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Construction Projects, Water Storage, Sanitation - Cochin

Internship and Volunteering Possible
 
The Ernakulam Social Service Society is active in various fields of social work and development in Kerala. This includes community development, social housing and construction of water reservoirs for drinking water supply. Manual work in the field of construction, as well as internships and volunteer work in the fields of technology, engineering, agricultural engineering and environmental engineering are possible here.
 
 
 

Project Details

 
Kerala is one of India's states with the most stable social situation. Incomes in the cities of Kerala are well above the Indian average, education levels are higher, and the life expectancy for women is 72 years and 67 years for men.
 
The main reason for this is that nearly half of Kerala's population which is at an employable age lives abroad, due to higher salaries in the Gulf countries, England and the US. They regularly send money back to Kerala and thus boost the local economy. These people often return when they are at retirement age, building comfortable homes for their old age in Kerala.
 
For this reason Kerala - similar to the developed countries - has the problem of an aging society: Kerala's age average is 52 years. As the younger generation lives abroad, there are many elderly people that nobody cares for.
 
Kerala has very little industry and due to the lack of workforce also no major food production. To import food from other Indian states increases food prices. It is particularly the rural population that has to suffer from this. There are massive differences of the state of development between the cities and the countryside. The rural population often has low education levels and a very small household income.
 
Many people migrate from other Indian states to the cities of Kerala. Most of them however, are people without or with only low professional qualification, settling in the poor areas around the cities. Cities such as Cochin, are not prepared for this inflow of people and the infrastructure such as the waste disposal system, drink water supply and transportation is stretched to its limits. Environmental problems such as uncontrolled dumping of rubbish and water pollution are the result. As the groundwater levels of Kerala are very high, sewage leaking into the groundwater results in diseases and a lack of drinking water.
 
 
The Ernakulam Social Service Society
 
The Ernakulam Social Service Society (ESSS) has existed since 1962 under the archdiocese of Verapoly. Its headquarters are in Cochin-Ernakulam.
 
The church-run organization is active in socio-economic initiatives and development work for the benefit of poor and disadvantaged groups of the population. 2.5 million people live in the 1500 square kilometers area of operation of ESSS in 7 municipalities and the city of Cochin. ESSS has 35 staff at its headquarters in Ernakulam and 200 field staff.
 
ESSS is involved in a variety of areas, of which we only introduce the following in this project, which are directly related to the fields of construction, engineering, environmental engineering, and the like. 
 
 
SPED-III
 
SPED-III ("Sustainability through Participation, Empowerment and Decentralization") is a program which has been implemented in 20 villages. "Village Action" Teams were founded to analyze problems of the village community and find solutions, for instance related to food security, economic development, education, health, hygiene, gender mainstreaming and environment.
 
The aim of the program is to create critical awareness of such problems and to find participatory solutions within the communities.
 
The financial means to implement the action programs should also be primarily raised from within the community; however there are also some government grants.
 
An example of a SPED-III project was to address the problem of high prices for fruits and vegetables. Kerala imports most of its food from other Indian states, which results in high prices. The reason is that there are not enough agricultural workers in Kerala, as farming jobs are not popular due to low salaries. Poor families were trained in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables for their own consumption to make them less dependent on having to buy basic food items.
 
Another program included the construction of more than 100 compost bins within one year.
 
 
Environmental Protection Program
 
As there is a lack of drinking water in Kerala, ESSS runs self-help groups which have been trained in water management. They have skills in the construction of rain water tanks and further water resource management techniques including rain water wells, pits, spillways etc. and the rejuvenation of local water bodies. Water bodies which have been polluted through rubbish disposal and sewage are rejuvenated through the use of phytoremediation and back washing.
 
 
Community-based Disaster Prevention
 
A 3-5 m high Tsunami wave which was caused by a seaquake near Sumatra on the 26th of December 2004, flooded a 1-2 km wide area along 250 km of the Kerala coast. 168 people died, 12,000 houses were completely destroyed or heavily damaged, thousands of fishing boats were lost, and the number of dead domestic animals was not registered. 85,000 people had to be evacuated into emergency shelters, followed by an outbreak of epidemics, as sewage flooded the drinking water.
 
