YEAROUTINDIA Volunteer, Travel & Discover

YearOutIndia

About

Yearoutindia aims to represent, support and facilitate wildlife conservation and community development programs in south India through professional and well planned volunteering programs. We are committed to direct involvement in local communities and environment conservation programs. We aim to assist volunteers to come together for a common purpose, to promote and develop local volunteering and voluntary action and to enable local people to benefit directly from such activities. We constantly strive to develop our strategies and methodologies to ensure harmony between visiting volunteers and local social, culture and natural environment.

Founded
2004
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

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Joanita
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved working with the Mannan villagers! The locals were both friendly and kind. The staff at Yearoutindia made sure that volunteers were aware of the culture and were exposed to it while undergoing the volunteer experience. I was in Kerala for one month completing my volunteer experience with 15 other participants from our university in Toronto. Our leaders worked with Naven and Niton as well as numerous other support staff to insure we were well feed, safe and completing our daily tasks on the project site. It was very hard labour work! but all worth it in the end! Everyone, from the founders, to the volunteers, and community members are contributing to the insuring that the project is completed and that we are having fun while doing it!

Amazing, Amazing, Amazing Experience and Exposure :)

What would you improve about this program?
Better financial outline and support for volunteers while onsite.
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Caitlin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In May of 2015, I had the pleasure of volunteering alongside 15 of my University peers in the Mannan tribal village of Kozhimala in South India. Our volunteer experience was faciliated by the NGO Yearoutindia, an incredible grassroots charity that excels in what they do. Out in country coordinator, Navin, and every other YOI staff we dealt with along the way were helpful, generous, kindhearted and inspiring people. Their passion for their work was infectious.

I was incredibly impressed with the organization of this project. Our goal was to complete a number of sustainable latrines within the local community, and with the constant support and organization provided by YOI, our group was able to leave the community with 7 completed latrines, which we were ecstatic about!

Our daily routine consisted of a breakfast, a long morning of work, returning for a DELICIOUS Kerala style curry lunch (with spice levels adjustable to your liking), a shorter afternoon of work, and then free time in the evening, which was spent eating dinner with the locals, playing cards, reading...anything really. It was really bliss.

On our days off we generally spent time with the many friends we made within the community, and hanging out at the fanstatic viewpoint overlooking the mountains and lake that was steps from our common area! However on one of our weekends off we went to a nearby town; Thekkady and enjoyed the touristy town, and participated in some excursions through the Periyar Tiger Reserve in that town. YOI helped organize this entire weekend, and sent a staff member with us so that they could show us around, organize transportation, and also just hang out with us since we had become great friends with him at this point, anwyay.

I could probably go on for ages about how grateful I am to YOI for this experience, but I'll try to sum it up here. I've participated in other international development projects, and I've seen what works and what doesn't work; and what I can say is that YOI is what works. They make such a positive impact in the community, they are respectful and resourceful. I felt I was a part of something special when I was there. The best part about the whole experience was the incredble people I met there. A little part of my heart will remain in Kozhimala, because I fell in love with the place. It's hard to believe one of the most beautiful places on earth can be filled with the most beautiful people too.

You have to experience it yourself to believe it! Bravo, Yearoutindia.

What would you improve about this program?
If I could change one thing it would just be slightly more communication about what was excpected of us upon arrival. For example, we were not informed we would have to do bookkeeping, and it would have been helpful to know this in advance so we could have prepared.
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Amerie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I have just returned from volunteering experience with a really fab organisation in India and I wanted to include a small write up about this organisation on your website.

This organisation called Yearoutindia - is very small and only takes on just 30 carefully selected international volunteers a year. They do not have any paid advertisements anywhere and I found them through idealist.org after a lot of searching for a good "not for profit" org to volunteer for in India.

Now I want other volunteers to read about their work and go help out if possible.

The Blog:

From my first email to Yearoutindia volunteer coordinators, there was constant communication with helpful travel tips & guidance which made me feel at ease with taking on a project with a volunteer run volunteering organisation like Yearoutindia. Was lucky to find an organisation like this among the hundreds of gap year companies charging huge fees.

The coordinator guided me - an 18 year old girl fresh out of college on my first ever trip outside Europe as to how to get our Indian visas, vaccinations and helped me to make sure I got everything done before I left. I was also sent a breakdown of how we'd spend our time with YOI which allowed me to prepare accordingly and was a great help in making my family feel more comfortable on sending me off half way around the world!!

