School renovation volunteering in India

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: School renovation 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 took 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 policy of minimising and properly disposing of waste created, by conserving energy and water, and by ensuring that endangered wildlife and environmentally compromised areas are treated with respect.

On our heath,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

Proper infrastructure and efficient systems are key aspects to the health and well being of local communities. Our construction projects focus on addressing basic human needs and aim to help protect those most at risk.
The school renovations will improve the health and safety standards and general appearance of classrooms to help make them more user-friendly and inviting to teachers, carers and children. The schools we work with are basic and don’t have funds to improve their appearance. With your hard work we can improve and make better use of the limited spaces available to provide more positive learning environments for the children.

The water sanitation projects are even more important to the community particularly those living in fishing villages surrounded by saline water.

Unsafe drinking water and unhygienic sanitation practices in Kerala cause widespread health problems in the community. By building rainwater harvesting tanks, you will help in providing palatable and sustainable drinking and cooking water for families living by the backwaers that cannot afford access to clean water. Through this project you can make a real contribution towards building a sustainable source of water for community members.

The toilet construction is also equally important as it will assist imany poor families in the village who lack proper toilet facilities as they can not afford to build one. Women and children often have to go out in to the field which is not safe or hygienic for them.

In addition to this we are also helping the community by employing local masons to help you with the construction work. This is income for them.
We also will be arranging your accommodation in home stays with a family or in a house that is in a local area. Income is generated in this way for the locals and you can get a 'real' experience. When you go on any tour we use local hotels and small businesses. Wherever you stay you will be eating locally grown food and delicious local delicacies!

1 Reviews of School renovation volunteering in India

3 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 08 Apr 2018 by

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


Getting an impression of the lifestyle and people of the Fort Kochi area.

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


Very important: Make sure that you have a clear understanding with the organisers about what you will be doing during your volunteer time, and whether there are days when it will not be possible to do any volunteer work. Less important: Although you need to wear 'conservative' clothing during volunteer
hours, you will want to take sufficient shorts/sundresses to use around the house. Ask about the possibility to pay a supplement to get the one air
conditioned bedroom, particularly if you are there in the hot period!

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


We (myself and my 16 year old son) signed up for this trip so that he could see a new part of the world but also to do something useful for the local community, during his two-week spring school vacations. Unfortunately, the volunteering work was not well structured. Based on what we requested and what was described to me in a phone conversation before signing up, we expected to do school renovation work, but in fact we only spent three days (of ten 'working' days) sanding and repainting some walls, that did not necessarily need repainting. (Also, we were not provided with masking tape to protect the edges so the result was not very tidy.... and we spent lots of time trying to clean up stray paint on the borders/floor so that at least it was not worse than when we arrived!) On the other days we were either sent to help teach English or told that because of local vacations we could not do volunteer work. I hope that our contribution to the teaching was useful, but we did not come with materials from home, and because of the ad hoc nature of the daily assignments, we were not able to ensure continuity with whatever the children had learned before. I suppose overall the kids benefitted from contact with people from other countries, but could have benefitted more with better organisation. I came away with the feeling that the volunteer activities were being offered as a way to attract participants - who would also book weekend tours, explore the region, etc - rather than being at the heart of the experience.

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


On balance, it was a good two weeks with two side trips (the Munnar hill station region and the backwaters) during the long Easter weekend and plenty of time to wander around Fort Kochi, but it did not live up to expectations in terms of a volunteering experience. (I went on a previous volunteering vacation 4 years ago in another Asian county with my daughter and that was much more structured.) A new staff member arrived two days before we left, and maybe he will bring some more order to the activities (and also to the daily living arrangements - for example, some evenings there was not sufficient food left by the cook for everyone present for the evening meal). Airport pickup and departure went smoothly as planned.

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