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What are "Volunteer Programs" ?
Volunteer programs are frequently referred to as "volunteer vacations" "working vacations", "service-learning travel", or "service vacations." Travelling as a volunteer departs from conventional adventure travel and cultural immersion experiences in one very important way. The purpose of worldwide volunteering is foremost to serve, and thereby, to learn first-hand about the host community and its people. It is not simply an alternative to a standard vacation, but an opportunity to use your skills and interests in an unconventional setting to benefit others in a community that has requested your help.
Increasingly, people are offering their services on work projects in places they would not ordinarily have the occasion to visit. It is a true exchange of ideas, cultures and dreams to which most open-minded individual can contribute. The purpose of this is to establish working partnerships with under-served rural communities striving to become self-reliant.
One of the best things about International Volunteering program is that you can just be dropped into a setting in another part of the world for just a few weeks. Things are already set in motion and you pick up where the last team left off. It was perfect for me because I only get a few weeks' vacation each year. And yet, it was one of the most thrilling and rewarding things that I have ever done.
Who Volunteers on Volunteer Programs?
Ideally people of all ages and from all walks of life can provide a valuable service. Volunteers need no language or professional qualifications for participation on volunteer programs. While many of our team members are students, the volunteers range from 16 to 65 depending on the project and locaton. Volunteers are usually work with others of similar age.
Volunteers typically share common characteristics such as flexibility, compassion, a sense of adventure, and most importantly, the desire to work with and learn from local people in the host community. Volunteers are drawn from all occupations and backgrounds, and from throughout the world, mainly from the U.S, Canada and the U.K. Approximately 60 percent of volunteers are women.
Each volunteer selects a program that best employs their experience and interests, and a program where the volunteer feels engaged in a community project of lasting benefit. Volunteers must be in good health and have the mental and physical capability to function as a team member. We encourage all interested individuals to apply for a Volunteer program.
Depending on your appetite for challenge and adventure you can choose a program that requires little effort, or choose a challenging program in a community remote and unseen by conventional tourists. And, you can choose between rugged, physically-challenging environments or the familiarity of a classroom and comfortable hotel in a small town or urban setting. What's more, no foreign language proficiency is required. The potential for life-changing awareness is always present in each volunteer opportunity, with mutual understanding the greatest benefit.
Is a Volunteer Vacation right for me?
Volunteer programs provide service-learning opportunities for individuals of all ages, skills and backgrounds. Prospective volunteers often ask if their expertise and interests can be used in a host community. If you're open to new challenges and enjoy working with and learning from local people, you can contribute to and benefit from a volunteer vacation. Key questions you should ask yourself are:
- Am I willing to offer my skills and interests to a community requesting help?
- Am I willing to get involved and take part in all development actiivities?
- Can I get along with people from differnt cultures, language and customs?
- Can I accept direction and work with locals and tribal people?
- Do I understand the need for and value of working as part of a team?
- Do I value being a part of a long-term effort?
- Do I enjoy learning about new cultures and unfamiliar lifestyles?
Please remember that this is always more than one way of doing something and volunteers are here to help in any way they can. What volunteers bring to the project is their enthusiasm, drive and skills besides money and expertise. We are committed to providing our volunteers accurate information on all of our projects. What we ask of you is flexibility, patience, a spirit of adventure, and a sense of humor also go a long way. Some host communities provide a greater degree of predictability than others due to cultural norms or other cultural or social circumstance.
How long are the Volunteer India Programs?
Volunteering programs last one, two or three to 12 weeks and sometimes 3 – 6 months depending on the community and the site. Volunteers who wish to stay longer in the community may choose to sign up for additional Volunteer programs. Programs are often offered back-to-back, during consecutive weeks. See our programs page for more specific information about the dates for each program. Our commitment to our host communities is long lasting.
How much do Volunteer Programs cost?
The service program fee for volunteering service programs in south India ranges from £255 to £1595 and stay extensions costs additional per week based on individual program requirements. Airfare is not included. See each program page for specific price information. Read more about why a service program fee is necessary and what's included in your program fee below.
What's included in a YOI Volunteer Program fee?
The volunteer service program fee is used to support the local projects and the service program overall. This includes your costs for working on-site while serving as an extension to our program. Your program fee includes:
- Orientation :Orientation and local sight seeing trips in Kochi are included. Almost all volunteers end up doing many more trips and activities while at project sites including treks, wildlife spotting and canoe trips.
- Food : All meals are freshly prepared using local produce and provided by YOI Staff. Volunteers find the meals delicious and often staff adjust spice levels according to volunteers` tastes. Meals include Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Tea/Coffee & Dinner. Clean and purified bottled drinking water is provided at all project sites, however remote it is. Vegetarian meals are prepared by YOI staff for volunteers.
