Volunteer Travel

While globe-trotting, I enjoy Traveling with a Purpose by getting involved with local charities if there’s anything I can do to help and give back to the community I’m visiting. My favorite is visiting schools and playing with local kids. Even a smile goes a long way at a stranger. But as outsiders, we also have to be cautious in not disrupting their day-to-day life because of our selfish desire to ‘help’. We owe it to them to do our own research ahead of time and have to be careful as there are many scams out there ripping off tourists by either a) charging too much money to volunteer or b) even hurting children at the sake of getting tourists to donate (ie: some Cambodian “orphanages” or children street beggars controlled by pimps).

Here I feature a few Charities I have spent time volunteering with, done a lot of research in their transparency and would highly recommend you donate your time and money in.

In India:

logoVolunteer a little or as much time as you’d like at Manav Sadhna, established in 1995 based out of Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Manav Sadhna serves more than 8000 children and women through more than 35 projects who serve the underprivileged people in their community. There is no cost to volunteer, just your time and dedication.

“At Manav Sadhna, we navigate with the philosophy of love all, serve all. By seeing God in every individual (Manav), mere service is transformed into worship (Sadhna). To this end, Manav Sadhna is engaged in constructive humanitarian projects that cut across barriers of class and religion while addressing issues faced by socio-economically neglected segments of society. In executing this mission, Manav Sadhna is guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s unshakable beliefs in love, peace, truth, non-violence and compassion.”

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There are more than half a dozen Slum Communities (including a Leprosy community called the “Loving Community” and Blind School) which they serve throughout the city. Inside the slums, they have with the help and willingness of the people, built Community Centers, pre through high schools, Meditation/Safe spaces, Recycling Centers and more. All in effort to promote self-sustainability through Education & Sanitation. There are various needs where you could allocate your time, as every skill-set (music, art, sports, language, photography, technology, health, etc) could be of tremendous help in some way. Through Manav Sadhna, several non-profits are affiliated and have been formed which you could also participate your time:

Earn & Learn – an after school program for street children to have the opportunity to learn Arts & Crafts while making money to help their family. The greeting cards & crafts are then sold in retail stores.

Empty Hands Music – started by Nimo Patel, a musician originally from LA, a program that teaches children music & dance. Read their article.

Mission: “To spread seeds of goodness in the world through selfless service, music, and love. All of Empty Hands Music’s offerings are gifts to the world. Empty Hands is a 501c3 US-based Non-Profit, 100% Gift offering with an intention to spread seeds of goodness through its music, events & sharings all across the world, as well as through its grassroots, arts-based service work from the Gandhi Ashram, for underprivileged children in the slums of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.”