This volunteer program is based in Kerala, known as 'Gods own Country'. Volunteers will be given an orientation around the beautiful city of Kochi on arrival. Your living arrangements will be with other volunteers in a house in the heart of the local community of Fort Kochi, where you will experience the rich culture of India.
This volunteer program involves working and teaching in a local school, which is attended by children from disadvantaged families, as well as from the adjoining girls orphanage. Work days are spent assisting local teachers in the classrooms, and also taking small tuition groups and activity lessons before and after school. The focus is on improving conversational English of students from Lower Kindergarten through to Grade 6, as well as introducing sports and arts.
During downtime volunteers can go cruising in a houseboat on the backwaters, visit spice plantations, villages, stunning beaches, watch a traditional Kathakali dance performance, go kayaking or trekking at a Wildlife Sanctuary or take cooking classes.
Your assistance will help keep students in school and greatly aid the overwhelmed teachers as well as making a huge difference in these kids’ lives.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This program offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the program for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
You will spend your weekdays assisting local teachers in the classroom and leading a variety of educational activities. Every day you’ll be transported from your house to the school, where you’ll play games, lead sport and art lessons with a focus on English language skills. In the evenings you’ll be expected to prepare lesson plans and activities for the following day in order to deliver an effective class.
Your weekends are free when you’ll get to enjoy and explore the beautiful port city of Kochi, your base town, and the surrounding Kerala area. You can take in Kochi’s exotic spice markets, experience a traditional Kathakali dance performance or enjoy fresh seafood.
You will live in a comfortable home in the center of town with other GVI volunteers with shared rooms and access to electricity, running water, and flush toilets. Lunch and dinner are prepared for you, and meals can include rice and fresh vegetables cooked in the local style.
Although English is taught in the school, students rarely practice their language skills outside the classroom. You will work primarily with enthusiastic and inquisitive kids from kindergarten to grade six, eager to learn more from you as their teacher.
Students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds and our goal is to build the children’s confidence in their English abilities and keep them motivated to stay in school.
In addition to helping teachers in class, you’ll teach small groups outside normal school hours. These tutoring sessions at the school or orphanage will provide weaker students with the help they need in spoken English, computer skills, and other topics.
How this program makes a difference:
Many students feel pressure from their families to drop out of school and start earning money but by developing English skills, the children will have a better chance of getting well-paying jobs, which require the ability to speak English. We aim to keep kids in school by providing teacher support and funding, so that the students can have the chance at a better future.
Experiencing India from a tourist angle and from the community gives a great insight and understanding. It was a great introduction to the rest of India as Kerala is very reserved and less chaotic, a great choice to wean yourself into Indian travel. I went on to travel more of India and I felt more comfortable having spent time on the project. The opportunities made available by GVI would be almost impossible to recreate without the organisation and security of GVI.
My first day at the Auxilium School was a day to remember. I have never felt so overwhelmed by questions, gleaming eyes, smiles, handshakes and some of the most welcoming staff and children I have ever met. Standing at the front of the class with 50 pairs of eager eyes waiting to hear your words is one of the most terrifying and most wonderful sensations I have ever experienced. And although you may be overwhelmed by all the new faces you feel instantly that you are at home.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Kerala field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in India!
Included Side Trips
You will embark on an orientation of Fort Kochi during your arrival weekend, seeing the main tourist sites of the local town, as well as the many hidden treasures. You will also be taken to a traditional Keralan Kathakali dance show, which will open your eyes up to the wonders of India and its culture.
Optional Side Trips
Kerala offers a variety of different adventure trips from trekking to rafting, kayaking and even diving in some of the most beautiful locations that India has to offer. Close to base in Fort Kochi, the 14th century Chinese fishing nets, St Francis Church and an amazing array of boutique art galleries, cafes and restaurants make for an amazing cultural experience.
One of Kerala’s finest attractions popular with our volunteers is the backwaters tour, an experience of breathtaking beauty and serenity as you snake through the incredible landscape on a houseboat. You can stay overnight, eat amazing local cuisine, and gaze at the sunset: a perfect weekend getaway.
The Periyar Forest and National Park offers safari outings and a chance to spot elephants, monkeys and tigers if you’re lucky, combined with some spectacular scenery along the way. For the more active, you can get even closer to it all with a number of trekking options.
Kerala can boast some incredible beaches within reasonable distances from your base. Marari is a short 40-minute drive with beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut trees, while Varkala is a little further with restaurants and cafés perched spectacularly on cliffs offering incredible views of the ocean.
And if tea is your poison then this is the location for you…tea plantations stretching as far as the eye can see and jaw dropping views of mountain ranges and valleys await. There are sightseeing and trekking options available (depending on seasons) for the adventurous, or you can just sit and relax, breathe the fresh mountain air, and soak it all in.
Further Traveling Opportunities
For those with a little more time on their hands, you may want to consider some of the following. The Taj Mahal will be top of most India bucket lists but beyond this famous landmark; the quaint hill stations in Darjeeling; the Ganges at Varanasi; the desert and fort palaces of Jaisalmer and Udaipur; safari at Kanha National Park (home of Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’); the lively nightlife of Mumbai; or the laid back atmosphere of Goa will leave you with an everlasting experience of India.
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- Internal transportation - related to project work
- Project equipment
- A traditional Kathakali dance performance
- Local cooking lessons
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes