Make a difference in Madurai- the city of festivals
India has a population exceeding 1 billion, over 25% of the population is living in poverty. We have links with projects where volunteers can make a real contribution to the people that really need the help - those that are being left behind as India develops economically into a world power.
A Gap Year in India presents a great opportunity for you to make a difference to a few peoples lives, and also gives you a great base for travelling around the country and beyond after your placement.
All of our placements are based in Madurai which is in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
What will I do in India?
Oyster offers two types of placement that volunteers can choose to work on:
- Teaching: the projects are based in nursery, primary or secondary schools. The schools we use are desperate for volunteers and make good use of you from Day One. Most of the schools operate a system whereby all lessons are taught in English. This is great for the students and also for the volunteers. The students need English to stand a better chance of getting a job that pays well after their final exams. For the volunteers, it means that you can teach other subjects that you have an interest in. As well as English, you could teach IT, Drama, Arts and Crafts, Maths and even French or German! Read our blog for accounts written by oyster participants. Check out our 'more information page' for further details.
- Medical Work Experience: This project of ideal for people wanting to gain some medical work experience before starting medical school. Whilst you don't need any prior experience, you do need to be enthusiastic and well motivated.
Volunteers shadow a doctor or nurse from a specific hospital department. The type of work that you are allocated will depend on your experience and interests. If you have any interest in a particular department, please do let us know at the earliest possible point. In the past, volunteers have sat in on operations ranging from brain surgery to keyhole surgery!
Madurai has its own airport that you will fly into (airport code IXM) from either, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore. Oyster can book flights for you or you may prefer to book them yourself. You will be met at Madurai airport by one of our representatives, Pradeep Kumar, or Karen Herring.
Karen took a career break in Borneo a few years ago and has never looked back. Karen has lived in Madurai for 3 years and loves it there. She works alongside Pradeep as our Representative. Karen loves animals, reading and watching movies.
Pradeep is a keen musician and particularly enjoys playing his trumpet. He is looking forward to welcoming you to Madurai on arrival and being there for you as our Representative in India alongside Karen. Pradeep speaks perfect English and is an English Literature Graduate.
There are two accommodation options available. We do our best to place volunteers in their preferred choice but during busy times accommodation can be assigned based on availability. The two options are:
- Living in a volunteer flat in Madurai with other volunteers. The flat is comfortable but basic and you should expect to share a room. You will be self catering in the flat but we give you a food allowance which is enough for you to have 3 meals a day.
- Living with a local family that hosts volunteers as their guests; the family will very quickly help you to settle in as part of the family. We find that by living with families volunteers come away with a far greater understanding of the local culture and customs. You should expect to share a room with another volunteer and you will have a western style bathroom. Every household has electricity and running water and there is mobile reception. Wholesome local food will be provided while you are with your host family. Expect lots of exciting and delicious Indian dishes and exotic fruit. Volunteers also have access to the kitchen if you want to make your own drinks and snacks.
Cost and what is provided
Teaching The cost of a 4 week placement is £1195 and 12 weeks (highly recommended) is £1795, all durations are excluding flights.
Medical The cost of a 4 week placement is £1295 and 12 weeks (highly recommended) is £1895, all durations are excluding flights.
What is Provided?
- Phone or face-to-face informal interview and briefing
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst in India
- Food (3 meals a day) provided by your host family or through a food allowance.
- Advice on obtaining a visa
- Accommodation with a local family (and possibly other volunteers) or in a volunteer flat
- (Optional) flight with flexible return date (modest fee levied by airline for date changes). Approx £800 extra.
- ATOL protection (as long as we book your flights)
- In country induction course on arrival to brief you on local matters and orientate you.
- Airport pick up and transfer to your accommodation
- 24/7 country support and backup
- Full induction to your chosen project - you are not thrown in completely at the deep end!
- Daily transport to your chosen project
What do I need?
- All flights (Oyster can book these for you)
- Insurance - we can recommend you a policy (approx £161 for 4 months)
- A passport valid for 6 months beyond the end of your placement
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport at the end of your stay
- Personal spending money - snacks, drinks, gifts, independent travel
- All home country travel costs (to airport and interview if face-to-face)
And one more thing...
Madurai is known as the "city of festivals and temples". The Meenakshi Temple, which has 1000 carved pillars, is especially famous.