We have been thankful enough to get to a point in our volunteering abroad life that we can now start to diversify and explore projects that we have to experience. The very emotional but highly rewarding experience of volunteering at an orphanage and homeless shelter in Vietnam is one project we are glad we can say we’ve been apart of.
Why Vietnam, Why Ho Chi Minh City?
Vietnam is an incredibly beautiful country, one that honestly is best explored away from Ho Chi Minh city. This overpopulated city is filled with drivers who are more than happy to run you over if you don’t cross the road quick enough.
Ho Chi Minh is simply a city, but don’t let it deter you from undertaking this volunteer project. Look at it more as a base to volunteer at and also a base to jetset off and explore the rest of this country rich in culture, beauty and very tasty food.
We cannot recommend enough to extend your volunteering project with a trip outside of Ho Chi Minh to see Hanoi, Halong Bay, Mekong Delta and more.
Working at a Orphanage: What to Expect
This was the most emotional project that we have done to date. Walking into the orphanage and up the three-storey high building (each floor containing children aged 0-5) tugged on our heart strings. Many of the children have either been through a traumatic event or just want to be cared for.
Morning tasks include assisting with the daily routine such as organising breakfast, getting the children dressed and preparing for the afternoon teaching sessions which you will run. The rest of the day will consist of assisting the workers by teaching basic english, caring for and playing with the children as well as working on any renovations such as painting and decorating around the building.
Just being with the kids and observing the other volunteers giving them attention and care was incredible, we could already see a boost in their confidence. We must warn you that this project is not for the weak of heart, you will fall in love with everyone of them and will have trouble leaving at the end of your week.
Assisting the Homeless and Those in Need
The second project that you can assist with is at a local homeless shelter. Here you will prepare, cook and hand out meals to 400-600 local Vietnamese who are either homeless or in need. I have never seen so many people be so appreciative of receiving their dish of fish, rice, veggies, fruit and soup. It really puts a smile on your face.
The food shelter used to be free, however after complaints from those in need about wanting to be able to pay for the food they introduced a 2000VDN fee which equals to around 12 cents per meal. With most of those in need earning around $1-1.50 a day this shelter is a vital addition to their survival.
You take residence at the local hospitality and tourism school in the upstairs dorms. Here you share a room with 7 other volunteers and are provided food tokens to use downstairs which is run by the in-house school restaurant and college students.
To assist the local college students you can work with them in a classroom environment to help improve their English and literacy skills. To be honest if I had a French student visit my year 7 French class just to have a chat with me, it might’ve helped me not fail that class!
Cultural Week: Vietnam War Tunnels
Always a highlight of the projects and an aspect I cannot recommend enough to prospective volunteers is to ensure you do the cultural week. This week is designed to introduce you to Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese culture, as well as give you time to get to know the other volunteers.
During the week you will visit some of Vietnam’s iconic landmarks, market places and even go to a traditional water puppet show. You’ll take cooking and language lessons, learn about traditional jewellery techniques and get an understanding of Vietnam’s past, present and future.
During our stay we had the opportunity to visit the Cu Chi tunnels which was used during the Vietnam War to combat the American and South Vietnamese troops. This elaborate network of underground tunnels stretch to nearly 200 km around the Cu Chi area as a way to avoid aerial attacks.
The troops spent months underground and the most fascinating part is that you can go inside, crawl through the tunnels, see the booby traps and be amazed at the war tactics that these locals used.
Organising Your Vietnam Volunteer Project
As always we have continued our partnership with GoEco to show you some of the amazing volunteer projects that you can do around the world. GoEco helps people like you who are unsure on how to book, organise and volunteer at these projects.
If you are looking at volunteering at this project, check out the Ho Chi Minh Community Involvement project with GoEco.
You can book your volunteer experience in Vietnam for $520USD per person, per week.
Have you ever volunteered abroad? We would love to read about your experience below.
Thank you to Go Eco for allowing us to experience this incredible volunteer project in Vietnam. Our opinion is, as always, our own.
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