Volunteers have never been more needed in the Philippines than now. Long before Typhoon Haiyan, International Volunteers was working in Tacloban City, the hardest hit region of the Philippines. Orphanage programs, sports programs, street kids and at-risk youth are among our many youth initiatives in Tacloban. Nutrition volunteers have also been welcomed with open arms, as well as volunteer doctors, teachers and social workers. Times have gotten harder. Our volunteers must be ready to do without comforts that are normally available, but the need is real!
Dumpsite Project: A sad fact of many cities throughout the developing world is that there is a certain portion of the population that is forced by various circumstances to actually live in the local dump. These people generally scrounge for food and any items which can be sold for basic sustenance. In Tacloban City, there are whole families that live in these conditions. The Dumpsite Project, started in 2005, collaborates with local and governmental organizations to help alleviate the problem. The primary goal of the program is to draw the children away from the dumpsite and enroll them in school. This helps provide them to opportunity to create alternative forms of income for themselves and their families. The project also helps to provide basic health care and even occasional day camps in sports or the arts.
Coach Basketball: Basketball is by far the most popular sport in the Philippines, especially among youth. It does not require complex or expensive equipment and can be played virtually anywhere. During the months of April, May, and June, this project is looking for volunteers who are willing to teach basketball skills to local youth. The children come from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill levels. These basketball camps provide a healthy, positive outlet for youth in the community.
Orphanage: One of the major concerns in the Philippines, as in many developing countries, is population. Both the government and NGO's work to establish orphanages to help give a home to children that have been abandoned or abused. ELI works with several different orphanages throughout Tacloban City and the surrounding area, helping the often overworked staff to keep the facilities running. Orphanages rely on the assistance our volunteers provide to ensure that they can accept as many children as possible. Each orphanage houses anywhere between 20 and 100 children. All of the children come from poor families and many have suffered from malnutrition or neglect. The children thrive on the attention and love our volunteers can share with them. Volunteers do not necessarily need care giving experience, just energy, enthusiasm, an open mind and an open heart. Orphanages often operate with very limited resources and volunteers must possess a high level of creativity and flexibility.
Street Kids: It is a very common sight in the Philippines to see children living on the streets. Most children who have settled on the streets have families of their own but turn to the streets in search of food. Glue sniffing, known as "rugby" in Tacloban, is a common addiction amongst the street children who turn to this drug to suppress their hunger pains. ELI works in conjunction with the social workers to help provide these children with the resources they lack in life, such as compassion, trust, love, and food. Volunteers are not required to have any formal training or certification, but must be at least 20 years old and commit to volunteering for at least 4 weeks.
Health & Nutrition
Rural Community Health Clinic: A great way to get some medical experience while you travel is to participate in the rural health clinics in communities just outside of Tacloban City. Volunteers can shadow and observe the medical practices in the free facilities for the indigenous people in these rural communities. Each clinic has just one doctor to serve the entire community in multiple barangays so the assistance of medical volunteers is greatly needed. Volunteers will assist the doctor and get hands-on practice working and interacting with the patients. In addition, they will learn about the health care conditions here in the Philippines. Volunteers must currently be studying or have finished studying in the health industry.
Nutrition Project: One of our most popular projects in the Philippines, our Nutrition Project works in conjunction with the City Nutrition Office to both evaluate and improve the level of nutrition among local families in and around Tacloban City. In areas where malnutrition rates among children are shockingly high, the need to pull as much nutrition as possible out of limited food sources is clear. Volunteers work with health professionals to take nutrition statistics in local villages, and then help to implement plans to improve the situation on the ground. Participants may do anything from simply weighing and playing with children, to teaching informal nutrition classes, to developing projects and designing new community health plans. This is a great project for public health or nutrition students or anyone else who simply has an interest in the broader field of community health.
Shelter for Girls: The local welfare office in Tacloban City operates a residential girl’s shelter. The home cares for and helps empower female youths, many of whom came to the home from government orphanages or were victims of sexual or domestic abuse. The center provides shelter until the girls can safely join their respective communities. The home has its own staff, but due to workloads and staff limits, the girls do not always receive the necessary attention that they should; volunteers help to bridge this gap. Four week minimum time commitment required. This placement accepts female volunteers only.
Women's Empowerment: The women’s empowerment is a residential center operated by the local social welfare office to help empower women who are victims of domestic abuse. Female volunteers work with the center to assist in the daily operations, providing emotional support and informal education for the women. Volunteers will form close bonds with the women and work side by side with existing house parents and social workers. Participants with experience in psychology and counseling are especially desired for this placement. Four week minimim time comittment required. This placement accepts female volunteers only.
Teach English in Rural Schools: Throughout the Philippines there is a large emphasis on learning the English language. You will find that, wherever you go, most people will be capable of speaking a bit of English. Children begin taking English courses at a very young age. Unfortunately, this also represents an even sharper divide between urban communities and the relatively poorer rural ones. Without the English education standard in more urban schools, children from rural neighborhoods have a great disadvantage. Volunteer teachers travel out to the more rural schools and help provide the English education to give these children more equal footing.
Deaf Education Project: Children with physical and developmental disabilities often find it more difficult to succeed in a school system that caters to fully abled children. Volunteers in this project work with a local high school that works with deaf children, mentoring the children and assisting the teachers to lead classes in a variety of subjects. Volunteers with this project must have experience working with deaf children. International Sign Language experience is especially desired.
Community Center: Volunteering with the VFV Community Center provides one of the most open venues for volunteers. The Community Center offers many different services to the surrounding community and volunteers are free to participate in whichever ones pique their interest or match their skill set. The Center handles literally dozens of community based programs in everything from day care, to job skills courses, to “mothers clubs” and outreach programs.
Rehabilitation Center: The relatively high poverty rate in the Philippines can lead to many problems. In some cases this manifests itself in an increasing crime rate, especially among boys and young men who turn to petty theft as a means of obtaining money. ELI works in conjunction with social workers to assign male volunteers to work with boys and young men at the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth in the Tacloban suburb of Tanauan. The center houses up to 50 boys at a time who have committed crimes as minors and are either waiting for their trials or are working to rehabilitate and enter the work force as responsible members of the community. Volunteers don’t necessarily need experience or formal training, but should be enthusiastic and exhibit a high level of initiative. This placement accepts male volunteers only.
Construction: One way to provide a very tangible benefit to the local community is to become involved in a construction project. By actually hammering nails and putting up walls, volunteers get to directly see the improvement in the lives of members of the local communities. Participants work with trained construction workers to build schools, orphanages, and homes in and around Tacloban City.