Hospital has hosted volunteers from the United States,
India, and several European countries since its inception.
Many volunteers have had a medical background, and
some have not. The hospital has hosted resident physicians,
nurses, and students in medicine, nursing, physiotherapy
and undergraduate studies. Some have used the opportunity
to complete an international medicine elective. These
students have learned from Lok's many physicians (internists),
surgeons, paediatricians, and super-specialists (sub-specialists).
Volunteers whose backgrounds are non-medical have
helped the hospital in such diverse areas as hospital
administration, grounds keeping, environmental services,
and patient counseling. Some volunteers have also
taken the opportunity to work with other organizations
in the Thane area, including a local orphanage and
a newly-started HIV/AIDS initiative.
If you are considering volunteering
at Lok Hospital, Please contact the appropriate peson
listed in the contact information page. You will also
find some more specific information below.
Q1: What is a typical day at Lok hospital
Q2 : What is the minimum stay recommended
for a volunteer?
Q3: What type of Visa
should I get?
Q4: What immunizations do I need to get?
Q5: What accommodation is available?
Q6: What should I bring to India?
Q7: What transportation is available in
Q8: How much money will i need?
Q9: Where can I buy gifts and souvenirs??
Q10: What will the weather be like?
Q11: What supplies are needed at Lok Hospital?
Q12: What language is most commonly spoken
in the area?
Q13: Should I buy any books before coming
Q14: How can I get a hold of former volunteers
if I have more questions?
is a typical day at Lok hospital like?
For medical volunteers, the day begins
at 8 AM with morning rounds, followed by surgeries
or consultations. Lunch and afternoon rest generally
start around 2 PM., and consultations resume around
4 PM. The day usually ends by 7 PM, when the last
patients will be seen in the outpatient department.
New admissions arrive daily providing a good deal
of work for the staff and volunteers. Surgeries and
consultations are done from Monday to Saturday, unless
emergency warrants otherwise.
Due to the variety of non-medical activities volunteers
may choose to do, it is difficult to predict a typical
day for non-medical volunteers.
will take at least seven days to get settled and familiar
with the sights and sounds of India. In light of this
it is suggested that volunteers commit to no less than
is the minimum stay recommended for a volunteer?
visa best suited to meet your needs while volunteering
at Lok Hospital is the six-month multiple-entry tourist
visa. For volunteers from the US, please visit http://www.indianembassy.org/embassy/services.htm
for more Visa information. Visa applications take time
to process, so be sure to investigate early. When filling
out the form, it is best to put "travel" for
your purpose of visit.
type of Visa should I get?
will need to contact your physician or a travel clinic
to check on the latest vaccinations recommended for
India. Standard vaccinations received for travel to
India include: Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid. You will
also want to take anti-malarial medication while in
India. Be sure that your boosters for polio, Tetanus,
Diphtheria, and Measles/Mumps/Rubella are all up to
date. A tuberculosis skin test must also be performed
before leaving and 4-6 weeks after returning to your
country. For more information and current recommendations
for India, please visit the United States' Center for
Disease Control website for Traveler's Health at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/indianrg.htm
What immunizations do I need to get?
accommodation is available?
A short walk (less than 5 minutes) from the hospital
is a residential tower where a flat (apartment) has
been purchased to house volunteers during their stay
in Thane. The cost to the volunteer is $100 U.S. dollars
per month. The flat has a fully furnished living room,
two bedrooms, two bathrooms (with showers), and a small
kitchen with a gas stove and a small refrigerator/freezer.
An Aqua-Guard water filter is used at the flat to purify
drinking water. The electricity runs at 220 volts. If
you have something that needs to be plugged in, remember
to bring a plug adapter to fit the Indian sockets. (See
the "Hospital Picture Tour"). The flat will
be shared by 2 or 3 volunteers.
should I bring to India?
Afternoon naps (2 - 4 PM) are very popular, so if you
are not accustomed to taking naps bring something to
do during this time. Of course a camera and film is
a must, and most types of Fuji and Kodak film are available
all else you must bring a flexible attitude and an
open mind. Life is very different in the world's largest
democracy, and so you should expect the unexpected.
When it comes to deciding what clothes to pack you
must consider what time of year you will be in India.
Men should be sure to bring enough trousers because
shorts are often inappropriate. Typical dress for
men at the hospital includes trousers, collared shirt,
and sandals. Women often wear long dresses as they
are expected to dress modestly, and many volunteers
choose to purchase traditional Indian clothing such
as the salwaar kameez or even a saree.
transportation is available in the area?
The most economical and trustworthy form of transportation
in Thane will be your own two legs-almost everything
is within walking distance. If your heart yearns for
a little more adventure and your eyes want to see
more than the Pokhran No. 2 residential area, then
for a few rupees a rickshaw will happily take you
just about anywhere. Rickshaw fares start at twelve
rupees (Rs. 12) and then increase depending on the
distance traveled. A rickshaw into downtown Thane
for shopping or McDonalds will run about Rs. 30.
Travel into Mumbai is best facilitated by the train
system. The trains in India are highly utilized by
the populace, and riding on them is an Indian experience
in itself. Thane Central railway station is located
in the heart of Thane, approximately 15 minutes and
Rs. 30 from Lok Hospital. A ticket from Thane station
to downtown Mumbai will cost Rs. 11 and will take
around an hour.
