Facts & Information

What happens when I arrive in Delhi for placements in Pabbar valley, Shimla?

New Delhi
If you are arriving by air and would like to be greeted at the airport, we can do so at a charge of ($90) with our representative and without representative($50).

We understand it might be stressful if it’s you’re first time in India, so no matter what time you arrive, whether its 5pm or 3am, we will pick you up from the airport. Just let us know your flight details in advance, and we will be there when you arrive.Again, please let us know your itinerary in advance so we can put your arrival details in our calendar.

After you have been greeted by one of our friendly staff members, then we will take you to our office where you will meet Miss Valentine , our volunteer coordinator. You can put your bags down and have a cup of chai with Miss Valentine to discuss a few things, such as which project/s you would like to help out with. Valentine will need to photocopy your passport and you will need to sign our registration form. You will then be given accommodation at either our volunteer apartment or at your choice hostel.. Then you can settle into your new room and prepare for your volunteer experience the following morning.

Arriving in Shimla for one of our pabbar valley projects?
For placements at any of our Pabbar valley projects such as Devidhar, chambal or Seema, you will need to check into our volunteer office in Shimla before transferring to your volunteer placement. The office is very easy to locate, simply make your way up to ‘Radisson hotel, the main landmark and before radisson hotel a small hotel Kapil will come.Beside Kapil hotel we have our office in Ground floor, Crystal lodge,longwood,Shimla. This lodge is located on corner of this road. Even you can hire cab from Main Bus station/Railway station. it will cost you INR 350. Once in our office you can sit down with Reena or Jae, have a Chai and discuss your placement. If you arriving late in the day and would like to spend a day or two in Shimla then you will be able to stay with our lovely volunteer apartment.

New Delhi
New Delhi, the capital city India, with over 21 million people living in the metropolitan area (The entire population of Australia is 22 million), New Delhi is one of the largest cities in the world. New Delhi is an amazing and culturally diverse city that has something to offer for everyone. It truly is the gateway to India with close access to The Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Punjab the Himalayas and Kashmir.

There are many tourist attractions in the New Delhi area. Our Commune is very close to one of the city’s metro stations. From here you can reach all of the main areas around Delhi. Pahar Ganj is the main backpacker area of New Delhi; it is here you will find some really good restaurants serving quality Indian cuisine at dirt cheap prices. It’s really great to sit in one of the rooftop restaurants in the Main Bazaar and look down on one of the craziest streets in the world. In the Main Bazaar you will be able to find whatever you need in terms of clothing, souvenirs and other items you may need during your stay. Connaught place is also a great place to go for all of your western comforts. If you want to escape the madness of India for a few hours, this is the place to do it. You can sit down in a nice coffee shop, go to a bar or even watch the latest Bollywood film.

There are so many amazing temples around Delhi to check out too. Red Fort, The Lotus Temple, Akshardham, Jama Masjid, Qutab Minar, Lodi Gardens, Indian gate and Humayun's Tomb are all incredible places to visit. Another really great thing to do is go to a 20/20 cricket match at the cricket stadium. The Delhi Daredevils are our team. You can’t go to India without seeing a cricket match.

Shimla (Himachal Pradesh)
Formally the capitol of India, Shimla is the capitol city of Himachal Pradesh. If you are making your way up to the villages in Pabbar valley for volunteer work, you will pass through here. Shimla is a beautiful city at the foothill of the Himalayas, with a rich cultural history. It’s the perfect place to spend a few days on your way to the villages.

Pabbar valley
Beautiful mountain villages,unspoiled valley,shimla in the state of Himachal Pradesh, 80Kms north of Shimla at an altitude of 2000m above sea level. There is so much to see and do in Pabbar valley including rafting, trekking and hiking. It is an adventure valley. chanshal Pass is a spectacular pass at 3951m above sea level, with panoramic mountain views.

Health & Safety in India
When in Delhi, or any part of India, it is a smart idea to drink filtered or mineral water at all times to avoid illness. You can purchase bottles of mineral water for around 15R (30 cents) from virtually so there is no need to worry. If you are spending a long time in India it might be a good idea to buy a ‘Steri-pen’ water purifier. It will cost you around $50US, but will save you a lot of money as you will be able to purify your own water. Be mindful that when brushing your teeth you can still get sick when washing your mouth out with the tap water.

If you are eating at Wahoe Commune, the volunteer centre, or with a host family at one of the projects you should be fine eating the same food as everyone else as your meals are prepared for you. Be very careful when eating food from street stalls and restaurants as this is where you can get very sick. The standard of food hygiene is not the same in this part of the world as it is in your home country. Eating meat can be a problem, as you will not know whether the meat has been sitting out in the sun all day or is genially fresh. Be careful eating too much dairy from Lassie, yogurt and chai or other dairy products as foreigners also have a tendency to get ill from these types of things. Always wash your hands before eating. Many people travel around India for months on end without ever getting sick, but many others will fall ill, so be careful and use common sense, but try not to worry about it too much.

