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Organising Voluntary Projects, Internships and Gap Years since 1994.

INDIA

CARE FOR CHILDREN IN AN ORPHANAGE IN MADURAI

Your work at the orphanage in the temple town of Madurai is very hands on and rewarding and you will fall in love instantly with the children with smiles that will melt your heart. You really will make a difference to their lives. The main care centre where we work is at a home for those affected by infanticide and abandoned children. Their mission is to help them first to survive and then to ensure the right of the child to a family. There are around 25 children at the orphanage.

They’ve made me laugh so much, they’re amazing kids and I wish I could take them all home!! The adoptions I got to witness were a particular highlight for me, it was so lovely to see the children finally have loving parents and knowing they will now have a good chance in life. Daisy Axtell-Powell

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price: £1,095 for 2 weeks
£150 for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
Duration: From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Start Dates: All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Requirements: Minimum age 17, no qualifications necessary, but you should be an enthusiastic person who loves children and wants to help them.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation and Food (excluding lunch)
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Daily transport to and from your Project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Free T-Shirt
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Return transfer to the airport.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in caring for children, teaching or working with children overseas while doing voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or short break in India.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into the fascinating Indian culture.
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping disadvantaged children and adults and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN INDIA info@travellersworldwide.com

ANY QUESTIONS?

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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

The main care centre is a home for those affected by infanticide and abandoned children. Their mission is to help them first to survive and then to ensure the right of the child to a family. There are around 20 children at the orphanage, but this number changes frequently as new children are brought in or are adopted. All of the children’s backgrounds are heartbreaking; some of them have been found abandoned in nearby churches or temples and others are surrendered by their parents. The children are all in desperate need of tender loving care ... and this is where you come in!

Your work will be very hands-on as you will be dealing with all of the children - be prepared to get very grubby!! Your work load and responsibilities will depend on your abilities and attitude to your work and you'll assume more responsibilities as you grow in confidence and as the staff's confidence in you grows. You should be supervised all of the time while you are there, and you will be given help and directions. Your work may include some or all of the following:

  • Helping the staff wash and dress the older children
  • Bottle feed the babies
  • Changing nappies
  • Feeding the older children
  • Teaching basic English and Maths
  • Teaching the older children nursery rhymes
  • Organising and facilitating games for the children

By playing games with the children you also encourage confidence building. It also encourages children to use English in an informal way, and even with the younger children it gives them exposure to the language at an early age. Playing games may seem irrelevant on the surface, but it helps to build up team spirit and skills, leadership skills, dexterity and quick thinking, and a healthy competitive spirit. It also gives them a more developed ability to interact with their peers.

For many of the older children, you are able to integrate education into games and also help with homework etc. Where children are not taught at the orphanage you will help these on their return from school in the afternoon.

You'll normally work at the orphanage in the mornings when it is at its busiest and the additional help that you provide is really appreciated. You can take your lunch with you and eat with the staff and finish after the babies are fed at 2pm. You can choose to work longer hours but it is very exhausting and challenging work and you may appreciate the afternoon off to relax and unwind.

You may also have the opportunity to work at a boy’s home in the evenings. The boys are aged between 7 to 18 years of age and all of them attend local schools during the day and return to the home in the evenings. The boys are semi-orphans and they are resident at the home and go back to their families only in the holidays. When they arrive back after school, they have a few chores and then there is an hour of play time. At this time you can go along and interact with them by organising games (they love cricket and football!) or just going to chat to them.

When the games session is over there is an hour and a half of study time. You can choose to stay and help them with their homework at this time or help them practice their conversational English. Again, this is a very rewarding project and the boys with be overjoyed to meet you.

ACCOMMODATION

For a complete Indian experience we arrange for you to stay with one of wonderful host families. All of our hosts are very welcoming and not only will be made to feel part of the family, you’ll also gain a great insight into Indian culture and customs. Many of our volunteers remain friends with their host families long after they leave India and in some cases they return to the country later especially to visit their family.

You may share a room with up to 2 other volunteers and in most of the houses you'll have an en-suite, Western-style bathroom. Most of the showers in our host accommodation are cold water only – however your hosts will boil water for you on request.

All of our host family houses are close together and just a few minutes’ walk away from internet cafes, banks and snack shops and just a short auto ride into the centre of town.

FOOD:
Breakfast and dinner will be provided and prepared for you by the family and is mainly local fare allowing you to taste a varied selection of delicious south Indian dishes and exotic fruits. You will need to make provision for your own lunch.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Got any questions? Please email us: info@travellersworldwide.com

   

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our team who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
As well as protecting all our volunteers, Travellers Worldwide is committed to all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. Read Travellers' Child Care and Vulnerable Adults Policy.

TRAVELLERS' SUPPORT AND BACKUP: Read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your programme.

OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)


Bollywood Dancing Lessons in India

BOLLYWOOD DANCE CLASSES:
Price: £39 for 4-Week dance course (12 hrs), concurrent with your main project. 12 lessons in total (3 x 1-hour lessons a week), excludes transport.

Bollywood dance classes - a fun way of learning some fantastic moves, whilst at the same keep keeping fit! All levels are catered for and the lessons are taken at one of Madurai’s leading dance studios. Three private Bollywood classes per week, each lasting one hour. These will usually be taken in the afternoon but there will be some flexibility, depending on your teacher’s schedule. The course location is only 20 minutes by auto from your accommodation. By the end of the course you will have learnt a dance routine to a whole song from an Indian movie.

Bollywood is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest centres of film production in the world. Bride and Prejudice is typical of the modern day films, with love, romance, singing, flamboyant costumes and hypnotic dancing. The teacher has over 10 years' experience teaching Bollywood Dance and has put on a number of productions in Madurai and around Tamil Nadu.

Book Now

Indian Cookery Lessons

INDIAN COOKERY CLASSES:
Prices:
1 Cookery class running concurrently with your project (1 Lesson spread over two days): £38.
A One Month Cookery Course (4 Lessons, one a week): £115

Our cooking classes are held by a local trained cook who currently teaches cooking classes in a school in Madurai. Classes are held after 3.30pm and for one cooking session, 2 days are required. You'll make delicious Indian dishes normally consisting of a rice or bread dish; a meat and a vegetable dish and a dessert. Vegetarians are easily catered for!

On the first day you'll choose your menu and go shopping to a local market to buy your ingredients and you may also do some preparation this day depending on the dishes you want to cook (especially if you have chosen to make idli or dosa). The following day you will be shown how to cook your recipes and then enjoy tucking into your sumptuous meal.

If you're interested in discovering more about cooking, we have also arranged for a month of classes where you will attend one session each week for 4 weeks. If food is one of life’s pleasures for you, then this opportunity is not to be missed!

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Tamil Language Lessons

TAMIL LANGUAGE COURSES:

  • 2-Week Tamil course: Price: £40
  • 4-Week Tamil course: Price: £80
  • 8-Week Tamil course: Price: £160
  • 12-Week Tamil course: Price: £240

Vanakam - Welcome! Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to learn Tamil, the official language of Tamil Nadu with one to one lessons with a private tutor. These language lessons are available to do at the same time as your main project. Learning a little Tamil will enrich your time here immeasurably, enabling you to converse with the locals, order a drink in a restaurant and not forgetting watching all the Tamil dramas on TV!

Your lessons will be individually tailored to your requirements and are conducted at the home of local lady who has taught classes amongst the local community. Whatever your level/requirements, the teacher is dedicated in helping you achieve your goals.

For the 2-Week or longer course, lessons will normally be held Monday to Friday for one hour each day (5 hours per week). All you need to take is your own notebook and stationery. Classes are within walking distance of your accommodation.

Book Now

Yoga and Meditation Classes

YOGA AND MEDITATION COURSES:
Prices:
2-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £45
4-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £90
8-Week Yoga and Meditation Combined Course: £180
Excludes transport.

Meditation is a mind-body practice and you'll learn to relax your body and mind and create a focused awareness to bring you stillness and inner peace. Your lessons will be conducted at the home of a lady teacher who has more than 7 years' experience as a Yoga Practitioner and Trainer. The courses comprise one x 1-hour lesson per day, Monday to Friday only. The 2 week course will consist of the following:

  • Asanas (posture)
  • Pranayama
  • Kriya
  • Meditation

The 4 and 8 week courses will consist of the same as above, but includes Surya Namaskar.

