India Global Health Short Term Internship

Help us lead educational healthcare workshops in India’s colourful region of Kerala

Program Information

Travel to India's beautiful state of Kerala and help us address the UN Sustainable Development Goal #3, Good Health and Well-Being. Assist in working with children and adults with special needs and disabilities to support their development, encourage independence, capacity and defend their rights and equality. Lead sessions, games, sport and other occupational activities supporting specialist teachers.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


Live in India and lead structured physical activities, or therapeutic sessions using arts or music with individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

You might work in a special needs school and you can get involved in leading sessions of games or sports, arts and other basic activities supporting specialist teachers. There might also be opportunities to assist specialist teachers in early intervention units or the vocational units of the school.

You will work at our healthcare initiatives in Kerala, depending on the local needs of the organisations at the time. You might be asked to support at a local relief settlement for adults with varying mental and physical illnesses. Interns might take further responsibility for organisation and direction and carry out vocational training or offer support with therapeutic activities to the residents.

No previous training is required. However, if you have prior experience in the health sector or in working with people with special needs or disabilities this would be hugely beneficial to the project. Mention to our coordinator if so, so we can prepare to utilise your skills correctly on the ground.

Highlights include
Immersing yourself a different culture and way of life; making a genuine contribution to an underprivileged community; living and working with interns and volunteers from all over the world; discovering India’s ornate temples, support local henna artists, chai shops and immerse yourself in the Indian culture; and take in breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cities during your time off.

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.


Experiencing India from a tourist angle and from the community gives a great insight and understanding. It was a great introduction to the rest of India as Kerala is very reserved and less chaotic, a great choice to wean yourself into Indian travel. I went on to travel more of India and I felt more comfortable having spent time on the project. The opportunities made available by GVI would be almost impossible to recreate without the organisation and security of GVI.
- Jamie Bright (United Kingdom)

Program Details

Program Type: Internship
Location: Asia - India - Kerala

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Life on the Internship

Monday to Friday
Upon arrival, you will receive an orientation that will provide you with information on cultural awareness and training about the health partners and what you will be doing. Having completed the training, you will begin interning on the project!

You spend your days supporting healthcare projects based on the need and urgency at the time. While on site you will spend your time leading physical exercises and learning activities for children with special needs and disabilties. As well as being a lot of fun, exercises and practice can help focus the children’s minds for learning. The sessions you will lead offer them exposure to the English language in a fun learning environment, so you will be helping both the physical and educational development of children.

You can also be involved in conducting one-on-one lessons with some of the children and adults or spending time with students in vocational training units. At the relief centre or special schools, in between assisting with the vocational training and therapeutic activities you may also have the chance to assist with construction and improvement works. Although your days can seem long they are extremely rewarding.

As a short-term intern you will be expected to take on various leadership roles that further assist with the programs and work to strengthen your own personal and professional development. At the end of your internship experience you will be expected to plan and implement your own project that will contribute towards the long-term development of the projects and eventually increase the capacity of partner organisations long-term.

Field Conditions
You will live in dormitory-style accommodation in a basic but clean and comfortable house with running water, electricity and flushing toilets. Your meals are also provided for you. Cooking and cleaning duties are shared.

Accommodation Upgrades
If you would prefer to stay in private accommodation while on this internhip, this location does offer upgrades. Contact us for more information, or mention to your Country Expert who will be able to assist you.

Project Details

On this project, you will have the opportunity to make a genuine and varied contribution towards the quality of healthcare support in Kerala. In addition to assisting at a special needs school working with children, you might get involved with young adults with special needs to improve their skills, chances and opportunities. Supporting the running of vocational training and therapy sessions with adults will increase local organisations capacity to make an impact long-term. The variety of roles you will have means you really can make your mark while your own the project.

As an intern you will be expected to take a leadership role on project, providing an example for both the students and other participants.

How this project makes a difference:
Resources and facilities for people with disabilities are limited in India. People with mental or physical disabilities often live with severe disadvantages in society. Local organisations are run by very motivated and engaged groups of people but lack the capacity to address issues fully. The help you will provide local organisations is highly-valued.

Through exercise sessions and learning activities, including art and play therapy, you will be making a significant difference to both the physical and educational development of children with special needs.

*There are many religious and cultural festivals throughout the year in India, as well as school holidays and exam periods. During these periods we may run activities and programmes that are slightly different. Its possible that during these periods you might support the running of 'Summer School' workshops for children in local communities, create lesson plans and resources for future volunteer work, facilitate adult training programmes related to a range of issues or help out with some construction or maintenance work at our local partners. Where possible we would also like you to enjoy the festivities and engage with our partners in the community this way. There may be times when we are able to enjoy the varied entertainment, food and traditions that Kerala has to offer.

India 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 fulfil 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 India:

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)

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

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


Welcome to Kerala, otherwise known as "God's Own Country!"

Kerala is a southern state that can be found on India's tropical Malabar Coast. It is an area known for its palm-tree lined beaches, backwaters, and a network of canals perfect for cruises.

