VOLUNTEER ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
Volunteers are accommodated in homestays and in some orphanage placements, volunteers may instead be accommodated in a volunteer dormitory within the orphanage. Volunteers can expect to share a room with one or two other volunteers, however in some homestays volunteers may have their own rooms. While bedding is provided, it is recommended that volunteers bring their own sleeping bag for any weekend trips away and during the winter months (November through February). Living is comfortable and all homestays have electricity and running water. These homestays are run by local families, who have been approved by our local staff. We give your host family a fee for your support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a host family, providing you with a unique opportunity to learn about the Indian way of life, meet local people, try local food, speak the local language and engage in local customs and traditions.
Volunteers in India are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), which are generally all served at your homestay. Toast, spreads and tea are served for breakfast. Typical Indian food served for lunch and dinner include chapatti (flat wheat bread), dahl (lentil soup), curry, vegetables, salads, milk and yogurt. Chicken and mutton are the main source of meat eaten in India (beef is forbidden as cattle are considered sacred in India), however meat is rarely eaten in India, except on festive occasions. India is home to a great variety of teas and you are sure to be served an authentic home brew of chai tea during your stay. Bottled water is readily available in India and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 litres per day).
There are two options for orientation in India. The first option is a standard half-day orientation that starts on your selected start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Delhi – Introduction to India, Indian Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in India, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. The second option is a 1-week language and cultural orientation in Delhi, which takes place during the first week of your program. This orientation week begins on your selected start date (first and third Monday of the month) and your volunteer program will start the following week. If you wish to participate in the 1-week orientation, you must indicate this to your IVHQ Program Coordinator when you register, as you need to book a place and pay for this prior to departing for India. Orientation week is very popular among IVHQ volunteers and we recommend all volunteers take advantage of this week, as it is a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in India.
Day 1 (Monday): Volunteers are provided with an introduction to India and an introduction to the program staff and procedures. Topics discussed include History of India, Religion, Caste System, Marriage, Festivals, Dress/Clothing, Family Values, Safety Issues, Food, Transportation and Travel Opportunities. You will also be given your orientation week schedule and provided details about your volunteer project and accommodation, to follow after the orientation week. The afternoon will conclude with an introduction to the Hindi language. The morning session will be provided to those who choose the half-day orientation.
Day 2 (Tuesday): New Delhi Sightseeing (5 to 7 hours) – Lotus Baha’I Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar. All entrance fees are covered in your orientation week fee.
Day 3 (Wednesday): Hindi Language Lesson (approximately 3 hours), learning basic letters, greetings and useful vocabulary and expressions, which will help assist you at your volunteer placement. In the afternoon, volunteers are taken to see a new Bollywood Hindi film. Movie tickets are included in your orientation week fee.
Day 4 (Thursday): Old Delhi Sightseeing – India Gate, Red Fort, Jama Mosque and Raj Ghat (Gandhi Samadhi’s Cremation). All entrance fees are covered in your orientation week fee.
Day 5 (Friday): Hindi Language Lesson (approximately 3 hours), covering additional words and vocabulary to assist you with your volunteer work. In the evening, volunteers explore the local markets, visit Internet cafes, practice Hindi, or visit restaurants together.
Day 6 (Saturday): Hindi Language Lesson in the morning. In the afternoon, volunteers have free time to hand wash clothing and prepare for departure to your homestay.
Day 7 (Sunday): Taj Mahal Tour (optional add-on), which includes an air conditioned car or van from Delhi to Agra and back, state insurance, driver, parking and toll taxes, breakfast, lunch and guide. Entrance fees to the Taj Mahal are not included in your orientation week fee and must be paid separately. You can expect to pay 750 Rupees for the entry ticket at the gate when you arrive. For those not taking the Taj Mahal Tour, you will depart for your placement with the local staff who will introduce you to your placement and accommodation. Those taking the Taj Mahal tour will be introduced to their placement and accommodation on the following day.
The orientation week fee is US$220 (accommodation and three meals per day are covered during this time). The Taj Mahal Tour on the 7th day costs an extra US$100.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day would be as follows:
8.00 AM Breakfast at the homestay.
9.00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that the volunteer is working at.
12.00 PM – 2.00 PM Lunch break either at the placement or homestay.
2.00 PM – 4.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the homestay, go sight seeing, or do some shopping.
7.00 PM – 9.00 PM Dinner at the homestay.
Please note, this schedule may vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating on.
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Delhi or travel further afield to destinations, such as Agra or Jaipur. Volunteers can make travel arrangements after arriving in Delhi, however if you are planning a long weekend trip during your time in India, it is a good idea to look into train tickets in advance and visit a travel agent to discuss travel options.