Help, farm, teach and live within an eco-friendly community for disabled people in rural Tamil Nadu, India

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India

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  2019 

 Min stay requested: at least 1 month

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  • Description

    Description

    Our Village Foundation welcomes you! It was named after a Sanskrit word which means creation. Indeed, we want to create a world for those who are marginalized. People with intellectual and developmental disability should have a world which they can call their own, and where everyone is treated with equal respect. In short, that is what we provide: We are an organisation working to empower disabled people to live more independently. Now we will go into the details:
    Our Vision is big but not impossible:
    It is to build an inclusive society where children and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are respected, valued and have choices to lead a holistic and dignified life together. The Foundation believes in an inclusive and eco-responsible world, where everyone will be given the opportunity to reach his full potential regardless of disability, race, gender, etc.

    To achieve this goal, we bought 8.39 acres of land in Thazhuthali Village (30 km from Pondicherry). Here we started to establish our Village: A self-sustaining and eco-friendly community (still upon completion) with our first members who already live, learn and work on the land. In our farm adults with disabilities who learn agricultural skills to live independently. Besides the farm our village runs a school for disabled children. Also our adult members are taught (mainly in English and skills for daily routine, but farming lessons are in the planning). Our family contains employees, volunteers and members of every age. We live together on the land and our aim is to get the members involved in all aspects of our work. Volunteers have the possibility to live together in a separate place (more below).
    Our work bears fruits. We are already partially nourishing ourselves from our farm products. Most important, however, is the development of our members. Through several years of experience, we realized that they had the chance to transform their lives. Besides, facts and figures reveal that in India, a large majority of people with intellectual disabilities live in rural area and do not benefit from any adequate training opportunity. This whole set of information and our own experience inspires us daily to launch and continue our activities.

    We really value the contribution of our volunteers and are looking for people with a mature outlook, who show initiative and are willing to help in all aspects of our work. Consequently we welcome anybody who wants to share their experience with us and help us grow.

    We as a Village have little but strict rules you have to comply with:
    Guests: Guests are nearly always welcome but it is necessary to come to an agreement before.
    Relationships in the village: Due to interdependency and confidential matters, intimate relationships between staff members and volunteers, staff members and community members or volunteers and community members are a strict no-go. Yet, certain things like love and relations are not restrictable because love can blossom anywhere, anytime. If two persons have mutual consent and if it doesn’t affect the Management and works related to our project, then there are no restrictions as such.
    Religious activity: This is a secular institute that welcomes everyone with or without a certain religion. To protect the project, no religious symbols or activities can be presented in or around the village in a visible or audible way. All members have to respect all religious beliefs and non beliefs. Discussions with religious context should be avoided as much as possible to prevent inter religious conflicts. No one should feel forced to believe what others believe. According to Indian visa regulations any missionary activities within in India are prohibited, so volunteers should take care of this.
    Harassment: We want to provide a harassment-free environment for its volunteers. Mutual respect, along with cooperation and understanding, must be the basis of interaction between staff, members and volunteers. We will neither tolerate nor accept behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity or self-esteem of an individual, or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
    There are several forms of harassment but all can be defined as any unwelcome action by any person, whether verbal or physical, on a single or repeated basis, which humiliates insults or degrades. “Unwelcome”, for the purposes of this policy, refers to any action which the harasser knows or ought to reasonably know is not desired by the victim of the harassment. Specifically, racial harassment is defined as any unwelcome comments, swearing, racist statements, slurs, hurtful jokes, graffiti or literature or pictures and posters which may intentionally or unintentionally offend another person. Sexual harassment is any unwanted attention of a sexual nature such as remarks about appearance or personal life, offensive written or visual actions like graffiti or degrading pictures, physical contact of any kind, or sexual demands.
    Workplace Violence: Workplace violence can be defined as a threat or an act of aggression resulting in physical or psychological damage, pain or injury to a worker or a community member or a volunteer, which arises during the course of work. Further to the definition of violence, is the definition of abuse. Abuse can be verbal, psychological or sexual in nature. Verbal abuse is the use of unwelcome, embarrassing, offensive, threatening or degrading comments. Psychological abuse is an act which provokes fear or diminishes a person’s dignity or self-esteem. Finally, sexual abuse is any unwelcome verbal or physical advance or sexually explicit statement. We have a zero tolerance limit with regards to harassment and violence. Volunteers engaging in either harassing or violent activities will be subject to discipline, which may include termination and possibly criminal charges.
    Safety: In Village one should ensure the safety of their own belongings.
    Alcohol use: Alcohol consumption is not permitted on the village/school at any time.
    Alcohol consumption outside the village entirely depends on the person. At all working times volunteers are expected to be sober.
    Drug use: Use of illegal Drugs or dealing in or promotion of the same is not permitted in any of the premises: this means at the village/school or at the place where accommodation is provided. For the purposes of this policy, illegal drugs would not include drugs prescribed by a medical practitioner, or normal pharmaceutical drugs for low level disease such as
    aspirin, paracetamol etc.
    Smoke Free Environment: Smoking at the Village is not permitted at any time. Outside of entrance gate is personal choice. Cigarette left-over’s should be disposed of properly. Smoking outside the village at other properties is permitted in a reasonable way but only in consent of all persons staying there. It should not impact the health of any other person.
    Littering and waste segregation: To ensure cleanliness, littering is considered to be misconduct. Please be aware that we are living in a shared environment. You find waste bins at certain designated places in the village, use it and help community members get used to it.
    Personal Hygiene: Volunteers are requested to maintain the personal hygiene in order to protect yourself and others from illness. Please remember you are living with a family at the village.

    All the people staying in the Village have to abide Indian laws, rules and regulations. The rules you have to follow in India are:
    Drugs: In India, using drugs is illegal. Drugs are forbidden on and off the Village. All medicines the volunteers bring with them should be supported by prescriptions and medical reports.
    Gambling: Gambling is legally not allowed and therefore not acceptable in the village.
    Offensive behaviour: Offensive behaviour is not tolerated.

    If you can accustom to the aforesaid rules we will not only be able to give you an amazing volunteer experience but a second home. We encourage people with disabilities and from other diverse backgrounds to apply. We do not discriminate based on disability. Please contact us with any questions about access needs. We will be happy to help.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    Gardening
    Building
    General Maintenance
    Farmstay
    Help with Eco project
    Animal care
    Language practice
    Teaching

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    We aim to ensure that volunteers have a lot to gain from spending time with us.

    The main thing we hope to share is making sure you feel part of the family. Our project is mostly located in the Village where members and staff work, eat and live together. We invite volunteers to take part in our meals, cultural activities and day to day life (with the option of staying in your own accommodation - the so called Orange House, again more below). On your free days you can easily travel by bus from the village. With the bus lines you can travel a lot. Furthermore there are several train connections from Pondicherry to nearly every Indian destination. It is also possible to rent motor vehicles. Riding the Indian public buses and trains is just one little part worth discovering while travelling. You can explore various temples, beaches, cities, markets and small rural villages in your free time. Many of them are even nearby. If you stay in the Orange House you will also have an Indian working travel. In the morning you can either walk, ride a bicycle or try to get a ride to the Village. There you have in general a great opportunity to meet and work with adults and children with disabilities in India.

    Our work is very much centred around using your existing skills, but also developing and stretching them. We use mostly traditional farming methods on the farm. Our members and staff are very keen to share their knowledge and skills with volunteers, whilst also learning from you.

    The accommodation and food we provide is basic, but also very traditional to the local area. So it is a great opportunity to experience how real life in rural Tamil Nadu is.

  • Help

    Help

    There are four main areas you can help with:

    (i) Special school
    ‘Assist in our Special School to educate children with intellectual disabilities’

    Special School has the objective to give children with intellectual disabilities who live in rural areas the access to the education they deserve and need. We try to teach every child according to her or his individual needs. The training is mainly based on teaching the children, skills they need in the daily life like eating etc., and improve their skills through games and artistic activities such as drawing.

    Volunteers are a constant and important part of our school because they give us the opportunity to concentrate on each individual child in a better way and give each and everyone the attention he or she needs and deserves. New ideas that every volunteer brings with him or her are for us just as important as the love and attention the additional member of our team showers on our children. Volunteers help us a lot to improve the quality of our work.

    Tasks

    • Assist the teacher in handling the children
    • Contribute own ideas, activities, games etc. to the curriculum
    • Help the children with their day-to-day activities
    • Assess the needs of the children and act according to it

    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Willingness to work with intellectually disabled children
    • Patience with the children and teacher
    • Creativity
    • Cultural sensitivity as you’ll be living in the rural Tamil Nadu
    • Willingness to put the children’s needs over one self’s

    (ii) the Village
    ‘Helping with our eco-friendly, inclusive and self-sustaining Village’

    the Village is the main project of the Foundation. It is an inclusive, eco-friendly and self-sustaining village and farm where we give intellectually disabled and marginalized people the opportunity to learn skills in the agricultural sector. Through this we are also trying to generate income for our community. By helping them learn skills, we are helping them lead a dignified and holistic life where they can contribute something for their families and the society. Also, through our farm, we are trying to become independent and self-sustaining.
    We use only organic, traditional South-Indian techniques to cultivate our vegetables and crops and include our intellectually disabled community members into every step of the cultivation process.
    Volunteers are welcome to help on the land which includes taking care of the vegetable garden, helping with the day to day works such as watering the plants, helping with building up the infrastructure in our village, teaching the disabled community members new skills or initiating new projects such as a dairy farm or honey bee harvesting etc.

    Tasks

    • Help on our land with our Eco-friendly farming
    • Teach the intellectually disabled community members new skills
    • Initiate own Projects
    • Work together with our community members

    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Willingness to work with the intellectually disabled community members
    • Patience with the plants and people
    • Creativity
    • Willingness to live in basic circumstances
    • Basic knowledge about or at least interest in agriculture and organic farming.

    (iii) Vocational Training Centre
    ‘Help with our Vocational Training Centre’

    In our Vocational Training Centre, we teach intellectually disabled adults skills that will enable them to generate their own income and become self-sustaining. Basically, we show them how to produce items for selling. Using mainly waste and recycled products, we are both helping the environment and keeping the cost prices low. The centre is currently producing doormats, cleaning products, candles, incense sticks and more.

    Volunteers are welcome to introduce new skills and help the intellectually disabled people with learning and producing new items. Furthermore you are welcome to find new marketing ideas and possibilities to sell our products.

    Tasks

    • Teach intellectually disabled people handicraft skills
    • Give assistance for disabled people while producing the items
    • Introduce new ideas and skill trainings
    • Help with tailoring class


    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Interest in producing items for selling
    • Interest in teaching intellectually disabled people handicraft skills
    • Creativity
    • Patience with the intellectually disabled people

    (iv) Foundation Management

    ‘Join our Foundation Management team’

    The Foundation Management is coordinating all the different projects, scheduling and conducting weekly team meetings, planning events, spreading knowledge about the Foundation in Social Media and other networks.
    If you choose to work for the management you will be responsible for documentation, writing proposals for new funding opportunities or help to design flyers, posters or other promotional materials.
    Volunteers will be mainly working on their own and therefore have the opportunity to be creative and include their own ideas into their work.

    Tasks

    • Assist with administrative works such as writing proposals
    • Find new opportunities for fundraising programs
    • Design flyers or posters for promotion of the projects
    • Update the website, BLOG and social media for the Foundation We have the following main areas in which you can help:

    1. Special school
    ‘Assist in our Special School to educate children with intellectual disabilities’

    Special School has the objective to give children with intellectual disabilities who live in rural areas the access to the education they deserve and need. We try to teach every child according to her or his individual needs. The training is mainly based on teaching the children skills they need in the daily life like eating, washing hands etc., and improve their skills through games and artistic activities such as drawing.

    Volunteers are a constant and important part of our school because they give us the opportunity to concentrate on each individual child in a better way and give each and every one the attention he or she needs and deserves. New ideas from volunteers are for us just as important as the love and attention the additional member of our team shows on our children. Volunteers help us a lot to improve the quality of our work.

    Tasks

    • Assist the teacher in handling the children
    • Contribute own ideas, activities, games etc. to the curriculum
    • Help the children with their day-to-day activities
    • Assess the needs of the children and act according to it

    Actual projects

    • Since we inaugurated a new, way bigger school building we are open for any improving suggestions regarding the organisation, the usage and decoration of the building.
    • We are always developing new activities for our kids. Because each child is special we daily face to improve our methods of communication treatment.

    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Willingness to work with intellectually disabled children
    • Patience with the children and teacher
    • Creativity
    • Cultural sensitivity as you’ll be living in the rural Tamil Nadu
    • Willingness to put the children’s needs over one self’s

    2. Farm
    ‘Helping with our eco-friendly, inclusive and self-sustaining Village’

    The Village is the main project of the Foundation. It is an inclusive, eco-friendly and self-sustaining village and farm where we give intellectually disabled and marginalized people the opportunity to learn skills in the agricultural sector. We have a food forest where we grow our own vegetables and fruits. The aim is that some day we can sell the superfluous vegetables and fruits. The most important aim is including members in your daily work. Teaching them what you know or learning it with them together.
    By helping them learn skills, we are helping them lead a dignified and holistic life where they can contribute something for their families and the society. Also, through our farm, we are trying to become independent and self-sustaining.
    We use only organic, traditional South-Indian techniques to cultivate our vegetables and crops and include our intellectually disabled community members into every step of the cultivation process. Farming in general includes preparing the soil of the plants, digging holes for the seeds, putting them in, taking care of them and see them growing.

