Kerala Teaching Volunteers
2-8 weeks from £619
- Immerse yourself in the laidback nature of the Keralan community in serene natural settings
- Give your time as a teaching assistant to help improve the educational needs of some great kids
- Get involved in a local women's empowerment project and help boost women's confidence
- Gain great teaching experience and make your CV stand out
- Explore your peaceful surroundings, beautiful close by beaches, and Kerala's famous backwaters
- Make a whole bunch of likeminded friends whilst living in a communal volunteer house
Think of India and you'd be forgiven for picturing loud, bustling streets where traffic and people merge into one continuous stream of colourful disarray - which is fantastic if you're up for some hard and fast-paced travelling, but if you're after a calmer backdrop to really get to experience the charm, beauty and serenity of India, Kerala has all this and so much more. A wonderful introduction to travel and volunteering if this is your first trip, but equally for avid travellers looking for a more laidback setting, our Kerala Teaching Volunteers programme is a must for anyone looking to combine rewarding volunteer work with an India travel experience. Set amid the pretty cobbled streets and still backwaters of the fishing town of Fort Kochi, you'll get to live within the friendly community whilst spending weekdays volunteering with really deserving children at local schools, as well as spending some time with the inspirational women at a women's empowerment project. You'll get to teach, play, and watch your students' confidence and abilities grow as you become an intrinsic part of their development - a truly rewarding experience.
Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!
What to expect at the project
This trip is suitable for travellers looking to make a difference as a volunteer working with children. You'll need to be passionate, caring, creative, and confident with a flexible and mature attitude, open to cultural differences. Experience working with or caring for children is beneficial, but not essential.
You will have a brief telephone interview once you've booked onto the programme to ensure the project is a suitable match for your skills and abilities.
On arrival you'll have an orientation session on the local area and be given advice by your programme coordinator on the best places to eat at, shop at, and visit in your own time. They'll also provide you with important guidelines, health and safety information as well as give you a good idea of what to expect each day at the school, and offer their support whenever you need it. You'll also be taken on a walking tour of your local neighbourhood in Fort Kochi so that you are familiar with the area that you will be living in.
At the schools you’ll be working with small groups of children, inspiring them and helping to boost their confidence by working with them as a mentor, teacher, and friend. And although there will be other teachers present to help support and advise you, you will be expected to use your initiative and skills to lead lessons by yourself.
Day in the life
You'll volunteer at one of two schools in the local area from Monday to Friday. Making your way to the project from your accommodation by tuk-tuk, a typical day of volunteering normally consists; you'll usually start your morning sessions at 10am, helping out as a classroom assistant to help teach English reading and writing skills, maths, arts and crafts, and a variety of other subjects to children between the ages of 6 and 16. The morning sessions finish at 12pm, breaking for lunch and lesson planning for a couple of hours, and then classes will continue from 2pm to 3:30pm. Please note that timings are subject to change and are at the discretion of the needs of the project and the local team. During school holidays or exam times you can expect a different schedule
You may also have the opportunity during the week to work with women at a local women's education project, which is designed to help women learn new skills, improve their English, and increase their confidence. This is a really worthwhile project, where the women taking part in the sessions are keen to improve their general education, having left school at a young age either to help out with family duties or to be married. If you're interested in taking part in these sessions, you would do so in place of teaching at the schools on weekday mornings (provided enough women attend the project) and this option is subject to availability.
The evenings and weekends are yours to spend as you wish. Your volunteer accommodation is close to the centre of town where there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. If you're after a bit of beach time, Fort Kochi has a small beach where you'll be greeted with brilliant views of the huge Chinese fishing nets, but you might prefer to travel a little further south to Andhakaranazhi Beach if it's a chilled out day on the sand you're after. There are other points of interest in Fort Kochi, including the Kerala Kathakali Centre - where you can catch a colourful local performance, the Maritime Museum, Indo-Portuguese Museum, the Dutch Palace, and the many places of worship including Jew Town's synagogue, St Francis Church, and Santa Cruz Basilica.
Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme
Both schools you'll be teaching at are seriously lacking in resources and the children who attend them are from very poor backgrounds. Projects like these are heavily reliant on the time and effort of volunteers and are looking to build on children's confidence, education, and future prospects, which is where your language skills, patience, and care is essential. The children are happy and eager to learn, but with your help more attention can be offered to those requiring more one-on-one time, and give the children the opportunity to learn skills outside of their usual curriculum - which, in turn, could help lift them from poverty in the future.
The same can be said for the women's empowerment project. The women enrolled on the women's empowerment project are seeking an opportunity to improve their life skills and education after leaving school at a young age to be married or help with family chores and duties. This is a chance for them to improve their lives and become part of a community by socialising and making friends with others in a similar situation. Your help is greatly appreciated and really important to these women, and goes a long way to improving their confidence and helping their personalities shine through.
This is a fantastic programme both for travellers looking for a slightly different travel experience who would like to get involved in community projects, and for those looking to add to their experience in childcare and teaching. It's also a great introduction to India if you haven't been before, or if you fancy going to a more chilled area away from the typical hustle and bustle of India's cities.
During the programme, you'll get to experience day to day life in a small Indian town as part of the community, you'll get to spend time with local children, being rewarded for your time with eager students and happy smiles all-round. You'll also be getting hands-on experience teaching classes aged 6-16 years, which is great if you're looking to pursue a career in education, and you will leave India knowing that you've given your time to a seriously under-resourced and deserving project which will have a lasting impact on the community for years to come - you might even pick up a few new skills yourself!
