Tips for staying safe whilst
volunteering your skills in India
Safety is one of the biggest concern for most volunteers coming to share their skills and time in India. Indeed, it can be daunting to come to a new country where you don’t know the language, the customs, the food, let alone your way around.
But don’t despair, we’ve got you covered during your volunteer placement. These are the essential things you need to consider when it comes to your safety when volunteering abroad:
Prepare and do you research about Hyderabad and India
Before embarking on your big adventure, make sure to do some research on India. Look at the general travel advice your national government is giving about different parts of the country. When planning travel before/during/after your placement – are there any security issues you need to be aware of?
Then check out travel blogs. What are other people saying about India and Hyderabad specifically? What do they say about the Do’s and Don’ts?
Finally, do some basic research on the customs, culture, history and language of your volunteering location. Do you need to dress a certain way? Are their gender-specific requirements? What is the safest way to get around?
Buy travel insurance before the start of the volunteer placement
Travel insurance is so much more than missed planes or lost luggage. It needs to include health coverage as well as coverage of valuable possessions. Make sure to read through the medical policies of health insurance carefully, and ask the provider questions where necessary. There are tons of comparison sites out there, trying to help travellers through the labyrinth of travel insurance. Look up what NEEDS to be included, and pay attention especially to the wording of the policy, it’s important to read the small print.
Get a functioning phone and SIM card
Before leaving your home, ensure you have an unlocked phone handy that accepts foreign SIM cards. You’ll be able to get a SIM card within the first few days of your arrival. Mobile data in Hyderabad works really well, so you’ll be able to find your way around using google maps, and book taxis via apps such as Uber and Ola. When it is late and you are coming home from dinner or a social event, getting an Uber/Ola is the safest way to get home. The apps even offer a tracking functions for other people to follow your journey.
Be aware of your surroundings when volunteering abroad
This might seem obvious, but the safest way to get around any city is to use common sense and your intuition. If a dark, small alley seems dodgy, don’t go through it. Keep your belongings tight on your body, and don’t flash cash in public spaces. Your intuition is a useful indicator of whether a situation is safe or not. And even if you’re wrong in the end – you’d rather be safe than sorry! Read your environment, understand body language and nonverbal behaviour and most importantly, trust your gut.
Sign up with a trustworthy volunteer organisation that is in-country
Going on a volunteer experience alone can be exciting and adventurous, but can daunting at the same time. It is always advisable to book your volunteer programme through a trusted volunteer organisation. If you want to volunteer in India, your volunteer organization of choice should have extensive knowledge and experience about the locality, and be able to answer any questions before you arrive. They should also prioritise health and safety: providing a 24/7 emergency number (save this in your phone), a health and safety induction, vetted placements, have incident management and emergency response plans in place and have conducted placement risk assessments. Volunteering abroad means signing up for an experience and adventure that you have yet to discover. So check that the organisation you want to sign up with is professional and reliable and has the appropriate safety measures in place.
We have extensive experience in organising volunteer programmes in Hyderabad, India. Volunteering with Skilled Impact means that you will have a safe and meaningful experience. Contact us at email@example.com to find out more.