Healthcare Volunteer in India
Our healthcare volunteering program is a project based in Kolkata, East India and has been designed to tackle the issues of physical disabilities and mental conditions which affect schools, homes and families in the slums of India every single day. Poor, disadvantaged families in cities like Kolkata live in small, cramped homes with up to 7 or 8 members (sometimes even more!) with single rooms that double up as a kitchen / bathing area and sleeping quarters with no ventilation. Almost 30% of India’s entire population live below the poverty line and in homes averaging around 120 sq. ft, with no drainage system in place. The poor home environments lead to increased physical and mental health problems in children, making our project extremely important in helping to improve overall healthcare.
This unique healthcare program is designed to help tackle the problems of poor health and hygiene in Kolkata’s slum neighbourhoods, and you will get the fantastic opportunity to travel, sightsee and explore in your own free time.
You will be working in the slums of Kolkata, focusing on three main areas; your assistance will help us provide the proper nourishment through daily meals for children, you will teach the importance of personal hygiene and cleanliness, and you will assist in providing free health check-ups for families who can’t afford to see a medical professional. Your time will be based at a specialist community centre, helping to offer hot meals, snacks and educational support to those who visit.
In the past volunteers have been involved in creating educational materials for hygiene for children, researching ways of avoiding diseases prevalent in the slums and conducting sessions with women on menstrual health. Structure and guidance will be given to you by the local team.
Not only does our healthcare programme allow you to give back to India’s poor communities, but you will gain hands-on experience in healthcare, community care and childcare, giving you a fantastic advantage to your CV. And all the while, you’ll be able to broaden your horizons with meaningful travel.
All The Details
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- Pre-departure guide – to prepare you for your trip
- Pick-up and drop from the nearest airport
- Accommodation in a homestay
- Experienced bilingual local staff team
- Breakfast and Dinner- home cooked Indian food
- Location orientation
- Project training with the local Program Manager
- 24 hour support in your location for emergencies
- An opportunity to participate on a sustainable on going project that needs you
- Daily transport to the project site – these local three wheelers are the best ride in town!
Whats Not Included in your program fee :
- Flights to the program destination
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal shopping and gratuities
- Local excursions
- Project materials that you personally need *
*We provide use of computers at the community centre for further online research for project ideas. Please bring your own resources from home if needed. Photocopying and printing or buying materials you need for projects is at your own expense.
Local Team On Ground
Shalini Deo, Kolkata Program Manager
Shalini has spent a decade as a corporate trainer for language and behavioural skills for IT, banking to hospitality sectors. She is founder of New Agragati, a self help group which empowers 140 women by skill training and employment. Her passion to contribute to society introduced Shalini to us. She conducts cultural orientation and immersion programs, language courses and helps volunteers adjust better in India and particularly Kolkata. Shalini is basically super awesome to have around.
Sharbani Das, Community Center Manager
Sharbani has been working with Ektara Foundation helping with development and coordination of community outreach efforts since 2005. A passionate soul, Sharbani will be your point of contact and be responsible for planning out your volunteer activities at the centre. Sharbani is extremely friendly and her team is very dedicated in the field of social development. Being a natives of Kolkata she will give you detailed background of the slums and scope of work.
- The nearest airport for this program is Kolkata Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Airport (CCU)
- We recommend you apply for Visas before you arrive. Our Kerala Volunteer Guide will give you guidance on how to get your visas.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program. For Flights and Insurance fill in this form.
- Vaccinations are important. We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccines you should take.
- We work with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for travel to India. Goto www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo to find out how best to avoid trouble when abroad. Packed with essential travel advice and tips, the website also offers up-to-date country information.
- We understand it can be difficult to pay for your flights, program fees and other travel costs. Many fundraise for their journey. If you need ideas and a platform for fundraising ideas Click Here
- For support on any of the above email us firstname.lastname@example.org
What your First Week looks like:
Arrival Weekend: Once you get picked up from the airport you will be taken to your homestay where your Program Manager Shalini will come and meet you. You will get orientation and training.
