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Women's Empowerment Project in India

Contribute to gender equality in India as a women’s empowerment volunteer working with both women and men.

Program Code: INKR0427P

Program Information

Support gender equality programs in India by joining an international team of women’s empowerment volunteers. Facilitate English language lessons, computer skills classes, and business and professional development workshops with local women. You might also work on promoting gender equality in India by working with local men, boys, and girls.  

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Remote-Working Friendly
Reliable WIFI
Part-Time Options
  • Overview
  • Dates & Prices
  • Life On Base
  • Covid-19 Response
  • What's It like?
  • Live Updates
  • Reviews
  • Arrivals
  • Flights
  • Meet The Team
  • Your Impact
  • Publications
  • Our Ethics
  • Program Ethics
  • Training
  • Qualifications
  • Free time
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Parent Info
  • Support & Safety
  • What's Included?


Join our international team of permanent GVI staff members, long-term interns, and short-term women’s empowerment volunteers, to learn about and support ongoing gender equality programs in India. We work with a range of organisations including schools, women’s groups, and other community-based organisations.

Volunteers from around the world contribute to these gender equality programs in India by helping us to run a range of workshops with local women. Volunteers might lead conversational English lessons, supporting local women in learning English phrases that are useful for communicating with international English speakers. They might also facilitate computer skills classes, supporting women in learning how to use spreadsheets or word processing applications. Women’s empowerment volunteers might also participate in other types of vocational skill classes. Workshops for local women on developing professional skills, like creating a CV and interviewing for a job, are also lead by volunteers. They might also hold discussion with local women looking for support in setting up or managing a small business.

All these practical skills might assist with women’s economic development in India, but we also make room for the psychological realities contributing to gender inequality. This is why our women’s empowerment volunteers are welcome to incorporate discussions around how to develop individual strengths and other confidence skills. Volunteers might also facilitate discussions with girls, boys, and men concerning gender equality in India.

Our gender equality programs in India are based in Kochi on the Southeastern coast. This location is based in the province of Kerala, an area well-known for its verdant National Parks threaded with expansive lagoons and lakes, intricate webs of canals, and dramatic waterfalls. Here you can spot wildlife like the endangered Asian elephant and lion-tailed macaque. GVI participants, including women’s empowerment volunteers, can also choose to visit the region’s many warm-watered tropical beaches.


  • Contribute towards advancing United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 5: Gender Equality in India.  

  • Sample a local Keralan feast, known as a thali, have your hands painted in traditional mehndi style, and attend a performance of Kathakali, a style of classical Indian dance. 

  • Spend the weekend gliding along the forested Keralan canals in a houseboat. 

  • Pick up a few phrases of Malayalam, one of India’s myriad of languages.

  • Live and work with other women’s empowerment volunteers from around the world.

Program Details

Change your location and dates free of charge.
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2022
  • 2023

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Life On Base

GVI Kerala is located on the Island of Fort Kochi on the south west coast of India. Our base is well situated in a culturally rich community close to the sea, and just a short walk from the centre of town with easy transport links into the city of Ernakulam via the ferry. The main town has two tourist areas with lots of cafes, street vendors, shops, restaurants and amenities that appeal to both Indian and international travellers alike. Fort Kochi has a thriving art scene and a relaxed cafe culture, which mixes well with the more laid-back South Indian way of life. The more relaxed environment here makes it the perfect introduction to Indian culture, and as such its often recommended by guidebooks as a place to start your travels when visiting India for the first time.

Base Tour


24-hour in-country support
Education facilities
Meals while on project
Outdoor activities
Recreational area

Your accommodation is a comfortable and friendly three story homestay, which is self-contained. The rooms are all dormitory style with electricity, fans and attached bathrooms. There are two common areas for relaxing, socialising and planning sessions, as well as a rooftop terrace. There is also a separate kitchen for participants to use if they would like, as well as storage and resource rooms and a workspace on the ground floor. Laundry can be hand-washed, or you can make arrangements with the guesthouse down the road who provide a laundry service, or others in the local community. GVI is well established and respected within the community, which helps it to feel like you are visiting a home from home.


Pick-up and transfer are available from the airport. You will be based in Fort Kochi, and experience the surrounding communities. We will arrange all transport to and from your activities, and in your free time, we can help you arrange safe public transport.​


You will have regular access to wifi, to stay in touch with friends and family! There are local restaurants or internet cafes available, including one located at the end of our street, which you can use to maintain contact at your own expense. Your home country SIM card may work in India, but we recommend purchasing a local SIM card as it is really simple to do. If you may do this, please bring a simple unlocked phone to use.


