Community Education - Volunteer reviews

INDIA

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Community Education project

Daniel – 2017 

“I would 100% recommend this project to anybody. The role itself is fantastic and being able to help make a difference in the children's lives is extremely rewarding. You are able to quickly form great friendships and bonds as all the help is so greatly received helping to create great memories. In addition to the role, the support from Gaurav and Ravi is exceptional. They are really great people who do everything to ensure you have the best experience all day every day! From helping with daily activities to taking you to explore the local sights they accept you into their family making the whole experience truly memorable.

What did you find most rewarding?
Giving support to those who need it the most

What did you find most challenging?
Adapting to India itself; very busy and the heat

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Don't hesitate to go ahead with it

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I found it on the DofE website

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes, extremely helpful and friendly staff”

Pareena – 2017

“Lucy my volunteer specialist was very helpful throughout the whole process and answered all my doubts and queries to the fullest. She was always available when I wanted to contact her as well.

I browsed through lots of volunteering websites and as a person who was a solo traveller I wanted as much support as possible. I saw the Pod website, it very much appealed to me, had good reviews and when I read the India community project the project sounded really full on, involved, as well as the chance to explore India on the weekends as well as volunteering. Support during the whole placement was very good and I felt at home all the time at the volunteer house and met amazing people and made new friends who I am keeping in contact with.

The lifestyle is different to the UK and I had a bit of culture shock so I was getting to used to the accommodation, lifestyle on the first day which I found hard but then after, the rest of the days it was completely fine and felt normal to me so much that now that I am in the UK, I keep thinking of India and really wanted to stay for longer! I am always open up to new experiences, new people and building my character so very much enjoyed this experience and has given me the incentive to wanting to do this project again in the near future.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

From all the volunteering organizations, Pod Volunteer stood out for me the most. I felt the volunteer specialist compared to other organizations was more informative about the project and dealt with my queries much faster through email than other organizations. Also Pod had really good reviews for the India Project and I can see for myself why this is now that I have experienced this brilliant, rewarding project myself. The itinerary for the project was much more detailed and the cost of the placement was personally more affordable compared to other volunteer organisations. I thoroughly recommend POD to anyone who is open to new people, new experiences and new culture!”

Wendy – 2017

“The whole process from beginning to end has been excellent. From first application to arriving at the volunteer house in Udaipur. I couldn't have wished for better service.

If anybody is considering volunteering I suggest you do it. I volunteered on a community education project in India and it has been the best thing I have ever done. It was a great opportunity to see life in a different country whilst contributing and hopefully making a difference to the community.

I stayed at the volunteer house which was a warm and friendly place to be and really felt like home. I met lots of amazing people from all over the world. I learned new skills and learned a lot about myself and other cultures. I even celebrated Christmas and New Year there. The project was run really well and professionally. It was great to see the children making progress. It was just heartbreaking saying goodbye to the children and friends at the volunteer house.

I would not hesitate to recommend this project to anybody who asks. I have lots of really happy memories.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the children happy and engaged and learning.

What did you find most challenging?

The poverty and cultural differences initially.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Keep an open mind and expect the unexpected.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I simply performed an Internet search and POD caught my eye. When I looked at the website it all looked very professional.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes".

Lucy – 2016

“All absolutely fantastic, very organised and always felt I had the help there if I needed it. Couldn't do enough for you. I cannot thank Ravi and Gaurav enough for their hospitality & making my trip to India an unforgettable experience – The work that this pair do and the passion they have for every aspect of it is incredible. Two absolutely amazing humble men with huge hearts and so much compassion. The people of India have taught me a great deal about humanity, integrity and gratitude. Some of these people have next to nothing and would still give their last to help someone in need. It's been an enduring, character building, rewarding and challenging trip - Immense, emotional rollercoaster. India will always hold a place deep within my heart. I will miss every part of this diverse beautiful and unique culture but I know I'll be back.