Monday: After breakfast (08:00 – 09:00 AM) you will be taken to the project sites to get introduced to the team at Ektara and go over your volunteer work plans for the coming week.Your day will end at 16:00 PM. Your evening can be spent preparing for the next day. Your program Manager will have a catch up with you every evening.
Tuesday – Thursday: After breakfast (08:00 – 09:00AM) you will be going to the community centre between 10:00AM to 16:00 PM. Evenings will be free for cultural activities or language classes and preparing for the next day.
Friday: On Friday you have your usual morning volunteering session between 10:00-12:00 PM. Post lunch you will sit with your Project Coordinator to go over your week, and to plan out the following weeks volunteering activities. Evenings are free for you to explore the area.
Kolkata is a melting pot of East and West plus old and new. Take time to explore the beautiful British colonial architecture as well as the traditional Bengali history. And if you consider yourself to be a bit of a foodie, you can’t miss the amazing street eats at Lake Gardens, the kati rolls of Nizams or kebabs of Petercat on Park Street. At weekends, head out of the city to explore the foothills of the Himalayas, visit the famous tea town of Darjeeling, or go for a hike in the Sundarban Jungles to spot beautiful tigers.
What Happens When I Arrive?
Living Arrangements for Volunteers:
Whilst volunteering in Kolkata, you will be placed in a shared room within safe, comfortable and modern accommodation. We encourage community living so your room will be shared with another volunteer on the program and each room will have a fan and an en-suite bathroom. If you would like to upgrade however, private rooms or rooms with air conditioning are also available if you book in advance.
All houses will be provided with WiFi so you can stay connected and daily meals will be provided as a part of the program price. There is a small kitchen area where you can make tea or coffee.
To add to your culturally immersive experience, the food we provide (breakfast and dinner) will be local Indian cuisine. But if you would prefer western cuisine, feel free to visit the many cafes and restaurants in the local area instead.
Health and Safety :
When you join our programs you can be assured we have carried out Risk Assessments to identify potential safety and health risks on projects and in the community. We share this information with you in our pre departure documents. Our local staff are well trained and we provide 24/7 emergency numbers to all participants.
Volunteering Journeys Foundation:
Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Volunteering Journey’s Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities in the places that we work in. 100% of each donation goes directly to support our projects. Go to our Donation page if you want to support or fundraise for our Kolkata Program.
Why Volunteers Love Us!
‘My experience in India was absolutely fantastic. Having never done anything like this before, Volunteering Journeys made sure I settled in well and supported me throughout my time. Being placed with an amazing family gave me the chance to experience Indian culture first hand. I was part of the Disabled Childcare Programs for two weeks. Although short, I felt the time I spent was so valuable for the children. If this is something that you are interested in I would 100% recommend it. The memories, friendships and experiences you will develop will be ones that you will never forget.’
‘The teaching experience was second to none. I was overwhelmed by the respect and politeness all the children have, which made it some much easier to work with them, even with the language barrier. The amazing thing about the schools I visited was that all the children are like little sponges, they absorb everything you say, teach and do! It’s quite outstanding how much they gain from just a small conversation in the playground or in the class room.
So in general if you are questioning whether you want to volunteer and you don’t know what company to go with, it has the be Volunteering Journeys. You will be well looked after, gain an immense experience and make friends for life!!!’