Breakfast will usually be prepared at the accommodation and could be a mix of fresh fruit, eggs, bread cereals or dosa. Lunch and dinner will be made by our wonderful local cook in a traditional Keralan style and may include rice, chapatti or appam, a mix of South Indian curries, fresh vegetables and fried snacks, as well as lentils, chickpeas and other pulses. Care is taken to ensure food is not too spicy if requested. Vegetarian or vegan options are always available and usually more common.


Fort Kochi has a year round tropical climate with an average annual temperature of 27.3 degrees celsius (81,14 fahrenheit). The weather generally stays clear and sunny from September until June, and temperatures can reach the mid 30s in the months leading up to monsoon season. Monsoon season usually falls between June and September, during which time the climate is more wet and humid. Around the month of July there is usually a slight dip in temperature and frequent tropical storms. The weather then starts getting clearer again in August or September and will stay clear and dry for about eight or nine months.


COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.

The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.

Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Live Updates

Follow GVI Kerala's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.


When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.

As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.


COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.


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Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Meet the team - Senior Field Management

Paul Whitehouse

Program Manager
Say hi to Paul, the Program Manager at GVI’s Kerala hub in India. Paul is from the UK and came over to India last year. He originally came on a service learning program, however has since become the Program Manager. Paul has a background in experiential education and has previously managed operations of community development programs. They have been in a variety of countries, including: Nepal, Ghana and the UK. Paul’s passion lies with engaging with people in service learning activities so that they are able to get the most out of a experience while also giving back to a community. Lastly Paul is a freelance trainer. He enjoys capacity building and working with people from all walks of life. He is really excited to apply everything he has learnt to his time in India.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

India is known as being a popular cultural and foodie destination among international visitors. Due to this, the country has a thriving tourism industry which provides many locals with employment opportunities. However, the ability to speak English is often a vital skill needed to access these jobs.

The fact that a large portion of the community live in rural areas with low resoruces, limited infrastructure, and deep-rooted cultural values, often impedes their access to education. Our programs in Kerala assist in the socio-economic development of the country by supporting English language learning, women’s empowerment, global health and community development.

As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include, #4, Quality Education, and #5, Gender Equality.

Project Objectives

GVI Kerala, Long-term Objectives

1. To empower women and increase their access to employment and alternative livelihood opportunities in Kerala

2. To ensure healthy lives, well-being and promote opportunities and equality for the local community in Kerala

3. To enable the further development of children and young adults in Kerala by providing support and training in LSBE (life skills base education)


The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments


Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program Ethics



We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.


Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.


We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.


We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.


A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.

For All GVI Participants

Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing


Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically


Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals


Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact



Free time

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.

Weekend Trips

Kochi City Tour

If history interests you be sure to visit Kochi’s old city, known as Fort Kochi. Here you will find the Chinese fishing nets, which might have existed since the 14th century, St Francis church, the oldest European church on the Indian subcontinent and once the burial site of Vasco de Gama, the beautiful Santa Cruz Basilica, St. George’s Orthodox Christian Syrian Church, and the Paradesi Synagogue, a stronghold for the influential Jewish community of Cochin. You can also choose to simply strong along the beach promenade and by a snack at nearby vendors. There are also plenty of Hindu and Jain temples located nearby if you would like to know more about these traditions.

White Water River Rafting and Kayaking

As a mountainous area abundant in water, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing are popular tourist activities throughout Kerala, and Kochi is no exception. Weekend tours at nearby lake and river spots can be booked in Kochi.


About one hour from central Kochi the waterfall of Areekkal is an ideal weekend spot. Situated in the lush surrounds of a rubber plantation a visit makes for a refreshing afternoon. The much larger Athirappilly waterfall is located two hours from Kochi. It is famed for its scenic beauty and is popular among Bollywood filmmakers. Many wildlife species can also be spotted here. The shallow Vazhachal Falls are located close to Athirappilly. Cheeyappara Falls are also located two hours from Kochi and can be spotted when travelling to Eravikulam National Park via the town of Munnar.

Wildlife Parks

The Sahyadri mountain range, also known as the Western Ghats, stretch along India’s western coast and feature a stunning biodiversity, including numerous endangered species. The large area is home to many National Parks. From Kochi, one of the nearest is Eravikulam, which entails a five hour trip. The park is famous as the location of Anamudi, the highest mountain in the Western Ghats mountain range, named for its similarity to an elephant’s head. The park is famous as a safe haven for a specific threatened Indian deer species. You can also spot other famous Indian species like leopards, lion-tailed macaques, and Indian wild dogs. The nearby town of Munnar is surrounded by famously verdant tea farms hills. A little further from Kochi, about six hours, is Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The park is known for its leading edge ecotourism activities and for the protection of indigenous peoples living within its borders. Others parks in the area include Periyar National Park and Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Guided safari tours can usually be booked at the park gate.


