A tropical destination widely seen as a sandy, sunny playground for both foreigners and Indians alike, Goa may initially strike potential volunteers as a peculiar place to lend their time. Despite the affluence of the state, opportunities to volunteer in Goa are truly boundless, and incredibly diverse. Due to longtime Portuguese rule that ended only a few decades ago, the state now represents a beautiful marriage between Eastern and Western cultures, forging one of India’s most unique ports of call. Finally get those chakras aligned and consider volunteer work in Goa, India!
What you need to know to volunteer abroad in Goa, India
Volunteering in Goa won’t be a cakewalk, and may very well be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. However, it will also be one of the most defining! Choose carefully where in Goa you would like to volunteer, as there is a well-known variance between the booze-soaked north versus the more peaceful south.
Popular causes and program types in Goa. When you volunteer in Goa, you can choose a cause that’s close to your heart, or go where you’re needed most and potentially discover a new passion. All over India, volunteers are needed in education and teaching, and for helping orphans in local shelters — the situation is no different in Goa. Closely related and equally as important are programs in child care.
Another area where your time and dedication is in high demand? Health care, and working with AIDS in particular. While HIV infections thankfully continue to decline in India, Indians still make up the third-largest HIV/AIDS population in the world.
Amongst the lush jungles and azure sea, animal welfare, wildlife, and conservation could all benefit from your time in Goa. Stray dogs sadly run rampant across the country, while the environment continues to suffer from pollution, lack of public sanitation services, and tourist activities.
Short term volunteer programs in Goa. Programs ranging from two to four weeks, and up to three months, are the most available for volunteer work in Goa, India, and downright affordable. They are also popular options for those who can only commit to a short-term visa, and may still want to leave enough time to see the rest of India on their own. A carefully-timed project during shoulder season in April or September would mean avoiding pesky tourists, and getting to experience a more authentic Goa.
Long term volunteer projects in Goa. Programs of a longer duration are limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your talents elsewhere once your placement in Goa ends! India is in dire need of selfless volunteers who will truly commit themselves to making a difference in the country, and the easiest way to achieve this is by spending seven to twelve months (or longer!) working on your project. Don’t forget that a year in Goa also means enduring monsoon season from June to September.
Life in Goa for International Volunteers
While volunteering in Goa, life will be sweeter than the Masala tea with which you start each day, complete with yoga by sunrise and spice markets by sunset. Here you will find a more laid back lifestyle than in other major parts of India. Accommodation for volunteers will almost certainly include volunteer housing with others in your program, presenting you with a great opportunity to make new friends! Some programs offer homestays for those seeking a more culturally immersive experience.
The visa process for stays longer than 30 days is more in-depth than that for a month-long visa, but your volunteer program should help you sort your visa out and inspect the fine print that comes along with an extended stay in India. Talk to your embassy or consulate for more information.
During your downtime, dig around the countless flea markets in Goa — honorable mentions include the Anjuna Flea Market and the Mapusa market. Spice up your life and check out the Sahakari Spice Farm, too.
Despite some high profile horror stories involving tourists in recent years, Goa is generally safe for volunteers who remain vigilant against scammers and unsavory characters. Men and women alike should avoid traveling alone after dark, especially in isolated areas and deserted beaches.
By the way, if you volunteer in Goa, monkeys will be an inevitable part of life. They are cute as a button, but totally ruthless. Don’t provoke them!
GoAbroad’s Insider Tips for international volunteers in Goa, India
Volunteers should be aware of the health risks involved with travel to India. Consider typhoid and polio vaccines, and be aware that a yellow fever vaccine may be required for entry depending on your previous travels, even though there is no risk of contracting the illness in India. Be smart if you choose a project working outdoors while volunteering in Goa — some mosquitoes in India carry malaria (the risk is variable in Goa) and dengue fever (which has no vaccine), and ticks may also be present.
Stay hydrated, my friends, and drink bottled water only. Be prepared for some intense belly aches, too. For Westerners, it’s not a matter of if, butt when.
Start practicing your best smile, or how to say “no.” Requests from locals for selfies are relentless, and sometimes extremely overwhelming.
Volunteering abroad in this tiny, paradisiacal corner of the Indian subcontinent packs a powerful punch to the senses that will leave your head spinning in the best way possible. Namaste, beaches!
Keep reading — You’ll love our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in India!