Volunteer in a School in Kerala - India
Make a real difference in children's lives!
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Group Size: Max 10
Trip code: INTK
Duration: 2-8 weeks
Become a volunteer in inspirational India and help to educate and care for kids at schools in stunning Kerala. Stay in the laid-back coastal town of Fort Kochi and help to mentor and teach English to kids at schools, setting them on the path to a brighter future. There are plenty of awesome cultural and adventure activities to enjoy in your free time, including beach visits and boat trips around Kerala’s backwaters. Make a difference to kids in Kerala and discover the wonders of this incredible part of India!
- Become a valued volunteer and help at teaching projects in schools in Kerala, India
- Make a real difference as you inspire, educate and care for kids in this rewarding volunteer role
- Help provide a welcoming and fun classroom environment for poor children in the Fort Kochi area and help deliver creative and engaging lessons
- Stay in the charming, peaceful port town of Fort Kochi and make new friends in this stunning part of India
- Explore Kerala’s famous backwaters by boat or make tracks for one of the region’s beautiful beaches at the weekends
Kerala is a laid-back location famous for its nearby beaches filled with swaying palms, delicious seafood and local cuisine, winding waterways and beautiful backwaters made up of rivers, lakes and canals. Kerala has a balmy tropical climate all year round, with temperatures rarely dropping below the 70s. A visit to this safe and friendly region offers travellers the ideal introduction to India!
About Fort Kochi
The projects are based in and around the famous port city of Fort Kochi (otherwise known as Cochin). This charming town boasts beautiful historical buildings and unusual, giant fishing nets. Fort Kochi has friendly locals plus great restaurants, bars and cafes, markets, ATMs and plenty of cultural events. Although it is a tranquil, tourist-friendly town it is not a party spot. Fort Kochi enjoys gorgeous coastal views and a relaxed vibe, offering the ideal introduction for first-time visitors to India. Stepping into Fort Kochi is like stepping back in time into another world!
Arrival and Orientation
Day 1, Saturday: You will be met on arrival at Kochi International Airport and transferred to Fort Kochi (approx.1-1.5 hour journey). In the evening you will enjoy a short welcome meeting from the local project team and get a chance to rest, relax and meet your group.
Day 2, Sunday: During day 2 you will receive Project and Culture Information from the local volunteer co-ordinator. After your orientation session you will be given an introductory tour of the fantastic Fort Kochi area. You can then relax or join an optional tour of the Kerala backwaters (approx USD10 extra cost)!
Volunteer in Schools
Every morning from Monday to Friday, between 10am-12noon, and 2-3:30pm, you will volunteer at one of two schools in Fort Kochi. Both schools are under-resourced and the children who attend them are from poor backgrounds. Volunteering as a classroom assistant, you will assist the teaching staff to teach English reading and writing skills, maths, arts, and a variety of other subjects, to children aged between 6 and 16. You’ll be working with the kids in small groups inspiring them and helping to boost their confidence by working with them as a mentor, teacher and friend. There will be other teachers present at the school however you will be expected to use your initative and skills to guide lessons by yourself.
Please note: During school holidays you will work with children in the community rather than in a school setting. During exam periods in December and March you may help out at a women’s empowerment project when the children are busy.
Women’s Empowerment Project (Optional)
It is possible that during your stay you may get the opportunity to help out at a women’s empowerment project, designed to help women learn new skills, improve their education and English skills and help increase their confidence. The project only runs if the women attend, so this project cannot be guaranteed to run. If you are interested in this option, you would take part in the women’s empowerment project instead of teaching in schools during weekday mornings.
Volunteer Daily Itinerary: Monday-Friday
- 9.30am: Transport to project.
- 10am-12noon: Volunteer at one of two schools as a classroom assistant.
- 12noon-2pm: Lunch.
- 2pm-3:30pm: Volunteer at another local school.
Please note: This itinerary is a guide only and times may be subject to change according to the needs of the local community at the time of your trip. Volunteers should be flexible and ready to adapt to unexpected changes and new situations.
The cost of travel from your accommodation to the project site by tuk tuk is arranged for you, but the cost is not included (please budget £2-3 per trip).
Your evenings and weekends are free time to have fun and enjoy optional activities. Fort Kochi is a fantastic base from which to explore the gorgeous area of Kerala and your local team can help you to arrange exciting optional activities, which include:
- Cultural shows
- Football matches
- Boat trip in the Keralan Backwaters: £60
- Visit to a tea or spice plantation: £60
- Travel to Cherai Beach, 35km from Fort Kochi: £20
- Trekking/camping trip: £70
- Cycling tour: £50
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Cheapest flights between London and Kochi for the next 6 months
Most expensive: £1,555 December, 2022
Please arrange your flights to arrive into Kochi (Cochin) Airport (COK) on day one of your project (Saturday). Please arrive between 8am and 8pm for your included arrival transfer. If you arrive outside this time, please be aware that there will be an extra charge for the pickup. You will be met at the airport by the volunteer project’s resident driver, who will be holding a Gap 360 sign.
Alternatively, you can arrive the day before and meet the team the next day. Extra accommodation and transfers will be at your own cost.
Your driver will transfer you in a safe, air-conditioned car to your volunteer accommodation in the coastal town of Fort Kochi. The journey takes approximately 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
Your volunteer experience ends on a Saturday. A return transfer is not included but the local team can arrange this for you for an approximate cost of around £20.
All accommodation is included during your stay in Kerala and you will be staying in our volunteer guesthouse in Fort Kochi. The volunteer house accommodates up to 40 volunteers and is located only a short 5-minute walk from Princess Street, the main street in Fort Kochi, where you can find facilities including ATMs, medical centres, shops, restaurants and cafes.
The accommodation is basic but safe, clean and comfortable. Rooms are mostly shared rooms of 4-6 people and have fans and en-suite bathrooms. The bathrooms have cold-water showers only but this is just what you need in the warm, tropical climate of Kerala! Bed linen is provided but you will need to bring your own towels. The bedrooms all have locks on the doors.
The projects are located 5-15 minutes from your accommodation and transport is arranged there and back for you daily, for a small extra cost of £2-3 per day.
There are no washer/dryers at the accommodation but there is a laundry service. You can also hand wash your clothes and hang them up to dry outside the accommodation.
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included during your stay, except on Sundays when dinner is not included.
Breakfast is a typical Keralan breakfast to set you up for the day, usually eggs, bananas and bread. Lunch and dinner are usually vegetarian curries with rice, chapatti, vegetables and/or salad. Food is local and typically Keralan - delicious but not too spicy! You can make your own tea and coffee and filtered water is provided in the accommodation. Gluten-free diets can be catered for; please let us know in advance if you have any dietary requirements.
The minimum age to join this volunteering trip is 21. If you are 18-20 please contact us. This is an open-aged trip, suitable for travellers who wish to make a difference as a volunteer. Experience is beneficial but not essential.
You will have a brief telephone interview after booking on to the programme to make sure the project is a suitable fit for your skills and abilities.
This programme is suited to passionate, creative, caring and confident people who wish to make a difference and have a rewarding travel experience. You should have a flexible, mature attitude and be open to cultural difference. This is a cultural not a party trip, so you should be willing and happy to entertain yourself in your free time.
This programme does not require you to have any prior experience or qualifications (although any you have is beneficial); you’ll receive advice in orientation upon arrival and are provided with guidelines and the daily support of an volunteer co-ordinator at each of the projects.
You will need to have an e-tourist visa in order to travel to India (fees apply - check the Indian Embassy website for up to date costs) and you should obtain this before leaving the UK. You will need a copy of your passport and an Indian-sized passport photo, which is slightly smaller than the average passport photo (you can take photos in photo booths using an appropriate setting to get your photo to comply with size restrictions for travel to India), along with a letter of invitation, which we will send to you after booking.
You will also need to select 'Voluntary Work of Short Duration' as your primary purose of visiting when applying.
Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for up to date information.
Before leaving the UK you should also make a trip to your GP in order to discuss your travel plans. As vaccination and medication requirements vary between different Indian regions, a detailed discussion of your travel plans and intended destinations is highly advised.
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need to undergo an enhanced DBS previously known as CRB, or Criminal Record Bureau check and will need to have a clean criminal record.
DBS checks may list past convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings, and if applicable will show whether or not you have been barred from working with certain vulnerable groups. Non-conviction information such as fixed penalties may also be included.
There is an addition cost for the DBS check, please speak to your travel advisor at the time of booking. The DBS process is in 3 stages:
1. Once we receive your booking payment, you will then be sent an online application link for the DBS check, which you will need to complete.
2. Once you have completed the application, the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) will need verification of your identity - to do this you will need to take 3 original documents to your nearest crown post office and use their DBS and ID verification service. This costs approximately £9 and is payable directly to the Post Office.
3. Once the post office verification is done it usually takes up to 2 weeks for your DBS to be processed, and your DBS will be sent to you directly in the post.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.