Frequently Asked Questions
by Volunteers Regarding Life In Mumbai
Where will I live and who will pay for it?
You will not be living in the
slums. The AVSAR Home Base provides above average accommodations for you, with
Western amenities, prior to your arrival. In exchange for the extensive and
comprehensive support offered by AVSAR (please
see FAQ), you will be expected to pay for your own accommodations
(approximately $250 - $350 for the month). AVSAR keeps costs low for volunteers
by seeking donations from friends, family, and enthusiastic supporters. If you
know of someone who you would like for us to approach who may be interested in
helping subsidize this expense, please contact us at email@example.com
(e.g., private donors, physicians, community associations, Rotary Clubs,
cultural organizations, major philanthropic resources, etc…). If you would like
to be a part of the email campaign to help raise funds, please let us know.
What if I have relatives with whom I would
like to stay?
The AVSAR experience is an
experience of intensive service to the underprivileged. We think that the value
of an AVSAR volunteer is that he/she is interested in this experience for the
simple purpose that it is about providing service to the community; and not
about “development tourism.” There is a very important role in the nonprofit
sector for such programs, but AVSAR chooses to focus on an experience of
intensive service. We do understand that volunteers may need to rest and
recharge by taking some time for themselves or to visit nearby family, but volunteers
are expected to budget their time appropriately and return to the AVSAR Home
Base each evening. In other words, all volunteers are expected to stay together
at the AVSAR Home Base and focus on their experience of service (unless it is
their Saturday night off during the vacation weekend).
Will this be a safe experience for me?
You are obviously responsible
for your own safety. While Mumbai is a big city, it is known to be extremely
safe. It is very unlikely that you would ever be in any personal danger during
your experience (unless you ignore our advice and decide to cross the railroad
tracks, or hang off the train like the local youth). While petty theft is
something to be aware of, if you use common sense and pay close attention
during orientation (keep your valuables in your front pocket, don’t ever leave
your personal belongings in a train station, etc.), you should not have any
major problems while you are here. The slum-areas also tend to be very safe and
easily navigated by most volunteers.
How will I get around the city?
Two options: Public transportation (bus and train) or
car (taxi or private).
Your housing will likely be
located in a central area which allows quick access to various modes of
transportation to most points throughout the city.
Public transportation can be
a great option that saves time and money (considered by some as a rite-of-passage,
but one that we help you out with during orientation). Women will have either a
separate train or a separate train compartment (which tend to be less crowded).
A one-month first-class pass on the train costs approximately $10 - $15.
by bus costs about Rs.3 to Rs.10 each way ($1 = Rs. 46). Trains charge Rs5 -
Rs.30. Cabs charge approximately Rs.14 per kilometer. Taxis are readily available throughout the city. A one
hour cab ride can be as little as $4 or as much as $10 depending on how far you
are traveling. In general, though, Mumbai is a small city. The “Auto-Rickshaws”
have a minimum charge of Rs. 9.
An a/c car with a driver
can be arranged for less than the cost of renting a car in the
Computers/Internet - Internet
cafés are inexpensive (Rs. 20 per hour) and offer a high-speed internet
connection and are readily available. If you bring your laptop, you can connect
to the internet through our high-speed cable internet access at the AVSAR Home
Base. The computers available at the AVSAR Home Base will be available to
AVSAR’s administrative team for office work as well as to AVSAR volunteers for
conducting research and working on their projects.
Mobile Phone - You can bring
your own GSM mobile phone from the states (be sure to bring your unlock code as
well) and buy a prepaid SIM card when you get here. That will allow you to call
anywhere in the world for a reasonable price. Or you can rent a phone from us
when you get here for approximately $15/mo (including $7 talk-time).
International Calls - “STD/PCO” booths are everywhere and offer very economical means
to call anywhere in the world. Also, your prepaid SIM card may be used for
international phone calls too.
I don't speak Hindi or Marathi, will that
make it difficult for me to see patients or contribute to the group?
If you don’t speak the
language, of course it can make the experience challenging; however, the
doctors working for our partner NGOs, as well as the office staff and personnel
all speak English fluently. They are very willing to translate for you when
needed. Also, you will receive some basic language materials to read prior to
your arrival into Mumbai. You will also have language-training during your
orientation as well as throughout the month (by tutors who are hired by AVSAR).
While language can be a
barrier, we hope that it will not discourage you from applying for an
experience that you will likely look back on without any regrets.
How much can I expect spend?
Don’t think about it because
you WILL have a very unique experience that will force you to realize how
fortunate you truly are! And how rich you are!!
If you must have a figure, expect
to spend approximately $1800 for one month (depending on the time of year, your
preferences in cuisine, transportation, etc…). The ticket will cost
approximately $1100 to $1300 from the US, the lodging/program fee will cost approximately
$250 per month for volunteers staying less than 3 months, $225 per month for
volunteers coming for 3-5 months, and $200 per month for volunteers coming for
6-12 months. The lodging/program fee will be collected from you prior to your
I’d like to raise money to help me pay for my
volunteer experience. Do you have any suggestions?
Once we have accepted you as
an official AVSAR volunteer, we can help you with fundraising strategies and ideas
for your trip (Rotary Club, special events, email or mail campaign, etc.). You
could even hold fundraisers in the name of AVSAR, in which case you would be
collecting tax-deductible contributions in the name of AVSAR.
We thank you for your interest and hope to see an
application for the next AVSAR experience with your name on it!
Wishing you all the best,
*PLEASE NOTE THAT THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT
NOTICE. ALSO, IT MAY NOT BE THE MOST ACCURATE REFLECTION OF AVSAR’S VISION,