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UCD Volunteers Overseas

Northeast India Project

UCDVO works in partnership with two organisations in Northeast India; Assam Don Bosco University in Guwahati, Assam (community development) and the Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre in Shillong, Meghalaya (physiotherapy).

In Assam, the objectives of the project are two-fold; intercultural learning and community development. The project involves volunteers from Ireland and India working together to renovate Anganwadis (pre-schools) and run workshops in in response social issues explicitly identified by the community during house visits. Volunteers also carry out a number of awareness raising activities, such as awareness rallies, street theatre and the production of grassroots comic books.

The primary objective of the Anganwadi renovations is to create a clean and safe space to be utilised by the community; as a pre-school, a community centre or a youth club. In the past, workshops and awareness raising have covered English language enhancement, and awareness on alcoholism, human rights, domestic violence and health & hygiene.


In Shillong, UCDVO volunteers are based at the Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre. Their work there includes a residential camp on disability awareness and physiotherapy programmes for families and children with physical disabilities and outreach programme with the local community.


Northeast India Country Profile

Northeast India is comprised of seven states or as they are known the Seven Sisters (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura), plus the Himalayan state of Sikkim. It has international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Burma and Tibet and is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions in India. In terms of geographical size, Northeast India constitutes about 8% of India’s total size and has over 220 ethnic groups and an equal number of dialects.

Interstate and inter tribal conflicts have been an ongoing feature of the region for many decades. However this has eased off as national and state governments make a concerted effort to raise the living standards of the people in these regions. Historically, the state of Assam is one of the world’s largest tea-growing regions and while the economy is largely agrarian, little land is available for settled agriculture. The inaccessible terrain and internal disturbances has made industrialisation in the region difficult


Head of State: President of India is Pranab Mukherjee

Population: 30.94 million (Assam)

Time: GMT +4 ½

Language: Assamese and Bodo are the 2 major indigenous languages and the official language spoken in Assam.

Currency: INR, the Indian Rupee.

Climate: The climate of Assam is typically humid and hot with temperatures of between 30-40°C in July. The State of Meghalaya receives high levels of rainfall all year round. The maximum temperature in this region rarely goes beyond 28°C.

Dress: The dress code is modest but jeans, t-shirts and long shorts are acceptable except in the case of visiting temples or mosques.

Accommodation: Assam Don Bosco University in Guwahati and the Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre in Meghalaya.

Food: Typically, a meal would contain bhaat (rice) with dal (lentils), masor jool (fish curry), with mangso (meat curry) orxaak and bhaji (herbs and vegetables).

Health: Be mentally and physically prepared before you go, consider taking Acidophilus (probiotics) and a good quality multi-vitamin in advance.

Religion: Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Animism.

Ethnic groups: Northeast India is home to over 220 ethnic groups. The prominent tribal groups include the Nagas, Khasis, Jaintias, Mizos, Boros, Garos and Kacharis.

Security: Inter-ethnic conflict has been a long term feature of the Northeast Indian region. However, you will be visiting areas that are generally considered safe but vigilance is always required.


5 Things You Should Know:

1. •Eastern most region of India

2. •Seven Sister states: Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland

3. •International borders with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Tibet

4. •39 million people in the Northeast

5. •220 ethnic groups, dialects and traditions


UCDVO Key Project Achievements 2014 - 2017

  • Physiotherapy students held health awareness programmes in a local villages in Meghalaya
  • Equipment were provided to the children of the residential camp in Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre
  • Physiotherapy support and community outreach, Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre Shillong
  • Renovation of multiple Anganwadi (pre-school) centres in Assam
  • Organisation of a community exhibition, bringing together villages to showcase the work completed during the programme
  • Production of “Comics for Social Change” book which highlights local and global inequalities
  • Increased awareness of domestic workers’ rights through street play performances
  • Increased understanding of working in a multicultural context
  • Increased activity among the youth through sports and language classes
  • Skills development for women’s groups in the area of handicrafts and increased potential for income generation through sale of products
  • Formation of women’s groups and girls’ clubs
  • Physiotherapy support and community outreach, Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre, Shillong
  • The production and distribution of resource booklets for Anganwadi workers
  • Increased awareness of alcoholism, domestic abuse and land rights through street theatre