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West Bengal


Build a Library in Sunderbaans Forest

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Duration: 12 days

Program Cost: $750 USD

Location: Sundarbaans Forest, West Bengal, India

Amrita-Seattle’s Reading Program is making a children’s library in the remote Tribal village (Tipligherei) in Sunderbaans Forest in West Bengal to inspire children to love and read books. Volunteers will have ten full days in the village, and work in tandem with the local people in the actual construction, interior decoration, mural painting, furnishing, and shelving of the library. Each volunteer is expected to carry a suitcase of books from the U.S. for the library. Accommodations will be in local homestays and/or simple guest houses. There will be options to extend your time in the village and help establish our Reading Program in the school, or to arrange additional time to visit the mangroves and learn about its ecology and biodiversity.

 *Volunteering fee Includes:

Accommodation in homestay / Simple guest-house in Kolkata and in the village

All meals (B,L,D) for days of volunteering

Airport pick-up and drop; Round-trip transportation to the project site using public transport

Detail program orientation with our project leader(s)

Visit to the mangroves

First aid kit box

Emergency co-operation service

Volunteering Fee Does Not Include:

International airfare, visas, mandatory medical/travel insurance, sleeping bags, tips to staff, alcoholic/ non-alcohol beverages, bottled water, hot water showers, phone calls, internet, airport drop/pick up service, any optional activities, such as, trekking, rafting, etc.

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kolktata from US. Accommodation will be in a simple guesthouse in the city

Day 2:  Introductions, orientation, and general meeting in the morning half. Local sightseeing after lunch.

Day 3: After breakfast, we depart for the village using local transportation

Days 4-10:  Below is a tentative schedule of your next several days will look like when you work in the village

 

Time Activities
6.00 am Wake up and Morning Tea.
  6:30 – 7:30 am Short morning walk
  7:30- 8:30 am Breakfast; washing up
9 am – 12:30 pm Participate in construction work, painting, teaching, other activities
12:30pm – 1.30pm lunch time
1:30 pm – 3:30pm Continue with  construction work, painting, teaching, other activities
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm Village Visit, Washing Bathing, Resting period
8 pm Dinner (local food, accommodation in groups)

 

Day 11: Depart for Kolkata. Last group meeting, and dinner

Day 12: Program ends after breakfast.

 

 

Healthcare in Rural Bengal

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Duration: 15 days

Program Cost: $1300 USD

Location: West Bengal, India

Nutrition is the key to good health and malnutrition is an underlying cause of most diseases. Amrita-Seattle launched its project “Combat malnutrition” for women and children. Every year, with the help of local NGOs, nutritional supplements is provided to children suffering from severe malnutrition. Studies reveal that this program has significantly helped children reach normal growth level.

During your visit to Murshidabad and Sunderbaans Forest, Amrita-Seattle will organize health camps for women and children.There is little scope for the local people, most of them living at or below poverty level, to obtain medical treatment.  Thus, NGO run mobile health care camps are critical for routine health checks and providing medical prescriptions. The mobile medical camps comprising of doctors, paramedical staff and volunteers, usually serves around 150-200 patients on Sundays & Thursdays in the surrounding villages of Murshidabad.

Vollunteers will travel to 10 to 12 villages in and around the Sargachi district and 3-4 island villages in the Sunderbaans Forest and engage in organizing the camps, assisting the health workers, and distributing nutritious food packets to the families.

Besides rendering allopathic and homeopathic treatment, free eye-care camps are also organized in the dispensary and volunteers will be able to assist the event. Towards the end of your stay, you will visit the students of the local school and will have an interactive cultural exchange session about education, and career building.

*Volunteering fee Includes:

All meals (B,L,D) and accommodation in homestay / simple guest-house/ tea-house

Airport pick-up and drop

Round-trip transportation to the project sites using public transport

Detail program orientation with our project leader(s)

Kolkata sightseeing

Mangrove forest safari

First aid kit box

Emergency co-operation service

Volunteering Fee Does Not Include:

International airfare, visas, mandatory medical/travel insurance, sleeping bags, tips to staff, alcoholic/ non-alcohol beverages, bottled water, hot water showers, phone calls, internet, airport drop/pick up service, any optional activities, such as, paragliding, rafting, etc.

