn’t really blow me away but I trust and would recommend them to anyone interested in visiting India for the first time.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Aug 8, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
10

Comments

I'm looking to take part in the Orphanage program instead of the Street Kids one at Sankalp next month. I was just wondering if I could chat with you about your experience. My email is elizabeth.chand@gmail.com please feel free to contact me if you are interested in sharing more of your experience. Thanks!
I have just come back from volunteering with Sankalp.I am 45!!!I went with my 17 year old daughter.I was 20 years and some older than everyone.I however had a fabulous time and got on great with everyone.If you just want to stick to your generation because you felt isolated I think that is a problem of yours.We met a 50 year old lady in Agra who again was with younger people and she too didnt have any problem.The whole point of travelling /volunteering is to open your mind to other cultures and experiences.I would suggest if you like to stick to people your own age maybe dont go!

Leave Ur Mark

I recently volunteered for 3 weeks working with women on the microfinance internship with Leave Ur Mark. I do think 3 weeks is too short to do something of this nature, but I made the most of my experience. The other interns that stayed for longer made the right decision to come for at least a month and a half. At work, my coworkers were incredible. They would all share lunch with me and I got to try a lot of new Indian curries and rice combos.

I was apprehensive at first, being an American male I did not know how the women I was helping would respond to me. But the staff at Leave UR Mark did a good job of reassuring me, and the woman running the project personally introduced me each woman I was helping to get a loan and learn new skills.

At work since I have a tech background I was able to help both my coworkers and the communities learn more about technology and how to incorporate it into business. I led a few computer classes for the women and helped give some of the women who had more sophisticated businesses some ideas about their future websites. I hope I was able to get them to think differently and enable tech into their work.

My favorite part of the Leave UR Mark experience was staying with all the other interns in the house. We all went through our ups and downs and lots of cultural shock, but it was great to come home and share funny stories with one another over our Indian dinner and make plans to travel together.

Leave Ur Mark pays a lot of attention to their interns and if anyone has a problem they take steps to fix it quickly. The housing they have for interns was beyond my expectations--we even had a swimming pool. That was really crucial in a country like India.

My advice to future interns is to go with the flow. India is not the right country to be in if you like a lot of structure. However if you are okay with letting things happen naturally you will have an incredible and memorable time.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 24, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

This program was everything I could've hoped for and more. My only regret is that I could not stay longer. The home was in an authentic area south of Delhi, within a short walk to our placement and the metro station. Everything was so smooth and convenient, I really think it was worth every penny. While it always seems counter intuitive to pay to volunteer, the service and convenience you get with this program, combined with the awesome experience, make this so worth it. The school was awesome. The kids were so sweet, they got us all gifts on our last day. Very touching and a truly memorable experience. So glad I got to take part in this. Great host family, I always felt welcome and it felt like my home. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Aloha

-Phil

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 19, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi Phil, my daughter is going to Delhi in December, and I was wondering what can you tell me about the safety of the places you go or stay in? all i hear about International HQ is great, but as a mom is always great to get some reassurance!! thanks!!

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