Testimonials and feedback from 2019 volunteers

Older testimonials

Holly Scott, Sewa Bharat (New Delhi)

My volunteer experience was incredible, and very fulfilling. I worked on projects which fitted my interests exactly. I worked on a DFID funding proposal for a large amount of money, which required me to orient myself around the issues of women’s land tenure in informal settlements in Delhi very quickly. The DFID framework for proposals is long and rigorous, and requires many different documents to be filled in, but after a few weeks of drafts and rewrites, a final set of documents was produced Towards the end of this proposal I was responsible for coordinating the collation of all these documents, and was individually responsible for producing a few of them. This was extremely rewarding and I await the results of the proposal tensely! I also worked directly with a women’s garment cooperative and created a portfolio for them to show to exporters, which required organising a photoshoot to display all their clothes, and using new software. I also did the research for the production of a set of infographics about the problem of women’s urban mobility and how this impedes economic empowerment. All in all, I learned a lot and enjoyed my time with SEWA Bharat enormously.

Katie McCoshan, Action Aid (New Delhi)

Working with ActionAid for two months was the most incredible experience. I spent the first few days orientating myself in the office and delving in to ActionAid’s publications and content to get a feel for their values and approach to empower those in poverty to advocate for their human rights. During the internship I spent my time working with the Institutional Partnership Development team which involved working in partnership with a range of Indian and international organisations by forming relationships with large donors, applying for grants, tailoring projects to suit the donor interests and promoting campaigns. As a geographer I have always been interested in social justice so learning and researching about social issues in India was endlessly fascinating (even if at times it felt like being thrown into the deep end!).

Being in an office environment provided a welcome break from the vibrant sights and sounds of Delhi and North India myself and the other interns took to exploring at the weekend. It was an excellent opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues who offered me support and advice despite their own workloads and later became good friends.

The most exciting part of the internship was a last-minute field trip to a remote district of Uttarakhand on the Nepalese boarder in the Himalayas during my 6th week. I had mentioned an interest in climate change and sustainable agriculture and ActionAid happened to be running a project in the region on these topics that needed evaluating, which provided a perfect opportunity for a trip there with another member of my team. It was truly breath-taking and worth the 9-hour train journey and 7-hour car ride through winding terrain. Though incredible, this fieldwork was also one of the hardest aspects of my internship; only two of us travelled from the office, with little experience of Indian railways and rural roads; we had less than 24 hours to familiarise ourselves with the project before setting off; conditions were very remote and challenging given the high-risk of mudslides; Hindi, of which mine is very limited, was the only language used. Nevertheless, this trip will remain the best experience I have ever had for a long time to come and I am incredibly grateful for CAVMOL's hard work and support.

Rhiannon Osborne, Action Aid (New Delhi)

I found the internship at Action Aid extremely useful and I have learnt so much, especially coming from a science background, about how development and activism should be done, and about how the work you are doing should never be about you or your organisation – it should be about tangible and lasting benefits for the people who need it most.

I was exposed to a lot of different aspects of ActionAid’s work and greatly improved my understanding of the challenges facing development NGOs and read/saw lots of examples of successful projects. I am now able to reflect on my new experiences and knowledge and use this to form my own opinions on how to perform development work and have a much improved understanding of working in this field.

The most rewarding experience was, for around half of my internship, I was working on creating an ActivateStreets programme – a guide to working with children who live on the streets. This involved visiting a particular shelter regularly to test out my ideas and designing the programme in the office. I was also able to perform research and interviews with other shelter leaders and members. This was not part of what I was meant to be doing initially, but it was by far the best experience of my internship.

James Kirkham, ICIMOD (Nepal)

My internship in Nepal was one of the most rewarding things that I've done. The country is beautiful, culturally diverse and is home to some of the friendliest people I've met. The working environment at ICIMOD was dynamic, involved and has allowed me to conduct work that will ultimately be published in a scientific journal. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone, and would go back and go through the whole experience again in an instant.

Matt Lees, ICIMOD (Nepal)

My two month internship at ICIMOD was an incredible experience. The work was varied, relevant and extremely interesting and has encouraged me to apply my degree to development work in the future. Living and working in Nepal was really special, and I loved the challenges and experiences it provided. I cannot recommend it enough to future students! Thanks to CamVol for coordinating and helping with preparation for a truly amazing summer.

Tom Blanchard, Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi)

The ORF is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary public policy think tank with an Indian focus. I’d had a longstanding interest in doing policy work, especially in development, so being able to have the opportunity to work for the ORF whilst living in Delhi for the summer was invaluable and has reinforced my desire to work in development and volunteer abroad again in the future. The ORF, as one of India’s leading think-tanks, put on numerous academic events during my internship; from talks to book reports to debates and conferences. Due to the prestige of the organisation, the ORF attracted a range of speakers, academics, journalists and ambassadors – with the ambassador to Syria’s appearance even attracting TV cameras to the office. The multidisciplinary nature of the ORF’s focus meant that these events covered a variety of subjects: international relations, domestic politics, economics, climate change, security and even space mining. As a result, I learnt about a range of issues to which I had little prior knowledge, for example current Indian political developments - particularly foreign policy concerns, which in the case of Pakistan and China seemed numerous and also of Modi’s somewhat controversial premiership. The latter sentiment was echoed by the several Indian interns I worked alongside, who gave me an invaluable insight into not only political feeling amongst students but also life in India and Delhi. From designing a diet to ease me into Indian food and avoid the dreaded Delhi belly, to showing me around, whether it be a local bar, jazz club or even driving me to the Taj Mahal, they really helped me settle into the office and living in Delhi.

Cornelia Bentsen, Grassroots (Kumaon)

I felt I learnt a lot about the realities of working on the ground in the development sector, as well as what development really is at Grassroots, and what it actually means to people in their everyday lives. It also gave me a feel of what it was like to gain work experience as a working adult in a profession I can see myself entering into.

Felix Koninx, Grassroots (Kumaon)

I would sincerely like to thank Camvol for the support they gave me to carry out this interesting and challenging internship . Staying in a homestay added to the experience considerably. Our hosts were incredible and never failed to amaze me with their kindness and generosity. I hope many more students have the opportunity to go to Grassroots in the future.

Siobhan Eastman, CEDAR (Dehra Dun)

My time in Dehra Dun provided me an insight into working in the charity sector, while helping me to experience a summer working abroad. My time away provided a range of challenges, from adjusting to the more slow pace of work and finding out what CEDAR needed from me, to settling into the local culture. The office staff at CEDAR were friendly and welcoming.. The work was interesting and engaging, plus the coordinator allowed me to make up hours so that I could travel at the weekends. If I were to complete the experience again, I would make sure to ask for background reading before attending the placement. Overall this was a wonderful experience over the summer, and being prepared is integral for making the experience worthwhile!

Theo Demolder, Latika Roy Foundation (New Delhi)

The experience at Latika was very enjoyable and rewarding. All the staff were very friendly and helpful, keeping me busy with meaningful work and making me feel appreciated. I had alot of freedom to choose what I wanted to work on and contributed to a range of projects including research, funding applications, making a film, writing articles, to promote the Foundation’s work and helping at