Select Page

India Community Development Experience

Discover India's fascinating culture while contributing to an array of community development projects.


Program Information

Travel to the culturally rich location of Kerala, India and get involved in valuable community development work. Teach sports to young children, spend your afternoon building an eco-garden or eco-toilet or get your hands dirty with one of our community construction projects.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Overview

Volunteering in India with GVI will open your eyes to a rapidly developing country, filled with a rich culture, traditions and beautiful landscapes.

Project work takes place around the city of Kochi (Cochin), a port town offering fascinating snippets of history and culture, including the oldest Church in India, an extensive spice market and the famous 15th Century Chinese fishing nets. GVI has been operating in Kochi for almost 4 years and are well established and respected within the community. GVI’s long-term involvement, capacity building and commitment to our projects, ensure that the service elements of your students’ trips are contributing to long-term sustainable projects helping to achieve our partners’ objectives. These local partnerships along with stakeholder discussions drive the service elements of our trips to ensure they are fully focussed on the most prevalent issues and produce the results required locally.

Project Aims and Objectives

Our projects incorporate a range of community work. Days are long, hot and physically demanding in an environment quite unlike any most students are used too. Expect to be challenged emotionally as well as physically! A typical day could involve teaching English to slum children in one of our school projects, teaching art activities in our special school, or making an eco toilet while chatting and interacting with local slum residents. You could even teach sports to young children in the morning and spend your afternoon building an eco-garden. At one stage GVI was involved in the construction of a football field and have even helped a number of residents put the finishing touches to their houses. Our projects are structured as well as flexible enough to accommodate individual passions and interest.

Location

Our base in India is located in Kerala. A sliver of a state in India’s deep south, shaped by its landscape – almost 600km of fascinating Arabian Sea coast and beaches, a network of backwaters and the spice and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats. Besides it’s famous backwaters, rice paddies, coconut groves, intriguing houseboats and delicately spiced, taste-bud-tingling cuisine, Kerala is home to wild elephants, exotic birds and the odd tiger; and crazily vibrant traditions such as Kathakali plays and snake-boat races. As with the rest of India it also plays host to an expanse of informal settlements (referred to as slums) with communities living well below the breadline with little access to formal education, income opportunities and decent hygiene standards.

Kerala’s short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Kerala:

1. Increase women's opportunities in Kerala
2. Ensure healthy lives, well-being and promote opportunities and equality for those with special needs in Kerala
3. Enable the absolute development of children and young adults in Kerala by providing support and training in LSBE (life skills base education)

Program Details

Program Type: Schools , University
Location: Asia - India - Kerala

ENQUIRY FORM

Please fill in the required fields

Enquiry Details

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Live Updates

Follow GVI Kerala's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIIndiaKerala

Meet The Team - Senior Field Management

Jill Walker

Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!

Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.

Paul

Program Manager
Say hi to Paul, the Program Manager at GVI’s Kerala hub in India. Paul is from the UK and came over to India last year. He originally came on a service learning program, however has since become the Program Manager. Paul has a background in experiential education and has previously managed operations of community development programs. They have been in a variety of countries, including: Nepal, Ghana and the UK. Paul’s passion lies with engaging with people in service learning activities so that they are able to get the most out of a experience while also giving back to a community. Lastly Paul is a freelance trainer. He enjoys capacity building and working with people from all walks of life. He is really excited to apply everything he has learnt to his time in India.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Teacher Info

Additional Teacher Info

GVI runs curriculum, CAS and experience focussed service learning opportunities around the world on multi-award winning trips. With over 25,000 travellers since inception, GVI’s know how to ensure safe, life-changing challenges that make a real difference, fostering global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Staffed and resourced by GVI all year round, our projects offer unique opportunities to engage in long-term, high impact work, whilst experiencing deep cultural immersion and some adventure.

A teacher travels free with groups of ten or more students!

GVI provides 24/7 support from our experienced staff who are based full-time on the ground, as well as support from HQ. An experienced group leader will accompany the group, taking overall responsibility for the safety of the group.

Please note prices are subject to seasonal fluctuation and will vary depending upon the needs of the group.