Book Now

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.

SEE ALL PROJECTS IN INDIA info@travellersworldwide.com

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LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

INDIA REALLY HAS IT ALL, from the hot sultry deserts of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and the majestic Himalayas in the north, to the idyllic palm fringed beaches and ancient temples of the south, plus a multitude of wildlife parks! The way to best enjoy India is to absorb it - the warmth of the people, the beauty, the smells, the food, and the wonderful hospitality!

LOCATION: MADURAI:
Many of our projects are based in the bustling city of Madurai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Madurai is known by many names; ‘Jasmine city’ for the famous jasmine flowers that are cultivated here, ‘the city of Nectar’, Legend tells of a river of nectar that flowed after blessing from Lord Shiva, and the ‘Temple City’.

Madurai really does have a temple or shrine on practically every street but it is most famed for the Sri Meenakshi Sundeswarar Temple. Pilgrims and tourists alike flock to visit the temple and approximately 10,000 visit every day! The temple is named after goddess Meenakshi. It was built in the 17th century and is an enormous structure with 5 outer towers crammed full of idols and animals. The inner courtyard contains another 7 towers, again all highly adorned. It will take your breath away.

Madurai is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. It is full of cultural diversity and life revolves around the awe inspiring Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, awash with pilgrims, market stalls and tourist shops.

Children will stop you on the streets to chat to you and shake your hand and even ask for your autograph! You will be in demand everywhere you go and you’ll feel like a celebrity, such is the warmth of the Indian people. If you’re after an overwhelming experience, then Madurai is a certainty for this!

KERALA:
KERALA has been named ""Gods own Country" by the locals for its stunning scenery, wildlife, beautiful beaches, picture postcard towns and the breaktaking backwaters. It is also the home of Ayurveda medicine, an ancient system using essential oils and vigorous massage to aid medical complaints or just for pampering - a one hour massage is an unforgettably relaxing experience.

Kerala also has one of the best wildlife parks in the country; Periyar. A huge array of activities are on offer, jungle trekking and jeep safari’s which take you off the beaten track in the hope of spotting an elusive tiger although you are more likely to see elephants, boar, monkeys and many species of birds. You can also take an elephant ride, boat ride, visit spice and tea plantations, watch martial arts – it’s an action packed weekend and only 4 hours from Madurai!

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

HEGE ANDREASSEN
Norwegian
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

The best thing about this placement is the kids! Without doubt. They are fantastic! From the first day I arrived, the children have been nothing but loving, kind and open. They love the attention that the volunteers can give, because the nurses usually don't have that much time to play with the children. The nurses working at the orphanage are great as well, especially Elisabeth, staff nurse! We have had quite a few some chats in the nursery while feeding the babies.

I think the good thing is that you don't really need any qualifications to be able to enjoy the placement. The nurses are really happy to get all the help they can, and they thank you for coming and helping every day! They will give you the same tasks as the regular nurses have, and I really feel that they trust me, and appreciate the help.

I feel that I have got some insights to the world of adoption etc (mostly through the social worker, who will tell you the story and situation of each of the children if you just ask her) - which is useful for me since I am going to be a social worker.

I just really love my placement!! The orphanage is everything I could have dreamed of and more. Love it!! Pradeep, Das, Jeya, Ramu are all great, and if we have any problems, we'll always get help!

Can you describe a typical day?
I have been working the morning shifts, and get picked up by Das - our great driver - at 8am. He drives us to the orphanage, 15-20 min drive away. A bumpy drive, but with great music (Das loves his music!) Usually the nurses would already have started to feed the babies by the time we get there, so we help them with the rest. At the moment there are about 13 small babies.

Then its bath time for all the children - babies first and the toddlers last. We undress the babies, then Elisabeth usually gives the babies a bath in a small tub, and we tie their nappies and get them dressed. We then help carry the older babies and toddlers into the bathroom, pick up the ones that have finished their bath, dry the children and dress them. Usually one person will carry the children, one dry them and one dress them etc. We get picked up by Das again at 12.30, and go home for lunch, which is around 1 pm. Our cook Jeya makes great food!

After lunch we go shopping, send e-mails, relax, chat, go sightseeing etc. At 6, Steve and I get picket up by Ramu - our "private" auto driver - to get yoga, which finish at 7. We then get back home and wait for dinner at around 7.30 - 8.00pm.

