In Kerala, South India, there is a real need for teachers to help children with basic skills in reading, writing, speaking English and education in general. As a volunteer, you will teach underprivileged children in run down urban slum areas, where most of the community live in difficult conditions. This may include low family income and conservative societal pressures. Many of the children we work with are the first in their family to be educated. Education is not always seen as a priority, and young ones are expected to start working and earning money as soon as possible. Girls in particular face heavy societal pressures, usually giving up their own dreams to raise families.
What we do
Your weekdays will be spent volunteering at an orphanage or a local school. Here you will lead classes and assist teachers in a range of fun educational lessons designed to improve the children’s English language skills. Your activities could also include arts, sports, reading, or drama, giving both the children and yourself a well-rounded experience. No prior experience is necessary, as you will be given training and resources to help you. Local staff will also be present at all times to assist you, should you require it. You will also have opportunities to get involved in organising extra-curricular activities for the children’s enjoyment and enhanced learning.
To get involved in this volunteer program, you must be over 18 years of age and have a keen interest in working with children. A good command of spoken and written English would be beneficial. You should arrange to arrive on a Saturday, and are required to stay a minimum of two weeks, but you can extend your stay for an extra fee per week.
Accomodation and Transport
The cost includes airport transfer by car, homestay accommodation with a local Indian family or guardian, and an orientation session on arrival, which covers Indian culture and project details. Bedrooms are shared with other volunteers, and all homes have running water, electricity, Western-style bathrooms and WIFI. Breakfast and dinner will be home cooked continental or Indian, and there are many western cafes around, should you crave pasta or burgers. You may also cook, with groceries available at a supermarket within walking distance. Daily transport to the projects will be pre-arranged, and the numbers for all doctors and emergency medical facilities will be given to you upon arrival.
Things to do during your free time
This program will also give you a chance to stroll around the port town of Fort Kochi, where you will be living. This area is perfect to discover the history and culture of Kerala: the Jewish Synagogue, St Francis Church (the oldest European Church in India), the Santa Cruz Basilica, which was built by the Portuguese, the spice market and the famous Chinese shore-operated fishing nets.
On weekends you will have the chance to go on a backwaters cruise – one of the 10 best things to do in India, according to Lonely Planet. Drifting through quiet canals lined with coconut palms, eating deliciously authentic Keralan food, meeting local villagers and sleeping on the water under a galaxy of stars - it's a must do !
There are also many other activities you may want to consider: get a tan or surf in Varkala or Goa; not only taste, but also learn to cook the delicious cuisine of South India; attend a Kathakali dance theatre show; and drift along in a houseboat on the lush backwaters of Allepey.