THE BLOG
12/23/2012 10:16 am ET | Updated Feb 22, 2013

5 Budget-Friendly Volunteerships In Mumbai

Make better sense of the Mumbai madness by adding some structure to your trip. Navigating through a city that moves at the speed of light will scramble your mind, and volunteering gives you a solid schedule, clear goals and the ability to interact with needy people at a micro level. OTP sets you on the straight and narrow with 5 Budget Friendly Volunteerships in Mumbai; chilling out on the road rage is all you.

India Study Abroad Center
India Study Abroad Center (ISAC) has a range of opportunities available to help developing communities. Dive deep into culture, education, science or development with programs in film and media, grassroots community development, micro-finance, rural health rotation, traditional medicine, teaching ecology and culture tourism. Costs vary from $900-$1,650 depending on the program, but with scholarships of up to $350 available, giving back becomes pretty cost efficient. No need to be a brainiac, just get cracking on the application.

Magic Bus
One third of India's billion-plus population lives below the poverty line, two thirds of children are victims of physical abuse and one in two children are abused sexually. Adding to these awful stats, only six percent of people under 35 have access to organized sports and games. So, some kids never get to play ball or kick karate ass. Assisting in the Magic Bus mission to empower youth positively through sport can help to infuse their lives with a little fun. Although you'll have to arrange your own accommodation, the day trips, weekly sports sessions and residential adventure camps will keep you active while you pump good karma back into the world.

United Planet India Program
This program is broken up into "quests," like social work, Kanjar, Indian cooking and environmental conservation. All the quests are fun; the environmental conservation one, combining the ultimate beach party in Goa with saving sea turtles, almost feels like cheating. Artificial light (glow sticks?) on the beach make baby turtles lose their way to the ocean and some die after ingesting plastic littered along the shore. Your mission is to clean up the beach (maybe tan a little along the way) to help keep the turtles on their instinctive paths to the water. Although fees are on the steep side (starting at $3,065 for four weeks), it's a solid package that includes accommodation, meals, transfers, insurance and train fare from Mumbai to Goa, as well as extras like language and cooking lessons, mountain trekking and a trip to an Ashram yoga studio.

OTP Tip: When it's time to party, keep your litter in check. Otherwise, you negate the whole point of the volunteership (and the turtles will never forgive you).

Salaam Baalak Trust
For Mumbai's street kids, life's really a bitch. Soften the bite by working with Salaam Baalak Trust, a not-for-profit organization, inspired by Mira Nair's Oscar nominated film Salaam Bombay. Help these kids get involved in engaging and interactive lessons in life skills and non-formal education or creative expression and talent development. If the confines of a classroom get you down, go behind the scenes with documentation, marketing and communication. The minimum volunteer duration is two weeks, and you must arrange your own accommodation and transportation. Internships are also available.

United Way Mumbai
United Way's vision is an India with a socially responsible corporate sector, and international volunteers supporting this dream are welcomed with open arms. The organization works in sync with other non-profits to create sustainable change in civic issues, women's empowerment, children's education and capacity building. Be part of key community-based reform and use this volunteer opportunity to show off big words (and bigger ideas) to fellow travelers. The ladies love it when you schmooze with a purpose.

OTP Tip: Training volunteers takes a considerable amount of time and resources. Therefore, most places prefer not to take on volunteers for a very short term. Keep your stay sizable to make it all worthwhile.

Most volunteer programs in Mumbai do not charge a fee but do expect you to sort out your own accommodation and travel, which is fairly easy in a metropolis like Mumbai. Online scouting could land you a stipend or scholarships to cover partial expenses. Volunteers for Prosperity (VFPServ) provides grants (from $500-$1,000) assisting skilled Americans volunteering abroad. National Geographic Glimpse Correspondents Program offers a $600 stipend to qualifying individuals planning to volunteer abroad for a 10-week minimum. If you're worried about that long, expensive flight, Fly For Good is a company that will hook you up with discounted airfare if your ticket is booked for volunteering purposes.

Whether you're a fan of humans or turtles, help is always welcome, as long as your intentions are sincere.