BLESS - An Empowering Organisation

Volunteer

 Volunteer opportunities in Bless:

Bless offers five different volunteer programs. The five programs can be combined if you wish to contribute to all of our projects. To make sure that our volunteers will understand as much as possible about the Indian society and how Bless is working, we ask them to stay for at least three months. The first two days at Bless will be orientation days to learn about India and BLESS and to address initial practical questions and issues.

  • Children home

10 kilometers south of Pondicherry, in a village called Reddychavadi, is the Children’s Home, where 60 children between 5 and 18 years old live and go to school. The children come from multiple different villages, but all from poor and excluded communities. They are orphans, semi-orphans or come from the poorest families among the poor. Their parents are illiterate and frequently the children are forced to work to help support their families. At the Children’s Home, the children attend local schools and are provided with food, shelter, tutoring, and care. There are three regular staff members helping the children in their daily routines. As a volunteer at Bless Children’s Home, you can assist the staff by teaching and tutoring (in English), playing games, supervising, and overall serving as an extra hand in the day-to-day activities. We offer accommodation in private rooms and offer South Indian food in a homey environment.

  • Women’s Empowerment / Micro-credits

The basic idea of Self-Help Group (SHG) is to provide financial credits to small groups of women, to help them develop an individual, self-sustaining business. The credits are used for many different purposes (for example, to start a small-scale carpet production.) Bless participates in a SHG program with Tamil Nadu government, involving 30 000 female members in 2000 different groups. This year, Bless will update the SHG statistics, and a volunteer can make an important contribution here. The aim is to create a well-functioning monitoring system of all SHG groups in the system. As a volunteer, you will collect data, and visit many groups, thereby gaining insight in how the programs work. Another task will be to find strong women leaders in the groups, who can serve as role models to others. Seven BLESS staff members will be working within this project. Accommodations will be in Chidambaram, a famous tourist destination.

  • Field office near to Trichirapalli

BLESS is planning to open a new field office 150 kilometers south of Pondicherry, on the way to Trichirapalli. This area has been severely affected by the recent drought, which has caused significant disruption in the agriculture sector. Because of the drought, many poor families have sent their daughters to work as servants and maids in Kerala, a neighboring state. During this initial phase of opening the office, Bless needs help from volunteers to collect baseline data about present problems and to propose project ideas. Education and/or experience in agriculture and watershed management is recommended in this program.

  • Shanmuga Nagar

Shanmuga Nagar is a tribal village in Cuddalore district. The main source of income for the village is fishing, but this was severely affected the 2004 tsunami. Following the tsunami, BLESS built 62 new houses for the families, a new community hall and a shopping complex. Recently Bless initiated a training program in tailoring for women in the village. As a volunteer in Shanmuga Nagar, you will experience the daily life in one of India’s most excluded communities. The practical work in the village will consist of assisting with health camps, promoting kitchen gardening, good hygiene and sustainable housekeeping and more. The accommodation will be arranged in the village itself.

  • Water & sanitation

One of BLESS’s primary areas of focus is water and sanitation. BLESS promotes improved hygiene and sanitation at the household, school and community levels. In 2008, only 21% of Indians living in rural areas had access to toilets. The government has made efforts in bringing total sanitation, but these efforts have not yet been successful. BLESS, as a grassroots agency, has joined this effort. Volunteers having social service or civil engineering backgrounds can support these initiatives. Accommodations will be at the field service base in Reddichavady, just outside of Pondicherry.

Accommodation:

During your stay, in exchange for your good work, BLESS will provide a room, food (breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner) and internet access. Accommodations in the BLESS centre in Reddichavady are free of cost. If the projects you are interested in are located far from the BLESS centre, we can arrange your housing and meals for the lowest price possible.

Contact: 

If you are interested in volunteering with BLESS, please send an e-mail to admin@bless.org.in, with your contact information, experience, skills, motivation, and the projects you are interested in.

Former volunteers’ testimonies:

Théodore Cohen, French, 2014-2015 – Fundraising, project management, ground work

In the frame of my studies, I had to achieve an internship abroad and I luckily found Bless.

This was my first real working experience and my first time in India. Depending on where you come from, you might be surprised to discover a so different country, but also thrilled. It is a beautiful country, with a great culture and all its qualities are amazingly represented by Bless, which is a welcoming organization. Also, as I was able to observe, visiting different villages, they are doing great work helping the needy people. Their projects have a great impact on people living in rural areas: those whose houses were destroyed or damaged by the 2004 Tsunami or the 2011 Thane cyclone have been able to repair them and build new ones thanks to Bless; those who were openly defecating are now aware of the issues caused by this practice and are learning to use the toilets built by Bless; those who never got access to medical assistance are now about to access healthcare; and these are just the projects I worked on, there are many more.

As for my own work in Bless, I could achieve several tasks, such as fundraising for the 300 toilets projects or writing a complete description of the Medical camps project. I also worked on the ground, supervising and helping the construction of a toilet and collecting information about different villages. Apart from this, in Bless headquarters in Reddichavady, I helped the staff taking care of the children and gave them English classes. They are very lovable and funny and furthermore, they are curious and eager to learn!

During the weekends, I could easily go to Pondicherry by bus or motorbike, it is quite close to Bless centre. It is a beautiful small city with many shops, restaurants and the beaches you will find close to the city are gorgeous. 

If you need any details or have questions to ask me, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail : theodorecohen75@gmail.com