In cooperation with Caritas, ESSS built 117 houses and 448 sanitary installations, and started a prevention program to better prepare the coastal population for future natural disasters. Besides Tsunamis, India and Kerala are prone to inundations through heavy rainfall, draught, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides.
 
2000 people were trained through the ESSS community teams. In case of a disaster, they now specialize in certain tasks, in every community.
 
The early warning team consists of people aged 18-30 years who were trained in the use of communication technologies and interpretation of weather phenomena. These teams are also used for emergency rescue.
 
The search and rescue team consists of members aged 18-35 years who are physically strong. They were trained in first aid, rescue operations, preparation and use of rescue kits and data collection.
 
The health and first aid team consists of men and women in equal parts. Individuals who already had skills in medicine, nursing and health were preferred and further trained in emergency and disaster medicine.
 
The damage assessment team consists of men and women of higher education who were trained in methods of damage assessment, data collection, patrolling, human rights and legal issues.
 
The Relief & Rehabilitation team has more female than male members and is in charge of the provision of food, water and medicines at emergency shelters during the time after the disaster.
 
 
Construction of Habitation and Sanitary Installations
 
The construction program of houses and sanitary installations which was started because of the tsunami disaster, was expanded and made accessible to anyone in need. The funds are generated through the ESSS Self-Help Groups; one house is completed every month as part of BAHP ("Build a House Plan"). These are low-cost buildings, where local knowledge of building techniques and materials is used.
 
Volunteering and internships is possible at all of these programs.
Info Box
General
Location: Cochin, Kerala (India)
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Month
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: Malayalam
Accommodation:
Shared Accommodation
Internship
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Technical personnel from related fields
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Relevant studies or experience
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Relevant experience
Further Contribution To Project: None
Expectations:
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
 

Accommodation

 

Accommodation in Cochin

 

mostpopular

Guest House in Cochin:

 
You will be accommodated at one of two Guest Houses of middle standard, which belong to the same family and which are located next to each other in a quiet residential area of Fort Cochin, two minutes to walk from the "Maritime Museum". Most rooms have a private bathroom. There is a cleaner once a week and WiFi internet. The rates vary slightly during the year, depending on the season. You can book breakfast for an additional around 80 Rs./day. At one of the Guest Houses there is also a small kitchenette that can be used from participants living in both Guest Houses.
 
Bed sheets are provided but you should bring your own towels.

Rate

 

I. World Unite! Service Package

Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
  up to 31 Days
32-60 Days
61-90 Days
91-120 Days
5 Months or longer
 wu servicepackage
1 Person
450 EUR 600 EUR 700 EUR 750 EUR 850 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
400 EUR 500 EUR 600 EUR 650 EUR 700 EUR
 
Convert rates to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
 

The World Unite! Service Package includes:

 
  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
  • Arrangements of the Documents you need for your Visa Application and assistance with local registration (if required) but not the official government fees for the visa (See costs below)
  • Pick-up and Transfers from/to Cochin International Airport (COK) on arrival and departure
  • Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
  • Orientation and Introduction in Cochin
  • Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
  • 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
  • Local SIM Card with 600 Rs. airtime credit
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
  • Donation of 50 USD (in domestic currency) to your placement organization (in case of charitable organizations)
 

The Rates do NOT include:

 
  • Accommodation and Meals (see below)
  • Travel to/from Cochin (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
  • Official fees for Visa (see below)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.
 

II. Accommodation Costs

 
You can choose between the following options:
Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
All Rates in Indian Rupees!
Convert Currency
 Short-time Stay
(1-31 Days)
Long-time Stay
(32-365 Day)
(You pay proportionally per day)
Shared Apartment/Guest House
   