Immunizations & medications
We recommend getting all of your immunisations in your home country before you arrive in India. Courses or boosters usually advised: Diptheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A, typhoid. Vaccines sometimes advised: Hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis, Japanese B encephalitis, and cholera. As far as malaria tablets go, it is recommended that take malaria tablets while in India, especially during the rainy season. During the rainy season you will also need to cover up and protect yourself from mosquitos as much as you can. You can purchase most medications from chemists in Delhi or in other places, but it is a good idea to pack standard medications such as anti-dioreaha medication and Paracetamol.

Walking around Shimla and pabbar valley at night
We have an 8pm curfew in place because pabbar valley can become quite unsafe at night so please adhere to this at all times. Although we have not had any major issues, it is still not safe to walk around here afterdark.

Safety for female volunteers
Many travel sites like Smarter Travel, and Lonely Planet offer good advice for women travelling abroad to stay safe while travelling and enjoying the amazing places they are visiting. We encourage you to read through the more comprehensive recommendations for being safe on the sites above to prepare for travelling abroad.

In India it is not always safe for female travellers, especially when travelling alone. Please be vigilant at all times, especially when in pabbar valley. Please adhere to the pabbar valley 8pm curfew and use your common sense. Be careful when walking around alone, whether it’s in the villages or it is in Shimla. If you have any concerns then please speak to our staff members to help you with anything you may be concerned about.

Culture shock in India/Delhi
Culture shock is common when travelling to any new country or new environment, but in India and especially flying directly into Delhi can be very overwhelming. Culturally, India is probably the furthest away from Western culture you could possibly find almost anywhere in the world. So it will take time for your mind and your body to adjust to the new surroundings. At 1st you may go through a honeymoon period, where you are excited and amazed by everything that is here. This is generally followed by a period of fear and anxiety about the new surroundings, it usually occurs for some people on the 1st or 2nd night. For some people this period can last a few hours, or a few days, and it’s perfectly normal. Eventually you adjust to it all and it all becomes normal, usually after a week. Expect go through a range of emotions when arriving here from excitement and amazement, to fear, irritability and anger. There are ways to combat the culture shock; a metro ride down to Connaught Place to an air-conditioned cafe with Wifi can usually alleviate the problem for a few hours. So when you are lying in bed on your 1st night in India, in a windowless room, unable to sleep, remember what I have written here, and know that if you can handle travelling in India, you can handle travelling anywhere.

The India Visa
Option 1 - Enter India Tourist Visa
A relatively painless way is to enter India on a Tourist Visa. Depending on which country you are from, it will cost you $70 - $100 for a 6 month Visa. All you need is a return flight, and to fill out the online Visa form. We recommend this option.

Option 2 - Enter India on a Business Visa
The other option is to enter India on a Business Visa, but it can sometimes be quite difficult to obtain and there is risk that they may even knock your application back, without explanation. It also costs a lot more for an Employment Visa (UK passport holders have to pay nearly 300 pounds for it). If you choose this option we will be able to provide you with our NGO details as well as a invitation letter.

It is highly recommended that you take out travel insurance when travelling abroad, but I’m sure you already know this. Luckily for us volunteers, we have a cheap option for travel insurance. It’s a company called ‘Volunteer Travel Card’ and you can find them here www.volunteertravelcard.org. They offer very affordable travel insurance and other benefits for people volunteering abroad. From my experience, you must apply for the volunteer card in your home country. They can cover you for a period of up to 6 months.

Indian sim card
You can purchase an Indian sim card from any mobile shop, We recommend using Airtel ,as it offers cheap rates, around 1R per minute for phone calls to Indian Sims and work properly in mountains.

Teaching and classroom assistance (all projects)
Assisting in lessons can help ensure all students benefit from the activities given (as the levels within the classes can vary) and is a great way for volunteers to get to know individual children. If you wish to help with any of the classes being run, please:

+ Speak to the teacher of the lesson you would like to join to get an overview of what is required, etc.

+ Take guidance from the teacher in regards to the number of volunteers needed for each lesson

+ Offer to provide 1:1 assistance with those children who require extra help, either to finish an activity from the lesson or provide additional learning i.e. reading or writing activities.

+ Encourage the children to come up with the answer themselves rather than give them the answer – at times this may feel difficult but they really do benefit from working out the answer themselves and you will enjoy their reaction when they do!

+ Ask the teacher for help during the lesson if required and remember the children are at different levels within the same class (Some children will finish an activity early and need additional work to keep them engaged whilst other children will work through the activities at a slower pace – both are ok!)

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