Pod Volunteer

Program Reviews

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Kate
10/10

I spent months looking for volunteer opportunities overseas and it wasn’t until I came across this one that I knew i’d found the perfect fit. Having the option of working with both children and animals was what made this program stand out above the rest. The brothers who run this program are very passionate about their work in their community in Udaipur and are super supportive to their volunteers. The entire experience was extremely fulfilling and that is in large part to the environment that the brothers have created for both the volunteers and the people they help. I felt so comfortable and safe and truly had the time of my life in the few weeks I spent on this project. Leaving STEP felt hard as in only a few weeks they became family. I highly recommend anyone to take part in their projects in India.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Thomas
9/10

My family volunteered in Belize and the experience couldn't have been more rewarding. The POD and TIDE organizations were first-rate in every way. We learned about the history and culture of the country and its people, the vital and wonderful work these groups are doing, and the value of hard work. This isn't a cruise ship excursion. You're gonna sweat and get sunburned and get blisters. And at the end of the day you'll sit back, have an authentic local meal, and look at the stars and feel good about yourself and the work you just did. Everyone involved are knowledgeable, supportive, and extremely friendly. You marvel at the beauty of the country and experience the genuine nature of the villages. We are better people in several ways from this experience. I would go back again and recommend anyone else to do so.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ellee
10/10

When I travelled to India it was my first time alone experiencing a new culture and volunteering abroad. I am so thankful I chose STEP, it was an amazing time of my life that I will forever look back on fondly. Every aspect of my time there, Guarav, Ravi and Neha made sure I was happy and safe. Their knowledge and support throughout was incredible. From when I awoke in the morning I was surrounded by mountains to when I explored the city and was immersed in vibrant colours and kind hearted souls, it was simply beautiful. It is a wonderful chance to explore India as they offer quite a few trips to different cities and experiences. The atmosphere in the house was always friendly and fun, full of laughter and smiles from breakfast to afternoon chai. Volunteering with the children was incredible and I really felt our contributions were creating a positive change. The children at the nursery, orphanage and disabled school were so sweet and eager to learn and I learnt quite a bit about organising lessons and creating fun activities. Watching the work done at Animal Aid was so inspiring and the care and dedication they put into looking after the animals was amazing to watch. You fall in love with the animals and make great connections with the people working there. Volunteering with STEP showed me how passionate everyone I met were about changing peoples lives and animals, and I am so lucky to have experienced it.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly cannot think of anything, it was simply brilliant.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Charlotte
10/10

I decided for my 30th I wanted to do something different, explore a new culture, give to a community that needs help in some way and to take myself on a personal, spiritual and emotional journey.

After 8 months of research I chose to volunteer with POD at Animal Aid and live with the wonderful hosts at Step (Ravi, Gaurav, Neha and the cutest (and best) of them all, Heer). During my 2 weeks in Udaipur, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and charity - something I had not experienced in the UK. Sure we raise money, but it’s usually at personal cost (cutting hair off, or running one hundred million miles) - which is great of course because it’s a sacrifice. However the humbling love and kindness I experienced both directly and indirectly has categorically changed my life.

Animal Aid is a sanctuary founded on love, support and encourage. Never have I more inspiring people who have one thing in common... Their love for animals.

Ravi, Gaurav, Neha and Heer carefully considered every day/moment I had spare. Helping me make the most out of my stay. Whether it’s a bike ride around the lake, or darts on their roof terrace (they even arranged the most delicious birthday cake for me).

I cannot recommend this project/hosts enough. So much so... I actually considered hiding in the wardrobe so I didn’t have to leave.

How can this program be improved?
N/A
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jane
10/10

Spent the most amazing 2 weeks in Udaipur, staying with Ravi, Gurav and Neha. Perfect hosts. Made me feel so welcome. I worked alongside other volunteers at the schools and orphanages which was the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Lots of free time to explore Udaipur which is absolutely beautiful. I would completely recommend this experience as a more senior traveler and female I felt safe and secure the whole time. The most amazing experience

How can this program be improved?
No need to improve
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jill
10/10

If you are looking for a trip of a lifetime, look no further than traveling through Pod Volunteer to Udaipur to work with Ravi and Gaurav. You won’t regret it, and you will likely want to return for a longer amount of time. My daughter and I spent two weeks with STEP Volunteer teaching English to school-age children and spending time with orphans from two different orphanages. It was an incredible experience.

Gaurav, Ravi and Ravi’s wife Neha are some of the kindest, dedicated people you will ever meet. They made us feel immediately welcome in their home, and they took great care of us while we were there. More importantly, they are passionate about what they do and they take very good care of the children and families in their community. They work tirelessly side by side with volunteers throughout the year to teach English to children and bring joy to the lives of orphans in nearby orphanages. Some international volunteer programs offer opportunities to teens for a few weeks in the summer, and then abandon the program until the following year. STEP Volunteer is dedicated to helping people in their community all year long.