What did you find most rewarding?
Spending so much time with the children and getting to know each of their little characters. The boys in the orphanage were outstanding young men and it was a pleasure to joint them in sporting activities.

What did you find most challenging?
Seeing how the Rag pickers community lived and leaving the whole experience.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
To keep an open mind, share your cultural differences with other volunteers and members of the Indian community.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
Maybe more time to spend with the different children and projects

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Heard good reviews and they were very helpful when choosing projects

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Harriet – 2016 

“The whole project was well-organised and everyone involved was friendly and helpful.
The project was well-organised and all that were involved were friendly and supportive. I had the opportunity to get involved with a variety of different activities from teaching at the school, to playing games at the orphanage, to doing crafts at the disabled school; every single minute of my time volunteering felt so rewarding. Everyone was so welcoming! I also had the chance to experience a lot of Indian culture, from henna and cooking workshops, to traditional songs and dance at performances for Independence day. 

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children's understanding develop at the school, and the pure joy when we arrived to play games or do crafts.

What did you find most challenging?
I found that I adapted to the surroundings quite quickly, not facing any major challenges. The dogs and cows I was wary of in the streets. 

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Just go for it! Get involved with everything and put yourself out there.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
None at all!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I know people that volunteered with this company and had a great experience.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Daisy – 2016

“Volunteering in India changed my life for the better. It is hands down the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Working with children who have little in the way of material things but have the most positive attitude was so eye opening. I really enjoyed teaching and planning lessons and activities for the children to do.

The warmth and welcoming nature of all the local people we met, especially our hosts Ravi and Gurav and their family was great and it felt like a home away from home which made things easier. It was my first time away by myself and it's encouraged me to get more involved in other projects, both at home and going abroad again.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing how happy and proud the children were when things clicked with them. One boy was struggling with addition and on my last day we sat down together to go through his work sheet, after doing one problem together it just clicked with him and he flew through the rest of the worksheet. His face when he brought it to me was incredible.

What did you find most challenging?
The culture shock, especially when arriving at Delhi airport. Things are a little more relaxed with timings in India and although Pod warned me about this it was still a little bit of a shock.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Just do it. It feels like a big leap, especially if you are doing it alone but it is so worth it. Since returning I have been dreaming of going to do something like this again in the near future. It's really opened my eyes to the world around me.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
No, I felt safe, supported and happy throughout the whole process.

Did you have any problems, incidents or accidents while on the placement?
Yes. My flight details were changed without me being informed and I missed a connecting flight. Erin at Pod was brilliant (even though it was 5am in England) and liaised with the travel agents to get me to Udaipur!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Pod volunteer gives a lot of practical and useful information right from the earliest enquiry and I found this really helpful in making an informed decision. Once I'd spoken to Erin and Gemma at Pod I knew I'd made the right choice.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes
I'm definitely coming back to India and would like to look into other projects as well.”

Tracy – 2016

“I thought that helping out in "poor" schools, children’s homes and disabled schools would be a sad experience. The children were so happy and energetic, we really need an alternative word to "charity", as they taught us as much as we taught them.

What did you find most rewarding?
Very ethically and respectfully run to local communities

What did you find most challenging?
Having my own views on children's needs challenged.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Go! You will find it very rewarding.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
No. Although it would be nice to see the project develop, and maybe use volunteers skills to grow the project as well.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Ethical, efficient.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Sian – 2016

“I cannot fault any part of the trip. From the moment I inquired about the project to arriving home at my doorstep after two crazy weeks in India I felt completely supported. I was terrified to do anything like this since I had never travelled alone, never been away from home that long, and certainly never travelled as far before (which was why I booked it in the first place!). However the POD team at the UK office and the wonderful Ravi, Gaurav & Neha who looked after us at the placement in India couldn't have motivated me more. I felt completely at ease during the entire process which allowed me to really focus on the volunteer work at hand. The worst part of the trip was knowing I had to come home, and my only regret was not booking this trip sooner. I have completely fallen in love with India and its people, and cannot wait to book my next trip back!

