We arrange internships and volunteering in special education, occupational therapy and nursing at a centre for special needs children, youth and adults in Cochin/Kerala, which is run by Christian nuns.
What is your placement organisation doing?
The centre, which is run by an Italian sisterhood, includes a school, day care, and home for children, youth and adults with IQ of below 70. It was started in 1977 and is open to anyone, regardless of their religion. It offers a school (kindergarten, primary and secondary school), accommodation, indoor and outdoor play area, physiotherapy, speech therapy and a function hall, which is also used for vocational training. The students are also offered yoga, music and dance therapy; they play in a brass music band. Once per year (usually in March), they perform a theater play.
The sisters try to provide support on an individual level as much as possible, which, due to the big number of students, is not always possible. The effort of volunteers and interns is hence, highly appreciated. Ideally, one person needs to take full time care of one student. The sisters have professional qualification in special education and special nursing; they can instruct and supervise interns. They are Indians who have spent several years at the headquarters of the congregation in Turin.
There is one room for a group of children under the age of 3 who are being offered early childhood intervention therapy.
There are 10 children aged 3 to 13 at the kindergarten and nursery school who are educated in a group.
The secondary school, for which there is no age limit, is currently attended by 69 youth and adults from the age of 13. Depending on their abilities, they are given basic formal school education, reading and writing, English, skills needed for an independent life, housework, simple handcrafts and vocational skills.
After participating in some pre-vocational training, under the close supervision of the sisters, they do handcrafts, including carpet making, screen printing, mechanics, making paper flowers, paper lamps, paper garlands and gift bags, candle making, tailoring, soap making, printing greeting cards, glass painting, casting figures of saints, and many others. These products are sold at church bazaars and contribute to the funding of the centre.
28 girls and women currently live at the centre.
How can you get involved?
Our volunteer Sophie describes her daily work at the centre:
"I'm starting at the school every morning at 9:30, which is the time when the students arrive. They are of an age of 3 to 70 years. In the beginning there is a prayer, typically followed by some gymnastics. From around 10 the students attend their classes. There are 6 classes, separated by age and abilities. At three of the classes some English and Mathematics are taught in a very playful way, such as by singing songs. It is very much possible for a volunteer to implement own ideas, such as by making own educational materials. There are three classes for vocational training where a lot of handcrafts, painting, drawing, and gluing is done - anything you can imagine. If you stay for a longer time, you will have the chance to switch the class every week and then decide which one is your favourite one where you want to stay for a longer time. What I enjoy is that I can do my own projects with the students. For instance I have made lanterns and Christmas decoration with them. The students are at their classes until around 11:30 and then there is a short break that we use to go to the playground, to do ball games or to sing. At 12 it's lunchtime. During that time volunteers can decide whether they want to stay at the school, go home or have lunch at a restaurant. At 1:15 there is Fun Dance time for 15 minutes. And from 1:30 classes are continued as before. At 3 the rooms are tidied up and there is a short time left to play, sing or dance until the school bus picks up the students at 3:30. When the kids have left, my working day is over."
The work hours are typically from 9am - 12pm and from 3pm - 6pm. Volunteering of any duration is possible.
Location: Cochin, Kerala (India)
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Week
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: Malayalam
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Special Education Teachers, Nurse
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
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.