I myself came to India through a year of volunteering with a non-profit organisation in Delhi.
Fresh after graduating from high school as a 19-year-old, this year was an incisive experience and a very instructive but also enriching time for me.
India is a beautiful country with wonderful people. But despite the emerging country’s increasing progress, poverty in India is on every street corner.
Begging women with their babies, cripples crawling through trains in rags, children working in restaurants, sparsely cobbled together tent shelters that serve as dwellings. This, too, is India.
And it is precisely where there is money that the poorest of the poor are drawn. Tourists mean money and so it is inevitable that travelers will encounter not only beautiful impressions, but also suffering and poverty during their trip to India.
But what do you do then? You want to help. After all, you are here as a guest in the country and you have a lot more money at your disposal than the average Indian.
But what is right or the best?
I often ask myself these questions of my guests. Are there beggars? Should you bring pens and sweets for the children? Can I volunteer somewhere? Are there any social institutions to which donations can be made?
My answer: you often do more harm if you support the system of organised begging. As long as the system works, children will continue to be sent to the streets instead of school. The same applies to women.
However, it makes perfect sense to keep a few rupees in coins ready for elderly or severely disabled beggars. For this group of people, daily begging is often the only way to survive.
Also the bringing of pens and sweets in the tourist areas has led to a strong demand for gifts from tourists, which can often be unpleasant.
However, if you visit social institutions, visit someone or have a very special relationship with a family, but small souvenirs like sweets are a nice attention.
Otherwise, as a targeted support for India and its poorer population, I recommend targeted donations to well-functioning non-profit organizations.
If you don’t have money, but have time and work, as well as looking for a cultural exchange, I recommend volunteering. However, it should be noted here that volunteering only makes sense if you have a longer period of time and you can really get involved. Short volunteer stays of less than one month are usually only a great logistical effort, cost money and, above all, hardly bring anything to the needy, as they need time to get used to reference persons.
The organization is located in Delhi and has been caring for street children and working children in Delhi and the surrounding areas since 2002. More information about the NGO can be found here.
On Human Hope Foundation:
A tiny organization in my Indian hometown of Shimla that is very close to my heart. Here, 28 children from socially disadvantaged families are supported, as well as 6 talented girls with a scholarship, a full education is provided. Here more info.
We at Chalo! Travel, recommend to our guests a donation of money through us to this two organization. We can also organise volunteer stays/work at CHETNA or the Hopüe Foundation.
When booking a trip with Chalo! On request, a voluntary donation of €50 per person to CHETNA/Human Hope Foundation is included.
Of course, a higher sum or even for an entire project may be donated.
Außerdem organisiert Chalo! Travel for its donor guests visits the projects in Delhi and Shimla.