mostpopular2
Shared Apartment/
Guest House, Room without AC
1 Person
(Single Room)
January-February 1000 Rs/Day
March-Sept 800 Rs/Day
October-November 900 Rs/Day
December 1000 Rs/Day
January-February 1000 Rs/Day
March-Sept 800 Rs/Day
October-November 900 Rs/Day
December 1000 Rs/Day
2 Persons p.p.
(Double/Twin Room)
January-March 750 Rs/Day
April-July 500 Rs/Day
August-Sept 550 Rs/Day
Oktober-Nov 650 Rs/Day
December 750 Rs/Day
January-March 750 Rs/Day
April-July 500 Rs/Day
August-Sept 550 Rs/Day
Oktober-Nov 650 Rs/Day
December 750 Rs/Day
comfortplus3
Guest House, Room with AC
1 Person
(Single Room)
January-March 1500 Rs/Day
April-Sept 1100 Rs/Day
October-Nov 1300 Rs/Day
December 1500 Rs/Day
January-March 1500 Rs/Day
April-Sept 1100 Rs/Day
October-Nov 1300 Rs/Day
December 1500 Rs/Day
2 Persons p.p.
(Double/Twin Room)
January-March 1000 Rs/Day
April-Sept 700 Rs/Day
October-Nov 750 Rs/Day
December 1000 Rs/Day
January-March 1000 Rs/Day
April-Sept 700 Rs/Day
October-Nov 750 Rs/Day
December 1000 Rs/Day
 
In case of 3-4 person: Same rate as in case of 2 Persons. 5 or more persons: Contact us for group rates.
 

Overview of other costs:

 
  • Visa around 60-130 EUR (75-160 USD) depending on activity and duration; to apply prior to your travel
  • If meals are not included: 40-100 EUR (50-130 USD)/Month (Estimate)
  • Small local expenses (Internet, Local Transport): ca. 20-40 EUR (30-50 USD)/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurances around 20-40 EUR (30-50 USD)/Month
 

How do I pay?

 
Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package and for the first month of rent.
 
Rent from the 2nd month, possible further contributions to the NGO or for internship supervision (see info box of the respective project description), and costs for visa and possibly further official permits you pay directly at your destination (unless we inform you differently for certain placements). There are ATMs. 
 

Extras

 

Other Projects That Might Interest You:

 
 
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.
 

Malayalam-Learning:

 
Malayalam is the language of Kerala. Although there are many people with good knowledge of English (much more than Hindi), it is always helpful to have a basic knowledge of Malayalam. You can take lessons (5 times a week for 2 hours each) with a single teacher. Classes are held in Fort Cochin, on the terrace of your property. Just mark in the registration form, "Language Training Required", and let us know your desired number of hours.
 
The price for 10 hours of lessons: 50 EUR.
 

Travel Health Insurance

 
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
 
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
 
 
 

Cochin

 

Check out our video on Cochin!

 
In this video, you see our volunteers, Sophie and Claudia in Cochin and our coordinator, Antonio. Also featured are some activities that you can do in and around Cochin.
 
 

 

Kerala - the Land of the Coconut Palms:

 
In Malayalam, Kerala means "Land of the coconut palms". This tropical state in the south west of India is strong in traditions and culture. Ayurveda, the Kathakali, and Kalarippayat (probably the oldest martial art of the world), all come from Kerala. The society of Kerala however, has also been shaped by the trade and cultural exchange facilitated by sailing vessels on the Indian Ocean. As early as in the 4th century, traders brought Christianity and Islam to Kerala and therefore, these two religions have far more followers in Kerala than in other parts of India: around 55% of Kerala's population are Hindu, 25% Muslims and 20% Christians.
 
Kerala is very attractive and interesting for travelling, offering tropical beaches and islands, house boat tours on the "backwaters", impressive mountains (such as the tea plantation area of Munnar) and National Parks, as well as a rich cultural heritage.
 

Cochin - Historic Port Town

 
The coastal city of Cochin, with around 600,000 inhabitants, spreads over several islands and peninsulas which are all connected via bridges. Ferries can easily bring you to the other parts of the city. An important island is Fort Kochi, the historic old town, where you will be accommodated. In the past, Fort Kochi was an important Indian Ocean port. The Chinese in the 13th century, the Portuguese in the 15th century and the Dutch in the 17th century left their remains. The town of Fort Kochi with its old courtyards, walls, churches and palaces, has a compelling flair which attracts cultural and wellness tourists; therefore there are many restaurants, hotels and guest houses, handcrafts and esoteric shops, as well as events. At night, it is particularly safe in Fort Kochi, as the Indian police operates its own "tourism police station" with a quirky police uniform museum. The modern and big city part of Cochin is Ernakulam, which is situated on the mainland and has a railroad station, many offices and large shops. Vypin Island is popular for beaches.
 

