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Dharmalaya FAQ for Visitors & Volunteers > Programmes at Dharmalaya > Is it possible to volunteer during the low seasons (monsoon and winter)?

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The short answer:

Yes, if you are adventurous, self-reliant, self-motivated, flexible, and patient.

You’re welcome to volunteer in the low seasons (monsoon and winter), but we recommend you read all the information below before deciding.


The long answer:

Activity at Dharmalaya is highly seasonal. January and February tend to be colder and relatively quiet, with a core staff of about five or six friendly people plus a few interns volunteers. February is one of the best times for tree planting. Mid-March through June is our liveliest season, with lots of people around most of the time and several special programmes (note that it is not possible to come as a short-term volunteer during these special programmes; one would need to register for the programme instead). The July through September monsoon season is the quietest time, so it’s a great time for long-term silent retreats, and there are comparatively fewer volunteers working during this very wet season (though we usually have several eco-architecture interns working throughout the monsoon, joined by volunteers who come and go). October through mid-December is a pleasant, moderately busy season.

If you are adventurous, self-reliant, flexible, and interested in the possibility of volunteering during the low seasons, there are a few things you should consider. We don’t want to discourage you, but we also don’t want you to be disappointed if you come a long way only to find the current reality here doesn’t match what you imagined or hoped it would be. So please read the following closely to get a clear idea of what you can expect (and not expect) during the low seasons:

  • COMPANIONS: While our friendly core staff works year-round, the number of volunteers and interns at Dharmalaya during the low seasons fluctuates (usually between six and twelve) depending on ever-changing circumstances. If you enjoy quiet time in the mountains and forest, you might really enjoy the low seasons, but for some people (particularly those who are highly social and strongly prefer to be around a larger group) it could feel a bit lonely sometimes in the monsoon and winter. But, again, our friendly staff work every day and will happily look after you, and they enjoy working side-by-side with our volunteers, so it’s only in the evenings that the population sometimes drops down under ten.
  • WORK: Knowing what work to do in the low season sometimes requires taking some initiative to ask questions. Our full-time staff will be able to guide you and explain the work, which you can do along with them. In case it isn’t clear what work is to be done, or how one is to do it, one can simply ask them and they will happily explain. During the low seasons, when we’re not hosting any structured programme, there might be some days that are slower, with less work to be done. In such cases, our intrepid volunteers may need more patience, flexibility, and an ability to enjoy yourselves. We make point of mentioning this because we’ve found that some people are quite driven to work hard and accomplish a lot, which is great, but at times when we’re not able to organise the work and provide clear instructions about what’s to be done on a given day, it might sometimes feel frustrating or disappointing to those of us who prefer greater structure, organisation, and clear direction. So, we’re making it as clear as we can in advance: During this startup phase, some low-season days are less organised (there may be delays getting needed materials, etc.), so some patience, flexibility, and self-motivation may be required.

In summary, volunteering during the low seasons is great for those with adventurous spirits and those who enjoy peace and tranquility, but it isn’t for everyone: Some people might find it too lonely, too boring, or otherwise unsatisfying, while others find it to be paradise. 

We really appreciate your interest in volunteering and we feel that we owe it to you to give you the clearest picture we can so that you can decide for yourself whether volunteering here during the low seasons is a good fit for you. We hope this information is helpful and, of course, if you still have questions after reading all this, you’re welcome to contact us using the volunteer inquiry form (follow the link below).

Last updated on 16 Jun, 2016 by Dharmalaya Institute