After breakfast each morning we would travel to a local school and work on English lessons with our assigned class. My daughter and I had five year olds who were new to the idea of school. It was quite a rewarding experience to teach them some letters and try to communicate with some of the Hindi words we learned in our evening lessons! Afternoons were spent with the orphans playing all sorts of games with the boys. The evenings were for planning for our class the next day, taking Hindi lessons, dinner and hanging out with Ravi, Gaurav and fellow volunteers. There is time to explore the city of Udaipur as well as traveling on weekends.

I went with my daughter because, at 17, she was unable to volunteer on her own. It was an amazing opportunity for us to experience this together, and I am so grateful we did. However, I see that Pod Volunteer now offers an opportunity for students under age 18, which is fantastic. If you are a parent considering sending your 16 or 17 year old to volunteer in India with STEP, I assure you, your child will be in very good hands. If my second child asked to go, I would not hesitate sending him to volunteer with Ravi and Gaurav without me.

This was a life-changing experience for my daughter and me. She just began her first year of college. Because of her experience in India, she is planning to major in Global Health and she’s currently taking classes on Hinduism and India’s history and culture. For me, this experience opened my mind to the possibilities of more international volunteer opportunities when I am an empty-nester.

Don’t hesitate for a minute before signing up with Pod Volunteer to volunteer with STEP Volunteer. You’ll travel to a beautiful part of India, work with some of the nicest, passionate people you’d ever want to meet, and support an organization that is doing really good work for children in need in their community.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kathy
10/10

We were well looked after with a lovely group of other volunteers of mixed ages, great for us as slightly older volunteers. Teaching children in their rural community, as well as working with orphan boys and disabled kids was challenging but rewarding and they were delightful. A life-changing experience. Ravi and Gaurav looked after us so well, with trips organised at weekends, and the food was amazing!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sharon
10/10

I joined Gaurav, Ravi and Neha in 2016 and stayed for two months. As an older solo traveller I was slightly nervous about landing in Udaipur but I honestly shouldn’t have worried. From the moment we met at the airport until the day we said goodbye I was supported, looked after, and cared for by the selfless staff at STEP.
This opportunity was amazing and the experiences I had will never be forgotten. Good friends were made on that trip, friends I am still in contact with now.
It was a priveledge to become part of the Indian community and learn about their culture and volunteering gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in their lives. Teaching in the school, day care and rag pickers makes you realise how lucky we are to have the things that generally we take for granted. But however sorry you initially feel for the children this quickly melts away as they respond to you with the best smiley faces you will ever encounter!
Along with the included excursions trips to other cities are also offered at a minimal extra cost. These are great to experience life outside Udaipur and further your experience of the Indian culture.
If you have any doubts or nerves about trying volunteering out, don’t! The experience will honestly change your life forever.

How can this program be improved?
No need to improve
Yes, I recommend this program
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julie
10/10

I have been to this Volunteer project twice now....my plan is to return each year
The work done by this project is outstanding....that is down to the vision and effort made by the organisations founders Ravi & Gaurav. The improvements made to the lives of the poorest of children where they live is amazing. The organisation works with Orphans,Disabled children,The 'rag picking' community and the local children, ensuring, through the work of the Volunteers , that education and learning is available to these children who would otherwise have none.
As a Volunteer this is deeply satisfying work....the children and the community welcome you. There is no greater pleasure than working with these enthusiastic children....it is the most rewarding venture i have ever undertaken in my 59 years.
Ravi & Gaurav support and guide us through the process.
They along with Neha(Ravis wife) care for us excellently back at the Volunteer house
You are given the opportunity to enjoy the local culture and the beautiful city of Udaipur.....to travel further afield with Ravi & Gauravs support....you will make friends from all over the world and tgere is akways fun back at the Volunteer house
For any one who wants an adventure....to help support children who clearly benefit and improve their life chances because of your effort....to meet fantastic people and enrichen your own experience then go to Udaipur...to this project and enjoy every moment and experience.
It will stay with you for always.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Elizabeth
10/10

My time spent teaching in India exceeded my expectations on so many levels. The housing, the support we received, the enthusiam of the kids with whom we worked, the professionalism and guidance of my fellow volunteers, the directors dedication to the community and the extra activities were all excellent. All of that with the stunning city of Udaipur as a backdrop. It made for a worthwhile and wonderful experience.

So much credit needs to be given to program directors Ravi and Gaurav (along with Ravi's wife Neeha) for their dedication to improving the lives of the less fortunate in their area. This dedication is apparent in the support, education and guidance they give volunteers.

This well equipped program is lucky to have a group of dedicated volunteers. They are of all ages and all walks of life. It creates a nice balance of strengths and weaknesses. And other volunteers are also around to answer questions and provide guidance.

The city of Udaipur, a few kilometres from our "home", is absolutely stunning.

Yes, I recommend this program