The Don Bosco Centres in Cochin/Kerala, South India, operate several programs for socially disadvantaged children and youth living on the street or coming from broken families, trying to provide them with everything they need to be able to have a decent life and be part of society. At Don Bosco, we arrange internships and volunteering placements in the fields of education and social work.
What is your placement organisation doing?
Amongst Don Bosco’s aims are to reintegrate these children into their families, to provide the most vulnerable children with shelter, to support the psycho-social development of the children, to provide education to street children, working children, slum children, neglected children, children of sex workers, and school dropouts, in order to integrate them into society with knowledge, skills to generate income and self-confidence.
In fact, only a few of the supported children come from the state of Kerala, where the conservative family structures still work well. They are to a greater degree, children of immigrants from other parts of India, where income levels are 4-5 times lower than in Kerala. These children can often be found engaged in child labour – young girls, for instance, often work as housemaids.
Today, in Cochin, Don Bosco runs 5 centres for different age groups. One is for girls only and one is an open shelter. In total, Don Bosco looks after 230 children and youth between 6 and 18 years.
How can you get involved?
Don Bosco is a need-based organization and therefore you might not be able to choose the center you will be placed at but will rather be placed where your help is most needed. The children and adolescents in the centers are separated by sex. Mainly, volunteers/interns work in the centers for boys, e.g. at the Sneha Bhavan Center, which is for boys of about 8-15 years and at the Bosco Nilayam Center for boys of over 15 years.
The work at the centers usually starts at 4.00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, when the children return from school. Interns/volunteers can conduct various activities with the children, such as games, dance, music, sports (mostly the boy play football/soccer). Then, the children have tea and do their homework; volunteers/interns can be present and assist the local staff. At around 8.00 p.m., the children have dinner and volunteers/interns can assist with the distribution of food and eat at the centre. Afterwards they usually return home by bus. In the evenings, Holy Masses or other religious activities take place in some centers, where volunteers/interns can also participate if they are interested.
On the weekends, the children are at the centre during the whole day and you can spend a lot of time with them.
It is expected from volunteers that they act as role models for the children and youth. For this reason, they are not allowed to smoke, drink alcohol or consume drugs on the organisation’s premises, and need to be dressed appropriately. They have to reflect an active and positive attitude towards life. Further, it is expected that they educate themselves about the local culture, the situation of marginalized children in India and the educational approach of Don Bosco, and to adapt their behavior accordingly.
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
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Teacher, Social Worker, Educator
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Relevant skills
Further Contribution To Project: None
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
In our video about Cochin, Claudia talks about her work at Sneha Bhavan. You can watch the video in the tab "Cochin".
Review by Claudia and Sophie
Our day in India usually begins with a leisurely cup of coffee at our Homestay. Depending on the time we need to start work, we take a small tour or we go directly to work. Now, we report on a working day from 12.30 p.m., as it is during the holidays or weekends; during school days, most children reach the Center only at 3.30 p.m. First, we help with the food distribution for the children. After lunch, the children have to do their chores like cleaning, sweeping, etc. Then, game time is announced. This is made to be free time for the kids. We tinker, play, sing, paint and dance. By 4.00 p.m. it is "tea time". At this time, people often come from outside and bring different sweets as donations for the children. After tea is free play time. The bigger children usually play football and we take care of the little ones. At 5.30 p.m., the children take a shower. After showering, is "study time". We support children in learning and homework. Also, we think of new tasks for them and try to promote them according to their individual interests. By 8.00 p.m., there is dinner; sometimes we stay for dinner but usually by this time, we take our bus home. Love, Claudia and Sophie
Accommodation in Cochin
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.
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|
|450 EUR||600 EUR||700 EUR||750 EUR||850 EUR|
(Rate per Person)
|400 EUR||500 EUR||600 EUR||650 EUR||700 EUR|
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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
- 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:
| All Rates in Indian Rupees! |
|Any Duration of Stay|
|Shared Apartment/Guest House|
Guest House, Room without AC
January-March 1000 Rs/Day
April-September 800 Rs/Day
October-November 900 Rs/Day
December 1500 Rs/Day
|2 Persons p.p.
|January-March 750 Rs/Day
April-Sept 650 Rs/Day
Oktober-Nov 700 Rs/Day
December 800 Rs/Day
Guest House, Room with AC
January-March 1500 Rs/Day
April-Sept 1200 Rs/Day
October-Nov 1250 Rs/DayDecember 2000 Rs/Day
|2 Persons p.p.
January-March 900 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, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.
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 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.
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 To Cochin
You book your flight to Cochin/Kochi (COK). There, you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in Cochin.
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.