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Dharmalaya FAQ for Visitors & Volunteers > Volunteering with Dharmalaya > What kind of work will I be doing as a volunteer?

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The short answer: Whatever is needed on any given day, which usually includes 4-7 hours of demanding physical work. 

The long answer: The work to be done at Dharmalaya Institute changes daily and seasonally depending on a variety of factors. We usually have several projects going at any given time, with each being at a different stage of progress. Sometimes we need everyone working together on the same projects, and at other times there are multiple options and one can choose to try one thing on one day and then another at another time. It depends on circumstances (and also weather). 

While we endeavor to create possibilities for volunteers to spend some time doing whatever work most interests them, it should be understood clearly that all volunteers are expected to be willing to do whatever is needed at any given time, in the spirit of selfless service. This often includes hard physical labour (e.g. it’s impossible to do earthen architecture without a lot of digging). We strongly recommend you exercise regularly before arriving so that you will be in good physical fitness. If you have a condition that prevents you from doing physically demanding work, let us know in advance and we’ll see if we can find gentler tasks for you.

The work happening on a given day typically includes one or more of the following, depending on circumstances:

  • Making adobe bricks (sun-dried earthen building blocks)
  • Masonry, including adobe and stone
  • Making earthen mixes for bricks, mortar, and plaster (which includes lots of digging and pugging)
  • Earthen renders (mud plaster)
  • Organic gardening (seasonal, doesn’t happen every day)
  • Landscaping (various activities)

Less common activities, which happen only at certain times when they are needed, include:

  • Finishing work, such as sanding, whitewashing, varnishing, painting, etc.
  • Flooring, including soling, mud work, slate tiling, ceramic tiling
  • Roofing
  • Bamboo work
  • Carpentry
  • Construction of water tanks and irrigation channels
  • Tree planting (generally only during winter and the monsoon rains)
  • Design work
  • Other special projects 

There are also a few specialized activities that could be done by qualified volunteers:

  • Language instruction (English for locals, and sometimes Hindi for international guests)
  • Permaculture design, implementation, and training
  • Electrical and plumbing work (only for professionally trained electricians and plumbers)
  • Help with bookkeeping (only practical for volunteers staying for several months)
  • Fundraising (only practical for experienced fundraisers) 

Finally, it is important to understand that Dharmalaya Institute is an ashram-style community environment in which everyone helps with the basic tasks required to keep the place running, including cooking, cleaning, etc. Every volunteer signs up for one or more of these tasks (depending on the total number of people residing on campus) to be performed daily. We do this in the spirit of karma yoga, and encourage all volunteers to practice mindfulness while conducting these tasks.

Last updated on 30 Nov, 2016 by Dharmalaya Institute