Volunteer in India - Dharamsala
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in popular hilltop Tibetan communities
- Accommodation in local homestays
- Between 10 and 20 volunteers start in Dharamsala each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$420 for 2 weeks (approximately £295)
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organisation in India to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in India will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organisations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travellers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore India with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ India - Dharamsala volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Naddi and Rait, small communities close to popular hilltop Tibetan communities and the Buddhist monasteries of McLeod Ganj. Volunteers travelling to the program are asked to fly into Kangra Airport in Gaggal, Dharamsala (DHM) on the Sunday prior to their program start date.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 24 weeks.
As a volunteer on the Childcare Project you will play an important role in providing support for families so they can continue to generate an income. Volunteers work in daycare centres and small kindergartens catering to families with children between the ages of 3-7 years old from throughout the Naddi area. These centres provide a place for poor families to leave their children for the day, enabling parents and other family members to work.
This project is best suited for volunteers who are passionate about working with children and have high levels of energy. Your tasks will include assisting local volunteers and other caregivers working at the centres by organising daily activities and games, and providing one-on-one attention and basic English language education to the children. Volunteers can also assist with preparing and serving meals, giving lessons on personal hygiene, and ensuring children attend the centre.
You are not required to have previous experience in childcare work but you will need to be enthusiastic and creative to get the most out of your volunteer project.
As a volunteer on the Eco-Agriculture and Organic Farming project in Dharamsala, you will contribute towards community-led sustainable farming initiatives. You’ll work within a small community to help increase the cultivation of crops that can either be consumed by local families or sold to generate an income.
As a developing country, India is rapidly moving towards mechanised food production and this has lead to the introduction of chemical sprays and other farming practices that are harmful to biodiversity, water quality, human health and food security. Fresh fruit and vegetables have also become more expensive as a result of this industrialisation.
The Eco-Agriculture and Organic Farming project works at a grass-roots level to build an understanding of sustainable agriculture practices and the benefits they can provide for both people and the environment. The project aims to create models of best practice and to embed them throughout rural communities.
This project is well suited to volunteers who have an interest in eco-agriculture and enjoy working outdoors and getting their hands dirty. You will familiarise yourself with theories of best practice sustainable agriculture and then seek to apply those theories within a rural setting. Your tasks will include working on small plots of shared land or private kitchen gardens to cultivate edible crops, conducting community awareness activities on the importance of sustainable agriculture and organic farming and facilitating training and capacity building around crop productivity.
Additionally, you may work in a herbal and fruit tree nursery. The grown saplings and trees are planted in nearby social and community areas to support food, fodder and foliage for the community. This work contributes towards food and nutrition needs, possible income generation and takes away the exploitation of the nearby wild forests.
A background in farming or agriculture is not necessary and volunteers need to be prepared to follow the lead of project coordinators while also using their initiative to develop new methods for creating and maintaining the farm plots.
As a volunteer on our Healthcare Outreach project, you will be working under the guidance of local healthcare leaders and local interns to engage local community members in practices and treatments that will be beneficial for their long-term health and wellbeing.
India’s health sector is slowly improving but many people living in poor and rural communities do not regularly access healthcare facilities and have a lack of understanding and trust in healthcare services. The healthcare outreach project works within these communities to promote basic practices and preventative health and wellness initiatives.
This project is well suited to volunteers with an interest in basic healthcare education and the traditional Indian preventative healthcare practices of Yoga and Ayurveda medicine.
Your tasks may include providing food, nutrition and sanitation education, delivering maternal health information, providing reproductive and sexual health education to adolescents in schools, conducting community health surveys, organising health camps with professional doctors from local hospitals, and providing assistance to a leading Allopatic/Ayurvedic doctor.
You are not required to have previous experience in healthcare, however an interest and knowledge in nutrition, sanitation and sexual health will go a long way in ensuring you get the most out of your volunteer project.
Volunteers with an active interest in yoga can also earn a basic qualification in yoga instruction for wellness under the guidance of a practicing yogi. Please note, there is a surcharge of US$50 (approximately £35) per week to cover training and resources used. This will be included in the program fee quoted to you when you apply.
As a volunteer on our Teaching project in India - Dharamsala you have the unique opportunity to work in schools throughout the beautiful mountainous Naddi area. Schools supported include large government-run schools within an urban setting, and very small schools that serving the families that make up small villages located on the picturesque hillsides of the greater Naddi region.
