The rich mountain ranges of the country welcome tourists all year round. But even with its scenic beauty and call to adventure, the best part of these travels is to witness locals in their element.
And for those of us who aren’t quite ready to splurge on a luxurious trip to the summits, a sustainable and pocket-friendly way is to partake in voluntourism.
Here one can join hands with non-governmental organisations, social enterprises and other local groups, to explore the mountainscapes as well as give back to the community.
1. WWOOF India, Uttarakhand
The organisation has an extensive network of organic sector contacts. They provide volunteering travel in India which is an opportunity to learn about organic food, farming and different types of lives. It will also encourage one to take up an organic way of living just like the village farmers.
Nature of work: Volunteers have to work for 4-6 hours daily to help an organic farm family. In exchange for it, food and accommodation will be provided by the host. Travel expenses are to be borne by the volunteer.
To join, fill out the membership form and submit the membership fees on their website.
2. Fertile Ground, Assam
The organisation works with several visionary organic farmers, small-scale tea growers, NGOs, extension workers and other individuals in the North East. They lend a helping hand to farmers who are looking to incorporate organic agricultural practices including composting, natural pest control and mulching thereby moving away from traditional farming practices.
Nature of work: Help farmers daily to implement new techniques in organic farming. To protect local and traditional varieties of rice, vegetables, pulses and other grains, seed-saving is also done.
Join the volunteer program through their website.
3. LHA, Dharamsala
This is a non-governmental and non-profit social organisation for the Tibetan refugees and the local Indian population including the people from the Himalayan regions. Supplying vital resources in the form of materials and services is the team’s major activity.
Nature of work: Volunteering opportunities in teaching foreign languages like English, French, German and Chinese, Yoga/ therapy sessions, creative writing, journalism, copy editing and video editing.
Fill out the application form on their website to join.
4. CHIRAG, Uttarakhand
Central Himalayan Rural Action Group is a rural development organisation based in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand.
Nature of work: Volunteers will get an opportunity to work closely with the local communities residing in Kumaon on several issues, such as primary education, health care, agriculture, animal husbandry, community forestry, soil and water conservation and by supporting the development of youth.
Write to the team at email@example.com, if interested in volunteering.
5. SECMOL, Ladakh
The Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh works to reform the educational system of the region. The campus organises residential activities for youth and students attending college in town.
Nature of work: The organisation mainly looks for inter-cultural exchange through volunteering which is for a minimum period of four weeks. Rs 700 is to be paid daily for one’s accommodation and food. No special skills are required but swimmers and ice-skaters will get a preference.
Fill out the form on their website to join.
6. Wahoe Community Volunteer Programmes, Shimla
Started by a family from Delhi, this NGO, with one classroom, provides lessons for children in the local communities. Education, women empowerment, spirituality and nutrition are the key focus areas.
Nature of work: Tutoring the children, office work and community farm management are the major activities here. For a full-time volunteer, special orientation classes are also provided.
Check out more details on their website.
7. Ecosphere, Spiti
It is a social enterprise that is a collaborative effort of the local community of Spiti and professionals from diverse backgrounds. Its mission is to create sustainable livelihoods that go hand in hand with nature and culture conservation. The NGO also promotes traditional handicrafts, from paintings to clay structures and silks.
Nature of work: Building greenhouses and solar passive structures, volunteering with daily village activities and helping with the routine office work are what you can look forward to.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in volunteering.
8. Aaranyak, Guwahati
The organisation tries to protect nature and its resources ranging from animal and plant species, forests, various water bodies and mountains. Their focus area is to end poverty, climate action, and fight injustice and inequality.
Nature of work: Foster conservation of biodiversity in Northeast India through research, environmental education and capacity building. Volunteering is open to anyone above the age of 20 for a minimum period of four weeks.
Get in touch with the team through their website.
9. Jammu and Kashmir Association of Social Workers, Srinagar
The organisation encourages people to join its various campaigns, which involve bringing school dropouts back to school and eliminating child labour through child activity centres. It also organises workshops and children’s festivals.
Nature of work: Organising events and teaching children are the key activities here. Skills training is imparted to young adults, particularly young girls, to make them self-reliant.
Join them by writing to their Facebook page.
10. ECOSS, Sikkim
ECOSS is an NGO working in Sikkim for sustainable conservation. It encourages eco-tourism in the state.
Nature of work: in the homestay, volunteers can teach the local communities including children. Specific skill development can also be done.
Write to email@example.com to join.
Edited by Yoshita Rao