Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

India (IN03) | View map
£155 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
1 month

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy volunteers

  • Qualified physiotherapists and occupational therapist volunteers needed
  • Work with victims of polio, amputees, genetic disorders and cerebral palsy
  • A progressive school for children with disabilities advancing their education and employment prospects
  • Orthotics and prosthetics workshop on site
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Project summary

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy volunteers

This project started in 1991 when the founder witnessed the profound misunderstanding and prejudice directed towards children and adults with disabilities in their own community. The goal of giving a decent education to every disabled child in Rajasthan was born, and the school started with 20 disabled children being taught under a tree.

Since then the school has flourished. It expanded into a residential school to provide free education for children from a wide rural area – those who could not afford or reach education in their local rural communities.

The numbers increased to over 500 at the peak, with a high number of children being victims of polio – physically damaged but intellectually bright. Thankfully this number is now reducing due to the introduction of vaccines, but polio is still the major cause of disabilities at the school of over 200 students, with amputees, cerebral palsy and genetic disabilities also being prevalent.

In the late nineties girls were given access to the school, and now constitute some 25% of students, fighting another cultural prejudice.

The goal has also evolved; from being focused on providing just an education, they now aim to turn physically challenged children into self-sufficient citizens who are not dependent on their families for their well-being. Children and young adults are given a high standard of education backed by vocational skills and life skills, to help them enter University, start enterprises or compete with able bodied adults for orthodox jobs.

Most recently the project has led an innovative project that integrates disabled and able-bodied children and adults through sport, with disabled students taking leadership roles to help educate able-bodied peers from the rural community on issues such as health, education and gender, thereby flipping the disability model on its head.

There is a prosthetics and orthotics workshop on site and a rudimentary therapy room, but with limited funds they cannot currently afford a physiotherapist to work with the children, and there is no history of occupational therapy at the school.

The project Director would very much wish for a physiotherapist and/or occupational therapist to work at the school, helping with the students physical well-being and development.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Volunteers would have the sponsorship of the Executive Director and the support of the local staff to design a programme based on your experience and the priorities of the students.

There are currently no local physiotherapists or occupational therapists at the school, yet over 200 students with a varying range of disabilities. So there is plenty of work to be done, but volunteers should not expect to inherit any structure or programmes for their therapy. You will need to bring both experience and confidence to the volunteer role, and it would especially suit two volunteers working together.

The children are expected to attend their classes and after school sporting activities. The volunteer would integrate their sessions with the existing timetable.

With more free time for the children at the weekend, volunteer therapists could shift their own ‘weekend’ to alternative days, to create the maximum opportunity to work and play with the children.

Volunteers live on site, but we plan for you to spend one weekend a fortnight back in Jodhpur if you wish, to recharge your batteries and do some sightseeing.

How you can make a difference

The school is doing admirable work to educate and empower the disabled students, as well as outreach work to educate the able-bodied community.

However, they do not have professional therapist skills available locally, (or the money to pay for them), to help these students manage and adapt to their disabilities.

Volunteer physiotherapists and occupational therapists can help the children lead an improved quality of life, easing the short and long term effects of their disabilities, and helping develop the techniques and coping strategies that enable them to live a fuller life in future.

What is distinctive about this project

This is not a ‘shelter’ for disabled children rejected by their community. It is a progressive school that is focused on giving its students a high standard of education, and the confidence and skills to live and compete in the wider community as independent citizens.

We very much hope our physiotherapist and occupational therapist volunteers can be a part of this story.

blue tiger features

India is one of the most magnetic traveler destinations, attracting both new and returning visitors who can’t escape its attractions.

It can be a challenging country, however. The wonderful colours, smells, noises and tastes that make up the very fabric of India are persistent. You will rarely forget where you are.

In this project you will be in a semi-rural environment, living on site in modest conditions. This has some tremendous benefits for your work and your cultural experience, but it will mean that you have less breaks from some of these challenges.

Acting as an independent therapist, coordinating with local staff, may mean you witness first hand some of the cultural and behavioural differences that are at times charming, and at other times bemusing.

But the people are charming, the environment safe, and Rajasthan is enchanting in a way that is hard to define.


The school is closed from mid-May to mid-July due to the summer heat. It is also closed for 2 weeks each Diwali and for 2 weeks at Christmas.


The project leadership team and many of the staff speak good English. The children speak English to a varying degree, but all are taught English and your assistance in this, both formally and informally, would be an added bonus of your volunteer activity.

Experience required

Volunteers should be qualified, preferably with a number of year’s work experience and the confidence to lead in an unstructured environment.

Newly qualified volunteers would also be accepted, but you must understand you will be working independently without a local therapist being present. In such a situation we would hope for therapists to volunteer in pairs to provide professional support to each other.

Good to know

You will be staying on site in a simple dormitory for volunteers. The living accommodation and food will be simple and authentic on site.

Depending upon your preferences we include a 2 night stay in a guesthouse in Jodhpur every 2 weeks, that allows you to take a break from the school and visit some of the local sights, and get a very small dose of any western wants you have, such as a cappucino!

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

Includes: comprehensive travel insurance, full pre-trip preparation and ongoing UK support, airport transfers, accommodation* and three meals each day, transport to projects, Outreach T-shirt
Does not include: flights, visa, vaccinations

*on-site accommodation, plus 2 nights every 2 weeks at a guesthouse in Jodhpur

Things to see and do

  • Mehrangarh Fort
  • Sardar market
  • The old town
  • Rajasthan
Kuldeep Sayla

Country co-ordinator

Kuldeep Sayla

Kuldeep is an experienced tour guide, working with both foreign and Indian tourist groups across India. He has even led group treks up in to Nepal, so is an experienced traveller himself, as well as an excellent guide to those new to the culture and history of India. Kuldeep comes from Rajasthan and lives in Jodhpur with his wife and two young children. He speaks perfect English, has a great sense of humour and will make all volunteers feel welcome.

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