Kochi is situated on the Malabar Coast, known for its tropical climate and beaches stretching into the warm Arabian sea. Possibly the most famous beach destination in Kochi is Cherai beach. It features thatch umbrellas, walkways, and dolphins are commonly sighted here. Andhakaranazhi beach is also popular. A three hour trip from Kochi, down the western coast of the Indian subcontinent, will take you to Kollam, home to one of the most famously beautiful beaches in India, Mahatma Gandhi beach. Journey South for another hour and reach the beach resort town of Varkala. The area is famous for its red cliffs adjacent to Papanasam Beach. Many tourists love to stroll the beach promenade and shop at the little street food stalls and boutiques. Many also visit the mineral spring and participate in relaxing yoga and meditation sessions close to the beachfront. Further along the coast, about an hour from Varkala, you can also find Kovalam, a town also known for its picturesque beach overlooked by a classic white and red striped lighthouse. Although not traditionally popular surfing, divining, and snorkeling are gaining popularity.

Luxury Houseboat Tours

The Keralan backwaters are the province’s main attraction. They are a series of lagoons, lakes, canals, and other bodies of water along the western coast of Southern India. The area is home to key wetland ecosystems sheltering fragile species such as otters, turtles, and kingfishers. Keralan houseboats are known as kettuvallams, and feature thatched roofs and sometimes walls. They were used to transport grain and other goods, but these days are converted into living areas for tourists. Many have staff on board to assist with cleaning and tidying duties as well as a chef to prepare traditional Keralan food. There are many houseboat tours that leave from and can be booked in Kochi and travel via the lagoons to the popular Keralan backwaters destination of Alappuzha.

Further Travels

Further Travel

There are plenty of destinations to visit throughout India either before or after your volunteer or intern program. There are, of course, the popular UNESCO protected sites of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi, and the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai. You can also visit the city of Amritsar to view the Golden Temple and learn about the Sikh religion or make the trip to Varanasi or Rishikesh, sites of religious significance to the Hindu community. You can also visit the so-called blue city of Jodhpur and the pink city of Jaipur. India has over 150 National Parks and there are many unique habitats to visit and species to spot along the way.

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Unique to Kerala:

Thiruvathira: This festival is held either during December or January, depending on the movements of the moon and stars. It celebrates the birth of the god Shiva, in the Hindu tradition. The main customs of the festival are observed by women in the community. It features a specific dance known as thiruvathirakali performed only by women, seen as an embodiment of traditional feminine elegance.

Vishu: This festival is celebrated in April and is seen as New Year celebration in the Hindu tradition. A older family member, typically the mother, create shrines of auspicious items, usually yellow and gold items, to allow them to go into the New Year with good expectations. She lights lambs before the sun rises on the first day of the Hindu New Year and then wakes each family member to ensure that their first sight is one of joy and light.

Onam: This is possibly the most famous Keralan festival which is celebrated during August or September. It is a rice harvesting festival and celebrated with much fanfare including massive parades and boat races. In homes and business, Keralans create flower carpets, large, ornate patterns created using a range of fragrant flowers including marigolds, magnolias, jasmin, and hibiscus.

Other Festivals: Kerala is a multicultural city and the region honours many of the celebrations popular in other locations throughout India. Some of the popular Hindu celebrations include Diwali, Holi, and Navratri. With a high Christian population, Easter and Christmas, are also major festivals. Eid is also popular among the significant islamic population of Kerala. Although there are fewer attendees, significant dates in the Judaic, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh calendars are also honoured in their communities.


Kathakali Masks and Figurines: Kathakali is a symbol of Kerala and as such many of the souvenirs on offer are representations of this performance style. You can buy colorful masks and little figurines of the dancers in many locations throughout Kerala.

Coconut Crafts: The Kerala area is abundant in coconuts. Therefore it is no surprise that many of the local crafts are based on this major resource. You can purchase numerous homeware items that are both functional and beautifully made from coconut wood and fibres.

Pulpaya Grass Mats: Although popular throughout Indian, pulpaya grass mats are particularly popular in Kerala. Making them is an ancient tradition and they are possibly the original yoga mats. Grab one at the local market for your morning yoga practice.

Keralan Saree: The Keralan saree is a symbol of traditional elegance in India. Many of its unique features are lost on those who are not familiar with this style of dress. However, the traditional colours and pattern, of crisp white with a bold gold border, are universally recognisable. While in the province, be sure to try out the Keralan Saree.

Yoga and Meditation

In the West, yoga is most commonly associated with a specific physical exercise of holding certain postures. This is, however, a very particular type of yoga activity known as Hatha yoga, falling within the broader umbrella of yoga as a kind of psychological or spiritual practice. The term ‘yoga’ is interpreted in various ways by ancient texts. In general it is seen as the integration of the human body, mind, and spirit and alignment with divine will using discipline and thereby attaining enlightenment. Hatha yoga is practiced throughout India and there are plenty of ashrams, Hindu monasteries, and formal teaching organisations, throughout Kerala, where international visitors can learn Hatha yoga, as well as more about the overarching yoga philosophy. Meditation practices and areyuda medicine are also often taught at these facilities.

