India - Kolkata

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Partner Organization:  Missionaries of Charity

Location:  Kolkata, India

Number of Students:  2 students

Dates:  Flexible. There are many international volunteers who come in July so best to arrive earlier in the summer where more assistance is needed and there are fewer volunteers. Arriving in mid-May is ideal.

Participation Requirements:

  • Language & Proficiency Requirement:  None, but openness and desire to learn basic Bengali and Hindi is important.
  • Gender Requirement:  None
  • Required Experience:  None
  • Major Requirement:  None
  • Student Minimum Age:  None
  • Special Requirements:  Interest and experience in hospice or healthcare settings if working with women who are destitute, chronically ill, and dying.  Experience with children and children with disabilities if working in the orphanage and educational settings for children with developmental disabilities or with street children.
  • Other:  Students must have agility, flexibility, and adaptability to unexpected events that come with living in India. Students must be independent and must be willing to take initiative for their own work. 

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment: (The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed.)

  • First Aid & CPR Training
  • HIV/AIDS Workshop
  • Self Defense Session
  • Teaching and Working with Children Workshop

Site Description:  

The Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic religious order established in 1950 and founded by Mother M. Teresa, M.C. in Calcutta, India. M.C. consists of over 4,500 sisters and has houses in 133 countries of the world. Each member of the Society goes where she is sent and does not choose the place or kind of work.  M.C. sisters adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "Wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor". They care for refugees, ex-prostitutes, the mentally ill, sick children, abandoned children, lepers, AIDS victims, the aged, and convalescent. They have schools to educate street children, run soup kitchens, as well as many other ministries. They have 19 homes in Kolkata alone which include homes for women, for orphaned children, and for the dying; an AIDS hospice; a school for street children; and a leper colony. These services are provided to people regardless of their religion or social caste.  

Scope of Work & Responsibilities:

Notice: Scope of work may have some changes based on the needs of the partner organizations at the time of student arrival.   

Students will have the opportunity to serve with volunteers from all over the world in Mother Teresa's missions in Kolkata.  There are several sites that students may choose from to focus their work, including the Kalighat home for the destitute and dying, the Daya Dan School for children with developmental disabilities, the Gandhi School for street children, and work in service to orphans.  The opportunity to work with female prisoners may exist and students should inquire with the Sisters upon arrival.  At Shanti Dan, the home for women and girls, students work with individuals with developmental disabilities who were victims of human trafficking. There are also opportunities to work in the various dispensaries that the Sisters run, where daily work includes handing out medications, dressing wounds, and helping the Sisters examine & care for the patients.

Work generally involves the corporal works of mercy.  Daily work may involve washing laundry, dishes and diapers, bandaging wounds and cleaning sores, feeding the elderly, and playing with the young. At the Schools settings, students teach lessons and/or tutor a variety of subjects, including English reading, writing, and spelling; provide physiotherapy; play with the children; and chaperone outings to nearby parks. At the orphanage for younger toddlers, students feed the children their meals, sing songs, change diapers and clothing, and help with their exercise and physiotherapy. The work schedule is six days a week with Thursdays off. There are opportunities for daily morning Mass and evening Eucharistic Adoration.

While students should expect to have a lot of freedom in deciding where they wish to work, the Sisters may also have need for volunteers at particular homes which should be respected and honored. Students are largely independent since this site has no formal site supervisor or mentor although there is one Sister who has come to look over our students and be a resource.  Students are entrusted with a lot of personal responsibility for the amount of time and effort dedicated to the Missionaries of Charity ministries and must be willing to take initiative for their own work. Students adept at crafts and painting may also be invited to help with decorations or art projects within the various houses. An ISSLP 2014 student helped with volunteer registration for Spanish speakers by explaining various guidelines for volunteers and documented their information.

Housing & Lodging Information:

Students make arrangements to stay in guest houses in Central Kolkata located near the Missionaries of Charity missions with other international volunteers.  In more recent years, students have preferred to stay at the Bely Guest House across from the M.C. Mother House, although other lodging options are provided. We prefer that students share a room for safety reasons. At Bely Guest House, students share a small room with two beds and a small private bathroom with access to a small shared kitchen. The M.C. sisters provide a breakfast of chai, bread, and bananas every morning for volunteers and students.  Students eat on their own in cafes and restaurants for other meals. This site can accommodate a vegetarian diet.

For More Information:

While not an official Missionaries of Charity website, this site is helpful and informative:

Former ISSLP Participants:

Keven Cheung’19 (ISSLP 2017)
Katherine Smith’19 (ISSLP 2017) 
Jessica Laenger’20 (ISSLP 2018)
Sadie Facile’19 (ISSLP 2018)


Notice: Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process.

upd 9.13.18


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Postgraduate Service & Social Impact Fair
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm