Are you interested in India? Does the idea of expanding your professional competencies while addressing critical social issues appeal to you? If so, you should consider interning or volunteering with one of India’s many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)! Not only will such an experience help you grow, but it will provide an exciting opportunity to engage with Indian culture and society while building a network of people similarly committed to social change.
The NGO landscape of India is as enormous as it is diverse. Over three million organisations of vastly different sizes, makeups and orientations work towards a wide range of objectives. Therefore, you are likely to find at least one NGO aligned with your goals and values.
However, given the breadth of options, the task of finding the best NGO for you can be confusing. Such difficulties are only compounded by COVID-19, which has rendered global travel significantly less feasible for most people.
Fortunately, several excellent NGOs are offing virtual/remote internships and volunteering opportunities in response to current circumstances.
Here is a list to help you get started on your search!
The central motivation behind Child Rights and You (CRY) is to ensure all children enjoy happier childhoods. In pursuit of this overarching dream, CRY has developed a three-pronged mission. First, CRY seeks to motivate and enable people to take responsibility for India’s current situation concerning child rights. Second, CRY works towards helping people discover and mobilise their potential for driving positive change. Third and finally, CRY endeavours to inspire collective action across society, involving a diverse range of stakeholders who can utilise their respective strengths in the pursuit of children’s rights in India.
Bhumi seeks to drive positive societal change through its promotion of education, civic volunteering and leadership development. The organisation runs a ‘Catalyse Program,’ which aims to promote broader participation in volunteering for causes ranging from the environment, animal rights, and community welfare – all in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Another key program run by Bhumi is ‘Ignite,’ seeking to deliver holistic education and create sustainable livelihoods for children.
The primary aim of Goonj is the alleviation of poverty and the elevation of underprivileged people’s dignity. To do so, Goonj works to utilise urban discard to promote a circular economy by re-using materials, thereby reducing waste. Importantly, the people Goonj seek to assist are included in the process, which allows them to play an active role in the development of their society.
The Pratham Education Foundation works to improve the state of education in India. Specifically, it focuses on providing high-quality, low-cost and replicable interventions to address gaps in the education system. Pratham positively impacts millions of lives by working with a range of stakeholders, from engaging with children and teachers directly to organising collaboration with the government. A central pillar of Pratham’s approach is its ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ initiative, which seeks to provide foundational reading and arithmetic teaching to children based on their learning needs, not their age or grade.
EduCARE India strives to address a wide range of social and development issues in India through a holistic strategy. This integrated approach includes driving projects aligned with the United Nations’ SDGs, harnessing social entrepreneurship and volunteer action to catalyse positive change, strengthening and building partnerships with local civic institutions and elevating local women and young leaders.
SHAPE is a women-led NGO based in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu focused on uplifting people from marginalised groups such as low-caste people, women, and children, helping them live more fulfilled lives. It recognises the four primary factors inhabiting development in Tamil Nadu as casteism, poor education, water scarcity and poverty. SHAPE’s efforts to address and reduce the impact of these issues are divided into four predominant projects: Women, Children, Community and Environment.
The central mission of the India Justice Foundation is to give hope to disadvantaged members of Indian society through providing accessible and affordable counselling and legal assistance on civil and family disputes. The IJF believes legal aid is crucial to make justice a reality amidst socio-political differences. The primary role of the IJF in this process is that of the facilitator, putting clients in touch with its team of skilled and capable advocates – most of whom work pro bono.
Teach for India is striving to address the failings and inequities inherent within the Indian education system, which it deems to be in a state of crisis. The organisation believes the solution lies in leadership. Therefore, the cornerstone of Teach for India’s strategy is the building of a movement of leaders driving the elimination of educational inequity in India. To do so, it offers a fellowship that incentivises outstanding young Indians to work as full-time teachers for two years in under-resourced schools in low-income communities, creating a powerful alumni network. For those seeking to help in other ways, however, Teach for India also offers virtual volunteering opportunities to teach English or Mathematics and participate in extra-curricular activities with a group of students.
The vision driving the work of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation is one of a world in which all children are free, safe, healthy, receive a quality education, and are given the opportunity to realise their potential. The foundation recognises all violence against children, whether it takes the form of child trafficking, marriage, sexual abuse, labour or slavery, as a fundamental barrier to such a world. In pursuit of this vision, the foundation has undertaken several interventions. Such initiatives include Bal Mitra Gram (Child-Friendly Village) which takes a democratic and rights-based approach to empower community stakeholders to break systemic barriers of oppression, and Bal Mitra Mandal (Child-Friendly Community) which modifies this approach to urban and slum settings. Among the other significant initiatives launched by the foundation is the Research and Policy Research Division which strives to identify and fill gaps in data and evidence concerning children’s rights through primary and secondary research, in addition to public engagement and outreach, including collaboration with universities.
The foremost goals of the Sehgal Foundation are orientated around rural development in India. By strengthening community-led initiatives, the foundation works to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change. The five main programme areas represent some of the most pressing needs in rural India: Water Management, Agriculture Development, Local Participation and Sustainability, Transform Lives one school at a time, and Outreach for Development. The Sehgal Foundation also houses a skilled research team that supports these programmes through participatory research, impact assessment, and interactive dialogues.
Can’t see anything of interest?
Don’t be disheartened! The above list is by no means exhaustive. As previously mentioned, there are a plethora of other NGOs throughout India. Click this link for a more extensive directory of your options or use your preferred search engine with keywords ‘India NGO’ and your specific area of interest (e.g., child labour, land degradation etc.).
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