India has been on my bucket list for a while, however as well as seeing the usual tourist attractions and heritage sites I wanted to see more of the day to day life and culture and give something back to the community.
After much research I decided on Vol Sol as their 3 week Summer Programme offered a good combination through a varied itinerary at a reasonable cost.
On booking I was provided with a login to my Vol Sol account, which contained a fully detailed itinerary and helpful information on visas, climate, culture etc and Sahil, our coordinator was always helpful with answering any questions.
On arrival in Delhi airport I was met by a smiling Vol Sol face and transported to the volunteer house, which was in a nice residential area of south Delhi and situated in a gated community with plenty of markets, shops and restaurants within walking distance.
On our first day we had a detailed orientation from Vol Sol explaining our first week in Delhi, which would be in a volunteer school where we would be helping children from the slums to improve their English.
Travel to and from the volunteer school was by auto rickshaw, an experience in itself given the Delhi traffic. The children ranged between 4 and 14 years and were of mixed ability but so willing to learn and absorbed everything like sponges. It was hard work but so rewarding.
Saying goodbye to the children at the end of the week was really emotional but we left with many thank you cards, hugs and happy tears together with the thought that we may have played a tiny part in helping to improve the future for these gorgeous kids.
Rajiv, Parag and Dheeraj, were always around checking our safety and available for questions.
After an overnight coach journey we arrived in Palampur in the foot hills of the Himalayas and our new accommodation for the week was in a countryside volunteer house with magnificent views of the majestic mountains.
Again we had a full orientation from Dr Bobby who explained that we would be renovating two classrooms in a non government school for very poor children. It was hard work sanding down walls, plastering and then applying two coats of base paint before designing and completing the artwork for the walls.
It was so rewarding at the end of the week when we handed over the clean, bright and fun classrooms to the teachers who were so appreciative. The children were just adorable and there was plenty of time to play with them during the breaks. Again the Vol Sol team, Dr Bobby and Amit, were frequently around checking on our progress and making sure we were OK.
Our final week included a camping/trekking trip in the mountains, sightseeing In Dharamshala, Amritsar, Agra and Jaipur with everything expertly arranged and fully escorted by Parag of Vol Sol who really went out of his way to ensure we had the best time ever.
Would I do it again - absolutely, it is so much more fulfilling to actual take part in making change happen than just donating cash and you actually get to see where your money goes.
Would I choose Vol Sol again - absolutely, they are a very professional organisation who provide an excellent combination of volunteer projects and sightseeing ensuring you are safe at all times.
So, if you are thinking about volunteering and fancy India then I would definitely recommend Volunteering Solutions.
Thank you and happy travels.