Discover the fascinating continent of Asia while you get involved in construction projects in local villages in Kerala, India. The southern state of Kerala is famed for its tropical greenery, beautiful backwaters and rich culture. On arrival, volunteers will be given an orientation around the beautiful city of Kochi. Your living arrangements will be in a shared house in the heart of the local community of Fort Kochi, where you can experience the rich culture of India.
Depending on the needs on the ground at any given time, you will work alongside community members to help deliver basic needs such as clean drinking water and sanitary facilities or safe and conducive learning environments. Help improve schoolgrounds or create libraries. Work on creating community centres or vocational rooms that will provide livelihoods for people with special needs.
Schools in Kerala are often extremely basic, and you will help make them more comfortable and conducive to a positive learning environment. Volunteers may help brighten up classrooms with new coats of paint or lend an extra hand in helping to reconstruct, build or rebuild a school’s facilities.
Specifically designed for volunteers between the ages of 15 -17, this project aims to give young do-gooders an impactful insight into global volunteering, immersing them into the local community’s culture and enriching their knowledge of the world around them. Throughout this project, our younger volunteers will be under supervision, with training by world-class leaders in their field, chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people.
Immersing yourself a different culture and way of life; making a genuine contribution towards the development of a local community; living and working with volunteers from all over the world; support our local henna artist and immerse yourself in the Indian culture; discovering India’s ornate temples, breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cities during your time off.
"After 5 weeks in Kochi I finally managed to visit the backwaters, they´re sooooo beautiful, it was a great excursion. Soon after we boarded, the boat left and lunch was served. The food was great: rice, chicken, a sort of grated coconut & fried onion dish (sooo yummy!), some greens and probably some more food that I can´t remember now, plenty of delicious stuff to eat. For the whole evening we were just chilling in the lounge area, contemplating the beauty of the backwaters and seeing the everyday life of the people that live by the shore."
What's Not Included
Depending on your start date and duration, you will get involved in a variety of different activities on this program. Upon arrival, you will receive a welcome orientation covering health and safety and cultural awareness. Throughout your stay you will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the local culture through language lessons, dance classes and an Indian cooking class!
Your time will be spent assisting in either surrounding village/slums or in local schools. Depending on the project you are involved in you will be involved in the construction of homes and eco gardens; renovations at resident's homes; repairing or refurbishing care centres; improving and painting educational facilities at a local school or basic landscaping and repairs. The weekends will be spent as a group enjoying the local sites and learning about the southern Indian culture.
The adventure week will take you into the Western Ghats, the great escarpment of India. A vast mountain range fed by the South West monsoon into a complex riverine draining 40% of all water in India. The Ghats are sparsely inhabited and new animal species are discovered every year. At least 10% of the world’s population of tigers, 20% of the population of Lion-tailed macaques, over 10,000 Asian Elephants and at least 325 other globally threatened species depend on the vast ecosystem.
An adventure trip into the Indian jungle will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to immerse yourself in the real-life Jungle Book while enjoying activities such as visits to traditional mountain villages, guided treks and overnight camping, riverside barbeques and guided tours of tea-plantations.
What's Not Included
The support you will provide goes a long way to improving the health and education of local people. Through developing hygienic sanitation systems, improving access to clean water and helping renovate educational facilities, you can make a real contribution to this project.
How this project makes a difference:
Whichever construction project you are involved in, you will be making a significant contribution to the development of underprivileged communities. Working in schools, you will be helping to create an environment suitable for learning that the children deserve. On the eco toilet project, you will be helping ensure local people achieve the basic human right to adequate housing.
What's Not Included
Although this trip follows a structured itinerary, don’t think you won’t be seeing and doing some amazing things! Speak to your country expert to find out more about the optional side trips your group could participate in while 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.
Transport Coordinator and Translator
Meet Jutten, our local Transport Coordinator and Translator here at our hub in India. Being a native of the country, he was asked to drive the tuk-tuk and coordinate the other tuk-tuks for the volunteers in Kerala. Later he was offered to be a official staff member and was thrilled to take the job.
He has worked with all of the projects here in Kerala. "I like to work with both the sports and health projects, because I enjoy seeing the beneficiaries happy and satisfied."
Before working with GVI he was a package tour driver as an English/Hindi/Tamil speaking tour guide. Since joining us he has taken great pride in his work and is enjoying meeting all the volunteers. "I like to see people happy. All the people that I meet through working here are treating me as their own."
Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”
When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”
What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”
Meet Lucy, our Base Manager here in Kerala. As wildlife conservation student, she initially joined GVI as a wildlife conservation intern to gain practical experience before staying on as a part of the team. Lucy has worked on our former Shimoni hub as long-term staff member before moving to India.
What does Lucy think volunteers bring to the projects? ” Without a doubt, the programs would not be able to run without the volunteers. The sheer amount of data volunteers help us to collect is immense, and so vitally important.”
Lucy’s highlights since working for GVI? “Setting up a new partner project in Kenya’s Western province, where I worked with a grassroots community group in Kenya’s last rainforest was amazing."
Meet Zeno, our Country Director in India. He used to work on Crocodile Morphology and Ecology and has even trekked the Sierra Madre mountain range in the North of the Philippines in search of one of the last members of a critically endangered freshwater crocodile population. Zeno used to be our Country Director in Kenya a few years ago before moving to India.
His most memorable moments since he started working with GVI? Was discovering a population of ‘hidden’ African Skimmer Birds at Lake Turkana, which turned to represent almost 40 percent of the world population. “That, and when my cat left a snake at my bed as a ‘present’, which turned out to be a new species for Kenya!”
His favourite aspect of his job? ”Seeing people being in awe of everything new around them, realising and completely accepting how different their world of experiences suddenly has become.”