My time in Kochi helped me to acclimatise and get used to the food and culture. Our guide (arranged by Yearoutindia) was amazing, taking us around all the sights and answering all of our questions (of which there were many). He helped us settle in and showed us many things that we weren't expecting.

The accommodation in Kochi, the tribal village and our home in Kanthaloor was incredibly comfortable and clean. I always felt safe knowing the staff were near by and always on hand if we needed help (like when a baby scorpion found its way into our room!).
The food was amazing. Every meal I felt like I had to eat as much as possible just because I knew I'd never taste anything like it again!! The transport between the programmes and from Kochi to and from the sites was very comfortable.

We got the opportunity to work at multiple project which was fantastic.

Our time in the the tribal village was incredibly enjoyable. The staff and people we worked with and met out there were incredibly supportive and made me feel very welcome and at ease. Manoj and Anil looked after us and helped to make me feel at home, giving me my first taste of Indian home cooking (and attempting to teach me) and showing and explaining tribal village life, creating memories I will never forget. It was un unexpected bonus to our time with YOI but I wouldn't change it for the world!

We met Subish in Kanthaloor. He was incredibly helpful, making it easy for us to settle into our new home and into our hectic roles in the school. He made the evenings and weekends fun, teaching me how to make many of his amazing curries (I eventually wrote all the recipes down and am sharing them with my family at home), introducing us to his family and taking us on walks around the surrounding area. He knew all the schools and teachers, was incredibly aware of everyone's needs and was always there when you needed him! He filled the role of both YOI staff (reliable and supportive) but also that of a friend.

The placement matched the programme details on the website and brochure exactly. I don't think any volunteer will be able to go out there knowing exactly what to expect but I believe that's what makes this organisation different from others. Not everything is laid out in stone and the easy, relaxed, everyone 'pitches in' atmosphere means it feels natural, so you walk away feeling like you've contributed and deserve to be one of the 'YOI worldwide volunteer family'.

At both project sites we had very few/close to no problems. Any improvements we thought should be made we felt able to voice at the time (like taps and clocks at the school) and were actively discussed.
All our ideas and contributions were taken on board, specifically our concerns of the hygiene of the children at our school resulting in us building taps by the toilets in our last week with YOI. It made me feel that I personally contributed to the school in a long term way that will affect both present and future pupils. Everything I said and any ideas I had were listened to and openly discussed.

I definitely want to keep in contact and work with the yearoutindia and the people I met out there in the future! I left Yearoutindia teaching & building projects after two months feeling like I'd left my extended family and friends behind. I hope I can return one day! As I was heading down under for my travels, was even put in touch with other ex volunteers in Australia & New Zealand - which was fantastic.

An organisation and project that I would recommend to everyone leaving school! All the best!

Thanks,
Amerie

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Caitlin Russell

Caitlin is currently attending Ryerson University in Toronto, majoring in Film Studies, minoring in English. She works as the project coordinator for a student group that facilitates international volunteer trips at Ryerson called Alternative Spring Break, and this is how she found Yearoutindia this past May.

Why did you pick this program?

A young woman posing for a photo.

Our group does a lot of research before picking a destination and project, and after researching Yearoutindia and learning about their values and initiatives, we decided they were an excellent fit for our program. I, personally, have always been curious about India, and has been my number one travel bucket list goal, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

The most important thing I learned, it's actually taken me more than one trip abroad to realize. Traveling is so much fun, obviously, and you can spend days-weeks even, without a care in the world. It's when this euphoria ends, it's when you're pushed FAR out of your comfort zone that you really realize what traveling is and what it does for you.

It's so much more than sightseeing and experiencing a culture. Not every trip will do this to you, and there may be moments where it's tough, but it's those moments that I look back on and am thankful for.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I always have to remind myself not to be too cheesy when I explain why I travel to people, but I can honestly look at myself before I began traveling, and look at myself now, and it seems like two different people.

Perhaps not drastically, but traveling has opened my eyes to opportunities, it has made me realize what I am truly capable of when I'm pushed out of my comfort zone, and has taught me more than I could ever think to learn had I never left Toronto. It is truly the most fun and exciting way to learn about the world and about yourself.

A group of people posing for a picture.

What made this experience unique and special?

This experience was truly special to me because it showed me how much you can connect with people, and with a community despite a vast language barrier.

When we first arrived in Kozhimala, our volunteer village, I was slightly worried as I realized the community members spoke little to no english, and understood none of their complicated malialam/tamil combination, but as the month stretched on, I built unbreakable bonds with community members, and think of my friends in Kerala often since I have left.