This project is well suited to volunteers who have a passion for teaching a range of subjects to students of different age groups and backgrounds.
Volunteer tasks will include supporting the delivery of basic English language tuition as well as early grade math and science. Students are between the ages of 5-13 years old and volunteers work together with local teachers to design lessons using existing resources, as well as their own expertise if they have prior teaching experience.
Non-school based placements are also available where volunteers provide English language lessons to women of all ages throughout the Naddi and Rait areas.
No prior teaching experience is necessary, however we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, such as a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognised TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
As a volunteer on the Women’s Education project in Dharamsala, you will work closely with local leaders on initiatives that support and empower women and girls from small communities to develop their independence, build their confidence, foster entrepreneurship skills, and grow their leadership capacity.
Women in India face a wide range of social inequalities and this is particularly prevalent in small and rural communities. Building gender equality for is key development focus for India as a nation and developing leadership capacity and self management in women and young girls is an important component of this equality.
This project is well suited to volunteers who have a passion for supporting girls and women through education. Working alongside community stakeholders and local interns, your tasks will include supporting locally-led self help groups, promoting health and hygiene, improving public speaking and spoken English and building computer literacy.
This project also has a significant focus on micro-enterprise, where volunteers support local women to design and develop innovative and sustainable enterprises centred around upcycling waste products and natural fibres into handicrafts or creating organic beauty products such as soaps from natural products grown locally. These small businesses provide an income to the women and help to foster the development of vocational skills that can lead to broader employment opportunities.
You are not required to have previous experience to join this project however, teaching or business experience is beneficial and will ensure you can make an impact in upskilling the girls and women you work with.
The program orientation begins on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Dharamsala on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Gaggal Airport (DHM) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Naddi and Rait. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are travelling in India prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up at the bus stop in Dharamsala, or a prearranged destination in Dharamsala on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is provided by our Dharamsala team at the local team office. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Dharamsala – Introduction to India, Indian Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in India, Introduction to your Project and Placement. In the afternoon, you will receive a tour of the village where you can purchase a SIM card and withdraw cash. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.
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 – 1.00 PM Lunch break either at the placement or accommodation.
1.00 PM – 4.00 PM Work usually ends between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. The volunteer at this point is free to relax and use the afternoon as they wish.
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.
Volunteers are accommodated in a series of home-stays run by local host families. Staying with a family gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Indian way of life, meet local people, eat local food, speak the local language and engage in local customs and traditions. Living is comfortable and you will have access to electricity, WiFi and running hot water.
All bedding is provided, however during the winter months (November to February) volunteers should bring a sleeping bag. Home-stays are safe and secure and volunteers can expect to share a homestay with one or two other volunteers.
Three meals are provided per day. Indian food is tasty and diverse, and volunteers can expect to experience a myriad of flavours and meals during their home-stay experience. Breakfast will consist of bread, eggs, porridge and paratha. Lunch and dinner meals are typically vegetarian and includes vegetables, lentils or beans, rice and chapatti. Sometimes chicken and mutton curry are served. If you have any dietary requirements, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you.
During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Dharamsala or other areas in India, such as Amritsar, McLeod Ganj, or Andretta. Volunteers can arrange travel once in Dharamsala, however if you are planning an extended trip within 4 weeks of your arrival, it is a good idea to look at train tickets in advance and consult a travel agent from your home-town to discuss travel options.
See our India - Dharamsala Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in India!
|Languages||Hindi and English|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
Weather and climate: India is subject to six different climates and can be loosely characterised by four seasons; winter, summer, monsoon, and a post-monsoon period. While not as hot as Delhi, Dharamsala is still very hot during the summer months (April to July) and temperatures can reach 35°C. From July to September, in the monsoon season, up to 2000 mm (79 inches) of rain can fall, making Dharamsala one of the wettest places in the state, but also one of the most pleasant. The monsoon ends in late September and is followed by autumn. Autumn lasts till late November, with average temperatures of around 14- 15°C. Winter starts in late November and goes on till late February. Snow and sleet is common during the winter so bring lots of warm clothing and thermals! Winter is followed by a short, pleasant spring until April when the temperatures start increase again for the summer.
Volunteers must be over 18 years of age at the beginning of the program unless volunteering with a guardian who is 18 or older. Volunteers must speak English. Volunteers must provide a recent criminal background check. Volunteers must have adequate travel insurance.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.