**Optional extras include travel insurance and flight services




Example Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrival at Kochi Airport and Transfer to Base

On arrival the group will be met at Kochi International Airport by a GVI appointed driver. We recommend that flights are booked to arrive first thing in the morning so as to maximise time spent in-country. Students and accompanying teachers will be transferred to their accommodation by GVI’s driver and given time to settle in and rest before meeting for an afternoon orientation session with the GVI field team. The week’s logistics, duties and responsibilities will be explained. This session will also include familiarisation with Emergency Action Plans and Health and Safety Risks as well as an overview on GVI and what our overall aims are globally and locally.

Day 2: Welcome and Orientation

The team will be given an orientation tour around the city of Kochi, where they will be based throughout the service element of the trip. The afternoon will be reserved for relaxation before the busy week’s work. There may be an opportunity for a cultural experience in the evening depending on the group’s interests.

Day 3-5: Service Work and Reflection

This time will be spent in the community with students contributing to a variety of projects required by our local partners at the time. These service elements, working alongside GVI field staff, may include construction projects, childcare and sports, and arts and craft initiatives with local community groups. GVI can structure the focus on the group’s overall objectives and interests. Being immersed in the local community for the week will give the volunteers an opportunity to experience a new and fascinating culture while contributing to projects in a meaningful and genuine way.

In the evenings, students will be expected to effectively prepare for the following day’s requirements and also reflect upon what they have achieved that day through individual and group reflection.

Days are tiring but equally rewarding with plenty of time for fun!

Day 6: Optional free time day

A possible day off and time for exploring Kochi! The GVI field team will be happy to arrange an activity for this day. Options could include a traditional Keralan Kathakali dance show, a backwaters tour on one of Kerala’s beautiful and iconic houseboats, a safari outing to the Periyar Forest and National Park for a chance to spot elephants and monkeys (and tigers if you’re lucky), or a visit to the sea side village of Marari (40-minute drive away) which boasts beautiful sandy beaches lined with coconut trees.

Day 7: A Fond Farewell

GVI field staff transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavour to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field and with particular reference to the projects volunteers contributed to during their time in India, through "GVI LIve" on social media.

**Your trip can be extended to include additional side trips and / or further service work.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, our support team will oversee their pre-departure journey. This helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. We will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Once a participant books, our support team will oversee their pre-departure journey. This helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. We will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Why Choose GVI?

There are many reasons why you should consider GVI for your group trip. Allow us to take you through some of the important points:

  • GVI has over 15 years of experience - Since we began in 1997, we have sent over 20,000 young people on trips all over the world. Most describe their experience with us as life-changing with a 95% approval rate from our customers



  • We are a ground operator - We run and staff our projects 24/7, all year round which means we understand and know the area you will be visiting enabling us to deliver a high quality level of support, safety and training at very competitive prices



  • Our variety of programs is unique and unrivalled - We offer language courses, community and conservation projects, leadership programs, cultural immersion, adventure activities and mountain trekking.



  • Peace of mind - You know that our projects make a real and positive impact on the local communities you visit. Since we started we have developed over 150 projects around the world.



  • Project ownership - We run our projects in partnership with local communities, according to the needs on the ground, so you know they are genuinely worthwhile



  • We are different from most other school providers - We already have projects and programs in place. We have been working in these countries for over 15 years and are working hand in hand with the host communities to ensure their needs are being met.



  • Teachers/Educators travel free



  • Safety is our priority - We have comprehensive safety and back up procedures in place.



  • Flexibility - Our trips are available all year round so you tell us when you want to travel.



  • The GVI Charitable Trust - Enables your school to stay involved with your program after you return home.



  • Students will automatically become GVI members, enabling them to benefit from discounts on any future GVI trips.



  • There are opportunities for students to be GVI Ambassadors – excellent for university and college applications.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 24/7 back up and support
  • A dedicated trip co-ordinator
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Access to local medical facilities
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Comprehensive health and safety procedures (Emergency Action Plans and Risk Assessments)
  • First aid equipment
  • Flight booking service on request
  • Food and drinking water
  • Group leader
  • Highly experienced and well qualified GVI field staff
  • In-country support
  • In-country transport costs
  • Insurance on request
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Pre-departure information
  • Risk assessments
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Up-to-date safety and country information
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Additional spending money
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check
  • Vaccinations
  • Visa costs (where necessary)
  • Visas