Mental Health & Psychology Volunteer in India
Our psychology work experience in South India focuses on disabled childcare and working closely with special needs children who need our help. Disabilities in children can prevent them from getting the full participation in everything from childhood activities and education to community activities and everyday family interaction. This creates barriers and prevents children from growing and developing in the way that they need; additionally, this is further complicated by the social stigmas and negative attitudes towards disabilities often seen in poor communities. Not only do poor families struggle to successfully identify disabilities in children due to ignorance, lack of education and understanding (plus the lack of funding to provide continuous treatment), but many families do not know how to deal with a diagnosis even when they receive it. This unique program is designed to tackle these issues head on and provide psychological help for the kids involved, as well as their families.
Without the appropriate care and attention, it’s very easy for disabled children to become neglected and some families are under strain because they do not receive the right support. Our psychology work program is designed to support not only the disabled child in question, but to also provide support for parents and families to steer them in the right direction.
Based in Kerala in South India, you will be working within a small special needs school in the local area and assisting special needs teachers in their mission to help disabled children learn basic skills in a specialised environment. You will assist with sessions within a multi-sensory room and the children will range from 6 years to 18 years of age. Whilst you will work both under supervision and get the chance to spend one on one time with each child, there will always be local teachers and our staff on hand to help you.
This psychology placement will also extend to other local schools so you can help children who have been identified with learning difficulties within an ordinary school environment. We can also have you join any other program working with women or children in the community of Kerala. Depending on your time on the program we may get you involved with community visits and supporting families of the children we work with. There is plenty of opportunity to shape this placement with your requirements.
We hope that through this placement you can enhance your career development opportunities through invaluable international work experience. At the same time we hope that you can contribute towards helping a much neglected community in India.
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- Pre-departure guide – to prepare you for your trip
- Pick-up and drop from the nearest airport or train station in Cochin
- Accommodation in the heart of Fort Kochi – with WiFi and Kitchen facility.
- Experienced bilingual local staff team
- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (Except on Sundays)
- Location orientation – a basic tour of your local area
- Project support from local project staff and specialist teachers
- 24 hour support in your location for emergencies
- An opportunity to gain skills and exposure to mental and physical health problems in developing countries.
- Auto Rikshaw 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 need
Geetha Raj: Kerala Program Manager
Geetha is the backbone of our programs in Kerala. Her friendliness, generosity and warmth towards every volunteer will leave you feeling extra special. Having worked as local journalist for almost 10 years, Geetha grew a passion for community development work, and is very forward thinking. She is instrumental in Kerala Program development. A born leader, Geetha will give you the direction you will need to succeed as a volunteer. Her team will look after all your needs from the time you enter Kerala to the time you leave. In her spare time Geetha loves taking our volunteers to the temples to get a taste of Keralan culture.
- The nearest airport for this program is Cochin International Airport (COK)
- 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. You can get in touch with our team if you need travel insurance or flights organised via 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
Arrival weekend: Once you get picked up from the airport you will be taken to our volunteers house in Fort Kochi where you will meet other volunteers who may be present at the time. One of our local team will come and meet you and give you a house and area orientation. Basic project training will also be given.
Monday- Friday: After breakfast (8.30 -9.30 AM) you will be taken to the project sites to get introduced to the special needs school. You will be back to the volunteer house after lunch and can sit with our project coordinator and go over lesson plans for the coming week. You will have the option to continue your project in the afternoon or attend one of our alternative project sites assisting disabled children in local schools.
Evenings and Weekends: You evenings and weekends are free for you to explore Kochi. The local area has many cultural activities that the local team can guide you to such as cooking classes, traditional kathakali dance performance or visiting one of the many markets.
What Happens When I Arrive?
Your accommodation will be in our volunteer house in the quaint and laid back area of Fort Kochi. You will be given a room to share with other volunteers. If you need private rooms we can arrange this at an additional cost. The house is a wonderful new built with a gorgeous rooftop, lounge area, dining area and ample space to relax and unwind.Our office is also on the ground floor so we are always around incase you need us. We also arrange a weekly Yoga class that you can join at an extra cost.
Your meals will be cooked by our chef who prepares this fresh everyday. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are Keralan meals made with locally available ingredients. South Indian specialities like masala dosa, puttu, and idlis will certainly be on the menu as will rice or chappati and a curry for lunch /dinner. Western meals are not cooked at home by our chef but if you require this there are a lot of restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood and within walking distance that serve this. Transport to the projects will be in tuktuks which is a great way to get around in Kochi. Your airport pick up and drop from the airport will be by AC car.
Fort Kochi and Things to Do :
This volunteer programs is based in Kochi, Kerala (South India), which has been voted in the TOP 10 cities to visit in 2020 by the Lonely Planet! The volunteer house and where you will be living is in the area of Fort Kochi in Kochi (or Cochin as it called also) in the state of Kerala (Southern India). This is an idyllic, safe, and friendly location with a truly tropical and laid back vibe- a perfect place if you want to experience India for the first time. We are surrounded by greenery filled lanes,, beautiful colonial era mansions, artsy cafes, local shopping and lots of culture and history.
Kochi has a lot to offer in terms of cultural activities like the Kathakali (traditional dance) or Kalaripriyat (a local martial art) performances or cooking classes that you will can enjoy in the evenings when you are free. In your spare time you can also visit local beaches, stroll around the myriad of bazaars, enjoy the famous Kerala backwaters Or visit the lush tea plantations of Munnar where you can even go trekking. Fort Kochi is an amazing area to live in and we are walking distance to amenities like supermarkets, hospitals, atms, and also sightseeing places so you will have plenty to do and see.
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.’