Testimonials and feedback from 2019 volunteers

Older testimonials

Holly Scott, Sewa Bharat (New Delhi)

My volunteer experience was incredible, and very fulfilling. I worked on projects which fitted my interests exactly. I worked on a DFID funding proposal for a large amount of money, which required me to orient myself around the issues of women’s land tenure in informal settlements in Delhi very quickly. The DFID framework for proposals is long and rigorous, and requires many different documents to be filled in, but after a few weeks of drafts and rewrites, a final set of documents was produced Towards the end of this proposal I was responsible for coordinating the collation of all these documents, and was individually responsible for producing a few of them. This was extremely rewarding and I await the results of the proposal tensely! I also worked directly with a women’s garment cooperative and created a portfolio for them to show to exporters, which required organising a photoshoot to display all their clothes, and using new software. I also did the research for the production of a set of infographics about the problem of women’s urban mobility and how this impedes economic empowerment. All in all, I learned a lot and enjoyed my time with SEWA Bharat enormously.

Katie McCoshan, Action Aid (New Delhi)

Working with ActionAid for two months was the most incredible experience. I spent the first few days orientating myself in the office and delving in to ActionAid’s publications and content to get a feel for their values and approach to empower those in poverty to advocate for their human rights. During the internship I spent my time working with the Institutional Partnership Development team which involved working in partnership with a range of Indian and international organisations by forming relationships with large donors, applying for grants, tailoring projects to suit the donor interests and promoting campaigns. As a geographer I have always been interested in social justice so learning and researching about social issues in India was endlessly fascinating (even if at times it felt like being thrown into the deep end!).

Being in an office environment provided a welcome break from the vibrant sights and sounds of Delhi and North India myself and the other interns took to exploring at the weekend. It was an excellent opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues who offered me support and advice despite their own workloads and later became good friends.

The most exciting part of the internship was a last-minute field trip to a remote district of Uttarakhand on the Nepalese boarder in the Himalayas during my 6th week. I had mentioned an interest in climate change and sustainable agriculture and ActionAid happened to be running a project in the region on these topics that needed evaluating, which provided a perfect opportunity for a trip there with another member of my team. It was truly breath-taking and worth the 9-hour train journey and 7-hour car ride through winding terrain. Though incredible, this fieldwork was also one of the hardest aspects of my internship; only two of us travelled from the office, with little experience of Indian railways and rural roads; we had less than 24 hours to familiarise ourselves with the project before setting off; conditions were very remote and challenging given the high-risk of mudslides; Hindi, of which mine is very limited, was the only language used. Nevertheless, this trip will remain the best experience I have ever had for a long time to come and I am incredibly grateful for CAVMOL's hard work and support.

Rhiannon Osborne, Action Aid (New Delhi)

I found the internship at Action Aid extremely useful and I have learnt so much, especially coming from a science background, about how development and activism should be done, and about how the work you are doing should never be about you or your organisation – it should be about tangible and lasting benefits for the people who need it most.

I was exposed to a lot of different aspects of ActionAid’s work and greatly improved my understanding of the challenges facing development NGOs and read/saw lots of examples of successful projects. I am now able to reflect on my new experiences and knowledge and use this to form my own opinions on how to perform development work and have a much improved understanding of working in this field.

The most rewarding experience was, for around half of my internship, I was working on creating an ActivateStreets programme – a guide to working with children who live on the streets. This involved visiting a particular shelter regularly to test out my ideas and designing the programme in the office. I was also able to perform research and interviews with other shelter leaders and members. This was not part of what I was meant to be doing initially, but it was by far the best experience of my internship.

James Kirkham, ICIMOD (Nepal)

My internship in Nepal was one of the most rewarding things that I've done. The country is beautiful, culturally diverse and is home to some of the friendliest people I've met. The working environment at ICIMOD was dynamic, involved and has allowed me to conduct work that will ultimately be published in a scientific journal. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone, and would go back and go through the whole experience again in an instant.

Matt Lees, ICIMOD (Nepal)

My two month internship at ICIMOD was an incredible experience. The work was varied, relevant and extremely interesting and has encouraged me to apply my degree to development work in the future. Living and working in Nepal was really special, and I loved the challenges and experiences it provided. I cannot recommend it enough to future students! Thanks to CamVol for coordinating and helping with preparation for a truly amazing summer.