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kolktata from US. Accommodation will be in a simple guesthouse in the city

Day 2:  Introductions, orientation, and general meeting in the morning half. Local sightseeing after lunch.

Day 3: After breakfast, we depart for Murshidabad village using local transportation

Days 4-8:  Below is a tentative schedule of your next several days will look like when you work in the village

 

Time Activities
6.00 am Wake up and Morning Tea.
  6:30 – 7:30 am Short morning walk
  7:30- 8:30 am Breakfast; washing up
9 am – 12:30 pm Organizing awareness work, medical camps, mobile clinics, & other activities
12:30pm – 1.30pm lunch time
1:30 pm – 3:30pm Organizing awareness work, medical camps, mobile clinics, & other activities
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm Village Visit, Washing Bathing, Resting period
8 pm Dinner (local food, accommodation in groups)

 

Day 9: Return to Kolkata

Day 10: Free day in Kolkata

Day 11: Early morning departure for Sunderbaans Forest

Day 12 – 15: Medical camp in three remote island villages in Sunderbaans forest: Tipligheri, Jamespur, and Luxbagan. Daily schedule will be same as above. The last day, time permitting, we go on a boat safari to learn about the unique mangrove ecology and wildlife of the forest.

Day 16: Return to Kolkata

Day 17: Rest day in Kolkata with last group meeting, sightseeing, and a group dinner. Project ends after dinner.

 

 

Safe Water Service Program

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Duration: 12 days

Program Cost: $1200 USD

Location: West Bengal, India

Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a major environmental problem in West Bengal. Murshidabad District, a poverty stricken rural village, is one of the worst arsenic affected areas in Bengal.  In the first phase, volunteers will interact daily with local NGOs and help organize arsenic awareness programs for the locals at village Centers and local schools to make them aware of the importance of drinking arsenic-free water.

In the second phase, Amrita-Seattle will hold a “camp” where you will help distribute domestic arsenic filters to the affected families.

UNICEF has developed and introduced unique technology to the local NGOs of Murshidabad for making the arsenic filters. Volunteers will observe, engage and participate in the workshops where the water filters are assembled. Amrita-Seattle will hold a camp where volunteers will help distribute domestic arsenic filters to the affected families.

You will also learn and teach the local people how to sample and measure the arsenic content of their drinking water using a portable field sampling kit. Volunteers will be responsible for maintaining a detailed sampling log book.

An intense service oriented trip with plenty of local interactions and hands-on activities, you will come back home with unforgettable memories of making a difference in a community.

*Volunteering fee Includes:

All meals (B,L,D) and accommodation in homestay / simple guest-house/ tea-house

Airport pick-up and drop

Round-trip transportation to the project site using public transport

Detail program orientation with our project leader(s)

Kolkata sightseeing

First aid kit box

Emergency co-operation service

Volunteering Fee Does Not Include:

International airfare, visas, mandatory medical/travel insurance, sleeping bags, tips to staff, alcoholic/ non-alcohol beverages, bottled water, hot water showers, phone calls, internet, airport drop/pick up service, any optional activities, such as, paragliding, rafting, etc.

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kolktata from US. Accommodation will be in a simple guesthouse in the city

Day 2:  Introductions, orientation, and general meeting in the morning half. Local sightseeing after lunch.

Day 3: After breakfast, we depart for Murshidabad village using local transportation

Days 4-10:  Below is a tentative schedule of your next several days will look like when you work in the village

 

Time Activities
6.00 am Wake up and Morning Tea.
  6:30 – 7:30 am Short morning walk
  7:30- 8:30 am Breakfast; washing up
9 am – 12:30 pm Participate in awareness work, filter assembly, teaching, other activities
12:30pm – 1.30pm lunch time
1:30 pm – 3:30pm Participate in awareness work, filter assembly, teaching, other activities
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm Village Visit, Washing Bathing, Resting period
8 pm Dinner (local food, accommodation in groups)

Days 11: Return to Kolkata

Day 12: Rest day in Kolkata with last group meeting, sightseeing, and a group dinner. Project ends after dinner.