- Accommodations : The YOI Base will have basic and comfortable accommodation with all modern amenities. While at project sites, volunteers stay in fully staffed and furnished YOI Houses, sometimes at carefully vetted tribal houses and private homes.
- Ground Transportation : Transportation between the scheduled airport of arrival, hotels and all other volunteering work program travel is provided.
- Program coordinators : Program coordinators are staff with experience, training and have been selected for their management skills, cultural sensitivity and commitment to Yearoutindia’s philosophy of service. Local consultants, translators and host organisation staff also assist the team.
- Project Materials : We endeavour to contribute about £100 (sometimes £200+) per volunteer directly to our various projects run by YOI at various locations depending on project needs. Volunteers also fundraise for the projects when possible. In addition volunteers, their friends and family fundraise separately to buy clothes, educational materials, blankets, and even cattle etc that they directly donate to the schools or communities they work at.YOI contribution to the on-going work and new project are also raised year-around from volunteer fees. The budget and expenses for each project is managed by the Yearoutindia coordinators, hosts and volunteers themselves.
- Program Coordination : The costs for project start-up and management, site visits, orientation materials, volunteer preparation, individual emergency evacuation insurance and host communications are covered by volunteer service program fees.
- Administration : Administrative costs are covered in the service program fee.
PS: Yearoutindia DOES NOT receive any funds from any Govt.(s) or other agencies, corporations and completely support our running costs, project costs and expenses solely with volunteer fees. We have succeeded to keep our volunteer fees very low compared to other organisations and all our coordinators worldwide contribute their time and effort for no monetary gain to make a real difference to the lives of the children and communities we work with.. The projects we take on are real & directly initiated by our volunteers and funded with volunteer fees. We believe that the commitment, efforts, generosity and the "YOI experience" shared by our volunteers is what keeps the Yearoutindia volunteer family growing and spreading so rapidly.
What's not covered in the service program fee?
Airfare or other travel to the site, visas, free-time expenses, alcoholic beverages, and travel. Medical and trip cancellation insurance also are not included in the program fee and are recommended. All additional free time travel outside the work program, accommodation and food expenses are to be borne by the volunteers themselves. Any ad-hoc direct monetary contribution that volunteers would personally like to make to any individual or project they feel sympathetic towards should be borne by the volunteer themselves with their personal funds. E.g Any additional costs incurred while conducting parties for the children, excurssions, dinners, camps, extra- curricular activities and related costs should be borne by the volunteer(s). YOI coordinators may contribute to these activities depending on the availability of extra YOI project funds.
Do Volunteers have any free time during the Program?
While the purpose of any service program is to serve the host community and learn about and from the local people, there are ample free-time opportunities to learn about the culture and country on your own. Each location offers its unique fascination and charm. Most of the volunteer work is conducted during the day, Monday through Friday, leaving the evenings and weekends free. Free-time arrangements and costs are your responsibility.
Because of Yearoutindia is a voluntary organization, our team leaders and consultants are not able to make free-time arrangements for you, although they can provide you with all the support required for individual or group travel around India. We currently use the services of Walden Escapes for all our travel requirement. Most volunteers wait until they are with the team to plan activities with other team members.
How is the Program fee used?
The service program fee reflects the actual costs of establishing and maintaining the individual program in each area. Eighty-five percent of the fee pays for program costs such as food, lodging, ground transportation, team expenses, project materials, volunteer coordination, program development and coordination, volunteer materials and communication, and on-site consultants. The balance is used for organizational overhead. Yearoutindia receives no operating funds from any religious or government agency. Almost all our funding comes from the volunteer program fees and other local sponsors.
What is the Volunteer Program Transfer and Cancellation Policy?
You may cancel your place on any program at any time. However, we ask that you DO NOT apply unless you are confident in your choice of both site and dates. It is important for you to know that cancellations and transfers are costly to Yearoutindia because we make arrangements for your program as soon as you apply. Therefore, the deposit is non-refundable but we will try out best to accommodate your request for changes or postponement. When you cancel after you start the placement for personal reasons, you will receive only a partial refund - ref our Terms & Conditions. If you cancel your service program for any reason, you must notify Yearoutindia in writing.
Yearoutindia may likewise cancel any service program at any time, in which case a FULL refund will be made. Yearoutindia may also reject an application anytime before departure. Yearoutindia will refund the total amount you paid to Yearoutindia if the service Program is filled at the time you apply, or if Yearoutindia does not accept your application for any reason, or if the Program is cancelled for any reason other than a UK government travel warning is issued.
If you cancel your Program for any reason, you must notify Yearoutindia in writing. Yearoutindia will not make refunds for unused portions of the service program or because of your inability to participate or complete the program according to the scheduled itinerary.
Please note that any airfare penalties charged by any airline or travel agent are not included in the service program fee. For more information refer to our Volunteer Information Booklet.