The KG class at Mararikulam

Sanjay Saxena Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for India, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka
India, Tibet, Nepal & Sri Lanka

Kerala Schools Project

Pristine beaches, colorful temples, a language and culture uniquely its own, South India is a land of treasures. Lured by a distinct culture and gentle climate, travelers find themselves welcomed by the gracious people of Southern Indian. To learn more about this regions, please visit our Kerala page. This two week Service Tour incorporates visits to four of the schools that Destination Himalaya has been actively supporting in this region.

First, an early morning speed boat ride will carry us across the waters of Lake Vembanadan to the Deepthy Special School, a school for developmentally challenged children.  This school, is run by two inspirational nuns, Sisters Reesa Pal and Sister Kusuman Rose (both of whom were Honorees at the 2009 "Unsung Heroes of Compassion" presided by His Holiness the Dalai Lama). At Deepthy Special School, our clients will have an opportunity to work closely with the nuns and their "special needs" students for three school days.

Next, we visit two rural elementary schools in the Kumarakom region. One of the schools, the Primary School of Kummanom was the original beneficiary of the successful “Nutritious Lunch” program sponsored by the Grace Family Foundation and Destination Himalaya.  The second school in the village of Cheepunkal is the latest addition that may only be reached by a canoe or a 45 minute walk from the nearest road.   Here, clients will assist the teachers in everything from English and Mathematics instruction, to Music and Art, based on the schools' needs our clients' background and interest.

Between volunteer hours, we have reserved lengths of time for relaxation, sight-seeing and Ayurvedic treatments. Before arriving at our next school project, we will spend two days aboard a deluxe houseboat on the Kerala backwaters, stopping to explore small villages, ancient temples and churches along the way.

Finally, we journey to a secluded hotel on the white Arabian Sea beaches of Marari, just walking distance from our next school. Three days are spent at the Primary School of Mararikulam, aiding with English, Mathematics and Computer instruction. On a final leisurely day, our clients will enjoy the colorful port of Kochi, including a traditional Kathakali dance.

This Service Tour will provide volunteer travelers with a range of experiences and opportunity for service in a uniquely beautiful setting. No particular educational expertise is necessary, and, as mentioned above, we will be able to tailor involvement to our clients' interests and background. Those with teaching experience will also have the opportunity to help train local teachers. Professional medical expertise is always welcome.

Outline Itinerary

Day 1, (Fri): DEPART USA


Day 3, (Sun): ARRIVE BANGALORE & TO KOCHI - Most international flights arrive in Bangalore very early in the morning. You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Airport hotel for a few hours of rest before flying to Kochi. In Kochi, you will be transferred to our hotel, the Kumarakom Lake Resort (KLR), on the banks of Lake Vembanadan. Orientation meeting in the evening followed by a welcome dinner.

Day 4, (Mon): DEEPTHY SPECIAL SCHOOL - This morning we will take a speed boat across the lake to the Deepthy School in Muhamma town. After an orientation meeting with the Principal and Director of the School, we will meet all the children at this day & boarding school. We plunge right into their daily routine, assisting the staff as required. At the close of the school day we will board our boat and cross the lake to our hotel.

Days 5 & 6, (Tue, Wed): DEEPTHY SPECIAL SCHOOL – We have two more full days to work with the "special needs” children.  After breakfast at the hotel we will take speed boats to cross the river and reach the school and start our work day.  We will have lunch at the schools with the children and return to our hotel at the end of the school day.  Balance of the day are at your leisure to enjoy the wonderful setting of the hotel.  KLR also has an exceptional Ayurvedic Spa.

Days 7 & 8, (Thur, Fri): ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS OF KUMARAKOM – These two days are spent at the Primary Schools of Kummanom and Kotthayam. We will take a local long canoe (see picture on the right) to the schools where we help with English and Mathematics instruction.  These schools have been identified to be the next recipient of Grace Family Foundation's "Nutritious Lunch" program. The evenings are at your leisure.

Days 9 & 10, (Sat, Sun): HOUSEBOATING – On board a deluxe houseboat.  We spend the days relaxing on the backwaters of Kerala, letting all our worries slowly float away. As we cruise along the canals of the Arabian Sea, we may choose to stop and explore some of the many small villages, old temples and churches that we come across.  

Days 11, 12 & 13, (Mon, Tue, Wed): ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN MARARIKULAM – Ending our houseboat trip we will check into our hotel on the beach, just walking distance from our next School Project. These three days are spent at the Primary School of Mararikulam. We will walk or bike to the school each morning, where we help with English, Mathematic and Computer instruction.  The late afternoon/evenings are at your leisure to enjoy the pristine beaches of Marari washed by the warm waters of the Arabian Sea.

Day 14, (Thu): EXPLORING KOCHI - We will have the day to leisurely explore this seaside community.  In the evening, we will be treated to an Indian traditional Kathakali dance performance and have an opportunity to meet with the performers. We will have a closing meeting on the week’s activities followed by a farewell dinner.

Day 15, (Fri): TO BANGALORE & DEPART TO USA - We have the morning to visit additional sights or shop in Kochi.  Early evening fly back to Bangalore and connect on our return flight back to the USA.

Day 16, (Sat): ARRIVE USA

Click here, If you are unable to join us on this tour, but would still like to make a donation towards this project.

Other Voluntourism Trips:
  • Deepthy School for handicapped
    This 10 day service trip is also in Kerala, and spends time working at the Deepthy Special School in Kottayam, a “home and school for intellectually disabled children.”  

  • Bishnoi Tribal Project – North India
    The Bishnoi Tribes living in the Thar desert of Rajasthan are known as great conservationists, to whom the protection of animal and vegetable life is a religion.
  • Medical Boat in the Sunderbans
    The Sunderban Islands lie off the shores of India and Bangladesh, where the Ganga River pours itself into the Bay of Bengal.  This service trip (no medical expertise required) travels by boat to assist the millions of farmers and fishermen who eek out a living on small islands
  • Munsel-Ling School : Spiti
    The isolation that preserved the Spiti culture and traditions, also left the children far behind, without an opportunity for education. We will assist in the school founded by Lama Tashi Namgyal, called Munsel-Ling or “Place Illuminating the Darkness.”
Other itineraries featuring South India:

Call us toll free at 1-800 MY INDIA (1-800-694-6342) or email us to request a detailed day-to-day itinerary.

"It gives me boundless pleasure to see our trainees acquire self-confidence and self-esteem by becoming earning members's of their families."
- Sister Reesa Paul

painting of elephant
Morning assembly

Volunteer work
Arabian Sea beaches
Kochi (Cochin)
Ayurvedic Spa

It's Included:
Medical & evacuation insurance
All Accommodation in
All ground transportation, local guides and entrance fees
All meals after arrival in India

2014/2015 Departures:
2nd Friday of the month October – March

Land Cost:
2-9 participants: $5800
10+ participants: $5400

attending the morning assembly

St Thomas Church
Lunch funded by the Grace Family Foundation

St Thomas Church
English speech class

St Thomas Church
Traveling by local boat to the Cheepunkal Village School


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