How to participate in the volunteer project “The Himalayan Beauty” in India

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I had the opportunity to participate with FSL India in the volunteer project "The Himalayan Beauty" in Dharamkot in which an international team with members from Canada, France, India, Italy, Mexico, and Spain helped with environmental, construction and educational tasks. Let me share with you my experience as well as the application process, and how to participate in other volunteer projects around the world.

1) The Project

The school and the team
Mostly every day we went to the Government Primary School Dharamkot Edu. Block Dshala. Our team leader was Dinesh from India and we were nine participants: Cuillen from Canada, Elise, Gabriele and Joanne from France, Federica and Marco from Italy, Antonio and Jorge from Spain and me from Mexico. We also participated in an environmental activity with the NGO "Waste Warriors", in which our team leader was Sanam from India.

India volunteer school
Activities
The project was a fulfilling experience because we worked in renovation activities but we also enjoyed spending time with the children at the school, working in the nature, having cultural visits to several temples and museums, and going to a trekking activity during the last week.

a. Construction activities: we replaced the floor of a classroom and helped to paint and fix other areas of the school.

India volunteer renovation
b. Educational activities: almost every day we spent some time playing with the children and speaking in English with them. These cuties were adorable and they always wanted to learn the new games that we taught them.

India volunteer kids
c. Environmental activities: we participated with Waste Warriors cleaning the Bhagsu Waterfall. This place was extremely beautiful and the hot weather mixed with the energy of moving around made us swim at the end of the waterfall.

India Waterfall
d. Cultural visits: there were several cultural visits each day that allowed us to learn about Indian and Tibetan Culture. We went to the Dalai Lama museum, talked with monks, went to the Tibetan Children's Village, had Tibetan cooking lessons, visited a Tibetan Temple and a Tibetan Museum and went to watch carpet making.

Tibetan culture
e. Trekking activity: the last week we had an amazing trekking activity, we spent a night in a Temple and two nights at the top of Triund (which is a camping site with an amazing view).

Trekking Himalayas

Free Time
On the evenings after we had finished work, we were able to choose to do whatever we wanted, but most often we:

a. Drank a typical "Masala Chai" tea in a coffe shop in Dharamkot

India daramkot coffee shop
b. Went shopping to McLeod Gang or Dharamshala

India dharamsala shopping

The weekends

Also, we had two free weekends and as a team we chose to visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar and Manali (these extra activities were self-funded).

a. The Golden Temple: this was truly one of my best experiences in India and in my life. Founded in 1577 by the 4th Sikh guru, it has the world's largest kitchen serving up to 300,000 people every day for free, receives thousands of people to sleep and accepts people from any religion, color, age or gender.

You can read about my whole experience in this post: The Golden Temple: a magical place in India

INDIA Golden Temple
b. Manali: it is a popular touristic destination and serves as the gateway to Lahaul & Spiti district as well as Leh.

Manali

2) Additional information

Dharamkot

Location
The project took place in Dharamkot (a small town in Dharamshala near McLeod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama's home is located). This is a very touristic kind of hippie-hipster place where you can meet backpackers from all over the world. In order to get there you can access www.makemytrip.com and book all your tickets but basically these are your options:

  • Airplane: you can take a airplane from New Delhi to Dharamshala and then a taxi to Dharamkot. When you access www.makemytrip.com fill in "From DEL To DHM." The ticket will cost around 3,000 to 4,000 INR (44 to 59 USD) and the taxi to Dharamkot will cost around 400 INR (6 USD).
  • Train: you can take a train from New Delhi to to Pathankot or Chakki train stations and then a taxi to Dharamkot.
  • Night bus: you can take a bus from Delhi to Dharamshala and then a taxi to Dharamkot. This is your cheapest option because the bus will cost around 1,000 to 1,400 INR (15 to 20 USD) and the taxi around 400 INR (6 USD). But you have to know that this is a 12-hour trip and in my opinion it was very uncomfortable and I wasn't able to sleep at all.

Duration
3 weeks (the last week we went on a trekking activity).

Accommodation
The team was staying in a guest house which was very simple but comfortable and clean. You will have to share your room but this also promotes the interaction with the team. In my case my roomies were an Italian and French girls who were very nice and we had a lot of fun fun together. Overall the place was good, the only inconvenience is that there was no wifi in the house so we had to go to coffee shops nearby to get it.

Food
Food was provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was very delicious (although repetitive) and we were able to taste typical Indian food as well as some international plates prepared by the team members. Beware that India is a vegetarian country but if you really want meat there are a lot of touristic restaurants nearby where you can find meat and chicken dishes and fast food as hamburgers or pizza.

 

3) Application Process

Start your application
To start the process enter www.fsl-india.org, there you will be able to visualize "The Himalayan Beauty" as well as other work camps which vary in duration, cost and start date. You will also find the application process and the contact details of the organization.

Participation fee
18,000 INR (approx. 265 USD).

Don't miss the opportunity to come!

India volunteer team

 

4) How to participate in other paid & unpaid volunteer camps

There are volunteer projects in many countries all around the world. Some ask for a participation fee but others are paid, which means that you'll only have to pay for your airplane ticket to get there and you'll be provided with free accommodation and food.

You can read the post How to find paid volunteer projects abroad to know in which websites you will find the databases containing all these projects and also you can read about other experiences I had in the posts:

On the other hand if you are also interested in studying abroad you can read the post How to find scholarships to study abroad.

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Volunteer abroad: India, Dharamshala, daramshala, volunteer, volunteers, volunteer jobs, volunteer opportunities, volunteer projects, volunteer travel, volunteer vacations, volunteer work, ngo, volunteer in india, volunteer india, help

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17 Comments

  1. Wow, this sounds amazing. And so good for your soul. I wish I could do stuff like this……maybe in 20 years..

  2. This looks like an amazing experience. If I didn’t have children and responsibilities I’d totally do this. It’s so beautiful there. Plus the experience of helping others. Love it.

  3. What an amazing experience! And how lovely to be able to contribute to the place that you’re travelling to as well. I’m hoping to organise a trip to India some time next year and will have to bookmark this post as a reminder to get involved. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. This is such a beautiful read. The pictures are beautiful. I think we should all volunteer one way or the other

  5. What a wonderful story! Your inspiration to travel and volunteer are amazing. Volunteerism and travel are a win/win. Talk about cheap ~ A 12 hour taxi ride for $6 American. Great tips on where to find volunteer and scholarship opportunities abroad.

    1. Thank you very much Sara! I’m very glad people can read the tips for volunteering /winning scholarships/traveling, thanks a lot for your comment!

  6. What a wonderful post – it makes travelling all the more meaningful when you involve is opportunities and organizations like these. Would love to take my kids along to participate in a volunteer project.

    1. Hi Priya. thank you very much! Traveling is indeed much more meaningful when you participate in volunteer projects, you help and at the same time have so much fun with other volunteers from all over the world! Hope you get some time and participate in a project, you may contact the organization(s) in your country (it should be in the world list) and ask them if they have projects with kids 😀

  7. Thank you for sharing!!! This is one of my goals as soon as the kids are able to. I am looking for an organization that accepts kids, in case you know, please buzz me. I will follow you on IG and lets stay in touch there.

    Great work… I look up to people like you… with a BIG heart!!!

    1. Hi! Thank you so much, loved your comment!, I would suggest that you contact the organization(s) in your country (it should be in the world list) and ask them if they have projects with kids. Awesome, let’s keep in touch, and thanks again for your comment! 😀

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