‘I took a short sabbatical from work in November 2013 and decided to come to India. I was helping at a small school in Fort Kochi, teaching English, Maths, Science and the odd nursery rhyme. The school where I volunteered had amazing teachers and the kids were great. Ridhi and the team organised everything brilliantly – from cycling tours to the backwaters, to hosting me with a family that made my stay feel like home. If you’re going to volunteer in India then I highly recommend Volunteering Journeys’
“J’ai passé deux mois formidables à Kochi en travaillant comme volontaire avec Volunteering Journeys. Deux mois de ma vie que je n’oublierais jamais. J’ai rencontré des gens incroyables et participé à des projets qui me tenaient vraiment à coeur. J’ai pu voir l’aboutissement de mes efforts et le sourire sur le visage des enfants. Une expérience magique que je recommande à tous. Merci Rainbow”
‘I spent 3 wonderful weeks with the Volunteering Journeys team in Kerala, it marked the beginning of almost 2 months adventuring through India, and I can say without a doubt it was one of my favourite experiences of my time spent in incredible India! From the moment my plane landed and I was greeted by a friendly face and whisked away to a wonderful home, the local staff were incredibly welcoming, helpful, supportive and great fun to be around!
I spent my time volunteering in 2 local schools, assisting with English studies. The enthusiasm and joy with which the children approach their days will ensure you never want to leave!I cannot recommend Volunteering Journeys highly enough, it was such a joyful introduction to India – it’s culture, people and crazy beautiful way of life. You will leave with some fond memories and firm friendships’
‘I volunteered by teaching English both at a school and at an all girls’ orphanage for two months. It has been the best experience of my life so far. I really got to know the children I was teaching and seeing the children’s English improve over my time was an incredible feeling. From being introduced to yoga to tasting delicious flavoursome Indian cuisine and living in “God’s own country”, has left me eager to return. I have made friends across the World who made my time spent in Kerala unforgettable. I highly recommend volunteering with Volunteering Journeys; Kerala is beautiful and you will gain fun memories.’
‘I spent two weeks running an art workshop which was absolutely fantastic. The children were so enthusiastic and bustled about with paste and paint, putting together the most amazing creations. They were not used to producing collaborative work and were thrilled when their individual efforts achieved a glorious whole. Their personalities really shone through and I became very fond of them in the short time I was with them. Thank you to Volunteering Journeys for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience!’
‘There is some kind of magic that happens when you’re in India. The climate, the people, the warm welcome, the happiness in every person, the culture, it’s simply inspiring. On top of that having a group of friendly, thoughtful organizers guiding me through the program made my time volunteering with Volunteering Journeys one of the most memorable moments in my life.
If anyone reading this is considering becoming a volunteer, don’t hesitate, become a volunteer. It will be the most rewarding experience and adventure of your life. I assure you that you will have a vital impact on the community, the place and the children. I would recommend Volunteering Journeys without hesitation. Well organized and hassle free adventure. You get help and guidance with everything you need. Kerala was my destination. Safe, beautiful and very friendly. Just do it and have an adventure of your life!’
“Volunteering at the schools was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once again the friendships you create are irreplaceable. Admittedly, the first few days were scary, in the sense that my partner and I were only 18 & 20 yrs old and we were teaching women and children a language that was not their first. However the persistence and willingness of Indians is not to be tested. Each of our students put in 100% and naturally we became very personal with everyone and these women and children taught us much more. We came out of this experience with more than we had ever anticipated. It can’t be put into words just how much we learnt from volunteering. Ever aspect of our lives and mindset has changed.”
‘I think it was quite an eye opening experience to kind of see how people live and enjoy their lives very differently to what we do probably in UK. Even though comparatively they didn’t have as much, the children still came to school with a smile on their face and they were really keen to learn. They were ever so happy and always had a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances that they are living in, and I think that was an amazing experience for us to take back. We have comparatively much more wealth in the UK and we have much more available at our fingertips. Yet we were quite not so happy’
‘We decided to volunteer as part of our family vacation. It was the perfect balance: making a contribution but not being asked to do too much, with Volunteering Journeys staff with us every step of the way to help, support, clarify, etc. I was also impressed that they didn’t feed us a line about how we were changing the world in a week; I knew going in that *we* would be the ones most changed, and the staff’s perspective’s was the same: we were making an impact by showing we cared and sharing experiences, which hopefully meant something to a lot of people.’