How to volunteer Sustainably in India

Lha Charitable Trust

Volunteering is great way to contribute to a beneficial cause. But, not all volunteer programs are created equally. Gapforce aims for sustainability, and as such, we are committed to exerting a positive impact on the regions, countries and communities in which we send our volunteers and interns.

This is no different in India, where the organization called Lha Charitable Trust directly benefits from cooperation with volunteers.

If the sights, smells and rich culture that can be experienced in the India are calling your name, you may also want to explore travelling and the benefits of volunteering abroad. Here’s why…

To shed some light about a fantastic volunteer opportunity in India, we asked the director at Lha Chartiable Trust, Dorji, to speak a bit more about what this organization is all about.

What is the Lha Charitable Trust?

Lha Charitable Trust is an award-winning, grassroots and non-profit organization and one of the largest Tibetan social work institutes based in Dharamshala, India. The founders were two native Tibetans and an American from New Orleans.

Lha aims to provide vital resources for Tibetan refugees, the local Indian population and people from the Himalayan regions. Since its inception in 1997, Lha has continuously provided vital resources to people in need.

Lha plays a crucial role in facilitating the transition of Tibetan refugees from their homeland to the Indian community by providing long-term rehabilitation and educational resources. Each year programs and projects are adjusted to meet the conditions and needs of the region. Lha helps the Tibetan people thrive and prosper in their new home and is committed to preserving their special culture.

Additionally, Lha offers volunteers and students the opportunity to engage in meaningful community service and social work. By meeting the needs of the impoverished and underprivileged, we strive to generate an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation within the community.

What have you achieved so far and what would you like to achieve in the future?

Lha has a unique range and quality of services to offer. These include: free Tibetan, English, French, German and Chinese language classes, cultural exchange programs, IT classes, vocational training, health and environmental awareness education, various volunteer opportunities, distribution of clothes and medicine, a community kitchen, a clean water project, newsletter publishing, preservation of the Tibetan language and culture, library access and many other programs and services. Through these rehabilitation resources and educational services, Lha facilitates an easier transition for the Tibetan refugee community settling in India.

On a daily basis Lha serves over 250 people, hosts between 15 and 25 volunteers and provides up to 20 other different services including a soup kitchen which serves an average of 50-60 healthy meals per day to people in need.

Which different activities can volunteers get involved in during their time in the Lha Charitable Trust?

Lha offers the following volunteer opportunities; however, our volunteer coordinator will assign you based on your qualifications, skills, duration of commitment and according to our need.

  • Teaching languages (English, French, Chinese and German)
  • Assist in English conversation classes
  • Teaching computer (basic, web designing and graphic designing)
  • Tutoring languages
  • Assist volunteer coordinator
  • Fundraising
  • News writing
  • Grant and report writing
  • Research
  • Social media and marketing
  • Video editing
  • Survey and reports

What is most rewarding for participants who join the project – what kind of feedback do you get?

Most of the volunteers appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Tibet and its culture, as well as meeting different people and volunteers from many different countries.

Can you describe what an average day may look like for a Gapforce participant?

Gapforce participants will spend half the day volunteering in the community and half the day visiting Tibetan institutes, and listing to inspiring Tibetan people on politics, Buddhism, meditation, etc. Each group gets their own unique itinerary that is dependent on interest and commitment.

What are the accommodations like for participants?

Gapforce participants will stay in the resident building called Ahimsa House (below Dalai Lama’s temple), which will be available only for the participants and no other guests. There is a dining hall for breakfast and dinner and a conference hall for meetings and Yoga/Meditation. Filtered drinking water is also available. Room facilities include wifi, hot water and electric kettles for early morning tea or coffee. Breakfast and dinner are prepared with filtered water, which include a variety of veg and non veg dishes with lots of vegetables and fruits. It is also possible to take meal requests!

Is there anything participants should prepare before joining? (cultural understanding, hard-work ethic, items to make sure to bring, etc.)

Volunteers should prepare themselves with a hard work ethic and to be sensitive to the Tibetan and Indian culture here. All participants must dress properly when they visit the Tibetan institutes and temples. If the group is coming during monsoon (July to September) they should bring a rain coat, umbrella and slippers.

*If you are feeling charitable, and have a little extra room in your luggage, Lha always welcomes donations. Some particular items of interest include, used and unwanted clothing, there are many people here who need them. Also needed are white board markers for language classes, as well as masks and gloves for environment cleaning programs.

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