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Volunteer travel with Tibetan refugees

Learn about the Tibetan cause and their Buddhist worldview by supporting their community in North India.

Volunteer travel with Tibetan refugees

from 585€ por persona
Open all year round except during the Tibetan New Year (February-March approx.).

In 1959, a rebellion broke out in Tibet against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The fourteenth Dalai Lama decided to flee to Dharamsala, in northern India. In the next two years, 80,000 Tibetans follow him. In McLeod Ganj, a small district north of Dharamsala , the Tibetan administration was established and the place becomes the centre of the Tibetan refugees world . However, India has not signed any Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Tibetans living in this country are still considered foreigners. This means they suffer labour and social exclusion as they cannot get a decent job or even study at some of the Indian universities. Young Tibetans increasingly travel to other countries and lose a part of their culture.

This project was founded in 2013 with the aim of providing quality education to refugees and promoting Tibetan culture and the Tibetan cause. Since its inception, the organization has offered education to more than 2,000 young Tibetans and has organized hundreds of events to promote culture.

In this project you will live in the same center where the young people go to study and you will be able to establish friendship with them. You will know their cause, their ideas and their worldview based on Buddhism. The center is located just a few steps from the home of the Dalai Lama and you may have the opportunity to participate in one of the many public events in which he himself takes part during the year.

Volunteering in McLeod, Dharamsala

This project works towards achieving the following Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 1 End poverty
SDG 2 Zero Hunger
SDG 3 Health and well-being
SDG 4 Quality education
SDG 5 Gender equality
SDG 10 Reducing inequalities
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  • Project Location
    McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India
  • Volunteer hours
    2 hours a day: one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.
  • Volunteer activities
    Conversations in English, possibility of preparing workshops and talks (environment, photography, etc.), support in organizing events, marketing.
  • Minimal collaboration
    2 weeks
  • Incluido
    Tumaini accompaniment
    Hot water
    Local Coordinator
    Training course
    Airport pick-up
    Volunteer liability insurance
  • No incluido
    Tourist activities
    Travel insurance

Volunteer Program

Voluntary activities
  • Participating in conversations and English classes
  • Conducting French classes
  • Preparation and conducting workshops 
  • Administrative support
  • Support in organization of events and marketing
  • It can be combined with the nursery project in the same town.
Profiles required
It is not necessary to have a specific profile to participate in this solidarity trip. The only requirements are:
  • Level of English (intermediate level equivalent to B1, no diploma required).
  • Be of legal age or, in the case of minors, be accompanied by adults. The minimum recommended age to participate is 17 years.
  • Be open-minded, tolerant, supportive and willing to learn. Flexibility is essential, as tasks may change depending on the needs of the NGO, similarly the ability to work in a team since volunteering is done in coordination with other people.
The project is particularly suitable for:
  • People interested in Buddhism or the Tibetan cause
  • People who want to enjoy their free time hiking in the mountains.
  • Teachers, professors, people with experience in project development and communication, photographers, etc.
A day in the project
''Conversation classes began at 11 in the morning, just after the grammar class finished, which was given to the students by a teacher. One would enter the classroom, take a cushion and sit down somewhere. Then the students who wanted to talk would sit around him, and the conversation would begin. On the blackboard they wrote a topic to break the ice a bit, with three questions to talk about. I used to start by introducing myself, because the same students rarely repeated themselves with the same volunteer (some did, and I became friends with them), and saying a little what I think about the proposed topic. Then he invited the students to talk about it. Some were delighted, others were embarrassed and others spent more time on their mobile than in conversation. The class lasted about an hour.At 4:00 p.m. I met again with the students to give the next hour of conversation. If the weather was good, the class would be on the terrace of the building, on the top floor. The views were absolutely exceptional, and many times the monkeys would walk among us settling their disputes or observing us with more indifference than anything else. Again, three questions on a specific topic were proposed to facilitate the conversation with the students. Perhaps at this moment, it was easier to talk to them, I don't know if because of the informality of the environment or because it caught them more awake. The best conversations I had were at this time, without a doubt.


After this last session I would go for a walk, eat something or have tea somewhere. There were many days that I went to visit my Indian friends, shopkeepers where I once bought something, and I would stay with them talking and drinking tea until the end of the day.The day ended the same way it began: early and at the mercy of sunlight. There was little to do once it got dark.''

Alejandro Sanz de Galdeano, project volunteer between April and May 2019


Project Location

The project is located in McLeod Ganj, a suburb of the city of Dharamsala, in northern India. As the first point of arrival for Tibetans fleeing their country after it was occupied by China, the city became the world center for Tibetan refugees. It is often called ''little Lhasa'', after the Tibetan capital. McLeod is also the home of the Dalai Lama, whose residence, called Tsug La Khang, includes a monastery, several temples and a museum dedicated to the Tibetan people.The city is 2,000 meters high and is surrounded by mountains and close to the Himalayas. It is a starting point for different nature excursions, making it perfect for mountain lovers.


The climate of McLeod Ganj is divided into three seasons:
  • Winter: from October to February. In this season the temperature during the day can rise up to 9ºC, but at night it drops to 0ºC or even less. The city experiences snowfall and, despite the cold, the environment becomes very beautiful. March is an intermediate month between the cold and hot season.
  • Summer: from April to June. Daytime temperatures are usually between 22ºC and 30ºC. It is the perfect season for mountain excursions.
  • Rainy season: from July to September. The temperatures are pleasant, between 18ºC and 22ºC and thanks to the rains nature revives and the environment becomes beautiful. It usually rains a lot; however, you can take short excursions around the city.

The cost varies according to the duration of your solidarity trip. The costs are approximate as they depend on the exchange rate at the time of payment.
  • 2 weeks: €585
  • 3 weeks: 720€.
  • 4 weeks: 855€.
  • 6 weeks: 1.120€.

What is included?

From Tumaini::
  • Search for the solidarity trip that best fits your profile and interests to provide an enriching beneficial experience for both travellers and NGOs.
  • A guide of the project with useful up-to-date information on the status and needs of the project.
  • Support during the preparation of your trip: visas, vaccinations, tips for buying your flight, advice on what to visit, essentials to carry in your backpack, practical information (money exchange, transport, timetables, culture, etc.).
  • Tumaini coordinator available by email or phone whenever you need to solve all your doubts. Sometimes, if possible, face-to-face meetings are also held.
  • Online course on solidarity travel and responsible tourism, mandatory for volunteers to get the most out of their experience.
  • Contact, if possible and on request, with volunteers who have already been in the project.
  • Contact, if possible and on request, with people who are going to travel on similar dates to chat before the solidarity trip, resolve doubts or organize it together.
  • Basic Tumaini Tibetan-English dictionary.
  • Accident and liability insurance specialized in volunteering.
  • Follow-up during the solidarity trip.
  • Letter of reference or certificate of solidarity travel/volunteering on request.
  • CO2 compensation by planting a tree and monitoring it for three years on the island of Borneo in Indonesia.
On the part of the project:
  • Accommodation in a single/double room with private bathroom.
  • Internal road transport from Dharamsala airport to the project.
  • Local Coordinator.
What is not included?

  • International ticket
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Visa
  • Extras such as personal excursions, shopping, etc.

Your trip will contribute to the growth of the project.The total cost of your solidarity trip is divided into two parts:
  • A contribution to Tumaini for the efforts and assistance of the volunteers.
  • A contribution to the project for board and lodging.
Your stay generates a direct benefit for the NGO, with your solidarity trip, you are directly contributing to making the project self-sustainable.
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