I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about it. Then I realized I am somebody.
Before deciding where to go, I knew I wanted this trip to be focused on aiding malnutrition. As a Registered Dietitian, my degree has taught us so much about world hunger and has opened my eyes to this epidemic. Aside from the humanitarian work, India is rich in history and culture, and has such a diverse population. It’s known to be a place that gives you a different perspective on life and makes you appreciate what you have at home. It’s always been one of my most desired places to travel.
Why will we be assessing for malnutrition and what are we going to do about it?
More than one third of the world’s malnourished children live in India, and nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributed to undernutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million youth. Although India is so populated, these statistics are alarming, and that’s why we want to help. By assessing for malnutrition, we will discover what the main problems are that contribute to malnutrition. Whether it’s nutrient deficiencies, inability to obtain food due to a low socioeconomic status, or a lack of nutrition education, we want to find out. During our time volunteering, you will assist Registered Dietitians in assessing for malnutrition using Nutrition Focused Physical Exams, measurements, and growth charts. We are sure to find problems that can be fixed while there and we hope to do so. Longterm, our plan is to return to India next summer to help solve the problem on a larger scale that we have assessed. I am confident that we will make a difference in these children’s lives. No matter how great or small, remember, if you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.
Why did you choose this Program?
After much research, Pari Voluntourism appealed to us the most because of their widespread volunteer opportunities. In addition, the location seemed most exciting being right next to the Himalayas, and the communication between the founder of the Pari Voluntourism and I has been phenomenal. I have personally skyped the founder and discussed our stay in detail and received a virtual tour of their guesthouse. The opportunities for volunteers to participate in yoga and henna classes were an added bonus. We will be safe and comfortable working with them. All in all, the opportunities we will have (especially for the price) made Pari Voluntourism the best option.
Where will we be staying while in New Delhi & how are the conditions?
We will be staying together at a bed and breakfast(B&B) in a residential area located in South Delhi called Greater Kailash-2 (considered to be one of the posh areas in South Delhi, in 2009 Greater Kailash was rated as the safest place in Delhi by The Times of India). There will be 2 volunteers per room, with two twin beds. All rooms are attached with en-suite bathrooms and are clean and spacious. The rooms have AC and wifi. Breakfast will be served here and is freshly cooked and served in either Indian or Western style as per volunteer’s choice. The B&B has been featured in reputable travel magazines, making me feel extremely fortunate that we will be staying here.
What are the conditions of the guesthouse like while we volunteer?
We will all be together staying at a large volunteer guesthouse in Dharamshala. We will have a chef during our stay who will cook us 3 meals/day. Our accommodation is basic, but clean. Room’s capacity is four people provided with bunk beds. All bathrooms have running cold and hot water.
Facilities available in the guesthouse include:
- Mosquito nets
- access to computers with broadband
- TV with English and Hindi channels
- a film and book library
- water purification facilities on site that volunteers can use to fill their water bottles
- supply of toiletries
- First-aid is available; however any specific medication should be brought along with proper prescription
What kinds of food will be served?
While in New Delhi, breakfast will be served at our B&B. Lunch will be served Friday and Saturday on our tours by our guides. Our dinners will be either food made at the B&B or ordered takeout from restaurants nearby our BNB. While volunteering, all meals will be freshly prepared by the guest house chef. Meals are native to the region of India. It includes north Indian curries and traditional Himachali food. Everything will be vegetarian. Non vegetarian is prepared only by the special demand.
What is the Dress Code?
It is suggested that volunteers wear long pants and avoid sleeveless tops and low-cut necklines.
What happens when I fly in/leave?
Volunteers will meet together at the New Delhi airport and be picked up together by the owners of the B&B. We will be picked up in an AC mini van large enough to fit everyone and luggage. Volunteers will also be dropped off together at the airport by Pani Voluntourism on Friday/Saturday where we will then depart back home.
Will there be a language barrier?
Yes and no. In large cities such as New Delhi, most people know English. Language won’t be a problem here because everywhere we go there will be with a guide who speaks both languages. On the contrary, Dharamshala is a smaller village where not as many will speak the language. Here himachal pradesh is the common language spoken. The people who own the guesthouse speak English, so most times it won’t be an issue. When we volunteer with the local people from Dharamshala we will be provided with multiple translators. The volunteers will also get the opportunity to teach English to children.
What about safety?
India is an underdeveloped country and we are aware of the need for extra safety precautions. For this reason, we have been in close communication with local guides and natives that will be accompanying us for the entire trip. We are also staying at only 2 different guesthouses to help minimize travel. Additionally, we will be providing a info session once volunteers are chosen that will include safety tips, guidelines and education on cultural differences so we are fully aware of some of the differences that we might experience. We will implement a “buddy system” as well; especially while out on excursions. You can rest assured that we will do everything we can to ensure your safety.
Will I be useful if I have no background in nutrition or Dietetics?
YES, YES, YES! The nutrition education you may be giving is going to be basic. We will have all the materials and handouts made beforehand. You will have access to them before leaving to India so you can become familiar with the information. Aside from nutrition services, you will have the opportunity to work in a team alongside local craftsmen to complete time-limited challenges to improve rundown community buildings, renovate schools, and paint walls, teach English to local children whose parents can’t afford to provide good education for their children, organize activities for the children to increase sharpness of their talents and have fun, and participate in woman empowerment services.
What does the $950 cover?
The cost includes the bed and breakfast (New Delhi) and guesthouse (Dharmshala) accommodations, ground transportation including airport pickup/drop off, guided tours and group excursions, and 3 meals per day. It also covers all toiletries and mosquito nets. Traditional Indian clothes for both male and female volunteers will also be gifted. Not included: airfare, visa, passport, souvenirs.
If you are chosen as an application, what are the payment options?
If you are selected to come to India as a volunteer you will be required to pay half of the cost($475) within a week of being notified. After your first payment you will be required to pay the remaining $475 a month later. You do have the option to pay the full $950 up front.
What if I have allergies or special medical conditions?
Don’t worry! Please be honest when filling out your application so we know what to expect and how to best accommodate.
What will the weather be like?
India is a very diverse country with cultural and weather fluctuations. It is going to be the end of monsoon season. You will want to pack accordingly (a heavy rain jacket and waterproof stuff). However, one major plus of monsoon season is that the mountains are at their prime beauty. Although it will be rainy, it will also be very hot. We will need to dress according to the dress code with no majorly exposing clothing. Having adequate clothing will not only protect from the extremes of weather, but also protects you from mosquitoes. Also, we will be going on many guided tours and excursions so we suggest wearing wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
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