FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who can volunteer with Rising Star Outreach?
We are so glad that you are interested in becoming a volunteer with us! We have volunteers of all backgrounds, ages, and from all parts of the world. Volunteers must be 18 years or older or attend with a parent or guardian. We welcome any volunteer in good health, and special provisions will be made for families or groups.
How long does it take to process my volunteer application?
Once you have applied, we will contact you with details of your placement – usually within 3 business days.
Once you are confirmed as a new volunteer, a non-refundable deposit of $360 will be due within 2 weeks of acceptance.
What does the Program Cost cover?
Your program cost supports the medical program, colony development, sponsoring a child for 1 year, all accommodations during your Rising Star Outreach portion, food (except snacks and special requests), transportation, orientation, and in-country staff support.
Bring your own toiletries and around $50 per week for other expenses.
For more details on what is and is not included, see our Details & Cost page.
Do you have a travel planning guide?
Yes! Once your application has been approved, you will receive multiple packets that will cover the most important aspects of a Volunteer Expedition to India. These packets include detailed information on the following:
Travel Planning Guide
- Apply for a visa and passport
- Receive visa and passport
- Book a flight
- Immunizations & Vaccinations
- Packing List
- Book Optional Tour
- Fill out all required forms and documents
Does Rising Star Outreach help with the Visa?
Receiving a visa is the volunteer’s responsibility, and all volunteers must have a current visa in order to travel to India. Once Rising Star Outreach has approved the volunteer application, you will receive written instruction and tips on how to go about the process.
We recommend you apply for a visa 3-4 months prior to your expedition. Apply for a 5/10 year TOURIST VISA only. We highly recommend to not purchase your flight until you have your Visa.
What immunizations/vaccinations will I need?
We recommend you speak to your doctor before coming. The following vaccinations and medications are recommended for travel to India:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Malaria medication
- Yellow Fever
How do I arrive in India?
All volunteers need to arrive one day before their program start date. You will be flying into the Chennai/Madras (MAA) Airport. You will usually arrive between 1-4 am on Sunday morning or Saturday evening.
You will be picked up at the airport by shuttle to stay at the Marriott (included in your Program Contribution costs), and Rising Star Outreach will pick you up Sunday morning.
Are phone and internet services available during my stay?
Although your personal cell phone can be used (in additional to the phones that are available on campus and at the Guduvanchery apartment), international calls can be very expensive and service is not always reliable.
Internet is a cheaper and more reliable way to communicate and stay connected while you’re in India. We recommend email, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, or other apps to keep in touch with family and friends.
What will be the food arrangement?
You will be offered 3 traditional Indian meals a day, consisting of rice, vegetable, fruit and sometimes chicken or fish. We do suggest bringing your own non-perishable snacks. There will be 2-3 meals that will be eaten off campus at restaurants (these meals are covered).
Clean water is available for drinking. We recommend never drinking water straight from the tap – only bottled water or water from a filter should be considered safe for drinking.
What will the accommodations be?
You will be staying at our Guduvanchery flat (apartment) which is gated and has a guard. You may also be staying at the Holiday Inn for part of your stay. For the 9-day expeditions you will also be having a 1 night stay at Ideal Beach in Mamallapuram.
All of the accommodations have air conditioning, western toilets, hot showers, and refrigerators.
Bedding, pillow, linens, and towels will be provided. Laundry services are also included.
There will be multiple ATM stops scheduled for you to withdraw Rupees with your ATM card. You won’t need to have any American cash on you, and you do not need to tip the drivers or maids – that has been included!
Though not necessary, you may wish to check with your local bank before you depart to see if they have Indian Rupees available (and perhaps the local currency of the layover cities you will travel through). You will also need to advise your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid blocks on your credit/debit cards.
For safety reasons, we highly recommend not carrying large amounts of cash during any portion of your journey. Even though most places only take cash in India, it is better to withdraw smaller amounts of cash from an ATM more often than to carry all that you might need for your entire trip.
Can I bring gifts for the children/leprosy-affected?
Yes, we encourage sponsors and those interested to bring gifts if they would like to. There are very few limitations on what you can bring over, but if you have questions or want some ideas email our Sponsor A Child Manager, Aubrey Nielson: email@example.com
Should I be worried about contracting leprosy?
No, contracting leprosy is extremely unlikely with a healthy immune system and limited exposure.
Learn more about leprosy from the World Health Organization.
Can I drink the water?
Clean water is available for drinking. We recommend never drinking water straight from the tap.
Is it safe to travel to India by myself?
Yes, it absolutely can be — but traveling in India requires special preparation and practices, especially if you’re a lone woman.
While you are a part of the Volunteer Expedition, you will always be with your teammates and Rising Star staff. Overnight, there will be contracted guards on watch all night.
If you choose to travel before or after the program by yourself, there are things you can do to be better prepared to travel more safely abroad. Once you’ve been accepted as a volunteer, you will receive more information about safety and security.
How can I best share my experience with others?
One of the most important aspects of becoming a volunteer is being an ambassador for Rising Star Outreach. By sharing your memories, photos, and adventures with others, you play a vital role in the success of our programs. We call this part of your expedition the “Bring It Home” portion. As you spread the word about your time in India, you bring home with you the incredible experiences you had that can live on as you share them. You’ll have the chance to introduce others to Rising Star, our mission, and the wonderful people we serve. Over the years, we have been amazed at how those seemingly small introductions have paved the way for so much growth and development to happen in India. You’ll have the opportunity to teach about commonly misunderstood subjects like stigma and leprosy – although a terrible, disfiguring disease, leprosy is completely curable and not as easily contracted as most people think. And your example will encourage others to become donors or volunteers themselves, continuing a legacy of service and outreach that you began.
So, what are the best ways to share your experience? We can give you plenty of examples of specific things you can do, but the most effective will be what you feel comfortable with and passionate about, so keep that in mind as you look for ways to share. A more detailed Bring It Home packet will be given to you upon your return from India, but here are a few of our top suggestions.
Keep a blog – From the moment you’re accepted into an expedition to long after you return home, journaling your experience will give your friends and family a more personal glimpse into your service in India. Blogs are also a great way for random people across the world to discover you, broadening your scope of reach further than you’d ever imagine.
Share on social media – We all know how powerful an image, video, or post can be on social media. Make a plan on how you want to maximize your impact on your social media platforms. Utilize our list of hashtags to attract a wider audience.
Give a presentation – This presentation can be as large or small as you’d like from a gathering of a few friends in your home to look at pictures as you share stories to an auditorium filled with church members, work colleagues, or community members. Need handout materials like flyers, brochures, or DVDs? Just get in contact – we have plenty of resources for you!
Host an event – A great way to raise money and/or find new volunteers is to host an event. Charity golf tournaments, book drives, the creation of hygiene or wound care kits, benefit concerts, or sponsored long-distance bike rides are just a few of the events and projects that past volunteers have done. Have an idea? We’d love to hear about it!
How do I keep in contact with the students?
There are a few ways that you can keep in contact with your sponsored child and the other children at the Rising Star Outreach school.
- Snail mail – send a letter or gift to our Provo office and we will send that gift over with the next available volunteer. Depending on when that is, it may take some time for your gift to arrive.
- You can send an email to your sponsor child at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can now video chat with your sponsor child. Email, Aubrey Nielson, the Sponsor A Child manager, to set up your video call at: email@example.com.
- Quarterly mailings are sent to all sponsors every year.
- A monthly newsletter is sent out by the Sponsor-a-Child manager once a month giving you updates on the students.
Still have questions? We can help!
For any other questions, please contact Shalay Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.820.0466
801.820.0466 | 801.960.9620
3305 N. UNIVERSITY AVE, STE 250
PROVO, UT 84604
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