I have recently returned from India where myself and a group of 7 other ladies (mainly over 5) took part in the Summer program. We generally all knew each other beforehand, having volunteered together the previous year. We had an amazing time in India and the ground staff at VolSol we’re excellent. They made us feel very welcome and safe the whole time, providing just the right mix of independence and security.
The transport between locations was perfecty organised. As westerners we found the food at the volunteer accommodation rather monotonous, consisting of rice, roti, dahl and a vegetable curry but there were opportunities to try different foods at lunch time in Delhi which was fun. The accommodation in Delhi was in a very safe, respectable area with a Market (shopping area) nearby with a few bars cafes including Starbucks) and some useful shops. Rooms were laid out with bunk beds and there were fans and air con, in a 3 bedroom apartment with 3 ensuite bathrooms. Comfortable and spacious but the bathrooms and kitchen could do with a really deep clean.
In Palampur, the accommodation was in a stunning location with views of the snow capped Himalayas and fields of golden wheat all around.
The volunteering work in both locations was well organised and a wonderful experience. I was based at the Balasarthy centre of eduction for street and slum children and loved it. The children were very bright and resourceful. They were keen to learn and were no fools! The older boys in particular needed much more than play - they were keen for a challenge and enjoyed competitive tasks. Space is very limited so activities generally needed to be things that they can do sitting in small groups on the floor. Take resources and ideas for lessons that are suitable for mixed ability, mixed ages groups. For the younger children, although boys and girls are taught together, it is more informal and you need resources that will help with learning English or improve health education. If you plan on giving gifts, take loads with you because if one has, they all have to be given something. The older girls loved the crop tops (trainer bras) that we took out. The second week in Palampur was taken up refurbishing 2 classrooms in a government school. The children and teachers were delightful and so appreciative of the work we did.
The final week was our holiday - busy with lots of travelling but wonderful sights and shopping and the chance to do paragliding! This was a truly amazing trip! Do it if you can, but go with an open mind and a generous heart.