Volunteer on community projects in the Darjeeling region of India

Volunteer on childcare, community development & teaching projects in Gorubathan and Kalimpong in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal state, India.

You can join for 3 weeks up to 24 weeks and we have places available all throughout the year.

Individuals, groups and students all welcome.

Cost for food, lodging in a homestay with a local family, airport pickup & drop off, programme materials and support; from £520.

Volunteer at a childcare projectVolunteer teaching a classVolunteer teaching EnglishVolunteer with childrenVolunteers exploring the local areaVolunteer at a daycare centre in GorubathanA view of Kalimpong townA typical homestay in GorubathanVolunteers at an awareness projectChildren in classThe staff team at the projectVolunteer exploring the Darjeeling regionChildren with their art projectsChildren in KalimpongHomestay house in GorubathanCommunity outreach projectsKalimpong, one of the locations volunteers can workA temple in KalimpongChildren studying with a volunteerChildren playing games with a volunteer

About the Project

Volunteer with children in Darjeeling

Volunteers will work with a government registered, small grassroots charitable organisation, established in 2007, working to help underprivileged communities in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal state in North-East India. This volunteer project aims to serve poor, sick or otherwise underprivileged communities in the Darjeeling region by providing free education, childcare, medical assistance and other relief to those who are most in need, regardless of caste, creed, culture, race, gender, or religious background. Currently the project operates in two locations close to Darjeeling Town, these being in Gorubathan and Kalimpong. Volunteers can work at either one or both locations for a period of 3 weeks or more.
 


Volunteer projects in Gorubathan

Education Programme:

Teaching volunteer in GorubathanEducation, particularly learning English is an integral part of the overall development and wellbeing of a child and their future prospects. However, unfortunately the quality of facilities and teaching methods differ between different schools. The schools attended primarily by underprivileged students are often not able to provide such a quality education despite having many hardworking teachers. Therefore the assistance of volunteers is very useful at these schools, to provide a chance to interact with and learn from fluent English speakers, both for the children as well as teachers. Below are some of the typical tasks volunteers will be involved with at the school teaching projects;

  • Providing English conversation classes to the students
  • Helping to create an environment that will enhance children's interest in learning, playing, drawing, painting, music, singing and physical activities
  • Volunteers can use various teaching aids to make education interesting and engaging for the students
  • Volunteers can share and exchange their own ideas and views, promoting cultural exchange between students & teachers
  • Volunteers can creatively help the school to raise funds and resources to better fulfill the educational needs of the students

As a volunteer, you will be expected to teach both basic English and other subjects in English, providing students with the chance to interact with a fluent speaker and improve their own English and also use your positive attitude to act as a motivator to encourage an love of learning within the students.

Childcare volunteer in GorubathanChildcare Programme:

At our childcare volunteer projects in India, volunteers will work at a Day Care Centre that aims to help poor communities in inaccessible or remote areas. The project provides free tutorial classes and other scholastic materials and services such as books, pens, storytelling services, clothes, choreography training, artistic competitions, refreshments to the children who are underprivileged, disadvantaged and whose family members are working as labourers and so cannot afford childcare during the day. We celebrate the children's birthdays and give them small gifts. We also help them with any sicknesses/medical expenses and ensure they are healthy. The aim of the programme is to bring education and support to children from extremely poor families and allow them a happy start in life. Below are some of the typical tasks you will be involved with as a childcare volunteer;

  • Help students with their homework and help them with any questions they have
  • Offering advice to the children about basic health and hygiene issues, and also environmental issues
  • Provide a good example and be a positive role model for the children
  • Volunteers can help the children to converse in English
  • Talk with the children about any issues in life that may be troubling them
  • Help with singing, dancing, drawing, painting and playing

Community awareness volunteer in GorubathanAwareness & Community Outreach Programme:

At this project, volunteers will help with running awareness programmes in the local community on the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, Healthcare, Human Trafficking, Child Labour and Drug Addiction in society. The organisation is trying to raise awareness of these issues for the benefit of future generations of society. Although we may not be able to eradicate these problems, we can help to minimise the dangers by raising awareness within the local community. During the awareness programmes volunteers can also help with the distribution of clothes and other essential items.


Volunteer Projects in Kalimpong

School children in KalimpongIn Kalimpong, volunteers will work at a small school with disadvantaged children. The children who attend the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and many travel from very remote areas to study at the school. Volunteers will have the opportunity to help provide teaching assistance to the children, who range from nursery age up to year 10.