GERALDINE BORG
Maltese
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai
Plus Teaching Children in Schools

I'm not sure how my love for India began, but I do know that I had been wanting to visit India for the past seven years. Finally, the time to realise this dream came this Summer. I decided to combine voluntary work there, with some travelling during weekends and after my placements. Via the internet, I came across Travellers. Emails and phone calls ensued and everything was sorted!

Nothing I had read, watched or heard could have prepared me enough for the reality of India. India is another world, incredible in all ways. I soon accepted the fact that my feet and nails would never be completely clean, that the hooting is incessant and that I was to be awoken early everyday by squawking crows, cheerful chipmunks, and noisy sellers and prayers! This charming city I made my new home in, is a place without road signs or garbage bins; where men wear ‘skirts’ and women do all the hard labour; where there are power cuts everyday; where people eat strange food, with their right hands; where people have time to stand around and stare; where no one grumbles; and where everyone welcomes you.

For one month, I taught conversational English at an underprivileged primary school every morning; and worked at an Orphanage every afternoon. At the school I taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th standards everyday. Each lesson was approximately 40 minutes and through a variety of topics, the children would practise saying different things. I used to buy materials from the stationer in our road and the supermarket close by. I especially enjoyed topics that allowed me to introduce different cultures, such as the lessons on manners and customs; and lifestyles, with 4th and 5th standards; and those that allowed me to refer to India, such as when using famous Indian people to talk about different professions.

My placement at the Orphanage was an eye-opener into the different standards of medical care in the East. As a psychology graduate and psychotherapist it was very interesting for me to observe the children's relational and attachment patterns, form of play, and milestones reached. There were other volunteers at the orphanage, and their company and their teaching me how to change 'napkins', bottle feed and burp the babies, made all the difference! It may seem like a cliché, but in India, I forgot myself – my problems and the life I no longer recognised back home – and found myself. Meaning that I embraced a new way of being and a new purpose to my life. For me there is nothing more rewarding than teaching children who are genuinely hungry to learn.

My Indian students’ politeness, respect and eagerness touched my heart everyday. The orphans taught me how one can have nothing and be happy, because indeed we don’t actually need anything to be happy. Happiness is after all, an internal state of being. Furthermore, having the opportunity to travel both throughout my placement (with my kid sisters, the other three volunteers who lived with me :), and for two weeks after, on my own, enabled me to truly experience the awe-inspiring diversity and contrasts India is so known for.

Feeling joyful and peaceful inside, everyday; and being honestly happy with all that I am and have, was one of my main personal experiences in India. Returning to Malta was extremely hard for me and I believe part of me is still there, in South Street, Singarayar Colony - greeting the barefooted-children, admiring the colourful saris and absorbing every aspect of fascinating India.

I will never forget my warm host mother and the wonderful volunteers, who became my new family; the welcoming, friendly school principal and teachers; all the amazing students and resilient orphans; and the very helpful Travellers staff. It's these people who made my time in Madurai so very special.

RIA TUCKER
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

It was good to be met by the host family at the airport and they were very welcoming and helpful when I arrived. It was also very useful to be shown the city and visit the orphanage before I started work on the Monday.

Coming from a western country, India is a very different country to understand. So the first few days were about getting to know the city and adjusting. For me this is part of a career break so I am about doing something different to my previous job. I also wanted to get experience of working/volunteering with a charity. I will go on to travel in India so I am hoping a month in Madurai will help this also.

... Travellers were really great with arranging everything before my placement started and also the host family have been very kind and helpful. I would be useful to have a point of contact here from Travellers that is linked with the orphanage as well. When I started my first day relied on the other volunteers to show me the routine and daily schedule and what you can and cannot do. Had I been alone on the first day, it would have been very hard.

Living with the host family is good and I have been lucky to have a room to myself. As I am a bit older, I was please of the privacy which could be something to consider if there are other older volunteers. The host family has been lovely and so helpful with organising trips for me to do at the weekend. I have also been able to come and go as I please and the independent.