Our Coordinator in Cochin

 
Our coordinator in Cochin is Antonio.
 

Recreational Activities in Cochin

 
As a tourist destination, Cochin offers many ways to spend your spare time. These include the famous boat trips with houseboats on the "backwaters", which is available as day trips or as a multi-day offers, in which case you sleep on the boat. A beautiful multi-day trip and a welcome climate change, is also a visit to the tea plantations in the mountains of Munnar. There are several beaches in the area of Cochin, where you can swim.
 
In Cochin itself, there are many places for Ayurvedic massages, demonstrations of the traditional theater "Kathakali", the martial arts "Kalaripayattu" and folk dances and music performances (as "World Learner", you can even learn these), as well as take yoga or cooking lessons. In Ernakulam, there are large shopping malls and many shops with great deals; Fort Cochin has many tourist shops and a large number of restaurants and cafes. In the late afternoons, locals, Indian tourists and foreign tourists gather on the beach promenade of Fort Cochin to see the sunset.

Getting There

 

Getting To Cochin

india map
 
You book your flight to Cochin/Kochi (COK). There, you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in Cochin.
 
You can also see if there is any cheaper international flight to Mumbai, New Delhi, Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah and then, book a flight separately with:www.jetairways.com, www.goindigo.in oder www.spicejet.com to Cochin.
 

FAQs

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 
Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the Cochin airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Of course, you can do this - most of our participants do so. However, when the travel destination is too far away, it may not be possible over a weekend; these, we would recommend you keep for before the projects begins or after the completion. You could even plan these out during holidays. Even with an internship visa, it is possible to travel around India.
When is the rainy season and can I travel to India during this time?
The monsoon begins in early June in Kerala, Mumbai, in mid-June and the Himalayan region, early to mid-July and ends in September. The Thar Desert in Rajasthan (location Setrawa), barely gets rain during the monsoon and Jodhpur is rather dry.
 
During the monsoon, it usually rains heavily for several hours every day. As a result, there are often floods in the streets of the cities, because the drains cannot absorb the amounts of water. An internship or volunteering is possible during the monsoon, and the only nuisance will probably be wet clothes and shoes, which are often difficult to dry because of the high humidity. You might want to carry a few extra shoes and a change of clothes with you (or buy them locally). You can even buy an umbrella or a raincoat locally. An advantage to traveling during the monsoon, is that the fares are cheaper and accommodation during the off season is cheaper.
Can I travel to India as a young woman alone? The media constantly reports of rape - how high is the risk?
For decades, India has been a safe country for women and now the impression, given by the media, is that the number of rapes has skyrocketed and India is unsafe for women. More cases are coming into light now, as women previously would not speak about rape, but are now empowered to do so. Compared to the number of cases in relation to the huge population of India (almost twice as many as the whole of Europe), even if projections of unreported cases are included, there is much less rape than in many other countries. There are 2 cases that happen per 100,000 inhabitants in India (in comparison: Central Europe: 8.1 cases; 14.7 cases in Latin America; 28.6 cases per 100,000 population in the US).
 
Of course you have to be careful as a woman, as far as the style of dressing and dealing with local men are concerned. In schools, boys and girls are often strictly separated and many young men have no experience in dealing with women who are not their own mother or sisters; your behavior, based on dealing with Western men, might be misinterpreted as “easy” or “loose” behaviour.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Cochin?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Cochin, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info - PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where will I live?
In the tab "Accommodation", you see the housing options.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
Yes, the accommodations in Cochin provide wifi at no additional cost.
How can I do my laundry?
Watch our video about Cochin (in the tab "Cochin"). In it, our coordinator, Antonio shows us a laundry service, where the clothes are washed by hand. For a pre-decided price per garment (fixed price for trousers, tops, towels, underwear, etc.), your clothes will be collected from your accommodation and neatly ironed and returned the next day.
Can I cook in the accommodation?
Yes, you can cook at the shared accommodation.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Yes, India is a paradise for vegetarians. Almost all restaurants are clearly marked, whether they are vegetarian ("Veg") or not ("Non-Veg"), and there are separate menus. About 40% of Indians are vegetarians.
What language skills do I need?
You should be able to understand and make yourself understood in English.
 
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