Individuals who volunteer abroad in New Delhi will find their new home to be all at once inexplicably confusing, intensely humid, and overwhelmingly chaotic. India has a curious tendency to change travellers, enlightening them about the ways of a completely different world through a range of new experiences. Volunteering in New Delhi allows volunteers to make a positive impact on large, diverse communities in true need, while also providing the definitive experience of a lifetime.
Projects & Placements
New Delhi is the capital of India, a hugely populated developing country. Among the city’s people, you will find millions of individuals struggling through the challenges of poverty, many of whom have migrated their families from rural areas in search of economic opportunity. The city’s poorest often live in crowded slums where access to basic infrastructural necessities and social benefits is greatly lacking.
Due to the immense need in these areas, it is quite popular for international volunteers to volunteer in New Delhi in the areas of community development, education, health care, urban planning, and orphanage work. Volunteer opportunities in New Delhi will likely consist of a combination of behind-the-scenes planning and hands on community engagement.
There is a large variety of volunteer projects in New Delhi that are continuously running throughout the year, so research carefully to find the opportunity that suits your interests and schedule best. Volunteer programs in New Delhi also tend to vary in length, accommodating every volunteer’s individual preference and availability, from as little as two weeks all the way up to year long programs for volunteering in New Delhi.
When planning your volunteer abroad experience, keep in mind that Delhi’s temperatures tend soar to over 100 degrees fahrenheit in the summer months, followed by the monsoon season in August and a more temperate climate for the rest of the year. The weather may profoundly influence you while volunteering in New Delhi, so plan accordingly.
Most volunteer placements in India will not expect volunteers to speak Hindi, so don’t let the possibility of a language barrier deter you from volunteering abroad in New Delhi. You will find that the educated class of New Delhi speaks English fluently, as this is typically their language of instruction in school. However, working as a volunteer in New Delhi, many beneficiaries of projects will not be highly educated, so it will be beneficial for volunteers to pick up some Hindi while volunteering in New Delhi. Learning even a few basic phrases will take you further than you think in India.
Life in New Delhi
Every day is an adventure in the streets of India’s capital city. Rickshaws darting around at high speeds, horns blaring, millions of people bustling about – suffice to say life moves at a fast pace in the big city. A huge part of Delhi’s economy is in the informal sector, meaning that many daily transactions will involve some form of bartering. Poverty is intense and prevalent throughout the city as well, and as a foreigner you will often be approached for money.
Volunteers will need to learn to take a deep breath. Though it will take time, soon volunteers will adjust to their new lifestyle and take joy in navigating the chaos of the city independently. The infrastructural and social woes of New Delhi are part of what makes the experience so valuable for Westerners not exposed to such realities of life. And as a volunteer in New Delhi, in whatever field of work, every day you will have the opportunity to lend a helping hand.
The city also happens to be one of the most interesting and enriching in the world. From ancient monuments to colonial architecture to ultra modern malls, history is written in the streets of New Delhi. Along with India’s continued development in the economic and social spheres, there is also a growing countercultural movement taking place in the city, which makes it an even more exciting place to visit for young people from all over the world.
Costs & Affordability
New Delhi is ranked as one of the cheapest cities in the world for foreigners, so money need not be a concern for most individuals volunteering in New Delhi. Meals will rarely be more than a few dollars, and rickshaws can transport you door-to-door anywhere in the city very cheaply as well.
Since many transactions take place via bartering, it is likely that as an international volunteer you will be ripped off more than a few times. So it goes. The difference is generally only a matter of a few rupees (60 rupees equals $1), and odds are that money is more valuable to the person with whom you are negotiating. Be patient and do not take offense to special treatment – but at the same time be smart and do not fall for scams.
The most expensive part of your volunteer experience in India will likely be the upfront program fees (which tend to cover the costs of flights, housing, etc.), so take the time to find a program which best suits your financial situation.
Accommodations & Visas
Homestays are a popular option individuals who decide to volunteer in New Delhi. Many volunteer programs connect with local families to offer international volunteers a more intimate experience of Indian culture through daily life with a local family. This can be a very enriching experience and will also give volunteers the opportunity to enjoy frequent home cooked meals along with regular invitations to festivals, family gatherings, and the like. Apartments are also typically made available to volunteers, but consult your program of choice before departure for more specific details on housing options.
You will need to obtain a visa in order to volunteer in New Delhi. Most volunteer programs and host organizations will help you through this process. It is important to get an early start on the visa process to avoid any late inconveniences (Check out GoAbroad’s Indian Embassy Directory for more information on India’s visa policy for your home country and to locate an Indian embassy in your home country).
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering in New Delhi will be a challenge, but one well worth the effort. India will reshape many of your perceptions about how the world works. The city is a melting pot of cultures from across the Indian subcontinent, which will expose you to the infinite wisdoms and enriching manifestations of sub-Himalayan civilization.
If you are considering volunteering abroad in New Delhi, but are worried for whatever reason, then let go. Take the leap, and it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.