- Airport pick up and transfer on arrival
- Accommodation in shared rooms (minimum 4 per room)
- Three meals per day at volunteer house during programme, except dinner on Sundays
- Welcome meeting and orientation
- Experienced staff and English-speaking project coordinators
- Project resources in the volunteer villa
- 24/7 emergency support
- Travel insurance
- DBS check
- Project materials such as photocopying, printing and art materials etc
- Deposit at volunteer house (1,000INR/£12)
- Sunday dinners (approx £5 per meal)
- Transport to the project (approx. £6 per day)
- Return airport transfer (approx. 1,700INR/£20)
- Snacks and drinks
- Optional activities and excursions
Your accommodation will be within a shared volunteer villa and you will be staying with other volunteers close to the centre of Fort Kochin. The volunteer villa can accommodate between 30-40 volunteers and you'll be staying in a dorm-style room with 4-6 others, each room has a fan. The accommodation is very basic, but clean and comfortable. You'll have shared use of shower facilities (these are cold-water only, which is perfect for the hot climate) and communal areas, including kitchen and seating area. Bed linen is provided, so you won't need to provide your own, but you will need to bring your own towel. Wifi is available at the volunteer accommodation, but please do not expect the speed to be as quick as you are used to back at home.
Please note that there is an 11pm curfew at the volunteer house, so please ensure you respect this. There are no washers/dryers at the accommodation but there is a laundry service at an small additional cost. You can also hand wash your clothes and hang them up to dry outside on the terrace. When you arrive at the accommodation you will need to pay a small deposit of 1,000INR (approx. £10). This will be returned to you at the end of your stay so long as your room is left in good condition.
The school is located 5-15 minutes from your accommodation and daily transport is arranged for you for a small extra cost of £2-3 per day. Princess Street (the main street in Fort Kochi) has plenty of ATMs, cafes, restaurants, and shops, and is under ten minutes' walk from the volunteer house.
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included in the cost of your trip for the duration of your stay, except on Sundays when dinners are not included. Breakfast will consist of typical Keralan food and fruit, with lunches and dinners including dishes like curries, rice, chapatti, vegetables, and salads. Please note all meals prepared at the volunteer house are vegetarian. Food is local and typically Keralan - delicious without being too spicy! You're welcome to use the kitchen area to make your own snacks, tea and coffee - filtered water is provided at the accommodation and snacks and other drinks can be bought at the local shops. Please let us know if you have specific dietary requirements when you book. Bottled water can be purchased from nearby shops very cheaply.
You may choose to eat out on some occassions. There are lots of great cafes and restaurants close to the school and your accommodation, which serve a mix of delicious local and western food. If you do choose to eat out, please inform the staff at the house that you will not be eating at home for that meal.
You will need to arrange your flights to arrive into Kochi (Cochin) Airport (COK) on day one of your programme start date (Saturday) between the hours of 8am to 8pm. Please arrive between these times to receive your included airport pick up, the journey takes 1-1.5 hours. If you arrive outside of these times, you will need to pay for a private transfer which costs approximately US$25. Alternatively you can arrive the day before and meet the team the next day. Extra accommodation and transfers will be at your own cost.
Your volunteer experience ends on a Saturday. A return transfer is not included but the local team can arrange this for you for an approximate cost of around US$25 per person.
To arrange your flights, contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037 or email them at [email protected] They will be able to search for the best flight offers to your chosen destinations, so you can plan and organise your trip in one place. Just make sure you give them your full name, as stated in your passport, along with your chosen departure dates, return dates, and any other details you want to include.
It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your online account or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination.
The minimum age for this trip is 18.
A visa is required for entry to India and must be obtained before you travel. You can apply for a tourist visa or an e-tourist visa via the Indian High Commission. Your passport will need to be machine readable, have two blank pages available for immigration stamps, and must have at least six months' validity remaining on entry to India.
You will have a brief telephone conversation with a member of our team after booking this trip to ensure that this project is suitable for your experience and what you are looking to get out of your trip.
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need to undergo an enhanced DBS check and will need to have a clean criminal record.
DBS checks may list past convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings, and if applicable will show whether or not you have been barred from working with certain vulnerable groups. Non-conviction information such as fixed penalties may also be included.
There is an additional cost for the DBS check, please speak to your travel advisor at the time of booking. The DBS process is in three stages:
1. Once we receive your booking payment, you will then be sent an online application link for the DBS check, which you will need to complete.
2. Once you have completed the application, the DBS will need verification of your identity – to do this you will need to take three original documents to your nearest crown post office and use their DBS and ID verification service. This costs approximately £5 and is payable directly to the Post Office.
3. It can take up to two weeks for your DBS to be processed, which will be sent to you directly in the post.
Do I Need Any Vaccinations?
We’re not qualified to offer you medical advice, so you should visit your GP well ahead of time to find out what inoculations you might need. Remember to tell them exactly where you’re travelling to as vaccination and medication requirements vary between different Indian regions. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough of any prescribed medication to see you through the duration of your trip.
I’m Travelling With A Friend, Can We Stay Together?
Yes! Let us know when you book and we’ll make sure you both get to stay in the same room.
Do I Need To Bring A Sleeping Bag With Me?
All bedding is provided so there’s no need to bring a sleeping bag with you for this trip, but do bring a towel!
How Much Spending Money Should I Bring With Me?
Once you've budgeted for daily transport costs (500INR/£6 per day), allowed for the deposit at the volunteer house (1,000INR/£12) and your return transfer to the airport (1,700INR/£20), all you really need to budget for is drinks and snacks. On average, meals out can cost between 90INR-500INR/£1-£6 and drinks range from 20INR-200INR/24p-£2.40. Bear in mind you might want to travel, try out optional activities, and go shopping at weekends and in your own time - so look into those costs, but a weekly budget of 8,500INR-12,500INR/£100-150 should be more than enough