There is so much I have to say about this project but I'm worried anything I do say will sound clichéd as it really was the best thing I have ever done. All of the volunteers I met signed up for this trip for different reasons, whether it was a break from the daily grind at their job back home, a gap year, a thirst for travel, or a way to give back to the world. For me, I had always dreamt of travelling to India but kept making excuses for not going. There was always something: my job, my family, my health, my home. Eventually I realised that the longer I left it, the more things I would have tying me down and I might never have the opportunity to do something like this again. So I did something crazy and I signed up for a couple of weeks Community Education in India. I'd never travelled alone, never been away from home for more than a few days, and certainly hadn't travelled anywhere as far away as India. And it was the best decision I have ever made.

I was completely taken care of & supported every step of the way by the UK POD team (no matter how many stupid questions I bothered Gemma with!) and was instantly welcomed with warmth and love by Ravi, Gaurav & Neha at the volunteer placement. They always went out of their way to make sure myself and the other volunteers were looked after, whatever questions we had or support we needed. They bent over backwards to help us, and I cannot express how grateful I am to them for their hospitality and their drive to bring change to their communities. Their approached every project with optimism, dedication and love, and their energy & drive was completely infectious.

Although a lot of the situations we saw children and their families living in were heartbreaking, their joy and kindness overwhelmed any problem they had. It was an absolute joy & privilege to meet and work with every single child and adult. Although I was on the Community Education programme, they taught me more than I could ever have known before I booked this trip. It truly was the most rewarding experience you could ever have & I urge anyone with even a remote interest in volunteering abroad to try to break out of their comfort zone and book themselves a journey. It’s a bumpy ride, but the destination is so worth it!

After all, where else could you start your day watching the sunrise from a mountaintop temple, enjoy some rooftop yoga before breakfast, contribute to life-changing education at school, watch the sunset from the legendary Monsoon Palace, enjoy a traditional Rajasthan dance and puppet show and finish the evening with dinner overlooking the peaceful lakes of Udaipur all in one day? (True story)

What did you find most rewarding? Without a doubt, working with the children. My particular favourites were the school kids who, at the ages of 7 & 8 were speaking fantastic English and doing hard sums in a second language! They were all brilliant people and had such a passion to learn. The lovely kids from the Ragpicker community were equally brilliant - and absolutely full of energy! They taught me a great lesson in kindness, love, and that people are the same wherever you go. Regardless of race, class, language or age, we are all exactly the same.

What did you find most challenging? Coming to terms with going home after experiencing something so profound and life changing.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Take a deep breath and go.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? Ravi & Gaurav put their heart & soul into their work, and put every effort into making sure us volunteers were looked after. There really isn't any more they could have done for us.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I saw their advert by chance and contacted them on a whim. After some research I found that they had by far the best feedback from similar volunteer organisations and I couldn't fault their prices or transparency. It was a no-brainer.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes, I cannot thank Pod enough & I will speak to you very soon to book my next trip. Thank you so much for everything.”

Emily – 2016 

“I really enjoyed working with Pod, Gemma was very helpful she answered all of my questions in a timely manor. I will definitely use Pod again. My volunteer experience in India was truly amazing. I am hoping to go back soon and work with the fantastic team members in India.

I have never travelled by myself before, I did not know any volunteers before going. I was nervous to travel to India alone. Once I made it to the volunteer house, I felt right at home the other volunteers were very welcoming. During my first week it started to feel like I had been there for a month the team made me feel really comfortable.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with the children and seeing them understand what you where teaching them, as well as seeing how excited these children were to learn.

What did you find most challenging? Leaving the children and the other volunteers.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Just do it, and go in with an open mind and it will be the most rewarding experience of your life.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? No none it was fabulous!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I had a friend that used pod and really enjoyed her time in Thailand, I thought I would give it a try and I will use it again and again!

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes, the team members at Pod at truly amazing!”

