Over 50s volunteering in India

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This vacation departs every Saturday throughout the year
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Over 50s volunteering in India

Environment

We are addressing our local environment by working with local communities, local charities, local government bodies, local schools, or indigenous tribes. Our tours are carefully selected – we only partner with local tour operators that are either committed to responsible tourism themselves, are eco-friendly, or have ethical policies. Of course we have to use transport and where possible our local guides encourage walking or biking and traveling on public transport- buses, railways or tuk tuks. This can minimize our demand for special tourist vehicles and fuel whilst giving you plenty of opportunity to meet and interact with local people/communities.

Our operations are also eco- friendly as we introduce policies of minimising and properly disposing of waste created, conserving energy and water, and by ensuring that endangered wildlife and environmentally compromised areas are treated with respect.

On our health, construction and women’s empowerment programs we focus on environmental development projects such as recycling, gardening and planting trees.

Our independent travel options and small group sizes help us to tread lightly and to use more environmentally sound forms of transport, minimizing impact, and ideally enriching the environment.

We will offer traveler’s tips on how to conserve water, reduce waste, and otherwise minimize the environmental impact of their trip. We hope that our travelers will be able to take some of the conservation tips they learn home with them.

Wherever possible, our employees use recycled paper and recycle waste created in the office, as well as attempting to minimise waste created and be a “paperless” office. We also work to minimise energy and water consumption in our offices, and we encourage our partners to follow similar waste management and energy philosophies.

Community

Volunteer support makes a big difference on this project, as you will support children who come from disadvantaged families. Many children attending the school have parents who are not educated and need help in learning, and revising subjects. By developing their English skills, and teaching children new skills through extra-curricular activities, it will help in their overall development and confidence.

The schools lack teaching resources and the teachers also need a lot of support from volunteers. They have classes that are too large and hence disruptive. You will help in student monitoring and management and also helping to train teachers with new teaching methods or building teaching aids for a particular class if you possess the relevant qualifications. We screen all applicants for relevant skills/certificates so for example you have TEFL qualified teachers helping with the teacher training and trained medics helping with health care.

In your time off, we use local adventure tour companies to offer you options. The local guides they use: drivers, chefs and others involved all earn income through bookings. We also arrange your stay in local homestays which is a source of income for local families. You will be eating home cooked food and all your food will be sourced from local markets and local areas. You will be taking cooking classes and also attending a cultural dance show to give you a true flavour of life on ground and in turn you will be supporting all those involved.

Reviews of Over 50s volunteering in India

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 21 Jan 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Just being in Kerala was the first totally wonderful thing! I loved the buzz of life in and around Fort Kochi while we were working at the women's project, and equally enjoyed a beautiful short trip to the more peaceful hills and plantations around Munnar. The project staff were all so hospitable and generous, and keen to make sure that we had a great experience all round.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Come prepared to be delighted; also be prepared for things to change at short notice, and go with the flow. Research in advance the attractions or places you might like to visit, as well as finding out when you arrive what there is and local transport connections, so you can use your free time well.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I'm sure that the English language and conversation sessions we held at the Women's Empowerment Project were generally enjoyable and perhaps boosted the participants' confidence in interacting with people from different cultures, but I don't think I provided any benefit beyond that. They meet a constant stream of volunteers, and without a structured programme or objective (for example writing a c.v. for a job or study application, or learning business skills to set up a Homestay or other tourist service), or more continuity of longer-term hands-on staff or volunteers, it's hard to see how the project in its current form is providing lasting benefit to the participants or the local economy. But it has great potential, I think it just needs a bit more structure and continuity.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Truly wonderful!

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your constructive feedback. It is difficult to provide a regimented structure as the women find it quite daunting as all they really want to come for is to practice speaking English. We wanted to bring the women out of their homes and this class is to give them an opportunity to learn through interaction.

This does make it challenging for our volunteers. What we are building on is a structured English class delivery and life skills sessions which are useful to the ladies but also give some weekly structure to our volunteers. Business Skill development is also on the agenda and we will surely work on this as well. We most certainly welcome volunteers with appropriate skills to also come and help with this.

Reviewed on 04 Jan 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The people, the children, the colours, the food, the sunsets.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Go for it! Initially I felt unprepared, however it was all in my head, everything that I needed was there.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It was two way ... it benefitted local people and me. I would like to have seen a reduction in environmental impact but that was not evident or possible in the two weeks I was there.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I highly recommend the experience of joining Volunteering Journeys in Fort Kochin, Kerala. It was a good introduction to the life, culture and people of Fort Kochin.

Initially on arrival I was a little overwhelmed and felt unprepared, however, with Geetha’s positive encouragement, along with a couple of trips out with the other lovely volunteer, Stefane, and on discovering the learning material available at the volunteers’ home, I got a sense of direction and understanding of where we were ‘at’. I really enjoyed the time I spent with the children, they are just so sweet. And, I also enjoyed chatting with the women about Ayurvedic spices etc. and life in Kerala.

Geetha was so welcoming and conscientious about her work and has a nice team of Keralan peope working with her … Midhu, Lakshmi and Gina. Yes, there were some challenges … normal I would say, nothing that could not be resolved e.g. communication, mosquitoes!, driving! The lack of facilities for recycling, collecting plastic, composting organic waste (that I could see) in Fort Kochin and
on the backwaters was disturbing. At least in the house the volunteers stayed in we had a water filter which helped cut down on all the plastic water bottles being added to the garbage pile.

I missed Kerala when I got home … the colours, the gentle polite Keralan people, the beautiful friendly children, the interesting Volunteers, the warm weather, the beautiful sunsets, the food, and Gina’s lovely Keralan breakfasts and lunches at the volunteers’ house.

Thank you everyone for the lovley experience and memories which I brought home with me.

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