    Volunteers are welcome to help on the land which includes taking care of the vegetable garden, helping with the day to day works such as watering the plants, helping with building up the infrastructure in our village, teaching the disabled community members new skills or initiating new projects such as a dairy farm or honey bee harvesting etc.

    Tasks

    • Help on our land with our Eco-friendly farming
    • Teach the intellectually disabled community members new skills and work with them
    • Initiate own projects

    Actual projects

    • We are upgrading our fifth layer food forest part. The fifth layer model allows up to 25 different sorts of plants in one place. It is the opposite to monoculture and always occupied by us. The varierty of 13 plants should grow (fruits and vegetables combined together). We are already planting and harvesting papaya, mango, banana or watermelon. In the same garden different sorts of pumpkin, guards and beans are growing. Here you can help preparing proper soil for the plants, collecting and adding mulch, digging holes, planting plants and preparing compost.
    • One of our nurseries was built by volunteers (example for an own project). Here is where we plant in addition to the farm and forest. Germinating seeds in the nursery is the main task there.
    • We have cows, chicken, dogs and rabbits. Taking care of our animals includes milking, feeding them, cleaning the shelter and generally creating them a nice living place.
    • One of our actual project is improving our farming related teaching for adult members of the community. Preparing material for teaching farming theory includes creating Powerpoint presentations and more interacting activities.

    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Willingness to work with the intellectually disabled community members
    • Patience with the plants and people
    • Creativity
    • Willingness to live in basic circumstances
    • Basic knowledge about or at least interest in agriculture and organic farming.

    3. Administration
    Join our Foundation Management team’

    Great projects need a lot of organisational talent and work. Therefore our office runs every day. The Foundation Management is coordinating all the different projects, scheduling and conducting weekly team meetings, planning events, spreading knowledge about the Foundation in Social Media and other networks.

    Actual Projects
    • If you choose to work for the management you will be responsible for the facebook account. As required documentation, writing proposals for new funding opportunities can be a part of our work. Sometimes help to design flyers, posters or other promotional materials is needed.
    But volunteers in the administration will mainly be working on their own and therefore have the opportunity to be creative and include their own ideas into their work.

    Tasks

    • Assist with administrative works such as writing proposals
    • Find new opportunities for fundraising programs
    • Design flyers or posters for promotion of the projects
    • Update the website, BLOG and social media (facebook at the moment) for the Foundation

    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Interest in working on the computer (best to bring your own laptop)
    • Basic knowledge in text editing programs such as Word or Power Point
    • Creativity
    • Interest in organisation activities

    4. Kitchen
    As our community is growing and all of them enjoy to eat our two cooks are happy for any support in the kitchen. They cook three vegetarian hot meals per day. Additionally the members make two to three fresh tea or lemon juice a day.

    Tasks
    • In the kitchen it is mostly about cutting vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between making tee or being a helping cooking hand are welcome changes.

    Actual Projects
    • Each day we make the best out of the seasonal vegetables we get. Defining projects is therefore in the kitchen impossible.
    • Including members in cutting vegetables, serving and more kitchen related tasks is one of our actual projects.

    Requirements

    • Willingness to work with the intellectually disabled community members
    • Patience and staying power
    • Interest in Indian food or cooking in general


    Requirements

    • Enthusiasm
    • Interest in working on the computer (best to bring your own laptop)
    • Basic knowledge in text editing programs such as Word or Power Point
    • Creativity
    • Interest in organisation activities

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English, Tamil

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation

    Housing
    All long term and short term volunteers are provided with accommodation in the Village or at a separate house in the Thazhuthali village which we lovingly call “The Orange House”. Volunteers can choose which accommodation is more suited to them.

