Volunteer and live in the south of India at the Samaritan Camp Centre

free volunteering program in India
Creating Environments, Connecting People, Changing Lives in India

Samaritan Camp CentreSamaritan camp centre: we are a family of social impact entrepreneurs who run and manage a small non-profit in a beautiful hill station in South India. Our values are founded on Christian principles and we have been working for over 4 decades to uplift children, women and families through education, health care, conservation and agriculture. The rural Elagiri Hills is also a popular tourist spot for people from Bangalore and Chennai, which are about 3 hours away as the crow flies.

We founded and ran a boarding school (now closed) on a not-for-profit basis for over two decades on one of our four campuses, impacting numerous lives. As we lost support and funds, we suspended operations a few years ago. Since then nature has reclaimed much of our campus area, some of which has fallen into disrepair.

What type of host are you?


What are you looking for help with?
  • Animal care
  • Building
  • Charity Work/Fundraising
  • Cleaning
  • Computer/Web
  • Teaching/Language Exchange
  • Farming/Gardening
  • Film-Making
  • General Help
  • Health/Medical/Assistance
  • Hostel/Hotel
  • Marketing – Business support
  • Writing
  • Architecture/building design
  • Landscaping
  • DIY/craft-skills
  • Permaculture
  • Business support
What’s the mission of your community?

To uplift children, women and families through education, health care, conservation and agriculture.

We are now focusing on a few projects to rebuild and continue making an impact, all are at the initial stages, some just in the ideas phase, and we would really appreciate skilled and knowledgeable people to help us at this important early stage as we are struggling to make progress with such a big area but limited capital and a small staff team.

  1. (Priority) Our Retreat Centre is being developed to use the income to support our other social/charitable projects. We have a 1-acre property that has six cottage-apartments, four dorms with a capacity of 30 per dorm, areas for camping and three 3-person tents and one 10-person tent. We also have additional space but don’t have the experience or expertise to correctly utilise them for generating income. Additionally, we are hoping to develop some aspects to enable it to be a different kind of a resort, something that would draw people to nature and the outdoors. We want to have a good range of accommodation available for the high season (summer) with a range of prices.
  2. Helping to open a Dental Clinic to provide affordable care for locals.
  3. (Long-term) Reopen the school.
  4. Other projects related to permaculture a making our world a better place.

Innovation and cool ideas are welcome! We would like you to get as much out of this experience as we and the people you impact do, so feel free to be creative.


How many volunteers could you host?

25 volunteers

When would you need volunteers?

All year long

How many hours of help per day?

5 hours

How many days of help per week?

5 days per week

Volunteering expectations

We welcome any and all kinds of help including the use of soft skills, but we do need people who are able to self-motivate and figure out their own workload โ€“ you have a lot of freedom here, we donโ€™t watch over your shoulder but we hope that you will find a project or task here that you will enjoy and can complete before you leave.

  1. meditation, girl, samaritan camp, india, tamil nadu, hospitality exchangeDog care and training for our young German Shephard (Bella) and Rottweiler (Lula). They have a bunch of energy and need lots of exercises each day. If you have experience with dog training that would be a huge plus!
  2. Short term rental assistance – Managing listings, identifying opportunities for improvements, greeting guests, etc.
  3. Building/Construction and Carpentry – There is a lot of renovation work needed to get the Retreat Centre ready for guests. So there’s a whole range of activities that include cleaning, repair work and new construction to improve on the existing infrastructure.
  4. Gardening, Landscaping and Farming, video and filmmakers to help us spread the word about what we do.
  5. Eco Project/Other/Charity Work/Farmstay – We have opportunities for architects, entrepreneurs, permaculture enthusiasts, financial experts, philanthropists and Educators, both conventional and unconventional to come and make an impact in this part of the world.
  6. Planner/Administrator/Marketer – There are a lot of goals that we would love to accomplish. Some of this requires planning, while others need administration and marketing or getting the word out to build our resources and make us sustainable.
  7. There are lots of things we would love to be able to work on here, from the old Auto-Rickshaw that needs mechanical help, to someone to do archivist work on the old school records, so if you have a skill or speciality please get in touch! Iโ€™m sure there is a place for you here.


Are accommodation and food included?

Yes, food and accommodation are included

What type of accommodation can you provide?
  • Private Room
  • Dormitory/shared rooms
  • Private room for a couple

We have basic accommodations on our campus that will be made accessible according to availability. We primarily have dorm-style arrangements with shared bathrooms and a few independent rooms. All have access to a shared kitchen to enjoy with your fellow volunteers.

Most of the accommodations are fairly simple with beds and a cupboard or shelf to keep your things in a safe place. As an outdoor-focused place, we encourage using rooms for quiet times of reflection, solitude and rest and spend more time outdoors to enjoy nature and people around. This is an altruistic organization founded on Christian principles, all religions and none are welcome.

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House rules

We ask that you…

  • Refrain from smoking and consuming alcohol while you are here out of respect for the local culture, and to set a good example for the families and children that will be staying at the retreat centre.
  • Refrain from online activities that use a lot of internet data or bandwidth.
  • And most importantly HAVE FUN:-)

An authentic south Indian Lunch is provided daily by local village women. You will provide & cook your own Breakfast & Dinner using the Volunteer Kitchen, (previous volunteers used a rota system so that most days you donโ€™t have to cook). There is a nearby town where you can pick up ingredients and other necessities.


No, we do not charge any fees for food or accommodation.

But donations in any form that will help us achieve our goals would be welcome.

We also have rooms on another campus for pay, to support our activities. We also provide transportation assistance at extra charges.


Yes, I can help with Visa

Volunteers’ benefits

You will get to learn how life works in a rural area of India, with the impact of urban tourism on village life as well as on wild areas and wildlife. This place also brings together a unique perspective of modern progressive as well as conservative life in India as we are fairly close to both Chennai and Bangalore which will showcase how tradition and culture are facing globalisation and economic growth and give you a view into the widening gaps between the poor, the middle class and the rich. A great way to see how India has changed and is changing before your eyes.

There are also cultural points of interest that showcase British influence in India as well as the melting pot of not just East and West but also of North and South of the Asian subcontinent. The school is also a very interesting place to wander around and see how quickly nature can reclaim space. And as a volunteer here you will learn about self-organisation, self-direction, planning, and many other things depending on what you work on here.

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What to do in the free time

Life in our place can be a world of its own. However, there are other activities that are available for those who wish to see the sights or travel around. There is a waterfall close by, which may or may not have water depending on the season. Since we are also only a few hours away from Chennai and Bangalore, there are tons of activities, sights and sounds to explore in both cities which show different flavours of South India. We have a few buses that give public transportation, taxis and autorickshaws are also available on the hill station. Down the hill, we have access to the railway station an hour away, that connects us to most part of India.
My activities are generally focused on the day to day management and development of the place as well as taking opportunities to share what we do with others for more people to come to visit and benefit from our activities and facilities.



We usually like volunteers and staff to be mindful of the needs of the place and take proactive steps that will bring about growth and improvement of the place as long as they adhere to some basic rules of being a blessing and improving what is available through the skills and talents we have without wanton wastage. There are also places to hike, trek and visit around our campus and in Elagiri Hills for those who wish to stay within the hills. There are also the tourist traps like the boathouse, animal park, a garden and activity places with rope climbing, ATVs and the sort.


English, Tamil, Non-verbal Communication


Elagiri is a small hill station located in between the towns of Vaniyambadi and Jolarpettai (Tamil Nadu, India). The hill station dates back to the British colonial days. Elagiri’s climate is very cool in Monsoon Season .pleasant weather on most days. Classified as tropical in the summer. In winter, there is much less rainfall than in summer. This climate is considered to be Aw according to the Kรถppen-Geiger climate classification. The topography is hilly and rocky with villages dotted throughout the hills and farms, fields and scrub jungle near the edges of the villages.

How to get to the Samaritan Camp centre

You can look up our campus location on Google Maps – Samaritan Residential Schools.

The two closest major cities are Chennai and Bangalore. Our closest railway station is Jolarpettai Railway Station.
For the bus, once you arrive at Jolarpettai Junction Railway Station, you need to walk to the main road. This is where buses from Tirupattur (on your right) will stop on their way to Elagiri Hills. There are usually buses once every hour.

Buses to Elagiri Hills have three destinations, ie to the 3 largest villages. Nilavur, Athanavur and Mangalam (in order of size). We are closest to Mangalam Village and furthest from Athanavur. Bus arrival timings at Mangalam are 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 8 pm. But the other hours will have buses going to the other two villages. It is best to take any bus to Elagiri Hills. Once here, you can always get an auto-rickshaw to our campus.

Please remember that all the buses will stop at Athanavur, the entry point village that has all the main shops and restaurants in Elagiri Hills. So your options are as follows.

If the final destination is…
  • …Athanavur, you can get down at Athanavur and take a local autorickshaw to the Samaritan School campus.
  • Nilavur, you can get down at Lamp Society/Kootu Road and take a local autorickshaw to the Samaritan School campus.
  • Mangalam, you can get down at Mangalam and walk to the Samaritan School campus.

The last bus to Elagiri leaves Tirupattur between 9 to 9:15 pm and will stop to pick up passengers (9:15-9: 30 pm) at Jolarpettai, on the main road from the Railway Station and come to Elagiri at around 10:30 pm The walk to the campus is about 30 minutes unless you get an auto there. You can also call Sathiya at +91-9444567434 to help you get to our campus.

Is there internet access?

Yes, but not very strong.


e-mail: camp@samaritanschool.com
Facebook page https://fb.me/ samaritan camp centre

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