Volunteering is a popular trend among backpackers around the world. In India, it doesn’t receive much attention, despite the fact that there are non profit groups that look for volunteers for various operations, on both long term and short term basis.
Before I start detailing out everything on how backpackers can volunteer in India, one thing you need to understand is what kind of volunteer work you want to get into. The organizations that look for volunteers can be divided into following categories –
- Casual Volunteering
- Travel agencies
- Trek companies
- Pet Rescue
- Waste Management
- Teaching and education
- Women empowerment
I am going to skip casual volunteering because it is just a way to travel for free without adding anything substantial to your profile. But if you are really interested in skipping hard work and just want to chill around while managing hostel bookings or carrying plates in a restaurant then you can search online and you’ll find some work. Volunteering at hostels is easy. All you need to do is to pick a location and shoot some mails, someone will eventually reply.
Now let’s talk about serious volunteering in India, there are multiple organizations in Himalayas, Western Ghats and metro cities that invite volunteers for long term and short term basis. These agencies work in different fields.
These organizations are in need for people who can help them out with their skills. So if you posses the following talents then you’ll easily find a slot here.
- Content writing
- Video Editing
- Art installation and wall painting
- Social media management
- Tree plantation
- Veterinary doctor (for animal rescue centres)
- Booking and maintaining registers
Each organization has certain specific requirements from their volunteers. You can choose an office job or go for field visits to create content for their websites and social media channels.
I have worked at Waste Warriors and their work is slowly extending across Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. They regularly need volunteers to carry out tasks like cleanup drives, education and awareness campaigns and office work. If you are good at video editing and photography then your work will be appreciated. If you are good at communicating among the locals of these regions then you’ll easily find something to do during their awareness campaigns. Right now, you can volunteer with them in Dharmshala, Dehradun and Corbett National Park.
Duration of volunteering – You can join them for a single cleanup drive or spend around 1 week to a few months depending on the task you choose.
Dharamshala Animal Rescue
Dharamshala Animal Rescue is an organization based in lower Dharamshala. They are constantly looking for medical and non medical volunteers. The volunteer period is 2 weeks minimum and have to spend 9:30 AM to 5 PM Monday to Saturday at the rescue centre.
A fee of INR 500 is charged from the volunteers for their stay and meals. This information is taken from an older blog so it is possible that the charges may have increased.
Duration of volunteering – The volunteers must commit a two week time minimum. Read more over here.
Snow Leopard Conservation India Trust
SLC – IT is based in Leh and work around villages of Ladakh. Their job is to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and reducing man animal conflict in this region. So if you are planning to volunteer here, you need to remove your expectations of finding a Snow Leopard during the field visits.
Duration of volunteering – You can volunteer around 15 days to 3 months in summers. You’ll have to manage your stay and food unless you are on a field visit with the team.
Goat Village is an eco tourism initiative in multiple villages of Uttarakhand. They have multiple volunteer programs that involve on site and off site works depending on the skills of the volunteer. The jobs include storytelling, farming, kitchen related works, etc.
They charge a fee for stay and food. Read more about volunteering at Goat village here.
Duration of volunteering – The duration is one week minimum and can continue upto three months and above.
Volunteering at Spiti Ecosphere is challenging. The organization is located in Kaza and lacks a lot in terms of basic infrastructure including phone networks and wifi. I haven’t volunteered at Spiti Ecosphere so I am writing down the experience of those who have done volunteering here. You can only volunteer here during the summers, between the month of May and early September, because this is the only time when the roads are open.
Spiti Ecosphere has different volunteer programs and they charge a basic amount for stay and food. If you are interested in joining them for one of their causes, then shoot them a mail and they’ll get back to you with a proper plan.
Duration of volunteering – Depends on the program you are joining for
Kanda: ROSE (Rural Organisation for Social Elevation)
ROSE is a small community-based self-help group. The organization is dedicated to improving the livelihoods, health, education and quality of life of the rural poor in the region. The prime aim of their operation is to provide a better livelihood to the locals without disturbing the cultural or ecological balance.
Apply today: Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OPSA provides opportunity for volunteering in Odisha. They work around Devi Nesting Zone which is a popular nesting spot for the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. You can volunteer with them between March and April in order to protect their eggs. Stay is free but since the spot is secluded, the only thing available is camping.
Sadhana Forest, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
Sadhana Forest aims to transform 70 acres of severely eroded, arid land on the outskirts of Auroville. They are working to introduce sustainable living, food security through ecological transformation, wasteland reclamation, and veganism among the masses.
As a volunteer, you’ll be involved in tree planting and environmental education.
Duration of volunteering – 4 weeks from December 1st to April 1st – April 2nd to November 31st the minimum stay is 2 weeks
These are just a few of the many organizations around India where you can volunteer and indulge in something substantial. For more details, connect with these organizations through phone or email.