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Supporting children in the community in India with Pod Volunteer

Date added: Friday 25th September 2015


Mairi volunteered at Pod Volunteer Child Care project in India. Volunteers provide essential assistance to support the underfunded and understaffed nurseries, children’s homes and schools, in an effort to improve the support and education levels of children in the city of Udaipur. Volunteers are able to draw on their own experiences to organise and run fun new games and creative activities for the children. Volunteers work with the local team to visit community projects and encourage children to attend the day care centres, volunteers also act as positive role models for the children.

You can find out more about Mairi’s chosen volunteer placement here:

Here is Mairi’s review of her time volunteering in India:

“I spent one month in India and it was truly incredible and an experience I will never forget. India is an amazing country with amazing people.

I was made to feel so welcome from my hosts, Ravi and Guarav. They work tirelessly in their community and it was so rewarding to work with them for a short time. They were able to help me with any aspect of my trip and made us feel very safe. Neha, the kindest woman I've ever met, looked after me during my time in India. Her food is amazing and I'm finding it hard to cope without her delicious home cooking every day. She is very accommodating, her food is not too spicy and can make anything you like. She is also happy to give you cooking lessons, although my pumpkin curry willnever be as good as hers! I will definitely be back soon to visit.

We had plenty of free time to get out and explore the local city. Travelling mostly by rickshaw, which is a great way to meet the friendly locals and have an authentic Indian experience. I loved meeting and working with volunteers from different countries and learning about their different cultures. I would recommend this experience to anybody.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Child Care project in India?

The day would start at 8.30, with breakfast. All the volunteers would sit together at the table and discuss their plans for the day. Then we would set off to the daycare centre around 9.15. It is a short journey and i loved travelling by rickshaw in the morning. At daycare we would work with children in ages varying from 0-10. We would do simple English lessons, sing songs and play games. The children particularly loved arts and crafts activities, like making masks and crowns!

After getting home from daycare we had some free time to explore. We would travel into the nearby city by rickshaw and go shopping, visit the temples or go swimming in a rooftop pool (very refreshing in 40 degree heat!) Neha would have lunch ready for us at 1pm and all the volunteers could catch up with the day’s events.

After lunch was more free time. Usually this time was spent taking a few minutes to relax before 'Lesson Planning' at 3pm. Here we would plan the actives for the 'Rag Pickers slum Community' and the Boys Children’s Home. Then chai time, traditional Indian tea which is delicious and an opportunity to all sit together.

We would head to the Rag Pickers community for an hour in the afternoon. This project was just started during my first week, so it was really exciting to be involved in something new. All of the children here were really deprived, their living conditions were extremely basic and they did not have the opportunity to go to school. All of the children had jobs and would work long hours in dirty and dangerous environments. They were all so excited to learn English and loved us coming to work with them. We split them into two groups (old and young children) and would join back together for a big game at the end. They were always sad to see us leave at the end of the day.

Then it was straight to the boys Children’s Home. The boys living here were aged 8-18. We would play some games and do arts and crafts with them. One volunteer has done fundraising before coming to India. She used some of the money she raised to buy a basketball hoop. The boys had never played before so it was really fun teaching them how.

Neha would have dinner ready for us in the evening and it was always delicious. After dinner we would all get together to plan the lessons for the next day.

We would have a few hours free in the evening to watch movies or call home. The days were very hard work and you would always go to bed exhausted after a very rewarding day.

What did you find most rewarding?

I found working with the Rag Pickers slum community the most rewarding aspect of my trip. I worked with the older group of children and was able to build a bond and relationship with them. They were so excited to work with us. We were able to give them the opportunity to act like children and a break for their difficult lives, even if for an hour. I found it very difficult to leave them.

What did you find most challenging?

Leaving!! I found it hard to deal with the heat at first- India is very hot!! You must remember to drink water and keep a bottle of water with you all the time. It was very hot at night time so it would be difficult to get to sleep but after a few days you get used to it.

The culture shock was hard to come to terms with at the time. You work with children from really impoverished background and this can be difficult to experience.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?

No everything was perfect.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Do it!!!!!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It is an amazing and rewarding experience. You have the opportunity to learn and experience a different culture and way of life. You will learn so much from the people that you meet and in turn, you will learn so much about yourself.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I chose Pod volunteer as it is a non-profit organisation. They were so helpful; before, during and after the placement. Gemma would solve any problems that I had, quickly and professionally. It was great to meet her when she came to visit the project.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends?