Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work 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:
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.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers normally stay in a shared room at their Campus 18 km from Leh town, contributing around £7 per day towards their keep.
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Tong-Len is active in attempting to help displaced communities in northern India through a range of education and health based projects. Experienced teachers and qualified health workers are sought to help in tent schools and health clinics. Volunteers are expected to stay for a minimum of one month..
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. Last information we had long term accommodation was available for around £30 a month but this may have gone up a little.
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BGM Social Service Care
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: According to their website BGM can accommodate seven to ten volunteers at a time in the founders home for €70 per week, including three meals a day, though more up to date sources suggest this is available for €320 per month.
Other Opportunities to Volunteer in India
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.
Three more organisations are worth mentioning here but none meet our criteria for a full listing because they don’t have a functioning website, we don’t have quite enough information from them or, despite not being particularly outrageous, their fees are just slightly more than it would cost to explore this inexpensive country independently.
Of the three iSpiice is the slickest with a nice PDF brochure and easy on the eye website. They will suit first time travellers to India who would welcome an airport pickup, orientation and add on tours to their volunteer package. iSpiice offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities in India for two to 12 weeks, including teaching English projects, IT teaching programmes, childcare projects, after school programmes/summer camps, renovation of local institutions (including day care centres and schools), community health and women’s empowerment projects.
Prices start at $375 for one week to $825 for four weeks. Additional weeks are $150. This covers the services mentioned above, excluding tours, volunteer house accommodation and meals, and a few little extras such as yoga classes and daily private car transfers to and from work placements by iSpiice’s drivers.
Despite being recently active on their Facebook Sankalp Volunteer Society’s website wasn’t available when we looked but according to the information they sent us their programmes include teaching English in a primary school, volunteering for Street Children and women empowerment and rights. There’s an application fee of $250 and then $127 a week covers digs in a volunteer home in the northern part of Jaipur. Most meals are included for the volunteer programme duration. Sagreen International offer teaching/sports internships (€850 for up to 12 months) and law internships (€720 for four weeks).
Help Exchange Networks in India
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 Airbnb credit from us here.
Volunteering in India – Free Volunteer Project Reviews – Will Hatton’s frank experience of volunteering in India.
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.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations