Saurabh Sabharwal's Volunteering Solutions opens up a world of opportunities for you to learn while travelling

Saurabh Sabharwal, Founder of Volunteering Solutions tells us more about the growing trend of Voluntourism in India
Volunteering Solutions has internship programmes in over 25 countries
Volunteering Solutions has internship programmes in over 25 countries

If it’s real education you’re looking for, then nothing really opens your mind up like travelling. From exploring different cultures and forming different worldviews, travelling teaches you more than you can ever learn in a classroom. That’s why, in 2007, Saurabh Sabharwal came up with the idea for Volunteering Solutions, an organisation that provides international education trips that involve voluntary services. Excerpts...

What is Volunteering Solutions about? 
We have internship programmes in over 25 countries. We provide placements for projects where people can volunteer in sectors like childcare, teaching and healthcare. We have also been working with schools and colleges to send students abroad for educational trips. Our clientele is primarily between the age group of 17 to 25. We also have projects related to the environment, wildlife and women empowerment. 

Story so far: Saurabh Sabharwal came up with the idea for Volunteering Solutions in 2007

What do the educational trips involve?
We have been working with a lot of international schools and universities where they send students abroad. The trips are usually about 10 to 14 days long. They include some sort of an element of service learning. We provide a local learning experience. For example, if they’re going to Thailand, they may do a Thai cooking course. Now that we have built our network with international schools, universities and organisations, we have started approaching Indian schools to send their students on these tours. 

Is Voluntourism becoming a trend now?
Indian students travelling abroad on educational tours is not something new. But what we provide is a unique service-learning element. We have a lot of destinations that are not very common educational destinations like Vietnam, Kenya, Peru and Cambodia. These are destinations that Indian students don’t generally travel to. Service learning is usually working with underprivileged children — renovating and painting houses, landscaping work and teaching. But, of course, it depends on what the school or university wants.

All included: VolSol has placements for projects in various sectors like childcare, teaching and healthcare

How affordable are these trips?
Individual volunteer programmes cost about 450 dollars a week. It includes everything from travel to food and accommodation. For a group programme, everything is customised, it could start from 10k for a national trip to 60k for an international trip. Each group includes about 50 to 70 people. 

What impact do these tours have on the individuals and society?
There is a lady from the UK. She went to Nepal in 2008 and the place she volunteered at was an orphanage. She went back, started an NGO and now, supports the education of 330 children in Nepal. There’s another school in the Netherlands that sends its students to Delhi every year for about two weeks. They help renovate the children’s shelter and provide materials. The culture of volunteering is very common in the West. Their governments also provide grants. It gives you experiences that you may not get otherwise as tourists. We also help other NGOs and organisations. They are able to run successfully, largely because of the volunteers we provide. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

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