About the Special Needs Program
Vietnam's borders remain closed to international arrivals so this program can't get the assistance it needs right now.
This wonderful program is crucial to the lives of children and infants with disabilities in the specialist care facilities Love Volunteers partners with. Volunteers in Vietnam provide much-needed support and assistance to children at these locations. One such facility is a government-owned school for orphans with disabilities aged five to twenty who are housed in single-sex dorms. The facility continues its support of students through either university or vocational training. Other placements include day-schools for disabled children, as well as kids from poorer backgrounds. These projects are severely understaffed and underfunded, which is why they are in urgent need of volunteers. For volunteers who truly want to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children, this program serves to protect and care for those who need it most.
Goals of this Project:
- Provide essential childcare to vulnerable children in Vietnam
- Improve the future prospects of disabled children in Vietnam
- Give impoverished children quality care, compassion and a sense of hope
- Enable inter-cultural exchange which benefits both locals and international volunteers alike.
How You Can Help
Volunteers play an essential role in helping to teach these children and also in spending time socializing and playing with them. Without a free volunteer labor force, sufficient care would simply be unable to be given to the residents of this home. Volunteer’s duties mainly involve teaching the children English, organizing and helping out with extra-curricular activities, as well as playing with the children. These children relish attention and any time spent playing with them will be greatly appreciated. There are plans to introduce HIV and AIDS education to help reduce the threat which this disease poses in Vietnam. Depending on personal inclination, volunteers can also lend a hand in the kitchen, which provides an opportunity to acquire traditional Vietnamese cooking skills.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways on this program and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Help to teach vulnerable children in Vietnam
- Attend to and interact with disabled children
- Create activities and entertain the children with games and songs, etc
See the Additional Info. section for more information on how to support disabled children.
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to assist in the support and development of some of Vietnam's most marginalized children and young adults. While this highly rewarding project does not require participants to have a background in the field of special needs care, as there are many ways you can assist, volunteers with suitable education, qualifications or experience are highly sought after. Regardless, a volunteer’s individual role can often be tailored to suit their particular skills and interests. Ideally, volunteers on this project will have at least a basic knowledge of the local language in order to communicate effectively with staff and students, though this is not a pre-requisite. All applicants must of course display a genuine willingness to help, show drive, initiative and compassion, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Police check
Volunteers participating on this incredibly worthwhile program have the privilege of doing so in enchanting Ha Noi. Leaving the crippling effects of war and seclusion in the past the city is speeding into the 21st Century as fast a scooter down the main streets (pedestrians beware!).
French influences remain from the colonial past but the city is stamping out a future all its own in authentic style. Visitors gain a true appreciation of Vietnamese courage and resilience through the juxtaposition of old and new in this city. Time spent here is rewarding for intrepid travellers and first timers alike.
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs start the 1st and 3rd week of every month with volunteers arriving on WEDNESDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Volunteers are met on arrival into Hanoi and taken to the volunteer house where they can meet with their hosts and fellow volunteers. The following day (Thursday) an orientation session is held to introduce volunteers to the programs and their new environment; a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Volunteering proper begins on Friday and weekends are free to relax and explore.
- Arrival Day: WEDNESDAY
- Departure Day: WEDNESDAY
- Arrival Airport: Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam (Code: HAN)
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this wonderful program are accommodated in a Volunteer House in the quiet and peaceful area of Cau Giay in central Hanoi, conveniently located close to public bus connections and shops.
The traditional 5-level house has 6 bedrooms rooms located over 3 floors with 4 – 6 volunteers per room. Each floor has its own bathroom with western style facilities and hot showers. Fans and air-conditioning are available for comfort during the summer months and bed linen is provided so volunteers need only bring personal toiletries and towels. Easy!
The House is equipped with kitchen and laundry facilities and WiFi is available free of charge. Volunteers can enjoy the communal area within the house or the rooftop terrace for relaxing and socializing. A great way to spend time in this historical city!
Volunteers in Hanoi are provided with 3 meals per day at the Volunteer House and the food is varied and delicious. Volunteers are also welcome to explore the city and eat out at the many local restaurants and cafes serving traditional and international fare.
Vietnamese food focuses on fresh ingredients – especially fruit, herbs and vegetables. The famous noodle broth (pho) is a must try and sticky rice is another staple.
Please note that all meals provided in the volunteer house are included in the program fees. When eating out it is the volunteer’s responsibility to cover the costs.
Private rooms cannot be arranged at the Volunteer House.
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
Volunteering With Children With Disabilities: How To Best Support Them
Between 93 million and 150 million children worldwide are diagnosed with a disability. In developing countries, children with disabilities rarely have access to the resources and facilities they need to help them reach their full potential. By volunteering to help children with disabilities, you can provide them with the best support possible and encourage them to blossom in their own time.
Communicate directly with the child
When you first meet a child with a disability, avoid making the all-too common mistake of not actually directly talking to them. Children with disabilities should be given encouragement and patience to answer questions and speak up in conversation. Adults often assume they don't understand or can't answer and soon switch to talking to their caregiver instead. So, when meeting for the first time, introduce yourself and explain who you are. Depending on the type of learning difficulty and its severity, you may need to place your hand on the child's shoulder or take their hand. You can then let them know what you'll be doing together, including explaining the activity step-by-step. It's important to use simple language, be patient, and make a lot of eye contact to build rapport and trust with the child.
Use nonverbal gestures
Using nonverbal communication and gestures like nodding, pointing, and eye contact will help children with disabilities understand you better. At first, you may need to exaggerate or draw out these gestures to aid the child's understanding. In fact, using these gestures is usually essential to ensure children with disabilities participate in the activities. However, if you still have a problem with a child not listening to you, you may also find it useful to clap, whistle, or sing. Additionally, tactile cues can help effectively engage children. For example, giving them a soft blanket or plasticine can capture their attention and help them focus.
When rules are implemented for the group, it's important all children abide by them. Consistency is key if you want children to feel safe, comfortable, and encouraged, as well as for teaching discipline. So, don't backtrack on rules already set or change them from one day to the next. For children with disabilities (especially those with autism or other cognitive or sensory impairments), consistency and discipline will help them thrive in learning environments. Remember, when working with children with disabilities, it's your job to give them dedicated attention they may not usually get. Focus on the individual and adjust your approach as needed. For example, if a child has poor motor skills making a certain activity difficult for them, you may need to work through the steps with them together. While it's good to encourage children to challenge themselves, you should also be aware of their limits.
Volunteering to help children with disabilities is a meaningful and rewarding experience. By being prepared to provide the best support possible, you can better help this vulnerable group succeed and thrive.
Source: Jennifer Orson