Sue – 2015

“Our time (I travelled with a friend Debbie) volunteering in Udaipur was nothing less than a very rewarding and amazing experience. The welcome we received from Guarav and Ravi Bansal and Ravi's new wife Neha was second to none making us feel like part of the family from the outset.

I have volunteered with Pod before, in Thailand but Debbie had no experience of volunteering or teaching but any anxieties she had were soon dispelled as the support we had was full on - we were shown the school, infants' Day Centre and the boys' orphanage prior to 'working' and the Hindi lessons and lesson planning support were so helpful.

We were familiarised with the area and when venturing out alone we were given all advice needed to remain safe and 'streetwise' - with tips on rickshaw rides and shopping, what we should expect to pay and how to bargain!

We learnt so much about India and customs and Do's & Don'ts whilst in school and out and about. Debbie and I made a private trip out to Mount Abu and had all the help needed for travel and hotel booking. It was hard leaving India.

How would you describe a typical day at the Community Education project in India?

Breakfast at nine. Taxied to school by 10.30 and teaching for 2 hours back for lunch at 1 - a couple of hours free time before 'Chai Time' with the boys, Neha and other volunteers then off to the orphanage to play or teach the boys there. back for dinner - all meals were nourishing and delicious also vegetarian. Didn't suffer with 'Delhi belly' once! Then lesson planning and sometimes TV in the evening.

What did you find most rewarding? With 250 schoolchildren and only 4 teachers we felt we were really helping - the other teachers were appreciative and quick to explain the areas the children needed most help with especially with school exams looming.

What did you find most challenging? Towards the end of the placement the school timetable was changed. The children began their school day at 7.30 so we were teaching at the end of their school day. The children were tired and we had to work hard making our lessons different and fun to keep their attention. Also towards the end of our time, the heat was a definite challenge with temperatures reaching up to 42 degrees.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? No nothing. We were so well looked after and the compassion for their work was so evident - the only improvement from their point of view would be to see a flood of volunteers arriving to help them achieve their goals.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Simply to say that Indian children are great mimics and give a false impression of knowledge. They can for example say the alphabet backwards and most worksheets given out come back correct but when tested individually without other children to prompt some of the children struggled. It's difficult to overcome this aspect with 32 children in the class but individual visits to the board does make you aware of the weaker learners.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because the whole experience is so rewarding. You don't have to be experienced in teaching - my TESOL qualification was of little help to be honest. Just to know that your presence is making the lives of very poor children a little richer and improving their English a little too is reason enough but to experience such different cultures and share a passion to help and observe such need is food for the soul.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I have travelled with PoD prior to India and to be honest the safety factor was a big draw then as I was a lone traveller for the first time. However having the base reason for volunteering i.e. teaching in this case, enhanced by the cultural experience is something that Pod excels in.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes. Only a big 'Thank You' to Pod for good support and a wonderful experience.”

Joshua – 2015

“Volunteering in India was one of the most incredible and fulfilling experiences I have ever done!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in India? We work several work sites throughout the week and have weekends for sightseeing and travel.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with all the different children and growing to love them all.

What did you find most challenging? Coming home... =(

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Travel light, buy clothes and other items in India.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It’s one of the most fulfilling things anyone could do.

Why did you choose Pod? Seemed like a very promising company.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Ariana

“Volunteering in India was a life changing experience. I really had the opportunity to build relationships with the children and the community. Udaipur really became like a second home to me. It is rewarding work that is fun and life changing. The staff always made me feel supported and well looked after. I highly recommend volunteering to anyone who has the opportunity to. You will never forget it.”

Karen

"Im a senior citizen here in Canada. I have been volunteering in India for 8 weeks each year for the past 5 years. I had no idea it would be so simple and so rewarding. I took a great leap out of my comfort zone and was amazed how simple it was!! Arriving at Udaipur..I was overtaken with the breathtaking beauty of the city that was to be my home. On the outskirts of the city there are many rural villages. Here I discovered our new home. A welcome bed and amazing food. Now...lessons in Hindi...and cooking. It was so cool. I loved everyone and the support was amazing.

