Preparation

What is the application process for India Christian Ministries?

Applying to be an ICM volunteer is not complicated but it is involved. We here at ICM want to be sure that your journey to India and your time with us will be a safe and healthy experience full of growth for you and for those around you!

There are 5 Steps in the application process to get to India:

Step One: Apply – Go to the Apply page and click the Apply button. Fill out the online application. Block an hour to fill it out.

Step Two: Review – We prayerfully review all applications, contact pastoral references and schedule Skype interviews to learn more about you and your heart for India. This also give you the oportunity to ask us more questions.

Step Three: Training – God makes us competent, but WE are responsible for being fully equipped for His use.

Once you get approved we will give you access to the volunteer mobilization portal: My India. There’s many wonderful things to learn about the great country of India and it’s culture. You’ll want to be in the know.

Step Four: Flight – You’ll begin to fundraise. Then, after having secured your Indian Visa inside your passport and having $2000 in your account, we will have your round-trip tickets purchased for Hyderabad, India.

Step Five: Arrival– We will be waiting for you at the airport and will meet you upon arrival in Hyderabad. You will check into your lodging and will receive the orientation with the volunteer coach. We will review the volunteer agreement, job description, and review the schedule as well.

We’ll give you access to:

  1. Volunteer Manual
  2. Estimated Budget Breakdown
  3. Cultural Sensitivity Materials
  4. Recommended and Required Reading List

You send us:

  1. Completed Ministry Survey
  2. Scanned/Photo of Passport & India Visa(when obtained)

Timeline

6+ months before your trip you apply to come.

  • We request and receive your reference.
  • We do an interview with you.
  • Once approved you deposit the non-refundable $150 to commit to and reserve your spot. This will be deducted from the total cost.

5 months before your trip we set up your ICM CROWDFUNDING site for fundraising.

4 months before your trip you begin training to journey to a new and exciting culture.

3 months before your trip you finish at least 1 book about India.

2 months before your trip you apply for your India visa and have $2000 in your account.

  • You send us passport and visa info for flights.

1 month before your trip you are fully funded, we send your funds to India, then we have your flights booked.

Departure Day you pack and board plane and safely arrive India where we will have a staff member waiting to pick you up!

 

What qualities are you looking for in ICM volunteers?

India Day 19-12We are looking for people who are proactive, flexible, humble, adaptable, willing to be stretched beyond their limits, learn and grow. We also seek people with good attitudes, limited emotional baggage, and a willingness to change. We are looking for people who are passionate about God, and about loving India and its people. While travel experience is helpful, it is not a requirement to come to India with us.

Our volunteers work diligently, 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week. They teach, disciple, learn, and explore! Ministry probation period is 1 month for 6 month commitment and 3 months for 1 year commitment.

While being a follower of Jesus Christ is not absolutely necessary to come and volunteer, we are an organization that is “Christian” and operate as such and expect our guests to abide by Christian values.

How old do you have to be to visit ICM?

You must be at least 18 years old by the time you arrive in India OR be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older. If you have a guardian, you both must fill out an application individually, and the visa requirements are different.

Do you accept married couples?

Yes we do! And since you share a lot of things, a couple will cost less than two individuals. Please let us know your plans and we can give you a better estimation of cost.

Do I need Training to go to India?

It is never a good idea to go to India without first learning something about India and its culture.

We will provide you with basic information to begin preparing you to get into the incredible Indian culture. We recommend that you also begin to do your own research to prepare for life abroad. India is an amazing place to experience, the vivid sights and sounds will stay with you for the rest of your life!

When you enter any new culture, it’s important to let yourself adapt. You won’t always understand why something is being done in a certain way, and that’s okay! It’s a whole new world, you’ll feel excited, overwhelmed, confused, and, at times, completely incompetent, even if you’ve done research. It’s completely okay! It’s a natural little thing called culture shock.

Our best advice would be to come and learn as a child. Be open to new things, be curious, ask questions (when appropriate), seek to understand first and bounce right back when you “hit a wall”. Indians are incredibly gracious and the ICM staff will be there to assist you and help make your experience in India a memorable one that will last a lifetime!

Will I be there alone or will there be other visitors?

You won’t be alone. We have many people visit us at here at ICM all throughout the year. Don’t forget that you’ll be making new friends and acquaintances!

What should I pack for India?

As a general rule, pack as if you were going on a weekend trip. Only bring what you can carry. Most of what you will need can be found locally. Bring doctor prescribed medications and your epi pens if you have them – items like these are not guaranteed to be carried here.

For a detailed sample packing list click here.

What about my health? Do I need shots for the trip?

We recommend visiting the CDC website for information about required and/or recommended shots. For recommended shots, as well as malaria medication, the final decision is up to you, in consultation with a doctor. While we recommend visitors use malaria medication, India Christian Ministries will not recommend a specific choice. Be sure to ask your doctor about suggested shots for your trip.

It is good to use mosquito repellent in order to protect yourself from mosquito borne diseases.

We recommend using MissionSafe for travelers insurance.

How do I apply for a visa?

passportNote: You cannot apply directly to an India consulate for a visa, you have to go through a third party visa service (who makes sure all the papers are in order, etc, before handing it in to the consulate).

When you’re ready to apply, see the volunteer manual for particulars and more advice.

You’ll need:

  • a valid passport that doesn’t expire for at least 6 months after your return home
  • a visa application form, plus a copy, once you’ve filled it out (the visa service keeps one and hands the other to the consulate)
  • Photo requirements: a recent 2 x 2 passport photo (head and shoulders, white background, no glasses, etc) (Note: there is a new system with certain providers where you can submit this type of photo online, but it usually comes with a small fee.
  • Proof of residential address: a copy of applicant’s proof of residence/address that matches the address on the application. Examples of proof of residence: valid driver’s license or ID, major utility bill (water, gas, electric, sewage), or a valid/current lease agreement with the landlord and tenant signature
  • For more particulars and rules regarding minors, click here.

Can a Non-US citizen apply to visit ICM?

Yes. We have many people and teams come from Canada, Singapore, and other countries around the world. India Visa processing is different for each country, so be sure to check India Visa availability and requirements.

Indian Visa Site 

 

Fundraising & Cost

How much does it cost to serve with ICM?

(All prices quoted in U.S. Dollars)

Because we are a non-profit organization, and we run on the donations and generosity of supporters, in order for us to utilize volunteers and cover the costs of hosting volunteers we need them to raise the funds that covers the expenses associated with hosting them. Conversions to rupees are given two rupess below the average midmarket rate. (e.g. $1 = ₹64 rather than = ₹66, the average midmarket rate.)

Base cost for a single participant from North America (not including personal expenses)

1 month is $2500 (including flighs). Each additional month is $500 for lodging. Personal expenses and extra ground transportation are not included. Flights from USA are $1300-$2200 depending on various factors. Summer months are always more expensive.

Every 6 months a visa reset is required. Flights to neighboring countries start at $300.

For the sake of ease, you can give the money for ground transportation and other expenses to your host once you arrive in India.

** A month is based on a flat average 30 days.

 

What does this cost include? What would I have to pay for myself?

With the funds you raise through ICM, we will provide round trip airfare, staff airport pickup and escort, 1 Indian meal a day (whether you choose to eat it or not), room supply, accommodation & furniture, repairs, electricity, rent, drinking water, internet, and international logistics.

Your fundraising goal does not cover things paid directly to vendors:

  • Tourism & Sightseeing and transportation related to those
  • Extra meals/food (e.g. going to a restaurant/bakery, getting ice cream)
  • Phone & Phone service
  • Toiletries & Personal care items (i.e. clothes, deodorant, soaps, etc.)
  • General ground transportation

Budget about $500/month for personal expenses.

Estimated Volunteer Personal Expenses 
Item Amount
Pre-Trip
Passport Book & Card: $185.00
Tourist E-Visa: $60.00
Travelers Insurance: $65.00
On-Trip (per month)
Food & Water @ $8/day: $240.00
Transportation – add $150 for  regular trips outside Hyd: $150.00
India Tourism & Souvenirs: $100.00
Ministry Outing: $100.00
Personal Incidentals: $50.00
Language & Culture Study: $20.00
Optional
Local Phone Service: $30.00
Total $1,000.00

I don’t know anything about fundraising! What am I supposed to do?

Fundraising is simply sharing your story with your friends, family, church group, and community about this trip and requesting that they help sponsor you so you can go. Many volunteers send out support letters. Also they use their blog and other social media platforms to aid in the process.

Note: All funds donated on a Participant’s behalf belong to India Christian Ministries and are used by ICM at ICM’s discretion to facilitate ICM’s ministry. The funds Participants raise will be pooled with the funds raised by other Participants on the ground and used to offset the expenses involved in the trip. At no point will ICM allow Participants to direct the use of funds they have raised.

Consequently, Participants should not expect to exercise any rights to or control over any funds or amounts reflected in their fundraising account. Our participants are considered “deputized fundraisers”, raising money for the ministry purposes of India Christian Ministries. Therefore, money received must “belong” to India Christian Ministries and the donor relinquishes the right to “control” those funds.

Tax Exemption: Is India Christian Ministries a 501(c)(3) non-profit?

Yes.

 

Daily life in India

Will someone pick me up from the airport?

YES!

We will have a staff escort waiting for you at the airport! They will pick you up and get you settled into ICM. You will also get dropped off at the end of your trip by staff if you’d prefere.

What are the dress guidelines for India?

Women's DayIndia is a spectacular place to live and dress! The rules here are a little different than in the West and we ask that their guidelines are observed and kept. Modesty is of utmost importance in India. Culturally acceptable clothing is cheap to buy in India, so we don’t recommend bringing a lot of “Western” clothing. Also, Indian clothing is created for the weather, so you’ll be cooler.