By joining one of GVI's internships, you will not only get to experience the beauty of the Kerala state but also see a side to Kerala that most travellers miss out on. Interns can look forward to attending traditional Keralan Kathakali, Bollywood dance classes, henna art on your hands or feet and an array of mouthwatering Indian dishes.

Weekend Explorations!
Take a day trip down the famous Kerala backwaters and if a day isn't enough you can even stay overnight! Visit the Chinese fishing nets just before sunset for a scenic photo opportunity. Book tickets for a tour around Jew Town in Kochi. Explore the array of art galleries, restaurants and cafes close to base. Tea junkies can get their fix by visiting one of the nearby tea plantations. If you are in the mood for a beach day, Marari is a short 40-minute drive where coconut trees line the sandy beaches. The Periyar tiger reserve offer safari outings and a chance to spot elephants, monkeys and tigers! For the more adventurous, there are a number of trekking options to choose from at local operators. Just make sure your choice is ethical!

Further Afield!
If you have a passion for trance music, book a night train up to Goa and spend the weekend dancing the night away. Mysore is a short night bus away. Explore it's numerous temples, royal gardens, markets and of course, the beautiful Mysore palace! Local flights can be found at reasonable prices, making it affordable to fly up north to visit sights like the famous Taj Mahal. Disney fans can book a safari at Kanha National Park (home of Kipling's 'Jungle Book'). Experience the bustling city life of Mumbai. Explore the desert and fort palaces of Jaisalmer and Udaipur. If you are looking to travel outside of India's borders, neighboring countries can be easily reached by road or plane. Head on over to Nepal and trek up to Everest Base Camp, or across the Annapurna mountain range. For the less adventurous, you can pop over to Sri Lanka and visit Sri Muthumariamman Temple - one of the most colorful buildings you will ever see! Or you can continue your Asian adventure by venturing further afield into China!

Gastronomic Delights!
Chole Bhature is a much-loved street food India and definitely worth a taste. It is a combination of spicy chickpeas and huge deep-fried flour based bread that is as indulgent as it is delicious. Butter Chicken proves that for a mainly vegetarian country, they can still do fabulous meat dishes. This is comfort food like no other and is best enjoyed with an ice-cold beverage. Appam is a delicacy from south India that you need to make room for in your stomach while in Kerala. It is basically a fluffy pancake and goes great with a vegetarian or chicken stew. Although Momos originally come from Nepal, they are widely popular in India and you should definitely let your taste buds take advantage of this!

Expert Insider Tips
Work on your haggling skills to get the best prices from tuk-tuk's and while shopping. Your wallet will thank you later. Take the ferry from Fort Cochin to Ernakulum to indulge your inner shopping addict at their massive flea market. Don't leave without trying a cup of Chai! Train tickets sell out pretty fast, so make sure to book your trips well in advance!

The Team

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Jutten George

Transport Coordinator and Translator
Meet Jutten, our local Transport Coordinator and Translator here at our hub in India. Being a native of the country, he was asked to drive the tuk-tuk and coordinate the other tuk-tuks for the volunteers in Kerala. Later he was offered to be a official staff member and was thrilled to take the job.

He has worked with all of the projects here in Kerala. "I like to work with both the sports and health projects, because I enjoy seeing the beneficiaries happy and satisfied."

Before working with GVI he was a package tour driver as an English/Hindi/Tamil speaking tour guide. Since joining us he has taken great pride in his work and is enjoying meeting all the volunteers. "I like to see people happy. All the people that I meet through working here are treating me as their own."

Jill Walker

Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”

When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”

What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”

Lucy Grehan

Base Manager
Meet Lucy, our Base Manager here in Kerala. As wildlife conservation student, she initially joined GVI as a wildlife conservation intern to gain practical experience before staying on as a part of the team. Lucy has worked on our former Shimoni hub as long-term staff member before moving to India.

What does Lucy think volunteers bring to the projects? ” Without a doubt, the programs would not be able to run without the volunteers. The sheer amount of data volunteers help us to collect is immense, and so vitally important.”

Lucy’s highlights since working for GVI? “Setting up a new partner project in Kenya’s Western province, where I worked with a grassroots community group in Kenya’s last rainforest was amazing."

Zeno Wijtten

Country Director
Meet Zeno, our Country Director in India. He used to work on Crocodile Morphology and Ecology and has even trekked the Sierra Madre mountain range in the North of the Philippines in search of one of the last members of a critically endangered freshwater crocodile population. Zeno used to be our Country Director in Kenya a few years ago before moving to India.

His most memorable moments since he started working with GVI? Was discovering a population of ‘hidden’ African Skimmer Birds at Lake Turkana, which turned to represent almost 40 percent of the world population. “That, and when my cat left a snake at my bed as a ‘present’, which turned out to be a new species for Kenya!”

His favourite aspect of his job? ”Seeing people being in awe of everything new around them, realising and completely accepting how different their world of experiences suddenly has become.”

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