Applications Currently Closed (COVID-19)
The COVID-19 pandemic caused so many problems around the world, as we continue to recover from its effects our organization has been forced to put our volunteering program on hold for the foreseeable future. We thank you for your interest in working with us but unfortunately at this point in time we are not able to accommodate any visitors to our organization. In part this is due to staff restrictions, in part it is government policies and in part it is just us recovering from a really difficult period. Those interested in volunteering with us can sign up to our newsletter for updates on our program or learn more about Our COVID-19 Response. We know that there are many people who are interested in working with us but sadly that is not something we are able to facilitate at this stage. We may look at opening up our program again in the second-half of 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn the important things you need to know before applying…
The following are questions about volunteering that we frequently asked by people who are interested in working with us. Please also take the time to look at our Volunteers Agreement and Child Protection Policy which can be found via the Volunteering section menu above.
We love to have visitors, but for the protection of our children, all visitors must go through a strict screening process. More information about this process can be found in this FAQ but essentially all visitors need to apply via our online Volunteer Application Form which is available from the menu above.
All volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Both are required to fill in Volunteer Application Forms.
We do have quite a few expectations in place for volunteers, this is both for the protection of our children and also to make your trip a more enjoyable one for everyone. We have a Child Protection Policy that must be followed by all visitors during their time on our property. In addition to this we have a Volunteers Agreement that all volunteers are required to sign upon arrival. You can find a copy of both of these documents in the menu above.
The Mission is 330 kms due East of New Delhi, just on the Western corner of Nepal, in the State of Uttarakhand (previously called Uttaranchal). The nearest town to us is Banbasa. Banbasa is a small town located on National Highway 125 in between the towns of Khatema and Tanakpur. Banbasa is also one of the border crossings from India into Nepal (through the Nepal town Mahendranagger). The mission is located just 1km before Banbasa, right on the National Highway.
Our Board of Directors has implemented a policy that first time volunteers are only able to stay for a maximum of 10 days. There is no minimum.
Yes, we have enough accommodation to keep up to about 12-15 people scattered across the mission. All our rooms are clean and safe but some are definitely better than others. Most have private bathrooms or share bathrooms with another guestroom. A few of our rooms also have solar/battery backup systems for when the power is off. We provide all the linen, blankets, pillows and mattresses that you will need. When available we also provide soap & toilet-paper. Some have their own kitchen, living room and laundry. Honestly it’s a pretty comfortable stay here no matter which room you get.
There are several options for traveling to the mission:
Government or “Roadways” buses leave from Anand Vihar bus stand every night and morning between 7 and 11. There are generally around 6-8 buses each day and their terminating station is Tanakpur (pronounced ‘tun-uk-pour’). Buses are generally fairly crowded but will get you here eventually. A ticket to Banbasa costs between 350/- and 700/- depending on the bus. Just ask to be let off at Strong Farm, or get off in Banbasa and catch a cycle rickshaw for Rs20/- per person to the Strong Farm Office. Strong Farm is exactly 1 km before Banbasa, with a big green and yellow sign on the left side of the road saying “The Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission” it’s pretty hard to miss.
Train can be a very comfortable way to get here – and is considered by many as the best method as it is also quite cheap. There are no trains that take you to Banbasa direct from Delhi (though they have started laying the tracks for it). Several air conditioned sleeper trains (ie train with a bed) leave Delhi (DLI or NDLS Stations) each day which can take you to either Bareilly (BE) or Rudrapur City (RUPC). From here you will need to catch a bus/taxi or hire a car. A taxi from either station to us will cost approximately Rs3500. Train tickets are around Rs800/- to 2000/- and can be booked online or at a train station (you almost always have to book in advance). Trains are clean and comfortable, they have bathrooms and people come through often selling chai, coffee, snacks etc… We recommend people travel by “AC3 class” (which stands for “Air conditioned 3 tier”) or better. Each person is allocated a bed/seat and many trains provide clean sheets/blankets/pillows for free.
Private taxi’s can be organized to bring you to the mission from just about anywhere in India. Generally private taxi’s are a little expensive but simplest. On average they charge about Rs1800-2200/- per day plus fuel, tolls, drivers food/accommodation. A trip from Delhi to the mission would be around Rs12,000/- you are also expected to feed the driver during the journey. Booking from Delhi can be a lot more expensive, some taxi companies charge as much as 25,000/- for a drop off to Banbasa. Whether you book the taxi from here or from Delhi you are expected to pay for the return trip for the vehicle too (included in price mentioned above). This is a much more comfortable way to travel but it is also more expensive. We can assist in organizing a booking if needed as one of our staff members operates a private taxi (so you are indirectly helping support our organization by supporting them) or you can go to the various Inter-State Taxi Stands around Delhi/major cities (there is even one in the Delhi airport). Sometimes we can arrange to send in one of our staff to accompany you on the journey back.
