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Parents’ Frequently Asked Questions:
What will my child do on a service trip with HELP International?
With HELP International, volunteers have the opportunity to work on all kinds of projects. We focus mainly on education, business, and public health projects. The programs are flexible enough that the volunteers are able to choose which kinds of projects they want to be most involved in. In the past, we've worked with a wide variety of partners, working on lots of different kinds of projects ranging from: teaching nutrition classes, teaching business classes, working at orphanages, building homes and schools, building stoves, helping to plant square foot gardens, and other projects. Visit this page for more information on the type of projects that your child will be working on.
How can I contact my child?
Each country has two team leaders called Country Directors who oversee the volunteers and act as liaisons with the HELP International office. Each country has two HELP cell phones which the Country Directors control access to. The cell phone numbers and the house address in-country will be emailed to the volunteers prior to their departure. Please check with your child before they leave so you can get the numbers from them. In the event of an emergency, volunteers are reachable by these cell phones.
Volunteers are encouraged to keep in contact with their parents during their stay in-country through a variety of ways: emailing or VOIP at a local internet café, using calling cards at a payphone in a safe location, or arranging a calling schedule on the HELP cell phones with their Country Directors. Parents and family can call the volunteer, or the volunteer may call them. If volunteers wish to purchase a cell phone in-country they may do so. Bringing an expensive cell phone is not recommended.
Will my child be spending time efficiently?
All volunteers work at least a 40-hour work week. HELP is structured so that Country Directors and volunteers organize, implement, and participate in the programs. This sometimes results in more chaos and inefficiencies than if HELP had all the programs already set up before the volunteers arrived. However, this chaos is deliberate, because it allows our participants to experience the challenges of development first-hand. Our role is to provide training, resources, and logistical support; it’s up to the volunteers to create the experience they want to have.
Will there be medical attention?
Upon acceptance, each volunteer will receive a Volunteer Handbook containing a health packet with basic traveling and safety information, as well as specific guidelines for the country he or she will work in. The information will include which vaccinations are recommended by the U.S. government, diseases to be aware of and their symptoms, and how to seek treatment. Volunteers will receive training on these points prior to departure.
In each country, volunteers will have access to an approved doctor. An approved doctor has either work experience in the United States or works closely with U.S. citizens and understands our standards of health. Each country also has a first aid kit and a first aid guide book to help.
Will I know of the safety dangers?
Also included in the Volunteer Handbook are general guidelines for cultural differences and appropriate dress and clothing standards, which are written to help keep the volunteers safe while in country. If anything happens to specific volunteers in country, we will contact the parents of those volunteers and let them know of whatever is going on.
All of the countries that we travel to are safe for our volunteers; if the countries were not safe, we wouldn’t allow our volunteers to continue traveling there. If there are any major safety concerns involving all of our volunteers, we will be in touch with you concerning our plans and do our best to keep the volunteers safe while they are still in country.
What will the housing situation be like?
Volunteers all live together in the same house. We require that males and females have separate bedrooms and bathrooms. The number one reason for combined living is safety. Houses are always in upscale neighborhoods and have security measures such as a high fence, barbed wire, or a guard. The second reason volunteers live in the same house is for logistical reasons and cost effectiveness. Coordinating projects, schedules, lesson plans, vacation time, etc., is easier when all the volunteers are together. Living in the same house also builds solidarity among the team members.
Houses are chosen by the Country Directors one to two weeks preceding the arrival of the first wave of volunteers. The Country Directors negotiate a summer-long contract to rent a home. We ensure that housing includes basic amenities such as electricity, running water, flushing toilets, a stove, refrigerator, and basic furniture. However, these residences typically do not have hot water heaters. Although beds are provided by HELP, volunteers are responsible for their own bedding. Clothes can be washed by hand and air dried or laundry services can be hired.
What will my child be eating?
We hire a cook to provide dinners of typical local cuisine. The cook is hired to provide dinners for the team Monday through Friday night. A modest breakfast and lunch will be provided daily. The substance of each meal will be determined at the discretion of the Country Directors, who will be in charge of purchasing food each week. Any additional food, including food for special dietary needs, is not included in the program fee and will require personal funding. If volunteers are interested in eating food that is not provided by the Country Directors for breakfast and lunch or the cook for dinners, they must purchase that food on their own.
Volunteers are strongly advised not to drink tap water in any of the countries we work in; Country funds include a budget for purified water. The Safety Training, mandatory for all volunteers, outlines which foods are safe to eat and which to avoid.
Will my child be able to attend religious services?
HELP International is nondenominational and volunteers are not required to attend religious services. However, for those who wish to worship, country teams are expected to make every reasonable effort to accommodate their needs. Volunteers have the weekends off and are free to attend religious services if they choose.
How do I know how much money my child has fundraised?
If you’re wondering about your child’s HELP account statements, you will need to ask your child as we are legally not able to provide those answers over the phone to a parent. Because all of our volunteers are over the age of 18, legally we can’t share any financial information with friends or relatives. If you’re concerned with your child’s fundraising or wondering how many donations they have received, please ask your child to forward the email statement that they receive weekly. The financial statements should arrive in their inbox every Tuesday.
Where does my child go when they are able to travel on the weekends?
Before HELP Participants are able to travel on the weekends, they first have to get approval from their Country Directors and and the office. We have to know where they’re going, how long they’ll be gone and where they will be staying. The volunteers are not allowed to leave the country in which they are volunteering, for safety and other reasons.
Our volunteers never travel on their own, so your child will be going on trips with other members of their volunteer group. Usually, the whole team travels together on sightseeing trips, but sometimes they go off in smaller groups as well.
When the volunteers travel for reasons other than for HELP International projects, they are responsible for covering their own living, travel, and eating arrangements. The program fee that they pay before they leave the states is not used to help pay for vacations that volunteers take. All personal trips must be paid for by the volunteer.