At the school, volunteers will start work from 9AM onwards each day, working with each age group at the school. Typical activities include; 

  • Providing English conversation classes to the students
  • Helping to create an environment that will enhance children's interest in learning, playing, drawing, painting, music, singing and physical activities
  • Volunteers can use various teaching aids to make education interesting and engaging for the students
  • Volunteers can share and exchange their own ideas and views, promoting cultural exchange between students & teachers

Volunteer Schedule:

Aerial view of Kalimpong

In Gorubathan volunteers will work for at least two to four hours per day, five days per week, Tuesday to Saturday (or from Monday to Friday in Kalimpong). Weekends are free to relax, enjoy and explore the local area, or volunteers can also travel to nearby tourist areas such as Darjeeling town and Sikkim during their free time. Each day you will be working on different projects depending on the project(s) you have mentioned in your application, your own skills and interests, as well as the needs of the community and the projects which are currently running at the time. This structure allows volunteers to contribute their specific skills to the programme, enjoying the diversity of working on multiple projects and getting to know a number of individuals within the community, whilst ensuring our programmes can effectively meet the needs of the community at the time. Please note however that this structure means not all of the projects listed are guaranteed to be available to participate in, but rest assured you will still be making a valuable contribution to the local community during your stay.

Dates & Costs

Volunteers in Darjeeling

26th May to 16th June 2018
16th June to 7th July 2018
7th to 28th July 2018
28th July to 18th August 2018
18th August to 8th September 2018
8th to 29th September 2018
29th September to 20th October 2018
20th October to 10th November 2018
10th November to 1st December 2018
1st to 22nd December 2018


 

Volunteers with homestay family in GorubathanPlease note that the above dates are listed only as a guide, you can join the project starting on any Saturday throughout the year, as long as you are able to stay for at least 3 weeks. The minimum stay to join this project is 3 weeks and the maximum stay is 24 weeks. 

The cost to join this volunteer project in India is £520 for 3 weeks, £605 for 4 weeks, £775 for 6 weeks, £945 for 8 weeks, and every extra week costs £85. For prices for any other duration not listed above, please email aaron@workingabroad.com

What is included:

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Support from long-term experienced staff in India
  • Church in KalimpongWelcome meeting and all necessary orientation
  • All necessary project equipment and materials (however any items you wish to bring/donate e.g. teaching materials are gratefully received)
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Safe and basic accommodation in a local homestay, including 3 home cooked meals and tea every day
  • Pre-departure support from WorkingAbroad

What’s Not Included:

  • Flights to and from Bagdogra Airport
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs (varies depending on your nationality, but usually around £100)
  • Personal expenses
  • Extra local excursions/tourist activities you may wish to join during your free time in the surrounding region (trekking, tours, etc.), although we can advise you on this
  • Transportation to your project location(s). Most project locations are within walking distance of the homestays, otherwise volunteers can take a short taxi ride

Food, Lodging, Travel, Requirements

Homestay in GorubathanAt both of the project locations, volunteers will stay in a homestay with a carefully selected host family. Using homestays ensures you will be able to experience first hand the local way of life and also it puts all proceeds back into the local community. During your stay you will receive 3 home cooked meals and tea every day.

The homestay accommodations are clean and simple, so you should be prepared to live in fairly basic but peaceful surroundings. The homestays include many facilities such as a Western-style bathroom, stable electricity, mosquito nets, fans, Internet (may sometimes require an extra charge). Most homes do not have a washing machine but will provide hot water, so washing needs to be done by hand.

Volunteer accommodation in KalimpongYou will also have access to nearby shops, banks, medical facilities and more, and can also contact the local coordinator or ask your homestay family if you need assistance with anything. The local police station and primary health centre are both a 15 minute walk from the homestays. Please see above for photos of some accommodation in Gorubathan, and below for the accommodation in Kalimpong. 

During your free time on the weekends, volunteers can visit different sites of Gorubathan and can also travel to other popular tourist sites in the region such as Darjeeling Town, Kalimpong and Sikkim. These trips are not included in the cost, but our local coordinators can advise you on travel and tourism options in the region.

Teaching volunteer in IndiaVolunteer Requirements:

Volunteers in India should be aged 18 years or older and speak fluent English. All nationalities are welcome. Volunteers do not need any specific skills or qualifications, however any skills you do have, such as teaching qualifications or experience of working with children will of course be useful for the project. Volunteers should also be self-motivated, calm and independent, and willing to help out with a range of different projects and activities when required. If you are not flexible, patient, or adaptable, you will probably not enjoy life in rural India.

Volunteer walking in DarjeelingFlights/Travel
The quickest and simplest option is to fly to Bagdogra Airport in India (code IXB). Please aim to arrive on a Saturday (your project start date). You will then be collected at the airport when you arrive by project staff and taken to your homestay accommodation in Gorubathan or Kalimpong, ready to meet the team and begin your volunteer project.

Volunteers will need to apply for a visa online in advance of their arrival to India. We recommend volunteers obtain an employment (volunteer visa), and we will provide information on obtaining this, but volunteers have to cover any visa fees themselves. In some cases it may be possible to join the project with a tourist visa only, for example for shorter term stays, but this is done at your own risk. If you have any questions about visas please let us know.

Background & Interactive Map

Some General Information & History of the Region (Darjeeling)

Darjeeling, IndiaDarjeeling is a naturally beautiful place, currently an independent body of the Government of West Bengal. Situated in the North-East of India, the Himalayas lie at its Northern side and there is an abrupt plain at its Southern side. Darjeeling district has three sub-divisions, Darjeeling Town, Kalimpong/Kurseong) and Gorubathan is under the sub-division of Kalimpong.