By Flight then Taxi
A few times each week flights arrive in Pantnagar Airport, just near Rudrapur. Flights are between 4,000/- and 10,000/-. Flying into Pantnagar from Delhi will significantly reduce travel times, however you will still have to arrange a taxi from the airport to the mission (expect costs for the taxi to be somewhere around 3500/-).
Meals for volunteers are provided. Our staple diet is rice, chapattis (flat bread), lentils, or some sort of vegetable curry. Water on the mission is clean, but for people who want to be extra careful, we have several filter stations around the campus. Breakfast is normally 6:30am followed by a 12:00pm lunch and 7:00pm dinner.
For personal use there are plenty of ATM’s in our local market and towns nearby. Travelers’ Checks or foreign currency cannot be changed locally, so get it done in Delhi before you arrive. Donations to our organization must be made through appropriate banking channels, we will provide receipts for these donations.
If you do get sick we well help to look after you, we have good local doctors and hospitals close by. All medical expenses must be paid by you however. For minor cuts, scrapes or headaches we have a fully equipped medical station in our office.
Modest western clothing is acceptable, i.e. Jeans and T Shirt or blouse. For females low cut tops ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT acceptable, the same with tank tops, sleeveless tops and skirts. Shorts on males are reasonably acceptable, long pants are better. Sandals, shoes, joggers, flip flops are the best for foot wear.
For volunteers who wish to stay with us, we ask for a donation of $10-30 US per day but leave this amount up to you. This covers your lodging, three meals each day, morning and afternoon tea, local travel and the opportunity to immerse yourself in life here. Considering the life-changing experience that many of our volunteers report, we hope this small sum feels like a bargain by the end of your stay.
All money raised from our volunteering program is used to cover upkeep in our guest houses and operating expenses which are often difficult to fundraiser for. As you will see, a large organization such as ours has many moving parts, and day-to-day resources play a critical role in the work that we do.
This said, we recognize that volunteers can provide critical skills, ideas and energy, so please don’t let cost be your deciding factor. For those with abundant resources, larger donations are always welcome. For those with less, please let us know what you are capable of if anything at all. Our goal is a mutually beneficial partnership that leaves everyone feeling blessed at the end.
Good question. There are two options. First, our local river is only 5-10 minutes walk away. You can take time away from the mission and go wash your clothing on the rocks there at the river. Be aware that morning time is not the best time as it is when many of the local villagers choose to go down and empty their bowels. Also watch out for deadly crocodiles and snakes which are in abundance there.
Or you could take the less lethal option and just wash them here on the mission. We’ve got a dozen or more washing machines around the place and a few of our guesthouses even have their own. We’ll sort you out with a way to wash that involves neither crocodiles or snakes.
We are a community and live, work and play together as you will see when you get here. There is opportunity for teachers, child care helpers, practical/maintenance persons, nurses, accountants; you name it! Some of our best visitors have just done simple things like teaching our children to use a computer, draw, paint, swim, dance, sing, play guitar/keyboard etc.
Summers here in India can be a nasty thing, temperatures can get as high as 52°C (126°F) in the middle of the day and barely drop below 30°C (86°F) at night. The electricity supply is also not constant so we try to discourage people from coming in the middle of summer (April – June) unless they are adventurous and confident they can handle it.
Monsoon weather can also be difficult for some as it is both hot and humid. Often the rains flood out roads and can interfere with peoples travel plans. Winter is by far the most popular season for people to come out to spend time with us -Christmas being the peak of that time. In the winter temperatures generally stay a good 5-15 degrees above freezing.
We have no heating in any of our accommodation so it is important that you bring warm clothing during winter months. Warm blankets are provided.
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India operates on 240v; plugs C & D. If you are from Australia, UK, Asia or other countries that operate on 240v you will only need a plug adapter. If you are from the USA you will probably need a voltage converter and plug adapter. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit. Blackouts are regular and happen a few times each day for several hours.
The mission is located almost exactly 1km before Banbasa on the left (when you are heading to Banbasa). We have a large green & yellow sign out the front which makes it pretty hard to miss. If you’re coming by bus you can ask the driver to stop at “Strong Farm” which is the name we are known by locally. If you get off the bus in Banbasa you can just catch a rickshaw or jeep to “Strong Farm”. The main office is straight ahead on our main road, you can’t miss it.
Yes, we have many visitors who come with children of all ages. That said it is important that it be discussed with us during your application process.
The very first step is always to fill in a Volunteer Application Form, its quite simple and only takes a few minutes to complete. We do have to be careful as to whom we have working with or coming in contact with the children. We are more than happy to have visitors but the safety of our children is most important to us. As a result no visitors are allowed on the mission without permission/approval from our leadership. Once your Volunteer Application Form has been submitted a member of our staff should be in contact with you within a few days (though occasionally it can take up to a week).