    The Orange House is a rented house specifically for our volunteers in Thazhuthali village. You will have a bed, fan, shared toilet and shower and a shared kitchen. Furthermore the Orange House consists of a rooftop and a garden. It is located near different shops where you can buy yourself fresh curt and milk. You can also reach a bakery and different street food possibilities. Otherwise you can buy fresh vegetables, drinks and fruits in the shops. If you stay in the Orange House you have the possibility to cook your own dinner (or any other meal) or eat it outside. On your days off you are free to stay in the Orange house.

    A way through two little rural villages separates the Orange House from the village. On foot one way takes 45 min. In the bigger cities you can rent motor vehicles or use the bicycles from previous volunteers for the way. If you are lucky you can get a ride sometimes. The way is your own responsibility.

    Inside the village we have a hut specially constructed for our volunteers. It is a once in a life time experience to live in the hut inside the village. You have a clean toilet and bathroom inside the village which is built especially for the volunteers. You will get a table fan and mats to sleep on. This kind of accommodation is generally given to people who volunteer on the farm. While living in the village you get to know the community better.
    It is possible to make a mixture out of both accommodation possibilities. (Best you experience and decide)

    Food
    You will never be hungry in the Village. Volunteers for full board – three meals per day plus morning and evening tea. If you want you can join all three delicious hot meals and two freshly made teas each day. Otherwise you can cook for yourself in the Orange House. We try to provide healthy meals and the majority of are eligible our food is vegetarian. Our self planted vegetables, fresh milk and great cooks make every meal we share together a great meal. Sometimes we even profit from food donations.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Visa: For travelling to India a Visa is required so please inform and prepare yourself. There are different types of Visa (related to the duration of the planned stay).

    How to reach: Our project is located in Thazhuthali village in the rural Tamil Nadu, which is around 30 Kms from the nearest city, Pondicherry. (By the way: Pondicherry is a fantastic city with many tourist attractions and volunteers often take the bus at the weekend to visit. There are also many nice cafes and restaurants and a nice seafront.) From there you have to take a bus to Mailam and get down at Thazhuthali village. Reach there and call us, we’ll pick you up.
    To reach our village you can also take several buses from Chennai. There are buses frequently going from Chennai to Trichy or to Villupuram. You can catch any of the buses and get down at a place called Kooteripattu. From Kooteripattu, you can find buses to Thazhuthali village. Reach there and call us, we’ll pick you.
    Taxis are relatively cheap alternatives in India. We can arrange you a taxi driver from the Chennai Airport on your own costs (around 70 Euros). There are also other routes, if you are not coming from these two places, just give a call to us, we’ll guide.
    Packing list: Taking sun cream, thin but long clothes and some mosquito spray (all depending on the season you plan to stay) with you may be a good idea.
    Money: Officially it is not permitted to import or export Indian currency. With a credit card or money in another common currency you are well prepared. At the airport money can be changed at bad conditions, so we recommend to change only the most necessary money directly at the airport. There is an ATM in a village 10 min. per bus from Thazhuthali where you can get rupees. Otherwise many money exchange offices and ATM’s can be found in Pondicherry.
    Company: Besides the mostly short term volunteers we get through workaway, we are a place for long term volunteers of different organisations. So you will never be volunteering alone.
    Scope The target group consists of people who are intellectually disabled and who belong to marginalized groups.
    Why us?
    If you dream of a world where every single person regardless of their disability is treated with respect and given every single opportunity to prove themselves and create a place where they can sustain using their own abilities, if you want to create such world of equality and compassion, if you believe in what we believe, then this is the place for you. Here we create such world with creators like you.
    Our Core Values
     Inclusive Community: The community which consists of people from different backgrounds, some of them having some kind of disability and some of them without any disability, all live in a place helping each other in day to day works, surviving, progressing, learning and growing in to better humans.
     Eco-friendly: The place which doesn’t affect the Mother Nature and help the earth to survive.
     Self Sustainability: The organisation which is marching towards self sustainability where it can survive on its own by producing and creating all its basic needs.

    We believe,
    (i) Every single person has got their own ability and has at-least one skill which when worked upon can create wonders.
    (ii) Every single person regardless of their disabilities should be given a role and should be treated with respect.

    In general we hope we caught your attention or at least learned you something about persons with disabilities in India. We are always happy to share more information with you and are looking forward on meeting you.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

  • ...

    This host has been visited by a member of the Workaway team

    "As a Workaway Ambassador, I was hosted by a man with an unusual great heart, a great host. You will not only experience several interesting parts of the Indian culture, but also enjoy and love the people interacting within, this has been a wonderful experience, thank you."


    Ranik (Workaway Ambassador)












Host ref number: 447348892888