Tom Blanchard, Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi)

The ORF is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary public policy think tank with an Indian focus. I’d had a longstanding interest in doing policy work, especially in development, so being able to have the opportunity to work for the ORF whilst living in Delhi for the summer was invaluable and has reinforced my desire to work in development and volunteer abroad again in the future. The ORF, as one of India’s leading think-tanks, put on numerous academic events during my internship; from talks to book reports to debates and conferences. Due to the prestige of the organisation, the ORF attracted a range of speakers, academics, journalists and ambassadors – with the ambassador to Syria’s appearance even attracting TV cameras to the office. The multidisciplinary nature of the ORF’s focus meant that these events covered a variety of subjects: international relations, domestic politics, economics, climate change, security and even space mining. As a result, I learnt about a range of issues to which I had little prior knowledge, for example current Indian political developments - particularly foreign policy concerns, which in the case of Pakistan and China seemed numerous and also of Modi’s somewhat controversial premiership. The latter sentiment was echoed by the several Indian interns I worked alongside, who gave me an invaluable insight into not only political feeling amongst students but also life in India and Delhi. From designing a diet to ease me into Indian food and avoid the dreaded Delhi belly, to showing me around, whether it be a local bar, jazz club or even driving me to the Taj Mahal, they really helped me settle into the office and living in Delhi.

Cornelia Bentsen, Grassroots (Kumaon)

I felt I learnt a lot about the realities of working on the ground in the development sector, as well as what development really is at Grassroots, and what it actually means to people in their everyday lives. It also gave me a feel of what it was like to gain work experience as a working adult in a profession I can see myself entering into.

Felix Koninx, Grassroots (Kumaon)

I would sincerely like to thank Camvol for the support they gave me to carry out this interesting and challenging internship . Staying in a homestay added to the experience considerably. Our hosts were incredible and never failed to amaze me with their kindness and generosity. I hope many more students have the opportunity to go to Grassroots in the future.

Siobhan Eastman, CEDAR (Dehra Dun)

My time in Dehra Dun provided me an insight into working in the charity sector, while helping me to experience a summer working abroad. My time away provided a range of challenges, from adjusting to the more slow pace of work and finding out what CEDAR needed from me, to settling into the local culture. The office staff at CEDAR were friendly and welcoming.. The work was interesting and engaging, plus the coordinator allowed me to make up hours so that I could travel at the weekends. If I were to complete the experience again, I would make sure to ask for background reading before attending the placement. Overall this was a wonderful experience over the summer, and being prepared is integral for making the experience worthwhile!

Theo Demolder, Latika Roy Foundation (New Delhi)

The experience at Latika was very enjoyable and rewarding. All the staff were very friendly and helpful, keeping me busy with meaningful work and making me feel appreciated. I had alot of freedom to choose what I wanted to work on and contributed to a range of projects including research, funding applications, making a film, writing articles, to promote the Foundation’s work and helping at the after school club. Going through Camvol made the whole process much easier and I’m very grateful for all the help I received.

Olivia Norris, Nai Disha (New Delhi)

Putting into words how amazing my time at Nai Disha was is nearly an impossible task, and I cannot recommend this internship enough to anyone who is interested in education and development.

Typically, I spent my mornings at Nai Disha teaching working with the Open School children, who are not enrolled in school. I was given the opportunity to create my own lesson plans, and so all of my classes involved game based learning. It was so enjoyable to teach students who were so passionate and enthusiastic about their learning. Due to the fact that the children were from low-income background migrant families, their standards of spoken English were very low. While this was challenging at first, it meant that I could really see the progress that my classes made while I was there, which was incredibly rewarding. Teaching the same children every week meant that I had a chance to bond with them, to create ongoing jokes with them and to gain an insight into their lives. One of the best things about Nai Disha is that I was constantly surrounded by the community that the NGO were working to improve. Teaching was a brilliant way to directly see the impact that Nai Disha’s work was having on its local community, and to appreciate its significance.

The rest of my time at Nai Disha was spent working on projects and programmes, one of which was the Kishangarh Community Outreach Project. Nai Disha was in the process of transforming a dumping ground opposite their centre into a park when I arrived. The land had previously been a breeding ground for disease, drugs and gambling. After clearing the land, introducing an irrigation system using grey water and running workshops on sustainable ways of living, it became an oasis where children could play safely. Initially, I worked on publicising the project, mostly on social media. However, halfway through my placement the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) reclaimed the land and said that Nai Disha was no longer allowed to develop it. I wrote a plea, explaining the importance and impact of this project, which was later turned into a letter that was sent to DDA and government officials. Other work I did while at Nai Disha included wroting a proposal for them to introduce a fellowship programme, creating a new letter of appointment for Nai Disha to use at a contract for new employees, helping to create sponsorship material their new website, and designing a spoken English course, among many other things.

I don’t think that I could have loved my time at Nai Disha any more than I did. I formed very strong relationships with all of the teachers and members of staff, who felt more like family than colleagues. While I left Nai Disha’s centre tired each day, I felt so inspired and appreciative to be working in such an incredible place that I was energised for the next day before I had even returned home!"