Originally just a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim, Darjeeling grew in prominence during the mid 19th century when, because of its climate, the British established a hill station there. Later it was discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations and Darjeeling tea is still exported worldwide. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. 

Tea plantations in Darjeeling

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the Raj was governed from Calcutta.

A lovely Victorian town was built among the Himalayan foothills, the remnants of which are still visible around the Chowrasta and Darjeeling remains a popular summer and fall resort for the natives of Kolkata today. For foreign tourists, the main attractions are the cultural diversity (many Tibetan refugees moved here after Tibet was annexed by China and they co-exist with the descendants of the many Nepali and Bihari laborers brought to work in the tea plantations), the beautiful views (including the wonderful vista view of Kanchenjunga), a variety of trekking options, and the opportunity to cool down after a stint in the plains. The town is also a jumping off point for travellers heading to Sikkim.

Photos taken from Wikipedia. Read more at: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Darjeeling


Information about Gorubathan Town

Volunteers in Gorubathan

Located about 90km from Kalimpong and Darjeeling Town, Gorubathan is also known as Sombaray. The name has its origin in the weekly village market (haat) which is organized every Monday (Sombar). Gorubathan is situated on the east bank of the Chel river. There are ruins of a fort known as Dalim Fort on the top of a hill near Gorubathan. Gorubathan is known for its beautiful landscape of the Neora river, mountains and forests, which attract a lot of tourists.

 


Information about About Kalimpong Town

Kalimpong TownKalimpong has a little less to see than Darjeeling Town but is, in comparison, quiet and pleasant to walk around and explore. There are a number of religious sites to see, including Zang Dhok Palri Phodang monastery, Tharpa Choling Monastery, Mangal Dham and MacFarlane Church. There is also Gauripur House (home of the great Bengali poet Ravindra Nath Tagore) and Graham's House, a complex with a large school, Christian church and several homes in the English style. Kalimpong is situated between two hills which, on a clear morning, provide views of Kanchenjunga. Deolo Hill provides the most sweeping panoramic views and also has a guesthouse. Durpin Dara is the other hill, which has the Zang Dhok Palri Phodang Monastery. The climate of Kalimpong is ideal for the cultivations of horticultural plants. There are various nurseries here which house varieties of exquisite orchids, gladioli, marigolds, amaryllis and many other flowers.

Read more at: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Kalimpong


Please click on the image below for an interactive map showing some key locations at the project

Volunteer projects in Darjeeling

Volunteer in India testimonial

Volunteer Testimonials

"The time I spent volunteering was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The children were so keen to learn and I had so much fun teaching them - they are used to a very monotonous style of verbatim teaching and were so easy to please with a more fun and light-hearted approach. My Home Stay family were also incredibly hospitable and kind - it was absolutely lovely to be invited to stay in their home and I really felt like I was treated as one of the family. I am so keen to return to Gorubathan as soon as I next have the chance!"

Bella de Vere Hunt, UK
 


Volunteer in Gorubathan, Darjeeling"My experience was both challenging and overwhelmingly rewarding. The children in the daycare and education programs are eager to learn and they were so appreciative that we were spending time with them. I felt needed and that my time was being utilized appropriately. The greatest feeling comes from watching the encouragement and time spent with a child lead to an understanding of what he/she used to struggle with. It’s walking into a small, damp room and hearing little voices greeting you with a big "Good afternoon, Miss!" Seeing education from another perspective was humbling, to say the least. I also gave presentations for the women's empowerment and awareness programs. These programs were welcomed by all in the community. It was surprising how much people would engage me with their issues. There was an openness that helped to create a strong sense of community within Gorubathan. I felt safe my entire trip and while traveling around. The village is small and everyone knows everyone. The police are very friendly and were always willing to assist. The home stay was beyond hospitable. I found a family and a place to call home in a matter of days"

Savannah Miller, USA


Volunteer in India testimonial"Thank you for my stay, and thanks for the great service you are doing for the underprivileged children in your community. This project sets a fantastic example of how simple acts of kindness, humanity, charitable work and working together can make such an important difference in people's lives and in the world. Volunteering was an amazing and giving experience and the location was a friendly mountain village close to famous Darjeeling. I stayed with a local family and got to experience their everyday life, and I made friends with many great people, both other volunteers and the organisers of the project. I felt so appreciated by the children, teachers and the organisation, and was given responsibility to come up with activities and games, even though I didn't have any previous teaching experience. When I got back home, though, I was given a job as a substitute teacher in a primary school, so I was able to use my valuable experience from volunteering! It was probably the best thing I have ever done!"

Jeanette Antal, Norway

Temple in Kalimpong

How to Join the Project

To volunteer in India and secure a placement on our Community and Teaching volunteering project, please complete and submit the form including your application payment of £180. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However for those who are accepted, the final amount remaining needs to be paid two months before departure. Once you are confirmed on the project, you will receive pre-departure information with all details on your project, when to arrive, contact details, suggested items to bring, programme information and lots more.

 

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