Overall I have really loved the experience. Working at the orphanage has been great and I think this is something I will return to do again. One of the biggest challenges is the difference in where to other western cities- that after a few days you do get used to this. I have gone off on my own and with volunteers to explore more, but can imagine some will not feel as comfortable doing this. This would be why to have someone organising/port of contact for volunteers here would be good.

JASNE KROONEMAN
Norwegian
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

Mazhalai Illam (‘home of orphans’ in Tamil) is the place where I discovered how it feels to be completely satisfied and how to deal with absolute happiness. Although it may sound as if I exaggerate, I assure you this is the way I felt while working as a volunteer in beautiful, hectic, dusty, ancient and very special Madurai.

Despite the fact I had been in India many times before, it was an eye-opening three-month-stay. Before I started as a volunteer, I had been in India many times. I already knew the situation poor Indians live in and I had often seen Indians suffering from terrible diseases. But still I was completely off the map when I entered the Orphanage the first time.

I didn’t expect that some of the kids were mentally and/or physically disabled. The fact that some of the kids were found in a temple, church or just aside the road turned my awareness of these aspects of life into a feeling. No longer it was a logical consequence of a combination of different causes, it was a very sad and unbelievable situation; how could someone ever leave such a lovely child? Believe me when I tell you all the kids are absolutely gorgeous!

Every morning at eight o’clock, I was picked up by the driver at the volunteer house, and while we were listening to very loud Tamil songs we drove through the – just awaking – city. These drives made me happy as I knew I would be able to help the staff with feeding, washing, dressing, and – especially - giving attention to the children.

After a tiring but satisfying morning the driver would bring me home, a nice moment as well, knowing that I would spend the rest of the day with the other volunteers: very special, open and friendly individuals! I had a great gap year and it made me decide to study Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of non-Western communities. I love India. I hope you’re going to appreciate it as well!

ALIKI SALTER
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

Your tasks are fairly routine and repetitive, but really you’re there to give the children individual attention that the full time nurses don’t always have time to provide. That’s the most important thing you’ll do there – it may not feel like much but it’s so important for them as some of the childrens' social skills and ability to interact with people are a bit poor. Plus it’s very rewarding to just be there to make them laugh and feel a bit loved!

The orphanage was really fantastic – Elizabeth’s a legend and all the nurses will love you if you get your nose pierced like I did (like a “real Indian girl”). Watch out for Silippa – she tends to “pass motion” rather frequently and right when you least expect it, and the best way to get the kids to laugh (even Sobiya) is to tickle their tummies.

Madurai itself is fantastic, you get a real taste of a traditional Indian city – keep your camera on you at all times! And make sure you eat a 25rs thali off a banana leaf (right hand only) after lots of shopping and bargaining (it gets easier after a few goes) in the tailors market. Enjoy!

Can you describe a typical day?
► 8:00 pick up
► 8:30 dry older kids as Elizabeth washes, dress them
► 9:10 generally interact with all children – play, comfort & keep them out of trouble!
► 10ish bottle feed the babies
► 10:30 change nappies (with supervision)
► 11-12:00 time with children again – you are encouraged to teach the older kids nursery rhymes/basic English but good luck trying to get them to concentrate!
► 12:00 feed older kids
► 12:30 and 2.00: pick ups
► 2:30-4.30 older children asleep so cuddle & play with babies, bottle feed & change
► 4:30-6:00 older children awake, talk & play with them as in mornings
► 6:30 pick up.

LINDA BACON
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

This experience has way exceeded my expectations of it. I’d travelled in Tamil Nadu 10 years ago, but this time I felt I got to know so much more about the place by the people I have met here. It’s been great talking to Pradeep about Indian culture (the cathedral service is great, if you’re into that kind of thing). The auto trip to and from the orphanage every day beats the M6 to work!

Things I’ve seen:
► Boy on motorbike doing his homework while his dad dices with death
► A cycle rickshaw carrying a fridge/freezer
► Woman filling their plastic water jars in the mornings

The orphanage was challenging, moving, amusing and exhausting! Don’t expect too much concentration or organised play from the children. They have little idea of constructive play and sharing, but they do make small steps with consistent attempts to play with specific toys. Elizabeth is a saint, her heart is so committed to the place.

If you love swimming go to Sangam. I took the month's membership and went straight there from the orphanage every day!! Usually dozed on a sunbed for ½ hour but did some swimming too!

