We hope that this page will answer most of your questions. Please also read the website for more general information about our work. If any questions remain, or you wish to fill out an application, please get in touch via the Contact Us button on our website's home page, or copy and paste this link http://healcharity.org/india/contact-us into your browser.
Why volunteer for HEAL?
Volunteering for HEAL gives you the chance to meet and work with some of the children which HEAL helps. If you are a sponsor, you will be able to meet the child whom you support. Your presence, knowledge and skills – whatever they may be – will bring new ideas, learning and experiences to children who have to live without parents. You will be furthering the good work of HEAL, the children can’t wait to welcome you, and it’s likely to be a life-changing experience for you!
What is the procedure for getting a placement?
- After you contact us you will be sent a volunteers package and asked to complete an application form and return it to us by post together with your DBS Certificate (original document only: no photocopies). Previously known as Criminal Records Bureau certificate if you have one which is less than 12 months old .The DBS (CRB) make a charge of £26 and they also charge admin fee of £12 +VAT, for this service.
- Once we’ve checked your application and DBS form, you’ll receive an email from our secretary in India to agree the dates of your visit.
- We will then ask you to pay the accommodation and transport fee, which must be paid in full before you set off for India.
- You will need to take medical advice about inoculations. Your GP’s surgery should be able to give you all the necessary advice. Some inoculations are free.
- You should take out a travel insurance policy.
- If you are travelling from outside India you will need a visa from the Indian Embassy in order to enter the country. You should apply for a six-month Tourist Visa at least a month before your visit begins. Please see http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk. If necessary, you can get a visa more quickly by going to the Embassy’s offices in person.
- Go there and enjoy the experience!
- On your return, we’ll ask you to let us know how it went and write a 500-word summary of your visit and send us some photos. We are always looking for ways to improve.
Where will I stay?
Your main stay will be at HEAL Paradise Village, Thotapalli, Agiripalli Mandal, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India, and PIN: 521211. Telephone Number: +917032885520.
Paradise Village is combining state-of-the-art ecological and environmentally-friendly design, and will become home to a thousand children from underprivileged and impoverished backgrounds in Andhra Pradesh and beyond. This is an eco-friendly children’s village.The Village complex will also include a vocational training centre, pre-school cottages, a health centre and an institute for the visually challenged.
For more details please visit http://healparadise.org
There is also the opportunity to visit the original HEAL Children’s Village at Chowdavaram, 13km southwest of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. Click on this link to have a look on Google Maps: HEAL Children’s Village.
To see more, change to ‘map’ and zoom out.
How do I get there?
The nearest airport is at Vijayawada, which can be reached by internal flight from any of India’s international airports, the closest being Hyderabad. We will collect you from Vijayawada airport.
What is there at the Guntur site?
The site contains the HEAL Children’s Village, a clinic, a boy’s hostel and the Bala Kuteer school. The school is not part of HEAL, but all our children are educated there, and spend a lot of their time there, along with several hundred day-pupils from nearby villages. Your accommodation will be in the school area, which is set in lush gardens in a quiet rural district. There are a few very small shops near to the site, but otherwise, it is quite isolated. It will be possible to travel into Guntur occasionally, by arrangement with the management. You will have access to the telephone, broadband internet and Skype. There is a Wi-Fi router, so please bring a laptop if you wish to. You will be loaned an Indian SIM card (pay-as-you-go) for your mobile phone, if you wish. This is much cheaper than using your existing number. Under Indian law, the SIM card must be returned before you go home.
What’s it like living there?
Firstly, expect a big welcome from everyone at HEAL. The children are always excited when a visitor comes, and it’s a part of Indian culture that visitors should be treated like gods. All your food and drink will be provided – lots of it! – but there’s no meat and no alcohol available. It’s a good idea to eat with the HEAL children in the village dining room whenever you can – they love the attention. You’ll have a room with shower and toilet, but you might be asked to share your room with another volunteer. Laundry facilities are limited: you can hand-wash your clothes and they will dry in about an hour, or you can pay a small fee for the dhobi wallah to do it for you. Almost everyone speaks some English and they are friendly and eager to help. Indian men and women do not mix much, and have strict traditions of chastity and of modesty in dressing, especially for women, and you are expected to observe these.
What will I be doing?
This depends on your skills, interests and experience, and the needs of the children, but typically volunteers assist in the classroom, and help with games, sports, art, singing, story-reading, drama and so on. The children have a long and structured day which you are not expected to follow, and you will be able to negotiate which activities you get involved in. The Bala Kuteer school will certainly ask for your help, but it is worth remembering that it is before and after the school day that you will be able to help the HEAL children specifically, when the school’s day-pupils are not there. Always ensure that a teacher remains in class with you, to preserve discipline. Please think about the kind of activities you would like to become involved in, or can offer, and add them to your application form.
What should I bring?
Story books suitable for reading to, or by, school-age children; story CDs, CDs of children’s songs, a guitar or other musical instrument to sing to; conjuring tricks, simple jokes, art materials, easy board games, materials for any activities you plan to do with the children. Please ask for advice if in doubt. DVDs purchased in the UK will only be playable if marked ‘All Regions’.
What’s the accommodation charge?
We ask all our volunteers to pay a fixed weekly charge of £150 to stay at the children’s village. Some of this money is used to cover the costs of your stay, and the remainder will be treated as a donation which will help us to continue to provide shelter, support, education and health care to disadvantaged children in India. HEAL is committed to ensuring that your donations are not wasted on administrative costs, and we achieve this because we have no administrative office and no paid administrative staff.