Travel to other cities and distant regions of India
is also best done by train. Volunteers have traveled
to distant sights in India such as the foothills of
the Himalayas, Delhi, Agra (home of the Taj Mahal),
Jaipur, Goa, Kodaikanal, and elsewhere. Although trains
are usually quite full, Indian Railways sets aside
a number of tickets on each train for foreign tourists.
These tourist quota tickets can be purchased in downtown
Bombay across the street from Churchgate Station,
a passport is required. Tickets may be purchased in
U.S. dollars, British pounds, or Indian rupees, however
if you are paying in rupees, you must have documentation
of a valid exchange (your ATM receipt works nicely).
Price varies considerably by class, which ranges from
air-conditioned first-class (1st AC) to un-air conditioned
chair class. It is recommended that travelers use
2nd AC (two sleeping tiers, and four people sharing
a common seating area) or 3rd AC (three sleeping tiers
and six people sharing a common seating area). As
a guide, a round-trip ticket from Mumbai to Delhi
cost Rs. 3100 in 3rd AC (Feb 2003). Please refer to
www.indianrailways.gov.in for specific information.
much money will I need?
Of course, the answer to this question is highly dependant
on individual travel goals. Two major determinants are
the amount of traveling you plan on doing, and the number
of gifts/souvenirs you plan on purchasing. As of October
2007, the exchange rate is Rs. 38 per U.S. Dollar and
Rs. 79 per British Pound, and Rs. 55 per Euro. ATM machines
are everywhere and provide the easiest way to obtain
rupees. Traveler's cheques can be fairly difficult to
cash. It is good if a tentative budget can be made before
coming to India. Things to plan for when formulating
a budget include:
Housing costs (100 USD/month)
2. Food costs
3. Traveling costs
cost of food in India is fairly inexpensive in comparison
to food prices in the west. Below is a small list
of some food items and their approximate costs at
local shops. Please bear in mind that these are prices
as of October 2007 and are subject to change. The
best rule to remember when shopping for food is that
the price will be printed on practically every label.
You should never pay more than what has been printed
on the package. Food expenses will most likely be
less than 50 USD per month.
Liter of bottled water
Loaf of Bread
Liter of Milk
Kat candy bar
Liter of Pepsi
Non-food items are even less expensive, especially if
you enjoy bargaining. Some shops have fixed prices but
at most shops you can (and are expected to) bargain
the prices down quite a bit-often as much as one-half
of the first-quoted price. Clothing prices usually will
not be reduced as much as items such as hand made furniture
can I buy gifts and souvenirs?
There are unlimited places to shop in India, as most
free space in urban areas is covered by markets and
individual vendors. There are two common starting places
for volunteers looking to bring a bit of India back
home from Mumbai. The first is the Bombay Store, located
near the CST railway station. This is a large, posh,
air-conditioned store selling handicrafts, clothing,
artwork, carpets, sheets, postcards, stationery, jewelry,
and numerous other items. It offers a pressure-free
environment in which to shop without bargaining, although
it is a bit more expensive than other options. Cottage
Industries, located near the Gateway of India, is a
government emporium and has more variety than the Bombay
Store. It has good quality and reasonable prices. There
are plenty of other places to buy gifts and souvenirs
nearly everywhere you turn, these are simply two large
emporiums in downtown Mumbai.
will the weather be like?
India has two basic seasons to its year, winter and
summer. There is not much in the way of spring and fall
as commonly known in the west. The months from November
to February fall into the winter category and temperatures
will likely remain in the 20's centigrade (in the 70's
Fahrenheit). Rain seldom falls during the winter. The
summer season begins with March and ends in October.
The temperatures in Mumbai and Thane during these two
months will range between 30 and 35° centigrade
(86 to 95° Fahrenheit). April and May are the two
hottest months of the year with temperatures sometimes
reaching 40° (104° Fahrenheit). With June comes
the relentless rain of the monsoon. Temperatures will
fall a little and remain somewhere near 35° (95°
Fahrenheit). Humidity will be very high during the monsoon
season. Sunshine is almost as scarce as dry land and
a large umbrella will be necessary. The rains continue
for three months and will subside near the middle or
end of September.
supplies are needed at Lok Hospital?
Medical supplies are in great demand in many countries
around the world and India is no exception. Many materials
and supplies that are no longer usable in countries
like the U.S. and Britain are still very valuable and
useful to hospitals in India. So if there is any extra
room in your luggage consider visiting your local clinic
or hospital to inquire about any available medical supplies
and or equipment. Simple clothing items such as T-shirts
can also always be used. Please contact Dr. Alfred for
further information on needed medical supplies.
language is most commonly spoken in the area?
India's most widely spoken language is Hindi, although
English is spoken by many Indians and signs are usually
printed in both Hindi and English. Communication will
be difficult with some Indians, but you can get by if
you know English. In spite of this it would be very
beneficial to pick up a Hindi phrase book and learn
some of the basics. Like anyone, Indians love to hear
foreigners attempt to communicate in their native language,
and it's a great way to make many ew friends.
I buy any books before coming to India?
A comprehensive guide to India is a good way to learn
about India before coming here, and also can be a useful
resource once here. Most volunteers who travel to India
have used the Lonely Planet guide to India (www.lonelyplanet.com).
This book can help prepare you for the culture shock
of traveling in a developing country such as India.
can I get a hold of former volunteers if I have
Feel free to contact these former volunteers if you
have more questions or would simply like to talk about
what to expect as a volunteer.
Bryan Sauer, M.D.
1201 Dorchester Drive
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Cary Sauer, M.D.
2651 B Barracks Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22901
J. Ehlenbach, M.D.