Have a great time! I did!!

LAURA MARSH
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

I have had the most amazing experience in India that has been filled with laughter, tears, illness, frustration and magic! My time at the orphanage was fab and the kids are all one of a kind (they’re happiest when there being the naughtiest they can be!

Weekend trips away have been brilliant, and if I were to recommend one it would be Mahabillapurm. Don’t worry if you get down, take a walk and in no time the locals will have cheered you up and have you laughing at yourself.

Karen, Pradeep and Robin are always about and can answer ANY question, get you pretty much ANYTHING. Nothing is too much, they have really made my stay special. My stay has been amazing and although it can be hard at times, I have had some of the best moments ever here, especially meeting so many different people.

A massive thank you to all the volunteers who have made me laugh so much that coke has nearly come out my nose, and made the whole experience even better! Relax, soak up the culture & ENJOY!

JUDITH CAIN
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

I really enjoyed the orphanage. The children and staff were lovely and you really felt as if you were helping them. I found it a bit heart breaking at first, but am enjoying helping with the feeds and playing with the children. They seem to have nothing but are so happy just to have a bit of attention.

The orphanage I would recommend to anyone who didn't mind hard work. It would suit most people who love children and are prepared to get stuck in with the staff.

Each weekend I have travelled out of Madurai and enjoyed that very much. It is lovely to go to the hills where it is much cooler, and the scenery is amazing. I have really enjoyed my time in Madurai. The Traveller’s house is very comfortable and Jaya is a very good cook. Pradeep and Robin are both very helpful and so know if you have any problems that they will be able to help you.

I would recommend this trip to anybody.

Can you describe a typical day?
I was collected at 8am and arrived at the orphanage around 8.20am. The staff would be just finishing the early feed and I would help to wind some of the younger babies. Then I would help undress the children ready for bath time. I usually dried all the children which were very hot and hectic but good fun. Once the children were seen to, I usually played with the older ones (3 - 4years) in the foyer, sometimes colouring or teaching numbers and the alphabet, but mostly they just wanted your attention for cuddles etc.

At 10.45 it was time to start feeding the babies and toddlers their bottles, which usually took about 1/2 hour, followed by playing with the children again. At 12noon the older children had lunch and they liked us to sit with them, sometimes helping dish out seconds. After lunch the children were all put to bed so we would get picked up at 12.30 to go home for lunch.

IMOGEN CATLING
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

After being in India for just over three months I can say that I 90% love it, and 10% hate it! To me, there is no in between – India is either inspiring, magical and beautiful, or frustrating, dirty and archaic. However, I only feel negative when I am ill, which has happened a fair few times – thanks Karen for putting up with my moaning, “I think I’m going to die!”

Illness aside, there are so many other reasons to enjoy Madurai. The people are friendly and have a beautiful sense of humility, positivity and spirituality. I have thoroughly enjoyed walking around the city, answering curious questions and embracing the richly diverse culture. The children I have worked with are all my little darlings and I want them never to leave me and stay young, innocent and perfect! Spoil them all for me – ignore Elizabeth's mollycoddling, she loves it really! My Indian surrogate mother – will miss her almost as much as the children. When the children look happy to see you, they usually want a “mittay” or sweetie – give in to them sometimes!

I have fallen in love with Kerala. In the south I visited Kodaikanal, Periyar (twice!), Pondicherry and Varkala. In the North I visited Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Ahmedebad and Udaipur. A must because the North is so different and interesting.

To summarise, I have spent too much in the Tailors Market, been covered in babies regurgitation, had my hair ‘styled’ by school kids, shouted at auto drivers, hung out with crazy Germans, smoked too much Gold Flake, got packages from England containing Heat magazine, been on a drip, been on antibiotics 4 times, drunk too much India coffee, been smothered in blessing powder and watched so many cheesy duds.

Karen and Pradeep could not have been more generous with their time and so helpful. Jeya has the best laugh I have EVER heard and will make you dinner on the sofa when you’re sick. Robin – “Shall we go for a smoke?” – he is the daddy of Madurai! I love everyone I’ve met here (apart from some auto drivers!) and I’m sure I’ll be back.

