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Urban Volunteering: Mumbai

by Neha Mar 30, 2010
In our Urban Volunteering series, writers highlight volunteer opportunities in cities they know well.

Mumbai is home to millions of people, and just as many causes.


Voice works with street children who work menial jobs around the city and are forced out of school at an early age. Voice gives them the opportunity to continue learning through various formal and informal educational programs.

Classes are conducted at railway stations (where most street kids congregate, either to beg or work) and at four in-house centers. There, children are taught the 3 Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic – as well as basic life skills and vocational training. Since most of the kids work, they are also taught basic banking.

Volunteers are needed for teaching, conducting workshops, and leading field trips. The foundation also welcomes donations and student sponsorship. For more information on how you can help, log on to the Voice website.

Reality Cares

Reality Cares works towards providing quality education and vocational training to disadvantaged children and young adults living in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum.

The foundation works with a partner, Reality Tours & Travel, an ethical travel company, which conducts Dharavi tours, and currently runs a kindergarten for young kids and workshops for young adults at the local community center. Programs include life skills and vocational training, plus English lessons and basic computer skills.

Reality Cares asks for a minimum three month commitment from volunteers. Volunteers are needed for teaching assignments, creating curricula for various classes, designing and implementing computer modules, and marketing activities.

Knowledge of Hindi is advantageous, but not necessary. For more information on volunteer opportunities with Reality Cares, head here, and to make donations, here.

In Defense of Animals (IDA)

In Defense of Animals was founded in October 1996 to protect distressed animals in the city. The foundation takes in abandoned, injured, and abused animals and provides them with shelter, regular medical attention, and care.

IDA is also actively involved in promoting animal rights (through various school and college programs), as well as lobbying for improvement in India’s animal protection laws.

If you’re interested in helping, you can sign up for animal care duties at the center or administrative and marketing activities (this includes awareness drives, handling adoption procedures, and conducting post-adoption follow-ups).

You can also sponsor an animal currently living in the shelter; make a donation to IDA; or adopt an animal. In case of international adoptions, IDA helps with necessary paperwork and the required 3 month quarantine period.

The Sapling Project

The Sapling Project is the brain child of two Mumbai natives who wanted to address the city’s dwindling green cover. While most green drives in the city focus on parks and forested areas, this duo decided to take greenery to apartment blocks and office complexes.

The idea was to provide citizens with free saplings they could plant, monitor, and maintain around their localities. What began as a small initiative transformed into a local movement after some social media exposure; it mobilized citizens to address a critical local issue.

Today, the Project is active in various Indian metros. You can participate in planting projects or sponsor saplings to a project. Sign up on the project website for participation details and updates. Donations are also accepted.

“Mumbai is home to millions of people, and just as many causes.”
Rang De

Rang De is a platform that helps small scale entrepreneurs achieve financial independence through microcredit facilities across the country. They hope to make a big impact with small loans.

Rang De’s Mumbai chapter supports micro-enterprises across Maharashtra, with typical businesses being tailoring, weaving, and embroidery units, manufacturing household products (including food), eateries, and animal husbandry.

Rang De social investors are provided with online accounts on the Rang De website through which they can track their investments, repayments, and growth of the supported enterprise. Investors also receive regular email notification regarding account activity. Rang De also organizes field trips every quarter for interested investors, allowing them to see micro-credit at work.

In addition to investors, Rang De also welcomes volunteers with backgrounds in film making, content editing and developing applications for various Rang De projects. Sign up here to invest in a micro-enterprise; for other information, contact Rang De at

Community Connection

If you are interested in volunteering opportunities around the world, visit Matador’s Volunteering Abroad Focus Page.

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