FAQs

1. Why volunteer with Pravah ICS? What will I get out of it?

Volunteering offers a life-changing experience for young people; an opportunity to engage with social and developmental issues, to effectively contribute in local communities and to develop personal skills. Pravah ICS volunteers leave the programme as better-informed active citizens with new skills for life – and to offer to potential employers.

The Pravah ICS programme aims to create the following impact:

  • Diversity – working as part of a diverse team, with volunteers from different parts of India and UK, allows for the diverse perspectives to contribute to learning about each other, the challenges of the community and the world around.
  • Personal development – Personal development of volunteers is an important aspect of the programme. Volunteers are supported by Pravah ICS staff and Team leaders, to learn from the challenges and experiences on placement.
  • Project Impact – Along with personal development Pravah ICS also aims to achieve a clear development impact in the rural communities. Volunteers are placed in organisations that value and will benefit from the contribution of the volunteers.
  • Shared working and learning – Pravah ICS volunteers greatly benefit from learning and working as equals in cross cultural teams.
  • Community integration – Pravah ICS volunteers learn also from living with local families in the village, engaging with various community activities and becoming an integral part of the community.
  • Supported learning – Volunteer learning is supported and encouraged through all parts of the journey; through trainings, guidance and mentoring.

Active citizens –Pravah ICS aims at creating a community of active citizens who understand the power of community development and are motivated about bringing about a positive change.

2. Do I need to pay something?

Pravah International Citizen Service pays for your travel (3rd AC train tickets), accommodation, and food and provides you with a modest allowance during the three months in the community. However, as part of the programme, you will be required to fund-raise a pre-decided amount that will be utilized for programme expenses.
You will be supported through the trainings and it is a great opportunity to build your skills in raising funds.

3. Why do I have to fundraise?

Fundraising is an interesting way to show commitment and build ownership in the programme. It is also a way to share about Pravah ICS with as many people as one can in the community. The amount is set keeping in mind the diverse backgrounds to which the volunteers belong in the group.

4. Do I have to attend all the training courses?

Yes. The trainings are spaces to prepare for the programme, get to know your team and they also provide a great opportunity to develop skills of design and facilitating sessions, exploring social issues etc. Pravah ICS is an intense experience which will stretch you to your limits. You will be outside your ‘comfort zone’ for the duration of the three months, as the only support you will have during the programme will be your team mates and the Team Leaders of the programme. This requires a period of adjustment on your part to develop coping strategies, to reflect, learn and move forward. Hence you will be required to attend all trainings and orientation before and after the programme to make this journey as smooth as possible.

As a Team leader you will have to attend additional team leader trainings and will co-facilitate the volunteer trainings.

5. What will I need to do on the programme?

Once you are formally accepted on the programme, you will have to begin to prepare for the three months on the programme. The following is a list of what you will need to do before and during the programme:

Checks:

Prior to the programme, you will have to undergo medical checks by a general physician which then must be approved by Pravah ICS. You will also have to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the local police station which must state that you don’t have a criminal record.

Trainings:

You have to attend four training courses: a Pre placement Training, an Orientation and Placement training, a mid-programme review training, an In-Country Team Debrief and a Post Placement Debrief (which will take place one month post the completion of the community placement). These are the spaces to get more information on the programme, meet other volunteers, discuss issues, reflect and share your learning and development.

Advocacy and Visibility:

As part of your commitment to Pravah ICS, you are expected to share your experience with others through documentation, social media and engaging local media in the host community and on returning to your home community as well. You will receive support and advice in the orientation programmes which will include guidelines and helpful tips to get you started.

Action at Home:

Action at Home is a self-directed project that benefits others and aims to bring about positive social change. All Pravah ICS volunteers must complete an Action at Home project within six months of returning from the host community.

On the programme you will have to:

– Adhere to the authority of the designated Team Leaders and Programme Supervisor.

– Abide by the Pravah ICS code of conduct.

– Actively participate in all aspects of the programme and accept that the individual’s commitment is central to the success of the programme.

– Abide by Safety and Security regulations, guidelines and training.

– Be available for the complete term of the exchange, including the Post Placement Debrief and Action at Home Project.

6. Will it be possible for me to travel outside the host communities during the programme?

As part of a team of 30 volunteers and Team leaders and 1 Programme Supervisor, you will be staying in a rural host community in India. You will have to immerse yourself in the programme and learn as much as from the community in the months of the programme.  As a lot of time and resources are spent in organising the programme, volunteers are not allowed to travel outside of their host community. Also, there is a certain code of conduct and safety and security hazards that need to be taken care of before volunteers can come to any decision regarding travelling in the community. The consent of Programme Supervisor is mandatory for before coming to any such decision. However, in the event of a medical emergency or death in the immediate family, we do allow volunteers to leave the programme.

7. Where will I be placed?

 You will be placed in a rural community in India. You will work with a grassroots organisation working in the community and will stay in the villages they work with. You will be given a document where you will be sufficiently briefed about the community for instance, about its geographic conditions, demographic and socioeconomic facts so on and so forth.

8. Where will I live and who will I live with?

Volunteers get to live with families in host homes in the community. This is a great opportunity to live and learn from another culture. You may not learn all the nuances of the ways of the people you live with but this will be as close as you could ever be.  You will also be living with counterparts from your own team; they will be UK/Indian nationals, but there have been instances of volunteers of the same nationalities or triads of mixed nationalities living together. If host homes are not available, volunteers will stay in basic, safe accommodation with other team members in small guest houses, hostels or residence halls.

Host families also get financially remunerated such that they do not have to bear the cost of hosting volunteers from their own earnings, but this is very basic enough to cover costs like food and electricity.

9. What if I don’t know English or Hindi well?

No worries! It’s all part of our learning curve and we will just work together on that.  In the past, Indian volunteers have come from all corners of the country and have not necessarily been well versed in Hindi or English. You will have to be responsible for your own learning, so you will have to ask questions, be forthcoming about your struggles on the programme especially about language as well as help others to make the best of this challenge. As a team, you will be expected to innovate to overcome barriers of language and dialects. Do carry dictionaries/phrase-book, they can come handy!

However, if you are applying as a Team leader then you must have a working knowledge of Hindi and/ or English.

10. What volunteer placements will I be working on?

Volunteer placements are designed on the basis of the needs as well as existing projects in the host community. We like to give people as many choices about a placement but as a volunteer, you may or may not get a placement which interests you, matches your skill sets or are passionate about. Below are some examples of placements that past volunteers have been involved in:

  • Assisting local organisation in the process of setting up night schools (as children take the goats and sheep for grazing in the morning) by conducting action research on access to education for the children in the local communities.
  • Developing and running modules for different age groups in the rural community where access to quality education is limited.
  • Developing and facilitating peer education modules to help build awareness around gender and reproductive and child health.
  • Creating youth and child groups in villages by building capacity of local youth and children to become peer leaders.
  • Empowering youth and children do become social advocates for Child rights and education.
  • Organising awareness raising events and campaigns around health and relevant Government schemes available along with junsunwais (public hearings) where the community could place their grievances in front of relevant officials for redressal.
  • Organising health and education melas (events) where the community could access quality doctors and medication as well develop their own ownership in ensuring education for their children.
  • Researching and documenting impact of Government rural schemes, for local organisations to take forward.
  • Supporting staff at local organization with building skills in social media and IT.
  • Supporting the local artisans in creating new designs in fabrics and clothing and develop marketing tools and linkages in the cities and internationally.
  • Documenting case studies of women leaders of Panchayat (local level governance structures) and make recommendations for the organisations women leadership development programmes and strategies.

11. What is the role of the Programme Supervisor?

Each PravahICS team will be accompanied by one Programme Supervisor (PS), from PravahICS.  The PS will live in the host community with the team.  S/he is responsible for identifying the volunteer placements and the host families for you and your counterpart.  S/ he will also ensure that all volunteers receive medical attention if necessary.  PS supervises the programme on ground and takes all information for processing to the Programme Manager in Delhi Office. PS would also be the most important support to the volunteers in terms of their learning journeys and the projects. However, s/he cannot guarantee that your experience will be 100% perfect.  The responsibility for the success of the programme and your experience lies primarily with you, the volunteers.

12. What is the role of the Team Leaders?

Each ICS team will be accompanied by Team Leaders, UK and Indian.  Team leaders are also volunteers but with additional responsibilities.

As a Pravah ICS Team Leader you’ll spend three or six months in a rural community with an Pravah ICS team offering pastoral support to small groups of volunteers aged 18-25 from India and the UK.  Pravah ICS Team Leaders play a key role in supporting their diverse teams of young people to give their best and gain as much as they can while on placement.

There’s a project management element to the role, supervising project teams and reporting, but the most important thing is the wellbeing of the Pravah ICS team and doing everything you can to help young people from different backgrounds work well together.

13. What is a Mid Programme Review (MPR)?

MPR is a critical component of the programme. In the middle of the journey, you pause to reflect and review the journey so far and plan for the future. It is also a precious team time, and a space to get together and bond. It is a half-a-week long process where all the aspects of the programme like individual learning journeys, projects, host home and counterpart relationships are reflected upon. Reviewing at this stage helps in moving forward in the programme.

14. What is an In-country Debrief?

This is another review station of the programme that is held at the end of the programme. Here, the complete self to society journey of your cohort will be reflected upon and reviewed. The entire collective experience is recapped, and analysed. The space is crucial to bring together all the learning, insights, feedback and suggestions for the future.

15. What is a one-to-one?

One-to-ones are the structured learning and mentoring sessions of the programme. These are the spaces and time for the volunteers with their team leaders or programme Supervisor, and for team leaders with the programme Supervisor, to open up and share how one is feeling, what they are thinking, what challenges one is facing and how one can deal with it, and to reflect upon their learning journey.

16. What are ACDs and CADs?

Active Citizenship Days (ACDs) are days specifically designed in the programme to foster an understanding of global citizenship among the volunteers. Simply out, they are learning and capacity building days for volunteers. Every week, one day is allotted to ACDs. Here, volunteers host the day and design and facilitate discussions and activities around a decided topic. The topic is generally related to one of the various aspects of development relevant to the community and to the world. Community Action Days (CADs) are the action days for community. CAD is that component of the programme which essentially provides space and time to the volunteers to organise big events and action projects in the community on topics that are relevant to the community. CADs become good mobilisation and advocacy tools in the community. Volunteers organise these CADs with the support of community people and host organisation. In each cycle, there will be approximately three or four CADs to be held in the community.

17. What is the difference between project plan and team plan?

The project plan is a one year plan (approximately three cycles) designed by Programme Supervisors and Programme Manager with the support of host organisation. A team plan is the each PravahICS cohort’s plan to take forward the project. This is made by the volunteers and team leaders during their in community orientation with the support of PS and host organisation mentors keeping in mind the Project Plan’s targets.

18. What is the role of host organisation in the programme?

The host organisation is responsible for coordinating the programme on the field. The host organisations chosen for the programme are established community based organisations that have been working on the issues of development and social inclusion in the respective community for quite a long time. Volunteers will earn credibility by virtue of being associated with these chosen host organisations. They support the programme in terms of arranging for host homes and project plans. They will be our main source of information about the community. The host organisation members will be the greatest source of support and inspiration in leading and running of the projects.

19. What documentation/reporting process do I need to follow on the programme?

The programme involves a process of documentation which is layered within different components and structures of the programme. Volunteers are recommended to record their learning journeys, and are required to make weekly reports of the projects. There are other reporting necessities that you would be told in the beginning/during your placement. Other than the truth that it is a great skill to have, documentation helps in analysing and evaluation of the impact of the programme on volunteers and the community.  As a part of this process, volunteers would be expected to write reports at different points in the programme.

20. Do I get holidays in the programme?

PravahICS volunteering programme is a 24*7 volunteering programme. There are no holidays as such structured in the programme. However, when on placement, one day of every week will be a ‘family day’ where volunteers are supposed to spend it with their host families. (This may sound a little funny right now, but testimonials from earlier volunteers would tell you how sought after it was!) The family days are a good time to spend with your host family and build stronger relationships.

21. What would be the action taken against me if I breach any code of conduct?

The first action would be a verbal warning. If breached again, you will get a written warning. In case, the code of conduct is breached again, the volunteer will be expelled from the programme.

22. What is the allowance amount? When will it be given to me?

Each volunteer will get weekly allowance of Rs. 700/-. The Team Leaders get a weekly allowance of 1000/-. The difference is because of the extra expenditures that team leader make in their frequent visits to different villages in the placement for mentoring, and project support to the volunteers.

23. What documents do I need to carry with myself?

Volunteers must carry an original identity proof and some copies of it. They must also get at least six passport size photos with themselves.

 24. Can I take my gadgets like smart phones, laptops, tablets and other personal entertainment resources with me?

Yes you can take your gadgets with you in the placement; however its responsibility lies with you. The electricity supply in community is erratic but sufficient to keep your phones and other gadgets working. Laptops may be useful for the reporting and documentation purposes in the programme.

25. What clothes can I wear in the community?

In terms of clothing it would be useful to go with community dressing which means wearing traditional Indian clothing like Kurta-pyjama and Salwar-suit. This would assist the acceptance and homogenisation of the volunteers in the otherwise new community.

Carrying a duppatta is the part of community culture. Also, since the programme is running in summer months of the year, carrying cotton dupatta to cover your heads can be a substantial relief.  Dupatta comes under prescribed dress under the code of conduct. Not using it will be considered as the breach of code of conduct.

26. How can I contact my family and friends back home?

A local mobile sim shall be provided to the volunteers once they arrive on placement. Contact your PS for the sim. After the placement is over, the local sims must be returned back to the PS.

27. What if I run out of my toiletries or other supplies when I am in community?

All kinds of toiletries and medical supplies will be available in the cities close by the community. However, volunteers are expected to carry sufficient stock of any kind of special medication they require with themselves.

28. Can I go out to explore the community on my own?

No. Going out alone in the community, especially after sunset, can lead to dangerous ramifications; such a risk must be avoided at best. And there is a certain code of conduct which volunteers must abide by to ensure their safety in the community. Kindly go through it carefully. Non observance of it will be considered as the breach of code of conduct. PS holds the authority to take disciplinary action for the breach of code of conduct in such cases.

29. Do I need a mosquito net in the community?

With respect to health and safety concerns, each volunteer is expected to carry their own mosquito nets. In case someone doesn’t have one, PravahICS would be providing them the mosquito nets. Volunteers must get them back with themselves to Delhi.

30. Can I smoke/drink in the community?

As is clearly mentioned in the code of conduct, PravahICS is a completely dry programme. Smoking and drinking is strictly prohibited throughout the programme. The programme holds no moral judgements against drinking and smoking but the community does. It is important that the volunteers do not re-affirm the beliefs that community may have of the young volunteers from the outside, which not only makes any work difficult in the field, but tarnishes the image of the host organisation, of PravahICS in the community. Any violations may lead disciplinary actions as severe as expulsion from the programme.

31. Can I do charity in the community or in the host home?

PravahICS strongly condemn any kind of donation or charity to locals while on the programme. Charity/donation brings a sense of dependency among the community people on the volunteers and build expectations from people from “outside”, thereby bringing a sense of disempowerment in them.  We are in the communities to work with them, not for them. It is important to recognise that true empowerment of the community lies in them taking charge of their lives and development. There are proper channels of donation, for which the PS and host organisation should be contacted.

32. Can I get to meet our friend or family when we are on placement?

As it has been iterated before, the experience is about complete immersion. A volunteer should not invite their friends or family while on the placement or seek out to meet them during that period as it affects the atmosphere created, and functioning of the programme. In case, it is urgency, the volunteers might seek PS.

33. What if we I get sick on placement?

PravahICS keep Safety and Security of the volunteers on utmost priority. However, volunteers are expected to carry fair amount of generic medical supplies with themselves. If any volunteer is on some special medication then s/he must carry sufficient amount of those specific medicines with him/her. PS would also be carrying some medicines for all the volunteers. In case of any medical emergency during the programme, the best doctors and hospital would be made available to the volunteer.

34. When does the programme end?

The placement ends after the in-country de-brief. The dates are confirmed by the PS before the placement begins. As a part of the pre-placement training all the volunteers are expected to calendarise their time in the programme. This would help in planning out the time of the programme and to avoid the last minute hassle in booking of tickets etc.

35. What if I am feeling uncomfortable or discriminated by my counterpart?

In such situations discuss it with your team leader. And if the situation doesn’t get resolved, take it to your Programme Supervisor.

36. What if I am feeling uncomfortable or discriminated by my host family?

In such cases, volunteers must immediately bring it to the notice of Programme Supervisor.

37. What do I do if there is an incident of sexual harassment in my host home?

In case of any sexual harassment, immediately ring your Programme Supervisor.

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