Mehndi or ‘Henna Tattoos’

Mehndi, temporary staining of the hands and feet in lace-like patterns, has been popular in South Asia for many centuries. Ancient Vedic texts refer to the use of the leaves of the henna plant and tumeric to create these designs. While it is most commonly applied during weddings, festivals, and other special events, there are many designers available year round to offer this beautifying service to international visitors.

Kathakali Dance

Kathakali dance is one of the eight classical Indian dance forms. Its name derives from Sanskrit and can be loosely translated as ‘story art’ or ‘folktale performance’. It’s designation as a dance form is a bit of a misnomer because it includes not only specific choreography, but unique music, costumes, and acting styles. It is therefore rather a performance style akin to classical opera. Kathakali performances tell stories from Hindu epics, through elaborately dressed and painted male actors, dancers, and singers. More modern Kathakali groups have incorporated women into their performances. The specifics of this artform are detailed and complex ranging from the instruments used to the eye movements of the actors. The Kerala Kathakali Centre is located in Kochi and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to visit one or more of the performances.

Keralan Cuisine

Keralan dishes are typical of South Indian cuisine, featuring lighter, fresher dishes as well as plenty of coconut and seafood. It is also rumoured that southern cooks are more liberal with their use of chillies. A famous Keralan dish is a Sadya, a kind of mini buffet of about two dozen distinct dishes served, with rice, on a plantain leaf. Due to its Hindu heritage many Keralan dishes are vegetarian, and Sadya is no exception. This is however, only popular during celebrations. Everyday Keralan dishes include, dosas, a kind of light crispy pancake filled with vegetable curry, ethakka appam, fried bananas, and, of course, chai, sweet milky tea flavoured with spices. Some ethno-cultural groups like the Jewish and Syrian Christian community have their own specific cuisine. In your free time, feel free to book one of the many Keralan cuisine cooking classes available in the region.


This port town has been a centre of global trade for many centuries, known to European explorers since at least the early medieval ages. Its main trade was in spices and the region’s cuisine still reflects this penchant for flavour complexity. Due to it being a merchant hub, the city has known influences from all around the world including China, Middle Eastern territories, Portugal, Holland, and Britain. This has resulted in a very specific ‘kochiite’ culture. Languages and religions common to the city reflect this diversity. The language of Kerala, Malayalam is popularly spoken, but Hindu, a language more common in North central India is also spoken here. Religious traditions include common practices in the South of India such as Hinduism and Jainism, but specific communities also practice Islam, Judaism, Syrian Orthodox Christianity, and Catholicism. Visitors can learn about these historic influences by visiting the old town, but it should also be noted that Kochi is very much a modern Indian city, and is the economic hub of the Keralan province.


Kerala is one of the Southernmost provinces of Indian, known for its luxury houseboat tours through the region’s lush, tropical backwaters where wildlife like the Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, and lion-tailed macaque can be spotted. It’s uniquely delectable cuisine, featuring lots of coconut, which grow abundantly in the region, and seafood, common in a coastal region, is also a major attraction. The region was popularised in the Western mind, by author Arundhati Roy, who grew up here, and set her Booker-Prize -winning novel, The God of Small Things, in Kerala.


The great diversity of the Indian subcontinent, and a perceived contrast to many Western norms, keeps international visitors coming back for more. India’s unique cultural milieu, featuring over 22 languages, seven major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and distinct cooking traditions, make for a life-changing cultural experience, no matter which location in the region you choose to visit. Tourists also flock to its many breathtaking landscapes, including snow-capped mountain ranges, tropical evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, and grasslands, not only to spot endangered species like the Bengal tiger, the snow leopard, the Indian Rhinoceros, and Asiatic lion, but to experience adrenaline-fueled activities like white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, or paragliding.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.


Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.

Download our Travel Smart Checklist

Essential information you need to travel safely during the COVID-19
pandemic – including destination ratings, flight bookings, and tests.

Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov


It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.

1 Nov


As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.

6 Nov


The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.

5 Nov


Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.

What's Included


24-hour emergency desk

24-hour in-country support

Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)

All project equipment

Food (except on long-term internship placements)

Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)

Pre-Program Training

Group introductory call

Welcome presentation

Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Endorsed Leadership Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond
Project Work

Sustainable project work

Leadership responsibilities

Remote Support

Remote Internship Supervisor


Preferential recruitment on GVI positions

Job portal access

Endorsed Careers Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond

Career coaching sessions

Certificates & Achievements

PDF reference - upon request