JENNIFER MANN
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

The work was very hectic & busy, but with all the kids that was bound to happen! Also very heart-warming & very satisfying if you got them in a good mood, or helped the babies walk (or try too!). There is just so much to do – the tailor’s markets, go meet Cannon and the schawl lady (who is lovely & gives you freebies!). Elephants are the greatest creatures ever – go to Periyar & ride the beast! And be blessed at the temple.

If you’re at the orphanage and feel tired after a morning running, screaming and playing with the kids; the only remedy is Coffee Day. Have the best time ever and do lots & lots of shopping – you’ll regret it otherwise!

TARA FOLKARD
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

Working at the orphanage, we washed, dressed and fed the children, many of whom were under 2 years old. However our main role was simply to care for them and give them the love and attention that they require at that age, but is often hard to get fully as there are about 20 children or so, so they all appreciate a little time one on one.

One of the best moments over the three weeks that I was there was one of the little girls, Sukani, learnt to walk and we witnessed her first steps which was lovely to be part of.

It was a wonderful experience on the whole to be fully immersed in such a different culture and very rewarding to feel involved with the foundation which is a great organisation with the children's best needs at interest and incredibly hard working and dedicated staff.

JANE MCNAUL
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

Madurai is hot, dirty, smelly, vibrant, noisy and exciting. I love it. I have felt very safe here and the people have all been very helpful and friendly. My placement is busy, noisy and at times chaotic. I am experiencing a wonderful new culture and lifestyle. I am learning all about cultural differences which can be confusing at times. Patience is a virtue. I am learning to make decisions for myself and also feel confident enough to go places on my own, something I seldom do.

It is all good! But living and working in Indian society has been a great experience. For me loving and caring for the babies has been wonderful, I only wish we could have time with each child as it is a very busy place, it is not possible.

I have nothing negative to say about my placement or my host family. I have been so well cared for that this has helped everything else fall into place. Where you stay and who you stay with are vital to a successful experience. It was very helpful having such a detailed description of my host family.

I think it helps to be outgoing and adaptable. There will be lots of different experiences facing you ad many different types of food, so you need to go with the flow. It’s also helpful to be a team player and a good communicator as the placement involves lots of sharing, helping and caring. With different people from many different countries…

Staying at Anithas and Lakshman [host family] has made my stay in Madurai very enjoyable. The family are extremely open and friendly and make you feel that their house is your home for your length of stay. The food is wonderful, varied and there is plenty of it. Both Anitha and Lakshman are always on hand to answer questions, sort problems, book events. This is a very busy house with lots of coming and going and all adds to the adventure of living with an Indian family. They are a gem of a couple.

I have been working at the orphanage for the past nine weeks. I have been caring for the babies which includes feeding, dressing, playing with the babies/children. This is hard work as there is a restricted area for the children’s recreation. As a result, most of the time, all ages are together which is not ideal. We have been working with the staff to try and implement some change, separating the age groups even for a short while. Being more mature, I am in a position to talk with the older staff and make suggestions that may not have been thought of. I think the staff will agree that I have acted as a communication link between the orphanage and the decision makers.

Can you describe a typical day?
Breakfast 7.15am in the family home. Auto driver collects me at 7.45am. Orphanage 8am. Feed babies on arrival. Remove children’s clothes for bath time. All children bathed and dressed. Put out toys at 9.30am, look after, play with the children. 11am another feed time. Play and change children before auto arrived around 11.45. May have lunch with other volunteers, or go into the city, usually to look for toys, games or clothes for children. On a quiet day I come back here and rest as it is very hot at this time of year. I have chosen to do the afternoon shift as well as I needed to fill the time. If you have nothing else planned it can be a long lonely afternoon. 4pm orphanage for feeding time. Older children go out to play at 5pm for 1 hour. We occupy the younger babies inside. Auto driver collects at 5.45pm. Shower, dinner around 7.30pm…

ELLIE NORRIS
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai
Plus the Yoga and Meditation Course

I'm having a great time! I love the work at the orphanage, the children are so beautiful and it's been such an amazing experience already, I really look forward to getting up in the morning to go there. We're planning to extend our work there. We can either go back in the evenings or work through lunch. I think we're more likely to work from 8 until 2 then go for our yoga class.

