Amazing, chaotic, beautiful, intoxicating, crazy, squalid, daunting, fascinating, exasperating, exhausting … India has been described as all of these things and many, many more. “Cradle of civilization,” India is home to centuries of history, tradition, myth, and magic. With over a billion people (and almost as many cows and elephants roaming the streets!), at least 20 different languages spoken, almost all of the major religious traditions practiced, and some of the world’s most striking geography, wildlife, and architecture, India simply has no shortage of stimulus to capture the imagination.
Unfortunately, despite rapid growth and development, much of India remains highly impoverished. Rapid urbanization has pushed many of India’s young people into unsavory slums where the struggle to get by everyday impedes any hopes of staying in school and finding a way out. And conditions in rural communities are no easier as families struggle daily with a lack of food, clean water, electricity, and basic healthcare. Our projects in India are focused in the northern states of Himalchal Pradesh and Rajasthan where there is a strong tradition and warm, lively people, and our efforts center around education and community development. There is no shortage of need and no lack of magic in this mystical land.
what you will remember…
India is a country of strange opposition — magnificent opulence and shocking squalor, raucous city streets and peaceful temples, arid deserts and lush tropics, playful festivals and ascetic traditions … Everywhere you turn there are new sights, sounds, and scents to intoxicate you. It is hard to experience India without feeling that you have lived a lifetime in just a short stay.
It is not just the contradictions but the experiences that are exotic and otherworldly. Where else can you see elephants lumbering down busy streets, grossly overloaded trucks barely navigating traffic upright, and women balancing unfathomably heavy water jugs on their heads? India is one bold adventure after another.
Poverty is extreme in India, and the need is great. Education and resources are limited. The children and families of the villages where we stay are happy, optimistic people who work hard every day despite challenging conditions. The community is eager to learn and quick to become friends. You will see the results of your efforts immediately, though the impact (and the memories) will long endure.
Projects are based on community needs and vary from trip to trip. Here are examples from recent trips.
In addition to volunteering, you will have time to travel and explore some of the many highlights the country has to offer.
Appreciating the powerful pachyderms
A quiet moment in Ranthambore National Park
A view from Agra
Beautiful textiles from the northern provinces
Monkey Temple in Jaipur
Making friends in Ambedkar Nagar
Mathura, birthplace of Krishna
Festival-ready elephants in Rajasthan
In awe of the Taj Mahal
Trying out Indian henna tattoos
Shopping for souvenirs
Learning to make chapatis
My favorite part of this trip was hiking through the Himalayas and being able to look out and see what you have accomplished and the views give you such a sense of serenity and mindfulness. It’s been the greatest gift of this trip to experience this purposefulness.Serena, Student
One of the best parts of the trip is spending time with the Young Dreamers. We’ve become one really big family. When I first got [to India], I experienced a bit of culture shock because it’s so different from home, but just being here and allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone, I’ve now become a lot more comfortable and actually expanded my comfort zone.
My work at the school is the highlight for me. I love working with the kids. I never thought that I would have this responsibility of teaching and helping shape their education. I think I have grown a lot. I know when I first got [to India], I didn’t think I could do it (teach and take charge) and now, now I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Check out some of our upcoming trips.