 

Trekking in the Eastern Himalayas – In A Different Way

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Duration: 17 days

Program Cost: $1360 USD

Location: West Bengal, India

This trip consists of two parts. In the first part, you will do an interactive homestay with the gifted students of the Blind Boys Academy and Home in Seoraphuli, a suburb of Kolkata. In recent past, these students have formed a musical band, participated in photography workshop, and assembled computers with little/ no help. You will help set-up a computer lab for the Home, and teach computer lessons (using JAWS software) and organizing a community music event for the students to participate in. The work really depends on what the center’s need is at that time.

The second part of the trip involves going on a multi-day trek (6-7 days) to the Himalayas with the visually-handicapped students and their faculty as part of their annual Outdoor Week trip (I know !!! ). The trek will be along the Singalila Ridge to Sandakphu which is one of the most popular trek in the Eastern Himalayas due to the grand vistas of the Kangchenjunga range and the Everest range which can be seen from the ridge, and also for the seasonal wildflower blooms.

*Volunteering fee Includes:

All meals (B,L,D) and accommodation in homestay / simple guest-house/ tea-house

Airport pick-up and drop

Round-trip transportation to the project site using public transport

Sandakhphu Trek w/ full support

Detail program orientation with our project leader(s)

Kolkata sightseeing

First aid kit box

Emergency co-operation service

Volunteering Fee Does Not Include:

International airfare, visas, mandatory medical/travel insurance, sleeping bags, tips to staff, alcoholic/ non-alcohol beverages, bottled water, hot water showers, phone calls, internet, airport drop/pick up service, any optional activities, such as, paragliding, rafting, etc.

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kolktata from US. Accommodation will be in a simple guesthouse in the city

Day 2:  Introductions, orientation, and general meeting in the morning half. Local sightseeing after lunch.

Day 3: After breakfast, we depart for Seoraphuli village using local transportation

Days 4-8:  Below is a tentative schedule of your next several days will look like when you work in the village

 

Time Activities
6.00 am Wake up and Morning Tea.
  6:30 – 7:30 am Short morning walk
  7:30- 8:30 am Breakfast; washing up
9 am – 12:30 pm Participate in construction work, painting, teaching, other activities
12:30pm – 1.30pm lunch time
1:30 pm – 3:30pm Continue with  construction work, painting, teaching, other activities
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm Village Visit, Washing Bathing, Resting period
8 pm Dinner (local food, accommodation in groups)

Days 9 -17: Shandakhphy group trek. Below is a tentative schedule of your next several days will look like when you trek

 trek

Located at an altitude of 3,636m, Sandakphu is the highest peak of the Singalila Ridge and the entire state of West Bengal; no doubt you shall witness the most visually stimulating view from here: the peaks of Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Lhotse all appear at the horizon. The grandeur of snow capped mountains, battalions of colorful wild flowers like primulas, rhododendron, magnolias, orchids and many other sub-alpine flowers, the melodic chirp of birds filling the air and the fresh green smell… soaking in all of this would definitely elate all your senses.

Day 8: Catch an overnight sleeper train from Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri at 10 PM

Day 9: Arrive in New Jalpaiguri at 8 AM; After breakfast we transfer to a public bus/shared jeep to Manebhanjhang. This little village is about 3-4 hours ride and is inhabited by modest village dwellers of the Bhuddhist Sherpa tribe

Day 10: Today you hike up to Tonglu (3070 m), which is 11 km from Manebhanjang and would take us 5-6 hours to reach. Enroute you shall pass through pine, fir, birch, bamboo glades and reach another tiny Buddhist settlement, Chitre (2530 m). This will be a quite steep uphill climb on a stoned pathway. Crossing Chitre you shall reach a small hamlet Meghma (2900m). You could take a break here and have some lunch, interact with locals, and continue on with the trek to Tonglu.

