International Humanity Foundation’s (IHF) mission is to educate the poor and to educate the world about the poor. It is a non-religious, non-political, non-profit organization that runs educational programs and orphanages for impoverished and/or abused children from marginalized communities in Thailand, Kenya and Indonesia.
Laura, a volunteer from Davison, Michigan, is currently volunteering with the organization. She answered a few questions about IHF in general and her experiences working on the ground with the organization.
1. What inspired the creation of IHF?
IHF was created by the CEO, Carol Sasaki. During her travels she came across many children who didn’t have their basic needs of food and shelter met but also did not have access to education. She strongly believes that impoverished children should be able to grow up in an environment that preserves their cultural traditions and beliefs but also provides them with educational opportunities for a brighter future. She also believes that even educated individuals need to learn about the poor.
2. What kind of work do volunteers do with the organization?
Volunteers teach English, math, and computer classes and also work on special projects such as maintenance or repair of the center, fundraising, media and photography. They are also just there to care for and play games with the children and to provide them with positive interactions.
3. Why did you choose to volunteer with IHF?
I chose to volunteer with IHF for a couple of reasons. I had just graduated with my master’s degree in social science (mainly focusing in anthropology) and knew I wanted to do some long-term volunteering before jumping into a Ph.D. program or job. I had taken a couple classes on sex trafficking and this was a topic that got me upset. I chose to volunteer at the Thailand center because I knew this was where a lot of sex tourism takes place and that the children of the center were either abused or orphaned which made them targets for sex trafficking. It just sounded like a great way to see how an organization is working to curb the problem of trafficking and to work with great kids. I also appreciated that the organization focused on education of both the children and the volunteers. And frankly, it was also an inexpensive option. For only $720 (plus my plane ticket), I could volunteer for an entire year with my room and board covered.
4. What kind of characteristics define the ideal volunteer?
All volunteers must be fluent in written and spoken English but the ideal volunteer would have a strong desire to work with children and be able to adjust to a sometimes difficult, foreign environment. Teaching or maintenance experience is always appreciated.
5. How can a traveler take advantage of a volunteer opportunity with International Humanity Foundation?
Travelers are more than welcome at IHF. We have volunteer opportunities from as short as two weeks. This would be what we call a “voluntourist.” Voluntourists are only expected to volunteer four hours at the center six days per week, mainly playing with and teaching the children. This means travelers have a lot of time for exploring the surrounding area. If you plan on volunteering for one month or longer, then you are considered a “volunteer” and are expected to do four hours of work at the center and four hours of online work 6 days per week. To apply, travelers just need to visit our website and fill out an application found under the “volunteer” tab.
6. What are you doing in your volunteer position?
In my position, I teach the English and arts classes Monday through Friday. I also get to walk or bike to pick up the two youngest kids from school (one of my favorite things to do). Sometimes I go with one of the directors to the market to help get supplies for the center. I help get the kids to do their chores, write their sponsor letters and help cook meals. I also get to come up with special fun nights where we play games or sports or dance. For my online hours I have done a variety of things such as editing the monthly newsletter, helping create an internship proposal and working on posting our volunteer opportunities on various websites.
7. It sounds like there is a charge for volunteers. What is it, and what kinds of amenities do people get when volunteering with IHF?
For voluntourists, the weekly fees for individuals are $150 (USD) and for couples and families only $200. For volunteers, the cost is $75 per week for the first four weeks then $55 for the fifth through twelfth weeks, then it is free after that. These expenses cover meals and accommodation. Volunteers are also given training once they arrive at the center.
Photos were provided by Laura.