PPDS Volunteer Information

Useful  Essentials
For your time on the project we recommend the following:
    •  A torch - many  volunteers  now   prefer   to   use   the   ‘head   lamps’  commonly available in many outdoor activity stores in Europe and the US.  Power failures are very common in India so the torch will be useful.
    •  A small first aid kit - we recommend you include disinfectant, bandages, antidiarrhorea tablets,
plasters, painkillers such as ibuprofen. 
    •  Toiletries - bring enough for the first few days.  (Most things such as Shampoo  and toothpaste can easily be bought here in India and are normally cheaper and you are also supporting our local economy).
    •  A DEET containing insect repellent - mosquitoes are a constant hazard (and annoyance) so it is good to be prepared. If bitten lotions and creams to ease the irritation are easily available.
    •  Sun Protection – the Indian sun is hot and strong.  A lot of the projects it is not required that you work during the hottest period of the day.
    •  Feminine hygiene – sanitary pads can all be bought here, locally, however, many female volunteers prefer those they already know from home.  Tampons are less commonly available.
  • Clothing – travel light rather than heavy.   Remember, you will be able to buy all forms of clothing  (especially light, summer wear) once you are here. Bring a couple of long sleeve shirts/ blouses for protection against the evening mosquitoes.
    • Mobile phone and charger – cell coverage is generally very good in India. Please make sure your phone is ‘unlocked’ before arriving so we can help you to buy a local SIM card to reduce your call costs.
    • A  universal  power converter   – electricity in  India  is 230V to 240V, 50 HZ AC of the three-round-pin variety.   Bring the converter with you.

Your good Health
Health and  hygiene is a key issue both for the people who live here and you.  When in India, we advise you to take no risks when  it comes to eating and drinking - if you have peeled it, it will be fine, if it is freshly cooked it will be fine. There are many good, clean restaurants available.

The following is a set of guidelines only - seek professional advice for more details:
    • Vaccinations   –   Get   up   to   date   guidance   from   your   local   doctor   before travelling;
prevention is the safest method.
    • Diarrhoea  – many visitors to India succumb to traveller’s diarrhoea (amoebic dysentery is  very rare). In  most cases,  a  trip  to the local doctor will suffice with  prescribed  antibiotics  being  the  solution. In  case  you  are  struck down with the problem, we  recommend you bring  with  you  a set of antidiarrhoea tablets  to  ‘cease  the  flow’  before  you  see  a  doctor.   Alternatively,  Ayuvedic medicine/ advice (Indian herbal treatments) is also easy to find.
    • Water  – buy and drink bottled water only.   Easily available in all towns, make sure   the   bottle   is  securely   sealed  before   purchasing.    
    • Prescribed   medication   -   If   you   are   on   any   prescribed  medication,   bring enough   to  last  the complete  duration   of   your  time  in  India.  Bring a copy of the prescription with you so that you can show it if needed if you are prescribed another medication.  
    • Insect bites  – bring a DEET containing insect repellent and wear long sleeves during the  evening.  Prevention is better than irritation.

Insurance
If you are accepted as a volunteer, it is important that you take out travel insurance cover; accidents   can  happen   to   even   the  fittest  person.     (NB.  Insurance   cover   is  a   necessary condition  to  become  a  volunteer.   On  arriving   at  the  project,  you  will be   asked  to   show evidence).             
                                                                     
With  hundreds  of  insurance  companies to  choose  from,  check that  coverage  includes ‘in case   of   hospitalisation’   and   ‘in   case   of   accidents   on   two   wheels’   –   previously,   many volunteers   have   rented   motorbikes,   blissfully   unaware   of   the   fact   that   their   insurance policy would not cover an accident if it was to happen.   

Passport/ Visa
You  will  need  to have  a valid  passport  and   then  apply for  an  India Visa  from  the Indian Embassy in your home country.  Most nationalities are issued 6 month multiple entry visas  and  the  visa  is  valid  from  the  day it  is  issued.   Confirm  with  your  embassy for full details.  

Arriving Chennai
Having been accepted  as a volunteer and  having confirmed your travel arrangements with us, there  is a  full  arrivals  procedure in  place  to  ensure  that  you  feel  comfortable  and  at ease when you take your first steps as a volunteer.

On arriving  at Chennai you can take a bus to Puducherry ( approx  4 hrs, RS 100 TO 225)  or Taxi you should expect to pay RS 2,500 and fix the fare before travelling. If you have asked us to arrange a hotel you can go straight there we will have already asked the hotel to inform us of your safe arrival. If you have made your own accommodation arrangements  we ask that you call us and let us know of your arrival.

Meet the Team :
Once you are settled in your accommodation we will arrange to collect you and bring you to our offices. You will meet the small team that you will be working with. One of the team will be accompanying you on all of your visits to schools and villages. We will discuss your work schedule so that you can fit in the visits and tourist program you may have planned.

Safe keeping of your belongings (anything valuable such as passports, bank cards etc. may be stored in our office for safe keeping).

We will give you at least 2 Emergency contact numbers (24 hour availability) so that you can feel at ease during your whole stay.

Tamil Culture
With respect to the local Indian culture, and remembering that many of you will be working in  rural areas where traditional values are perhaps most evident, please dress appropriately.   This  is a question of cultural sensitivity and values.  We expect all our volunteers to show respect where due.