Day 11: Tonglu -Gairibas –Kalipokhari

Wake up early to witness the magical golden sunrise behind the Himalaya Range. It will be a rewarding day today as you shall enter the famous Singalila National Park and discover some exotic plants of the mountain and perhaps even spot a red panda. After breakfast we begin an easy downhill trek to Garribas (2621 m). This small village is approximately 9km from Tonglu and will take you around 3 hours to reach. Enroute you shall pass through the simpler walks of life, a quaint hamlet, their modest farmlands and lots of bamboo glades. We will have lunch at Gairibas and then gear up for a continuous uphill climb to Kalipokhari (3170 m). It is 6km from Gairibas which should take you around 3 hours of hike. If you are trekking in springtime then you will love this hike because you shall pass through the blooming forest of rhododendron. At Kalipokhari (Black Lake) you shall find a small dark colored lake amidst pine trees and fluttering prayer flags. We stay at a homestay in Kalipokhari.

Day 12: Kalipokhari – Sandakphu

Today is the day when we trek to Sandakphu, the highlight of the entire Singalila Trekking route also called the ‘paradise of trekkers’ shall be yours today. Sandakphu (3636 m) commands an expansive 360-degree view from the top and a spectacular vista of the entire Himalayan belt. The towering pinnacles in Nepal – Mt. Everest, Lotse, Makalu and Sikkim’s Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt.Pandim all appear at the horizon in a continuous arc. While the foreground valley is surrounded by hills covered with rhododendrons and silver fir trees.

But to reach this awesome place you should start early from Kalipokhari. The ridge trail descends till Bikhebhanjang (Valley of Poison) but from here it is a steep climb of 4 km till Sandakphu. It is the steepest slope of the entire Singalila trek ridge and perhaps the most tiring one too but it is equally rewarding. The route passes through thick magnolia and rhododendron forest and it should take you 2-3 hours to reach Sandakphu (Height of the Poison Plant). We will be staying in  trekker’s hut or camping areas at Sandakphu.

Day 13: Sandakphu – Phalut

We wake up early to see the golden rays of the morning sun shining on the white snow of Himalayas Mountains. You could stay for one more night at Sandakphu and indulge in the heavenly atmosphere else resume your trek and walk towards Phalut (3600 m). The trail from Sandakphu to Phalut is one of the most spectacular sights. We cross through thick rhododendron, oak, pine trees and the burned silver fir forest makes the most of the beautiful and dramatic landscape. The trek is easy and walking on the ridge crest you shall cross the Indo-Nepal border and reach Phalut. The distance is 21km and should take you around 6 hours to reach. We halt tonight in the trekkers hut or camp.

Day 14: Phalut – Rammam

From Phalut the trail descends downhill and would take you through thick virgin forest of chestnut, pines, hemlock and more. After breakfast we resume trek and walk till we reach Gorkhey Khola, this fresh water stream is where two small streams meet. Resume trekking to Rammam via Samandin. The total distance covered is 14km today and should take you around 5 hours of walk. We halt overnight at Ramman in a local homestay, or guesthouse.

Day 15: Rammam – Rimbik

Today would be the last day of your trek as you will walk 19km from Ramman to Rimbik. We start trekking after breakfast, the road is almost level for 9km and then it descends down to reach Sirikhola (river). From here you shall hike uphill to reach Rimbik. Enroute you shall pass through quaint hamlets and their farmlands. After reaching Rimbik we check into a hotel for the night.

Day 16: New Jalpaiguri

Head to Darjeeling or Siliguri. Overnight train from New Jalpaiguri to Kolkata.

Day 17: Kolkata

Arrive in Kolkata in the morning.  Last group meeting, and dinner. Program ends after dinner.