Volunteer stories: community development through creative arts in rural India

In March 2017, university students Choosma and Will travelled from the UK to the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. In the Himalayan foothills, near the small village of Bandh, they joined the Rural Centre for Human Interests to take part in a work camp run by UNA Exchange partner RUCHI.


RUCHI is a non-political, not-for-profit organisation committed to community development in rural India. Since 1983, RUCHI has delivered positive change across the areas of sustainable development, environment, health care and gender through International Voluntary Service projects.

This year RUCHI’s spring work camp provided volunteers opportunity to use the creative arts to communicate key sustainable development messages around peace, global warming and inter-cultural learning. UNA Exchange volunteers joined those from other countries to gain knowledge at a grass-roots level and develop insight into the practical problems faced by rural communities. This deeper understanding supports initiation of further innovative humanitarian projects for sustainable community development.

Through excursions to Sikh and Hindu temples in the vicinity and visits to the surrounding hill stations, such as Kasauli, the work camp participants also had opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Himachal Pradesh.


“I am interested in helping people and learning first-hand about new cultures from local people.”

“Volunteering plays a great part in who I have become. I do it because I believe in helping others and me having the ability to learn from people as equally as them being able to learn from me. I do it to make the world a better place.”

Volunteering abroad with UNA Exchange had a formative effect on Engineering graduate Will, who, since taking part in the work camp in India, has gone on to take an MSc in International Development.