Volunteer India

How Easy it is for a Foreign National to Successfully Carve a Niche in Voluntary Service in India?

Often, we have resources, energy, and time to share with others – especially those who may not be in a position to remunerate us.  Such voluntary service is abundantly available in India and has been streamlined in the recent years to ensure sincere people get the opportunity to lend their services to organizations that would be able to utilize their service judiciously as well.

There are many ways in which a volunteer can offer services in India. Generally, 20-to-25 hours of work is needed per week. It is often mixed with hands-on project work, such as learning yoga, traveling, or Indian cooking. India is a lucrative place that is vied by those who want to travel and volunteer at the same time. However, to volunteer in India, one has to pay as well. Foreigners volunteering in India require food, lodging, safety, transportation, and other similar travel needs. Some voluntary organizations use the program fees for program development, and administration work. To ensure, voluntary service for foreigners are much more organized, effective, and safe, various organizations have come up which offer useful programs to people having required skill sets and interest.

The India Government has also come up with a regulation to ensure that voluntary service especially meant for foreigners, work out successfully without anyone getting hassled or conned in the process.

Gist of Foreign Regulation Act
According to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 it is not difficult for a foreigner to work as a volunteer in non-profit organizations. In fact, the foreign contribution can be granted to the NGOs as well. This has allowed foreigners to enroll in various voluntary programs easily and also be a part of the executive committee. According to experts, voluntary sector is worth millions of Pounds. To streamline the process various rules have been coined to ensure foreigners get a hassle-free entry into the country, donate their dues as needed through a proper channel, and gain experience while doing voluntary service.

Preconditions or Prerequisites
Getting the required visa is an important prerequisite for working as a volunteer in India. Even a couple of years ago, X-Visa was granted to people working as interns or volunteers. However, these did not rope in the workers or volunteers on the whole. So, today, Employment Visas are granted to volunteers with a period of one year or for the contract period with the company or organization. Although there must be a certain amount of salary drawn by the employee, volunteers are exempted from the rule. There are hundreds of voluntary organizations in India and the total number of volunteers can be more than 6 million. Good chunk of this number are the foreigners as they get a good opportunity to do altruistic work in this country.

Why Volunteer?
Many foreigners don’t want to donate money or provide a financial boost to underprivileged without giving them an opportunity to shine on their own terms and earn a livelihood themselves. Volunteerism took birth from such an aspect as many volunteers came forward to enjoy working for the community that needed awareness program, education, and affection. It is also needless to say that one can enjoy traveling in India, know various cultural and historical facts of the place, and also gain valuable experience. It is often a stop-gap between another job or career change.  Before you volunteer in a foreign place, such as India, ensure you know the culture, food habits, ways of co-habiting with fellow people, and social etiquettes. Venture into a voluntary service once you are fully sure you are happy with the tasks allotted in the service and ambience you would get while residing in India.

Who Volunteers?
Quality volunteer programs include those who have taken career breaks, gap-year travelers, and international students looking for valuable experience. Foreigners can apply as a volunteer in India in two ways. There are paid voluntary service organized by (NGOs) and other groups. In various programs, the volunteers enroll with a program fee. If a foreigner wants to volunteer independently, he or she can do so by visiting many organizations which support this option, such as Mother Teresa Kolkata Center.

Types of Voluntary Service

Many foreign nationals today look forward to voluntary service in India in various fields, such as:

  • Cultural Exchange Programs
  • Renovation and Repair Work
  • Ecology and Environmental Issues
  • Short-Term Projects in Various Fields — education, care, sports education, conservation, building, medicine, business, journalism and veterinary medicine
  • Travel Programs
  • Farming – Eco-Friendly Farms
  • First-Aid, Health-Care, Nutrition, and Hygiene
  • Animal Welfare – especially elephants
  • Programs on Theatre

…And, in such work there are legalized institutions which allow volunteers to come over to India, integrate into the system, and match their motivation and skills in the work. In other words, voluntary service meant for foreigners is a good opportunity to showcase one’s skill, gain significant experience, and offer valuable effort to the project.

Foreigners can either work as an intern or as a consultant. As interns, the volunteers learn on the job and provide their skills in the project work. As consultants, they work as a part of the management and manage a team. The work could range from desk jobs, such as designing, web marketing, manual or brochure writing, coining strategies. Outdoor work would range from filming videos, teaching, participation in campaigns, and lot more.

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