Volunteering in India


Volunteering in India

Words by Melanie Groves DSCN1513

India is a country on many people’s bucket list. It’s a country of contrast, from the beaches of Goa to the towering Himalayas. India shows the dichotomy of extreme wealth but also extreme poverty. With this in mind, many people travelling to India consider volun-tourism as a way to travel ethically and be a part of the community, rather than just another tourist.

“from the beaches of Goa to the towering Himalayas”

Volun-tourism is derived from the idea of combining travel with volunteering, making it very popular among school leavers wishing to do something meaningful during a gap year while seeing the world.

“a way to travel ethically”

The Pros:DSCN0871DSCN0457

The benefits of volunteering in India can be great. For the individual, one can gain personal growth, confidence and potentially learn another language. Along with the direct results of the individual project, volunteering overseas can also promote cross-cultural understanding and reduce cultural prejudices and increase economic gains for the local area. When done right, volunteering has the potential to help change lives, promote positive change and community development.

The Cons:

However, with the popularity of volun-tourism increasing, there is opportunity for it to be exploited. Numerous companies offer placements, some not-for-profit with others designed explicitly to earn money. The intention of volunteering is admirable, but the act could potentially be harmful, putting locals out of work and reversing any progress. Companies more interested in earning money than promoting development can do more damage than good, putting volunteers in luxury chain run resorts rather than keeping money in the local economy.

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Volunteering:

  1. Is this company a charity/not for profit?DSCN0423
  2. How long is my placement? Will leaving early impact in a negative way?
  3. Are the projects continually run? Does this mean there are periods of time void of volunteers and progress?
  4. Does the company positively impact the local community? (Does it create more jobs/training for locals?)
  5. Does this volunteering company enable the cycle of poverty, or does it aim to break this cycle?

As said by Kofi Annan: “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever”.DSCN2446

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