Volunteering in Udaipur, Rajasthan

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Not really a question so sorry if this post ends up in the wrong place.

For whoever wants to be involved with the local communities and experience a different stay than just boating lake Pichola, I recommend to be in touch with the people at home stay called Chandra Niwas. They run a grass root charitable organization. They host volunteers the year round and offer different type of activities. They fund their own non-profit organization (DAAN foundation) with the money they make with the home stay. It is remarkable they put social responsibility at the core of their business and this needs to be supported. I really enjoyed visiting the local villages in their company and interact with the kids. I will definitely go back to Udaipur and volunteer at the DAAN foundation when I come back to India.

There is a lot of interesting information on their websites.

Marc Eymard 13/06/13    Responsible travelsocially conscious travel in India Link Report

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Yep, this is one of the ones that Michael and I discussed on his Bali thread. 500USD/month is an outrageous amount to pay for the privilege of volunteering. Any organization that expects to fund it`s work with volunteer`s money is completely backwards.

So as not to be critical without a solution, here are 2 excellent organizations in Udaipur —

Animal Aid Unlimited .- http://www.animalaidunlimited.com/

Seva Mandir – http://www.sevamandir.org/

PirateAt50 13/06/13    Link Report

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You are correct that volunteering is a privilege, and that privilege is a massive burden on NGO staff, and local communities. I strongly believe that an inexperienced foreigner with no local language or cultural skills should pay for someone from the west or who has strong understanding of western culture who has the skills, knowledge, patience and network to facilitate a strong program that can adapt to the needs of the participants and keep them learning and growing.

In the case of the DAAN Foundation, what that fee pays for (which is rather affordable as far as programs go) is 3 months of a local employee who knows what they are doing to do the work. But most importantly, they get compensated for putting up with all the ways the foreign helpers give help in ways that feel abusive to the locals (but of course, as long as a traveler gets their Facebook updates with photos of smiling children, who cares!?!) If you want to do something for less than a month, just travel — support the economy, buy as locally as you can, and treat people with respect, and recognize when you are solving problems the way you would solve them at home, which may not be an appropriate method.

Animal Aid is a lovely organization run by an American couple, so this is a fine solution, but you really have to love animals, and your role will not be veterinary in any way. You will also be placed in the village and this can feel lonely, and because of the significant challenges faced in the arena of the treatment of animals, this place can be very sad (everyone cries when the legless puppy crawls up to you, or you are faced with a cow in hospice treatment for weeks because culture dictates that it cannot be euthanized after its eaten plastic bags.)

Seva Mandir has a big program, with mixed reviews based largely on the group of people that you are staying with ans their collaborative ability to see the positive in their experience, and integrate and focus on the work as the foreign social scene in the NGO is very distracting, and because the dorms are on the NGO campus, how you behave in what you believe to be private, WILL affect the trust and tasks they give you to do. They do have a paid volunteer coordinator, who is awesome, and at this point has seen it all — however her resources are limited and foreign volunteers are a lot of work. They also limit you to a minimum of two months — you will largely be doing assessments and interviews via a translator. How you behave and how much commitment you show to your own learning will determine how much impact the result of your report will have (or even if it is read.)

You can check with the ME to WE fee based program, as well as the Foundation for Sustainable Development fee based program — both are good programs, with excellent directors (2013-14)

Independent programs run by the NGOs directly are Jatan, Jagraan both of which have experience dealing with foreign interns — I’m not sure if they charge a fee, or work with participants that don’t come through an outside program. You will have to check.

I would avoid working with any of the smaller NGOs in Udaipur that do not charge fees and will acept you for a short time frame. At last check, they many times do not realize what they are getting themselves into and might not have the skills or resources to facilitate the experience and will face paid staff burnout as a result of having to make sure you are happy and comfortable. The exception to these is Foster Care India ( Director has experience in the USA and recently moved back to Udaipur), and Shikshanthar (which doesn’t charge on principle, I believe).

Sarah Jean 20/10/14    Link Report

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There are so many communities in India, which are contributing in social works. I know one NGO Named SAFAR Center for injured animals. Safar provides first aid for injured animals and rehab services along with cow protection. I have visited the website http://www.safarindia.org/ and read Safar center’s detail.

safarindia 30/04/14    Link Report

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