It's so nice having the other girls in the house with us, we probably wouldn't have left Madurai if they hadn't been here but we've already been to Kanyakumari and watched the sunrise. Next weekend we're going to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and I can't wait. The family have been very accomodating and having Anitha to call and advise is really helpful, she's definetely saved us a few rupees booking the autos for us! Best Wishes, Ellie

MONICA PHILALAY
Australian
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai

It's chaotic and loud here but there is a charm to the place. Once I got over the crazy driving, the staring, the noise and the fact that I can never be clean, I really started to have a good time.

Karen and Pradeep are both extremely helpful and friendly. Today they took me to the orphanage to introduce me to Elizabeth and the kids, and they are all just gorgeous! So affectionate and energetic - I can't wait to start there on Monday! Karen also took me around the town and showed me where everything was including the tailor markets where I'm getting a few things made up - highlight was spotting the temple elephant on the street. I also visited the temple with the other volunteers today and it was pretty amazing. The other volunteers are very nice and friendly, and I can't wait to get to know them all better.

The volunteer house is really lovely and I'm going to go home fat because Jaya is a brilliant cook. I might be going to Periyar next weekend with another volunteer, which should be good. I'm trying to arrange a tour around Kerala for after my placement, and I'll ask Karen or Pradeep for their advice tomorrow. Thanks for all your help and support!

ALEX CRESSWELL
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai
Plus Teaching English to Children in Schools

Hi Karen [Travellers Team], My bags arrived in Madurai on Friday morning :) I was in Mamallapuram this weekend with Holly and Alyss so Anita and Lakshmanan [Travellers team] were kind enough to collect them for me! They have been fantastic, I would have been very lost without them.

My projects are wonderful. The orphanage has been eye opening for me, with lots and lots of new experiences. You definitely get thrown in at the deep end but I am thoroughly enjoying it. Even if it means I am up at 6.15 every morning. I start the school properly tomorrow so I will let you know how it goes. I have just been to visit the Headmistress to speak to her about what I will be doing and the impact it should have upon the children conversational English.

I have felt completely supported the whole time I have been here. Everybody (including strangers) are very kind and helpful. I know if I have any questions or troubles I have lots of people to help me on the end of the phone etc. I have also been able to help the sisters at the orphanage with their English. I am having a great time...

Madurai is really nice, which allows you to have a close look at Indian life and culture without feeling overwhelmed or unsafe due to the size of the city. The orphanage is a lovely place which highly appreciates your work. The staff are lovely and welcoming. The school again is a nice place with welcoming staff.

I feel I have gained confidence, understanding of different cultures + traditions, working with people from different backgrounds, teaching experience and care experience. I am enjoying the school because it is allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of Indian life and culture whilst gaining more teaching experience. The orphanage is fantastic as I am able to really help and make a difference. The children and staff are really welcoming and thoroughly appreciate what you do.

I would recommend both placements to future volunteers. The placement would suit a person who is:
Orphanage – kind, caring, hardworking, someone who wants to help, someone who loves children and is confident around children.
School – confident, who wants to learn more about the culture, hardworking.

BECKY WRIGHT
British
Care for Children in an Orphanage in Madurai
Plus Medical Work Experience Internship

A lot of my time was spent seeing the sites,
And trying to avoid mosquito bites,
Pleasant chats and drinks in Coffee Day,
Where the music gets louder you can't hear what you say

Working at the orphanage was a delight
Playing with the children or even stopping a fight,
My afternoons were spent with Dr Rawlin,
His patients kept cancelling so I had to 'keep callin'

A trip to Periyar was cold and wet,
Amy got ill from an off omelette!
Had a full body massage and an elephant ride,
And a trek through the jungle but the animals did hide!

The auto drivers drive like crazy,
But get you places when you're feeling lazy!
Some pretend they know where to take you,
But a lot of the time they don't have a clue!

I recommend avoiding grabbing a bag,
through the window of a bus from an old hag,
The contents, a chicken, may take you by surprise,
And will most certainly be dead when you arrive!

One night we ventured to the bar,
And when we came out wished we had a car
For a storm had been brewing; the rain was pouring,
The house was flooded and rivers overflowed by morning

My month has passed living in Madurai,
And now it's time to say goodbye
It's been amazing, I've had lots of fun,
I don't want to leave, so thanks everyone!