Indian Tunic Fashion www.She9.blogspot.com (5)Women: Keep it modest, not tight. Women can wear saris (the beautiful and colorful wraps) or Punjabis (salwars) which are the long shirts. Women may choose to wear loose blouses that cover cleavage and shoulders with skirts covering the ankles. If women choose to wear trousers, they should be accompanied with a blouse or Punjabi that extends to the mid-thigh or lower. Jeans aren’t comfortable when it’s hot. Skinny jeans under long salwar tops are in style, but are only comfortable in the cooler months.

Men: The local men wear slacks and collared shirts. Visitors are encouraged wear the same. Jeans are acceptable for free time but aren’t comfortable when it’s hot, so a pair of khakis or two should be fine.

Where do volunteers stay?

This depends on which ministry they are working with. We usually have apartments for our volunteers and they stay together in community. We do our best to make our staff and volunteers feel comfortable with security guards, A/C, hot water, etc., but also keep in mind that this is India, so 4 star accommodation expectations shouldn’t be expected! We do our best to keep the ICM housing very clean too, but it’s largely up to you to maintain your own room cleanliness.

Short-term participants will usually stay in hotels or village churches. Occasionally, we have short-term availability in the ICM guesthouses.

What will I eat and drink in India?

chicken curry... SO GOOD!! Curry gravy, and rice is a staple in Indian cuisine, but there is a large variety of options available. We make sure all our volunteers have safe, bottled water in the areas they live and work. Many South Indian dishes are a bit more spicy than you might be used to.butter paneer (tofu-like) curry!! Another favorite

India is great vegetarians, so if you are one, you will have no problems whatsoever. Also vegetarians, vegans and the health conscious, remember that most Indians in the villages will believe that all foreigners love meat and soda pop for every meal and will probably give you these with every meal they make for you. Out of courtesy and honor, everyone should eat what is provided.  Gluten-free eating will require a bit more creativity, but is possible.

What language do they speak?

India has over 20 official languages! Hindi is commonly the language associated with India. It is used in parts of North India and as the primary language for government (along with English).

The language you will be immersed in is Telugu. Urdu is also common.

It is greatly appreciated when a foreigner attempts to speak the language. Even if you mispronounce the words, it’s all great fun and they feel very honored when foreigners try to learn Telugu. For useful phrases, this is a good website.

For background information on the language and what its writing looks like please visit this site.

How much spending money do I need to bring?

Entirely up to you. Budgeting $500 per month is a good amount for your expenses. Any funds raised through ICM cannot be given back as we are a 501(c)3 organization.

Are there ATMs available there?

Yes. Your host/guide will be able to help you find an ATM where you can make withdrawals. Keep in mind that many hotels, stores, and restaurants accept Visa and MasterCard, but many do not. There will be up to $6 charged per ATM transaction.

Will I be able to use the phone or internet in case of emergencies?

Yes, our guest apartments and offices all have WiFi. Depending on where you go, speeds vary, but it is available. Guests with unlocked phones can get a local SIM card to communicate with their host/guides or in case of emergencies.

 

People and Problems

What is the political situation like where I am going (will there be stability or strife during my stay)?

We are based in South India and the political climate is relatively calm. Occasionally there are political rallies and protests, but they are usually peaceful and most Indians are very pro-American. Check out the US State Department’s Traveler’s page for current  situations travelers should be aware of.

While terrorist attacks have occurred in the state’s capital, Hyderabad, we have never experienced any major trouble with guests. We have always kept our guests safe and secure and have never had major problems or reasons for major concern.

What is the general attitude of Indian people towards outsiders?

IMGP7550Indians are some of the warmest, most hospitable people in the world! They are curious, show genuine interest in who you are and where you came from, and will sometimes honor you in lavish ways. Be ready to figure out ways to honor them in return!

For example, some of our volunteers were traveling for first time on a train and they weren’t sure when to get off. An elderly couple in their compartment asked where they were going. After telling the couple, the rest of the trip the couple shared their snacks and let them know when they were supposed to get off.

Another note is that Indians, in general, know what’s going on in the world, and even keep up-to-date on American politics.

Are there any other dangers, threats, or problems I could encounter?

We always ensure our teams and volunteers are safe, but as always it is good to be aware of potential risks when travelling to a new country. The State Department website lists things to be aware of, but we have also had many hundreds of people from around the world visit without any major problems.

We take precautions – like making sure women don’t travel alone and that one of our staff members accompany most travelers – just to be extra certain things go smoothly and people are safe. As in most countries, theft in public places (like trains) can be an issue, but we usually have our volunteers travel together on nicer buses or in rental cars to avoid these problems.

Avoid the non-fried street foods and wear mosquito repellant and you should be fine. Malaria and dengue are present but not problematic for those who take cautions. Guests will also be very close to a modern hospital.