Our Program

'Volunteers for Change' is an initiative to enable people (especially the youth) to pursue volunteering activities in underserved communities, globally. Currently we offer volunteering opportunities in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Our program is suited for a diverse range of people including, students, professionals as well as families. We welcome anyone who has the desire to volunteer and experience a new culture. Our goal is to offer volunteering programs that are engaging, meaningful and fun. Program details are discussed below.

Program Structure

 

Our program is designed with an underlying premise that the volunteers are leaders wanting to bring a positive change to the communities that they serve. Therefore it is important that our volunteers get a holistic understanding of these communities. To that end, our program comprises both Participatory elements and Observatory elements. Participatory elements comprise volunteering activities such as teaching, health counseling and childcare, to name a few. Observatory elements enable volunteers to observe local culture, customs, arts & crafts, people, politics, religions, institutions (governmental, non-governmental and private), administrative systems (Panchayati Raj system), business markets and economy. Most volunteer programs only have participatory elements, which, we believe, are insufficient for volunteers to develop a ‘real’ understanding of what they are doing in context of the local society. We believe that this mix of participatory and observatory elements is essential for the volunteers to truly appreciate the value they are bringing through their service.

Our volunteering programs are targeted at uplifting all sections and demographics of the local communities through interventions across a broad range of areas as shown in the graphic on the right.

 

We have graded our participatory elements into basic and advanced. Volunteers with specific skill sets, knowledge/expertise and experience can contribute to our advanced volunteering opportunities. This ensures that volunteers get the most out of their volunteering and the local communities benefit from volunteers’ varying skill sets, knowledge and experience.

Basic volunteering activities comprise:

  • Adult Literacy
  • Child development
  • Differently-abled empowerment
  • Elderly Support
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Healthcare
  • Sports development
  • Tribal community development
  • Women Empowerment

Advanced volunteering includes:

  • Advanced Healthcare Program
  • Art & Culture Preservation and Promotion Program
  • Drug & Alcohol Prevention and Rehab Program
  • Environmental & Natural Resource Management Program
  • Farm Sector Development Program
  • Governance and NGO Support
  • Non-Farm and Service Sector Development Program
  • Recycled products development program
  • Rehabilitation program for the Differently-abled
  • Social Research Program
  • Specialized Training

Advanced volunteering programs are geared at solving some of the most complex issues facing the local communities. These programs are suitable both for the youth as well as for the older generation (50+) who can bring their valuable life and work experiences to make meaningful contributions.

Observatory part of our program involves observing the local cultures, religions, customs, communities, governance, markets and economic systems. Specifically, the volunteers get an opportunity to observe the following:

  • Tibetan Community (arts, crafts, music, food, festivals)
  • Kangra School of Painting
  • Arts and crafts of Kangra district and Dharamsala
  • Himachal festivals and fairs
  • Himachal traditional marriage
  • Himachal traditional kitchen and cooking
  • Tribal communities of Himachal
  • Tea Plantations community
  • Slate mining community
  • Mahila Mandals (Women Self Help Groups)
  • Yuva Kendra (Youth club)
  • Panchayati Raj System
  • Public Distribution System
  • Lokmitra Kendra
  • eGovernance
  • Polyhouse farming
  • The Kuhls of Kangra
  • Hydro Power Generation

 

Who is our program for?

Our program is open to anyone and everyone who wishes to contribute to bringing a positive change to the local communities where our programs are based. College students across any field of study and level (undergraduate and graduate programs) can volunteer in our programs. In particular, students pursuing Social Work/Social Service Administration/Public Policy at undergraduate, post-graduate and even doctoral level are encouraged to participate in the programs. Apart from college students, our program also welcomes youth who have either graduated or never went to a college. We value freshness and uniqueness of perspectives and want volunteers who are open to new cultures, people and challenges.
For our advanced volunteering programs, we welcome enthusiasts and specialists from a variety of fields, such as:

Education: Teachers (primary school, secondary school, college, university), teacher trainers, teaching content developers

Healthcare: Nurses, health workers, Primary Health care professionals (physiotherapists, speech therapists), medical students, dentists, dental students, general physicians, obstetricians, ophthalmologists

Community support & rehabilitation: Social activists, entrepreneurs, small business owners, drug/alcohol rehab specialists, social and economic surveyors, social researchers

Public Administration: Public administration specialists, former bureaucrats, policy makers, policy researchers, policy consultants, eGovernance specialists, strategy consultants

Art & Crafts: Art enthusiasts, cultural activists, craftsmen (clothes, metal, wood), painters, musicians, singers, rock bands, art preservation specialists

Information Technology: Mobile applications developers, software programmers, software trainers, software architects, IT networking specialists, software designers

Sports: Sports coaches, sports enthusiasts, athletes, former sports players, former sports coaches, current sports players

Environment & natural resources: Recycling enthusiasts, recycling specialists, water resource management specialists, forest conservation specialists, environmental specialists, environmental activists, nature lovers, horticulturalists, floriculturists, agriculture experts, farmers, agricultural scientists

Program Schedule & Duration

We understand the time constraints faced by volunteers due to their other commitments and therefore have a flexible program model in terms of duration and start dates. Our programs start from the 1st Monday of each Month and may be 2 to 16 weeks long. A typical day in the life of a Volunteer will look like this:

The program offers volunteers plenty of time to relax in the evenings and weekends. Twice a week, there will be late evening cultural activities comprising local song & dance performances and community dinner & party (alcohol free). Over the weekend, the volunteers typically tend to visit the local countryside, read books, write diaries, play sports and do excursions to local places of interest.

There are several local historic and cultural sites near your residence. Same day return trips can be organized to these sites. On one of the weekends, you can go to McLeod Ganj (9 kms from Dharamsala) by yourself. McLeod Ganj offers a perfect fusion of the East with the West in terms of the tourist population, food, culture and activities.

We shall also conduct weekend excursion tours to places such as, the Wagah Border, Golden Temple, Kullu Manali and Khajjiar/Dalhousie.

Wagah Border: Wagah is a village through which the controversial Radcliffe Line, the boundary demarcation line dividing India and Pakistan upon the Partition of India, was drawn. The village was divided by independence in 1947. Today, the eastern half of the village remains in the Republic of India while the western half is in Pakistan. It is particularly known for the elaborate Wagah border ceremony (The Beating Retreat) that happens at the border gate before sunset, each day.

Golden Temple: The Harmandir Sahib  (informally referred to as the "Golden Temple") is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India.  It was built by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, in the 16th Century. Upper floors of the Gurdwara are covered with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.

Kullu Manali: Kullu-Manali is a popular tourist destination pair. Kullu is a valley while Manali is a hill station (Altitude: 2050m). It is located about 270 km (168 mi) north of the state capital, Shimla. Kullu offers opportunities for rafting while Manali is among top Indian skiing destinations.

Khajjiar: Khajjiar is a hill station in Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh, India, located approximately 24 km from Dalhousie. The hill station is surrounded by green meadows and dense forests. It is about 6,500 feet (2,000 m) above sea level in the foothills of the Dhauladhar ranges of the Western Himalayas and snowy peaks can be seen in the distance.On 7 July 1992, Mr. Willy T. Blazer, Vice Counselor and Head of Chancery of Switzerland in India brought Khajjiar on the world tourism map by christening it "Mini Switzerland".

Further, if volunteers desire we can offer weekend excursion tours to various historical and other interesting destinations within and around the place of dwelling at nominal and reasonable cost.

For a 4 week program, typical weekend schedule will look like this:

Weekend 1: Trip to Wagah Border/Golden Temple

Weekend 2: Kullu/Manali or Khajjiar

Weekend 3: McLeod Ganj (free and easy) – Volunteer go to McLeod Ganj by themselves

Weekend 4: Saturday night party (comprising local dance & music performances, community dinner (alcohol free)

Program Costing

We strive to offer maximum value for your fee. Our programmatic costs are 90% of the total projected operating costs. These programmatic costs are split between various program related activities, as shown below. Only 10% of the operating costs go towards non-core activities such as sales and administration.