We went to visit the schools and then learned about how to plan a lesson It was so simple. We shared with volunteers from Denmark, India, Canada, Australia and Germany at the time. The kids are so happy to have you there. You will never feel more loved in your life. If you wish to travel on into India...Gaurav and Ravi will be happy to help. They are masters at planning and helping with any future travel plans. One of the amazing things about this program is the options for guided excursions to some of India’s most amazing

You have to do the camel safari..into the desert with a host family and sleep under the stars awaking to ride your camel into the dunes to see the sunrise. and don't miss the Taj Mahal! ..or the Tiger safari! Head to the never ending beaches in Goa or head north to the burning ghats of Varanasi. SAB Kuch Milega! ..all things possible. ..but the real reward is the smiles of the innocent children of the villages..The help and knowledge you give and the real love you take home. It’s not about what you get...it about what you give.”

Jasmine

“I was not sure what to do with my life before entering University and decided to volunteer in India. I am Canadian, but grew up in Japan. I made the best decision of my life! I fell in love with India.

I worked in the villages outside Udaipur and fell in love with this amazing part of India. I was totally supported in my adventure and saw the most amazing culture, met people that had nothing and gave me everything! I will never forget my students or my wonderful colourful adventure.”

Petricia “The people behind the organization, take care of you in the best possible way, and you find friends for a lifetime. My experience with this organization, gave me knowledge about Indian culture, from different workshops. It is truly a magical experience to volunteer, one I will be doing many times from now on. Once you arrive into India, you will never be able to let it go again. Don’t miss out on the founders excellent Indian Masala tea, rumours have it – it’s the best one in town.”

My dream has always been to experience India, and all the cultural sites. I wanted to come close to the community, the food, and the people and experience all the colours the country had to offer. I found that they showed me the best possible way to do this. I got to get close to the kids, at the same time I learned basic Hindi-skills to use in school.

I travelled to give something to the Indian kids, but I was not prepared for the gift, they were going to give me. It was the biggest gift to see their smiles. And the wonder you see in an Indian classroom, is not something you are going to be able to see in the rest of the world. I got memories for a lifetime.”

Claire

“Whilst working in India, I greatly valued Ravi’s enthusiasm and input in supporting me to teach my classes. Ravi was a lot of fun to work with and has a great sense of humour, which helped to inspire creativity within the lessons I taught with him. Ravi was also an excellent excursion co-ordinator, where once again, his sense of fun, adventure and humour always came through and made many trips so enjoyable! .... Whilst working with Gaurav, I observed that he shows great passion for his programme of work; in delivering community projects through structured, productive and meaningful volunteering. Gaurav has high standards and he is organized and dedicated to ensuring these standards are maintained when working with him. Whilst travelling in India, Gaurav was extremely helpful and supportive to me, and went out of his way to assist me in researching my planned journey and making bookings."

Sam

“I first met gaurav at the airport and was greeted by a big welcoming smile. He was with me for my entire india experience and i found him to be very knowledgable about his country and passionate about his cause. I have incredible memories of my time in india where we painted a day care together, sang songs with street kids, danced bollywood style and rode camels against an amazing india sunrise. Gaurav is a personable and funny guy and kept us informed and entertained along the journey.”

Jenny

“I volunteered on this teaching programme after falling in love with India on a holiday in 2010. It was a huge decision in 2012 to take eight weeks leave from work and travel independently to Udaipur but it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. Ravi and Gaurav, are two very special guys, whose passion in the work they do in their local community is so evident every day. Their ability to make you feel welcome and included in their home and the programme, no matter what your age or skills, is unmeasured.

Every need is covered from the airport pick up to your food and great accommodation in the local community and there are so many opportunities to see the wider India too. The most important part for me is the children. Lots of smiles and love and so many surreal heart stopping moments will happen here but be prepared there will be many tears too when you have to leave. ..as I said, best decision I have ever made....please give it a go, you won't regret it.”

Find out more about the Community Education project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal