What happens if I get sick during the volunteer program ?
Volunteering India gives you every information about what
precautionary measures to be taken about your health. However, in
case of any requirement, medical care is available in all the
villages recently. The rural people in India are very caring about
foreign visitors and the host family feels a strong responsibility
about your health. However, Volunteers with serious and chronicle
health disorders should bring along with you necessary medicine
keeping in view your long term health condition. It should be
noted here that health care in rural India is not what you would
expect comparing the medical standards in western countries.
Further, we recommend you purchasing an international health
insurance policy before you come to India.
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16. How can I
adjust to a new culture?
The orientation given to you before volunteer program will prepare
you mentally to mingle with new culture and society. But however,
some very sensitive persons may feel a culture shock. Here we give
a brief description about what Culture Shock is, what are its
symptoms, and how to deal with it.
Culture shock is the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers
when coming to live in another country or a place different from
the place of origin. Although, one can experience pain from
culture shock; it is also an opportunity for redefining one's life
objectives. It is a great opportunity for learning and acquiring
new perspectives. Culture shock can make one develop a better
understanding of oneself and stimulate personal creativity.
• Sadness, loneliness, melancholy
• Preoccupation with health.
• Insomnia, desire to sleep too much or too little
• Anger, irritability and unwillingness to interact with others
• Trying too hard to learn everything in the new culture
• Lack of confidence
• Feelings of insecurity or inferiority.
• Developing stereotypes about the new culture
• Developing obsessions such as over-cleanliness
• Longing for family
• Feelings of being lost, overlooked, exploited or abused.
Different phases of culture shock:
Initially the new arrival may feel overjoyed and delighted by all
of the new things encountered. everything you bump into would be
new and exciting.
Afterwards, a person may face some difficult times in daily life.
For example, communication difficulties may occur such as not
being understood. In this stage, there may be feelings of
discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and feeling incompetence.
This happens when a person is trying to adapt to an entirely new
culture. During this period of transition from old methods to
those of the new place, one would encounter strong feelings of
In the next phase the volunteer gains some understanding of the
new culture. A new feeling of pleasure and sense of humor may be
experienced. One would feel a certain emotional balance. The new
arrival may not feel as lost and starts to have a feeling of
direction. The individual is more familiar with the environment
and wants to belong.
Finally, the person realizes that the new culture, just as every
other thing in life, has good and bad things to offer. The person
starts to define him/herself and establish goals for living.
How to deal with culture shock:
Most of the people can easily adjust to new culture without facing
much trouble. However here we give some tips that will help you to
cope with this type of situation.
• Don't forget the good things you already have.
• Remember, there are always resources that you can use
• Don't try too hard. Just be relaxed and observe as the things go
on. Soon you would understand that everything
• Relaxation and meditation are proven to have very good effect.
• Maintain contact with your ethnic group. This will give you a
feeling of belonging and you will reduce your
feelings of loneliness and alienation.
• Find ways to live with the things that don't satisfy you 100%.
• Keep in touch with your family and friends. Phone calls or
e-mail contact would make you feel less isolated.
• Keep yourself busy doing things you enjoy. When you have free
time, visit museums, temples and tours local
sites of interest.
• Spending time with children gives you unparalleled mental peace
Of all, you should understand that a slight feeling of culture
shock is natural and the fact should be overviewed positively.
Volunteers returning from abroad often describe the process of
culture shock is a necessary maturing experience.
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should you pay to work as a volunteer?
A question arises that why should a volunteer pay even after
rendering services to the host organization and community.
To put it briefly – Volunteering India charges its volunteers to
fulfill two aims:
1. To meet the expenses to guide and support volunteers, i.e.
food, transportation accommodation, etc.
2. To maintain the organizational setup that is necessary to run
Volunteering India is a non-profit, non-government, social service
organization. The organization does not get any funds or resources
from government or sponsors. Contributions from volunteers are the
only source of the organization’s income. This income would be
spent in many channels that would ultimately meet the above two
One can clearly see the many expenses involved in organizing a
volunteer program i.e., local transportation, costs of pre-program
training, staff salaries, payment to host family, payments to
co-coordinators from local NGO’s, providing communication
facilities like internet etc., These are just operating costs… on
the other side of the coin, there is the actual cost of volunteer
Volunteers are, when taken into account the monetary value of
their services, are more of a burden than an advantage. But the
enthusiasm of the volunteers to serve and the motivation they
cause leads to a sustained change in depressed lives. This makes
their services invaluable. In order to give the volunteers the
maximum of travel pleasure and satisfaction of fulfilled service,
the organization has to invest a lot, both materially and
mentally. The various ways where the contribution from volunteers
go are listed here:
Staff Salaries & Administration:
Volunteering India maintains full time staff to guide
volunteers and manage volunteer programs.
Volunteer recruitment: Recruiting international volunteers
involve many costs like advertising thru internet, developing a
website, publishing brochures, newsletters etc.
Ties with local NGO’s: Volunteering India maintains close
relationships with local NGO’s. These NGO’s provide a valuable
service to help the volunteer access to the rural India and
interact with the people and culture. Obviously they are to be
paid for their services.
Local Transport: Volunteering India takes the
responsibility of volunteer’s local transportation so long as they
work in the project. Otherwise the local travel would be tiresome,
especially when you can’t speak the language.
Training to volunteers: No volunteer could at once enter
the field of work without proper training and orientation. The
volunteers are to be trained in two aspects – first to understand
the language and etiquette and learn how to interact with people;
secondly they should be given proper guidance in the actual work
of volunteer project, whether it is teaching children or working
in a field.
Food and accommodation: Every volunteer is given proper
accommodation and hygienic Indian cuisine. They are generally set
up with a host family to give the volunteer the complete
satisfaction of interacting with the local culture. A stipend would
be given to the host family.
Volunteer Project: The last but not the least, is the
volunteer project for what very purpose the whole organizational
setup exists. Some portion of every volunteer’s contribution goes
to the material needs of the project. The volunteer project
includes different types of costs depending on the type of work
undertaken, for example, purchase of farming material, plants,
medical equipment, building material etc.
The Volunteering India and the other local NGO’s that form the
part of volunteer network are not in a position to sponsor
volunteer trip or bear the costs of hosting volunteers. Had they be
in a position to do this, it would surely be more beneficial for
them to hire local persons. Here one should understand that the
actual motive of the project is not just building a school or
planting some trees, but motivating people to access opportunities
for a sustained improvement in the standard of their lives. Only a
self motivated and enthusiastic volunteer can do this.
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