Volunteer in Kolkata
Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, the nation’s fourth most populous state set in charming East India. But more significantly, Kolkata is the place where Mother Teresa dedicated her life to the poor. It’s a place of both symbolic and spiritual importance for the philanthropist, or just anyone who wants to give back to poor and disadvantaged communities of the world. As a volunteer in Kolkata, you will be making a’¯difference to the lives of slum children and women trapped in poverty. Walk the footsteps of Mother Teresa and do your bit by working with our dedicated teams in East India’s poorest and most run down slum neighbourhoods. We collaborate with local grass root organisations to assist in for’¯rehabilitation, education and health care projects in a bid to change the lives of the people we meet.
This is a truly unique volunteering opportunity and your contribution will help us make a real impact to the local community. Not only will you get to touch lives and help our ongoing work, but you will get to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and take time out to explore this beautiful part of the country. The historic city of Kolkata is a melting pot of East meets West, where you will be met with the British colonial past as well as traditional Bengali heritage, and our projects allow free weekends for you to travel further afield.
During your time as a volunteer in Kolkata, you will work in the city’s Topsia slum neighbourhood with children, young people and women from extremely poor backgrounds and you have a choice of volunteering in three key areas. You can choose from childcare, teaching or women’s empowerment.
In childcare, you will provide the necessary assistance for parents who need to go to work to make a living and you will take care of kids aged between 2 and 4 years; in teaching, you will work with local grass root organisations to provide free education and classes for families who are too poor to send their kids to school and you will be helping with English, maths, science and more; in women’s empowerment, you will help to tackle the issues of gender inequality by helping mistreated women with life skills. Healthcare and hygiene can also be addressed as it is an issue especially in slum areas.
In addition to the above you can be involved in community outreach programs and helping the local teams on ground to organise activities surrounding community development. The crowded slum dwellings you will see in Topsia are overwhelming with piles of rubbish on the streets, industrial waste and smells in canals. Here you will get a true sense of poverty and your efforts will be making a difference in a big way.
All The Details
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All our rates are in GBP £. You can convert to USD $ or any other currency using the current exchange rates when you make payments.
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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, Ektara Foundation Team
Sharbani has is a key member of the Ektara Foundation team helping with development and coordination of community outreach efforts in Topsia and Tiljala slums 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)
- If you wish to book flights to this destination you can fill in this form.
- Our Kolkata Volunteer Guide will give you guidance on how to get your visas. You can get E-Visas for less than 4 weeks.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this program.
- We recommend you visit your local travel clinic to find out what vaccinations 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
Volunteer in Kolkata first week:
Arrival Weekend: Once you get picked up from the airport you will be taken to your homestay where your Program Manager will come and meet you. Your orientation and training will be completed before you goto the project on Monday.
Monday : After breakfast (08:00 – 09:00 AM) you will be taken to the project sites to get introduced to the team at the slum community centre. You will meet the local team in Kolkata and get a tour of the facility. You can choose to observe or get started with volunteer work! Lunch will be between 13:00 – 14:00 PM. You will finish your day by 16:00 PM. Evenings can be used for cultural activities or language classes. 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 09:30AM to 16:00 PM. Evenings will be free for your relaxation or to explore Kolkata.
Friday: On Friday you have your usual morning volunteering session between 10:00 to 12:00PM. You have the option to end your day early on Friday or you can volunteer until 16:00PM.
As the city of Mother Teresa, Kolkata is one of the most significant cities in India and it makes a great base for you to explore India further. Take time to sightsee and discover the grand colonial architecture in your free time and at the weekends, head to the foothills of the Himalayas and visit the famous tea town of Darjeeling or head out to the amazing Sundarban Jungles for some off the beaten path tiger spotting. East Indian cuisine is also rated for its elaborate preparation and complex mix of spices, so be sure to enjoy the local street food.
What Happens When I Arrive?
Living Arrangements for Kolkata Volunteers:
Whilst volunteering in Kolkata, you will be placed in shared accommodation with other people on the program. We organise safe, comfortable homes and apartments with clean, modern western style bathrooms and WiFi access, plus each room will include a fan and an en-suite bathroom for your personal comfort. All rooms will be shared with another volunteer as we encourage community living and socialising with others to form deep connections and friendships. However, if you wish to upgrade to a private room or you want a room with air conditioning, this can also be arranged in advance.
Meals will be provided (this includes breakfast and dinner) and will be local East Indian cuisine but if you prefer a western menu, feel free to explore the local cafes and restaurants in the city which may be to your taste. Daily project travel will also be arranged for your convenience during the program.
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. We protect the safety of children and vulnerable adults on our programs with criminal background checks on 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 Kolkata. 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.’