You  will quickly  notice  that almost all  women  wear  a churridhar (long  blouse  with  pair of pants) or a sari (6m of fabric that you  wrap around your body in a specific way) in India. Men mostly wear long trousers with a shirt. It’s better to show respect to them and their culture by respecting their dress code. 

European/Western  people   are   very   punctual  in  comparison   to   Indians.   When   you settle a meeting and  arrange a  time for it, don’t be surprised if  the meeting  starts later, anything up to 30mins is normal. PPDS staffs are normally very punctual.

When you are a man, it is inappropriate to shake the hand of a woman on your own initiative (it can be interpreted as an imposing gesture). When the woman makes the initiative it will not be a problem. 

Religion
Tamil  Nadu  and  Pondicherry are  home to a  wide  variety of  different religions.   There are Hindus,  Muslims,   Jains,   and  Christians   amongst  others.  You   have   no   need   to   hide   your   beliefs. Cultural interchange is one of the key by-products of volunteering.  Come prepared to learn and experience the way others live.

You will also have plenty of opportunity to visit the local temples.  Please remember that in most cases you will have to take off your shoes before entering.  This is a sign of respect and it is usually the same when you enter somebody’s house or even their office, so sandals or slip-ons are easiest.

Local Transport
Puducherry is a very easy town to explore, you will find most people speaking either English or French and they will be happy to help.

We will be happy to help with addresses and directions for useful shops, Post Office, Temples, Markets etc. You can use our office internet connection (wifi) or any of the many internet cafes.

Getting  around  can  be  fun.    By far  the  most common  way  of  moving  around  town  is  by Auto  rickshaw,(tuktuk)  a  small,  enclosed  three  wheeler  taxi. You  will  have  to fix the price before you travel. 

Alternately, you  can move around  town by, renting  a cycle (especially in Pondicherry) or even    a moped/motorbike.   Mopeds can also be  a great way of  getting  out into the local communities or to the beaches. Motorbikes should only be used by experienced riders that hold a full licence in their home country (insurance is never included). For longer distances, there are buses and trains or if you are feeling wealthy you can enquire to the price of a car and driver.  At first sight, public transport in India can seem   chaotic   to   the   outsider.     However,   you   will   soon   come to appreciate how well organised the transport system actually is.  Long distance trains offer a great experience to the traveller.  We will give you any advice necessary when you need to book tickets.

Free Time and Sightseeing
As a volunteer you will have 2 days off a week.  Usually you can choose your  days off and they are a great chance for you to chill out and  relax, or to get out and see some of the local sights.  There is a  lot to see  in Tamil Nadu/ Pondicherry.  Here is a list of some  recommended  activities. (Feel free to ask for more details).

•  Boat   House:Located   on   the   banks   of   the   river   Chunnambar (8 Kms from Pondicherry),  you’ll find the boat house.   The  backwaters and  the lush  greenery  on both   sides   of   the   Chunnambar   River   provide   an   ideal   setting   for   boating.     The affordable rates make boating in Pondicherry popular among the locals as well. 

•  Auroville:   Located  15 kms north of Pondicherry, Auroville is described  as "the  City of   Tomorrow".Auroville   was   envisioned   as   a   Universal   Town   where   people   from different nationalities,  faiths  and  beliefs,  can  live  in  peace  and harmony.   Here,  an attempt  is   being   made   to   replicate,   on  much   larger  scale,  the  experiment   being carried out in  Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the evolution of a new society as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

•  Mamallapuram:   The   backpacker   village   of   Mamallapuram   (Between   Pondi   and Chennai,   2 hrs   by   bus,   leaves   5   times   a   day   from   the   central   bus   station). Mamallapuram   is   very   popular   with   Western   backpackers   and   has   plenty   of accommodation  to   offer.  The  place  is  famed    for  its   granite  sculptures.  The  air  is ever filled with tapping and chiselling of granite. The city is based around  the Shore Temple,  one  of  India’s  most photographed  monuments.  The richness  in  sculptures, temples   and   boulders,   strewn   around   the   area   made   that   Mamallapuram   was granted World Heritage Site status in 1995.

•  City of  Madurai:   Madurai is the perfect example  of any large  South  Indian  city.  It is noisy, smelly and very crowded  with traffic and people.  Madurai however stands apart because  of  the  presence  of the impressive  Meenakshi-Sundareshwat temple. Madurai  functions  as  a  centre   of   worship  for  the whole  state  of  Tamil Nadu.    The religious   complex   surrounding   the   temple   in   the   old   city has   been   beautifully conserved for centuries. Therefore you cannot afford to miss Madurai!

•  Thanjavur:   Home to an active Chola temple with a large Nandi bull (iconic statue).If you visit on the first or third Friday of the month (you may arrange the day off) you can   see   the   cleaning   of   the   bull   ceremony   with   traditional   music   and   dance. Thanjavur  is   some   7   hours   from  Pondicherry  and   the   temple   is  a   UNESCO  world heritage site.

Calling Home/ Postal services
It is possible to buy a SIM card for your mobile while you are in India (our staff will help you to get the right contract).  It is then simple  to buy top-up cards/ or top up credit to use on your  phone.  We also have skype on the computer in our office which you are welcome to use (within reason) 

Emergency Contact Information
Our staffs are available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. 

The emergency contact phone number of D. Daniel is +91 97865 77481

 
 
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PPDS celebrated women’s day
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Distribution of School Materials and Bags