Volunteer

Volunteer Ladakh


Volunteer Ladakh provides an opportunity for responsible volunteers to live and work in a high altitude mountain desert contributing to education and local sustainable development.    


What is Responsible Volunteering?


Responsible volunteering means to know yourself objectively, to understand your motivation and, not least, your own preconceptions, some of which are likely to alter during your stay.  

The Helumbra Project in Nepal (2012) states:

"Responsible volunteering requires us to deeply examine ourselves and our motivation so that we do not arrogantly assume a superior knowledge or an ability to “help, fix, or solve” the complex reality that people across the world face. It means taking a more realistic approach to our contributions and considering the full impact of our actions before we even begin to serve. It means listening and not challenging local beliefs and culture. It requires you to affirm the value of people’s differences, culture, and traditions and participate in them regardless of your beliefs. It means realizing the tremendous influence you have as a symbol of the westOverall, responsible and ethical volunteering is a process that asks you to humbly consider yourself a part of the issue rather than just the solution.” 1.

Well-meaning volunteer organizations sometimes fail to consider the potential negative impacts of volunteering on their host culture.  Volunteer Ladakh evaluates all its projects to ensure cultural sensitivity, and to avoid an ethnocentric approach defined as “the tendency to view one’s own culture as superior and to apply one’s own cultural values in judging the behavior and beliefs of people raised in other cultures.” 2.

Bringing open minds and listening hearts, rather than fixed notions, Ladakh volunteers become active local community members.  Only then can they begin to understand what makes Ladakhi culture unique and, with time, find themselves in a position to offer genuine help.   



Volunteer Teaching      


The best times to volunteer are generally April-September.

       - Do you have a background in education? Certified?
or
    - Experience teaching English and/or certified in TESOL, TEFL, TESL, CELTA, etc.
or
-  (for residential schools), experience teaching drama, art, sports,   environmental education, alternative energy projects, gardening, archery, hockey, green construction, etc.
-   Most schools prefer a minimum two-month commitment but their is some flexibility

Volunteer for Environmental Projects
- Do you have experience with developing environmental and/or alternative energy projects 
      or environmental education?
- A minimum two month commitment
         
General Requirements
-       All volunteers must be at least 21 years old
-       Proficiency in English, written and spoken
-       Flexibility
-       Ability to drink butter tea, and smile.

Some Things to Expect
-       To be offered butter tea, constantly. 
-       Squat compost “eco-toilets”  
-       Bucket showers, generally cold water 

Living Arrangements


Typical Ladakhi Kitchen
Most volunteers will live with a host family, although if teaching English in a monastery, you may be living with the monks and their acolytes (“monklets” as my friend calls them).   Living with your host family is likely to be the highlight of your experience in Ladakh.  Ladakhi families are wonderful, generous, happy, and loving people who will treat you with great respect and honor.  They will laugh at you, with you, and embrace you in their home as both an honored guest and a family member.  The more deeply you become involved with the family (taking the cows out to graze in the morning, learning how to make bread on the hot stones, etc.) the more you will understand Ladakhi people and their culture.


Why Does it Cost to Volunteer? 


Many organizations charge a high fee for volunteers and a few offer free service. Those charging exorbitant amounts are a money-making business. Those that offer free service have found donors, sponsors, and other funding that can be used to cover the cost of a volunteer. We are a grassroots volunteer organization completely run by volunteers and we do not have the financial means to cover the cost of food, lodging, transportation, and administrative expenses of other volunteers. 

We have tried to simply our program. For the last three years we charged a volunteer fee up front to purchase needed schoolbooks and supplies using volunteer contributions. Now we are looking for the volunteers to work directly with their schools to decide what is most needed and purchase those things together. Here’s how we do it.



Cost of Volunteer Participation


Registation fee: $150 USD

We ask for a registration fee that hopefully covers our gasoline cost of transporting you to and from the airport and school in our personal cars, annual website fees, and a small amount is used to buy a few basic supplies to take with you to your school. (Paper, rulers, colored pencils, playing cards, etc.)

Room and Board: 15,000 rupees per month

You will pay your host family directly 15,000 rupees per month for food and lodging regardless of where you live.

Orientation food and lodging:  2250-3000 rupees

Your initial 2-3 days of acclimatization/orientation training is in Phyang Village. The guest house charges volunteers 750 rupees per day for food and lodging so be sure to budget an initial 2-3 days in Phyang at the beginning and one night at the end of your service before we take you to the airport the following morning. Orientation and teacher training is free.

Volunteer/School Fund: 6000 rupees per month (recommended)

Previously, we charged a volunteer fee and spent the money on purchasing books for the schools. Our policy has changed to make it more directly beneficial to both the volunteer and their school. The monastery school staff and the volunteer will work together to decide what is most needed for the school. This might be at the beginning, middle, or end of your time of service. You are asked to make a financial contribution of 
   6000 rupees per month  (your school fund)
  to be used as you and the school staff see fit.


Fee Summary:

$150 registration fee up front

In Ladakh, you, the volunteer, pay directly:

2300-3000 for food/lodging during orientation (3-4 days)
15,000 rupees room and board per month to host family
6000 rupees per month towards your school fund, if possible
                      



Fees Include:

-       Leh Domestic Airport pickup and drop-off 

-       Full room and board with host family


-    You will be met by our Volunteer Ladakh representative at the Leh airport, two days of orientation and  acclimatization and then transported to your village where you will be introduced to your host family and coworker(s). (Lodging in Phyang is paid by the volunteer).

-   Ladakh Volunteer Handbook (by email) which covers all pre, during, and post service information

-  Use of a Teacher Resource Kit


(Please note that airfares, visa fees, and insurance are the responsibility of the volunteer.) 

Application Processing Fee (payable on acceptance): $150

Online Application

To Make your Payment Through Paypal, please use the "Donate" button below:






References
1. Helambu Project.
2. Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology by Conrad Phillip Kottak 31, Mcgraw-Hill: New York, 8th edition.

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