Why do I have to pay to volunteer?
Your trip fee provides the funds by which we are able to purchase building materials, pay the wages of the on-site crew (most of whom come from within the community) and provide your lodging, food and activities. More than 90% of your trip fee remains in-country, with 70% going directly to the project. For US residents, your trip fee is considered a charitable deduction along with some associated travel costs.
Do I need any special skills?
Anyone can join a Restoration Works International trip. No previous construction or building experience is required – just a desire to make a difference in the lives of the local community.
What kind of work will I be doing?
The tasks vary depending on the project, its need and the work progress. Generally, the mornings begin with a group gathering in which the architect, project manager or Group Leader will update everyone on the goals for the day, and make work assignments. You will always find a variety of jobs available. You may find yourself working alongside the local team of women laborers and craftspeople to complete hands-on construction work, such as demolition, excavation, clearing debris, lime grinding by hand, wall plastering with lime, terracing, and stone carving and laying. Or you may contribute toward service lane cleaning, participate in miniature painting, and assist with horticulture establishment. There will be opportunities to participate in the community engagement project development by interviewing neighbors, documenting the community with camera or video, and developing future initiatives (composting, activities for children, painting, etc.). If cuisine is your interest, you may be able to help prepare meals for the volunteers and crew. And if detailed work is your preference, you could participate in various object conservation tasks, such as sanding and repairing wood doors and cleaning and repairing historical furniture and artifacts. We may be able to give you a general idea beforehand of the type of work you’ll be doing; however, it’s subject to change based on weather, availability of materials, and schedules of master craftspeople. We try to rotate activities so that you’re engaged in a variety of tasks in the time you’re on site.
Should I be concerned about safety issues on site?
No RWI participant has encountered a serious safety or medical situation. However, we require that all participants have medical insurance and an emergency evacuation policy. Our Group Leaders have undergone first aid training. You should be aware, however, that construction sites operating in developing countries often lack the safety standards that you may be used to in your own country. When you are on site, it’s wise to stay alert. You should not participate in any work or activity in which you do not feel safe.
What types of people come on RWI trips?
We get everyone from experienced globetrotters – Peace Corps members and journalists – to first-time travelers. Past volunteers have included groups (university classes, families, yoga aficionados) and individuals. Sometimes we are fortunate to be joined by experienced carpenters and stone masons but often our volunteers are working or retired professionals with no construction experience.
What age range is appropriate?
We have had volunteers from age 5 to age 70+. Please note that all volunteers 18 and under must provide a waiver form with parental signature, even when accompanied by that parent.
Can I contact past volunteers?
Yes! We have many volunteers who are happy to provide their views and information. Some prefer email contact but others are happy to talk by phone. Please enquire, and we will provide contact details.
Do you do custom trips if I bring my own group?
Groups of eight or more can choose customized dates and activities. Please email us for information.
Can I do a shorter trip or longer trip than the dates posted?
For reasons of safety, logistics, and cost, RWI requires that all trip participants travel together on the scheduled dates.
You will receive a substantial Volunteer Info Pack when you register that is designed to answer your questions and concerns so that you arrive at the project with all the items you will need for your comfort and safety. The Pack includes a volunteer checklist; packing list; itinerary; details about international travel to India, travel within India with RWI, and life on the project; and important contact information.
Can you help me with travel arrangements?
We can refer you to a travel agent who has handled many participants’ air fares in the past. You can also check Fly for Good.
What sort of insurance do I need? Medical? Travel? Emergency evacuation?
RWI requires all participants to purchase travel health insurance that includes emergency evacuations. We also recommend you consider travel insurance. Policies are inexpensive and vary – look for one that includes reimbursement of cancellation fees in the event of trip cancellation or delay. No RWI volunteer has ever missed an international departure but it is possible that domestic airline delays or cancellations could affect your onward journey. Most policies also cover loss of baggage, and expenses related to accidents and illness.