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Support the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

From the Field

FAQ: What to Expect From Volunteering with VFV

We frequently receive inquiries from volunteers that span from their ability to participate in our programs to accessibility to basic needs during their stay to what to expect when they step off the plane. This post is devoted to answering some of those common questions, and please feel free to comment if we missed some that you have!

How close will I live to other volunteers and to the VFV office?

All homestays are within a 1-5 minute walk from the VFV office, so you will always be within 5 minutes of the office as well as other volunteers.

Will I have access to electricity?

All of our homestays, as well as our VFV office, have electricity currently. Keep in mind that not everyone you meet, including the some of our sponsored children, will have electricity in their homes though.

What are three things I should know about Filipino homes before staying in a homestay?

  • Bring a pair of indoor slippers, take them off before you enter the bathroom or go outside, and before you enter your bedroom if you’d like.

  • Parents and even children or extended family, regularly sleep in the family’s living area even when they have available bedrooms.

  • Filipinos use electricity minimally, so always unplug electronics when not in use, turn off fans and lights when you leave your room.

Will my homestay speak English? What about the VFV Staff?

You will have no trouble communicating with the VFV Staff, they have worked with hundreds of volunteers and are perfectly fluent in English, not to mention they all have college degrees and university courses are taught in English! Your host mother will also speak English well, and there will most likely be multiple other family members in your home who speak English. If you ever have questions that you feel your host family may misunderstand, the VFV staff is always available to help translate for you or address any of your needs and concerns.

Will staff be available 24 hours a day if I need anything?

Staff will provide you with necessary phone numbers in case of an emergency or an issue when the office is closed, which is typically between 6 pm and 7 am. There are also some staff that live in the same community where your homestay, and the office, will be located, so they can attend to immediate needs as soon as possible. Your homestay is well experienced and knowledgeable enough to assist you and answer any questions at any time as well.

Will I have access to the internet?

The VFV office currently has internet access and wifi capabilities, but volunteers should be mindful of their internet use since the staff members are also sharing the internet connections for general business operations. Volunteers can also visit a handful of coffee shops in downtown Tacloban (our volunteer coordinator will show you how to get to and from downtown during your city tour), which is a 15-25 minute ride from your homestay, that have wifi connection, as well as small internet cafes where you can pay per hour for computer/internet use.

Will I have access to clean drinking water?

All homestay families will provide clean drinking water for their volunteers. Mineral water is also widely available at small shops throughout the neighborhood as well as at larger grocery stores. When being served water at restaurants it is always important to ask if the water is mineral water and if the ice is made from tap water.

I don’t have any experience volunteering, can I still apply?

VFV does not require any previous experience in order to join our programs, we welcome individuals from all walks of life and experience. The only thing we ask is that volunteers come in with an open heart and an open mind, and a desire to get involved in hands on meaningful projects!

I just stepped off the plane in Tacloban, what should I expect?

At the Tacloban airport all passengers exit the plane via a staircase leading directly to the tarmac, you will be directed to enter the airport terminal through the back of the building. The baggage machine is currently not functioning, so bags will be distributed across the baggage claim belt manually by bag porters. Be prepared to wait a little while as obviously this is not the most efficient process and it make take a while for your bag to appear. Also keep in mind that the airport is not fully repaired from the damages sustained during the typhoon in November 2013, though it is getting better and better each week.

After you find your bag, you will be directed to exit out the front of the building, but first you will need to show the security guard or airport staff your baggage claim ticket to verify that you have collected the right bag. If you have a large number of bags or your bag is too heavy for you to carry, you can hire one of the baggage porters (in the white button up shirts with blue collars) to carry your bags for you; the cost of baggage porters is 50 pesos or $1 USD per bag.

When you exit the airport there will be a gated area in which people are bound to be lined up outside of waiting for arriving passengers, keep your eyes peeled for a VFV staff member holding a sign with your name on it and the VFV logo. Once you spot them give them a wave and they will meet you at the end of the gated area. After greeting you, your airport “picker-upper” will take you to a hired jeepney or car, which will transport you and any luggage you may have to Bliss, the community where most homestays and the main VFV office is located. The ride is about 10 to 15 minutes long.

Unfortunately, the neighborhoods directly outside the airport are some of the most highly devastated communities of Tacloban. So you should prepare yourself accordingly, the area is still ridden with piles of debris, destroyed buildings, and sadly, many families living in relief tents waiting to be relocated to permanent relocation sites.

Rest assured though, the community you are living in is free of debris and all families have sufficient shelter and access to food and water for the most part. Each homestay is hand selected and has mounds of experience accommodating volunteers, as well as the VFV Staff members.


Let us know if you have any more questions by commenting below!


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Volunteers visit stranded ships

The LCT Rosman grounded ship is due to set sail again

Volunteers with VFV will often visit some of the sites around Tacloban badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

One of the popular places to visit is an area where huge vessels were washed ashore by Haiyan and have remained grounded since. The liners have now become part of communities as temporary accommodation has been built around the ships.

But now one of the vessels – LCT Rosman – is preparing to leave dry land and swing into operation again.

Captain Michael Flores said: “We have 12 men working on the ship preparing to launch it. I expect it to launch Saturday (today) or Sunday (tomorrow). It will then stay in the water here for a couple of weeks as we prepare permits to take it back to Manila.”

One of the workers, Robin, recalled the horror of discovering bodies underneath the ship when they lifted the 350 gross tonnage boat using hydraulic jacks. “We discovered 15 bodies. All ages. There were babies, teenagers, males and females and some older people. It was heartbreaking,” he said.

Volunteers take pictures of some of the ships and typhoon devastation

All those found under the ship had lived in the local area and the workers said it is very difficult as the marooned ship serves as a permanent reminder of the disaster to the local people.

Unlike some of the other stranded vessels, LCT Rosman did not suffer any structural or mechanical damage when it was washed ashore. This week workers at the site were putting the finishing touches to the aesthetics of the vessel and painting it.

Typhoon Haiyan struck on November 8, 2013, and is thought to have killed around 10,000 people. Many are still unaccounted for and thousands more were left homeless.

There is no sign of movement for the other ships in the area. All of them have watchmen on them to safeguard them from intruders. One of them sits next to aptly named by locals ‘Yolanda Village’ and helps to hold up a makeshift basketball net.

Some of them carry slogans from locals ‘we need food rice and water’ others have more light-hearted messages on them ‘for sale’ and ‘hope floats’ whilst some have heartfelt messages from volunteers and wellwishers from around the globe ‘to Yolanda victims, do not lose hope we will continue to help’.

Captain Michael preparing to set sail

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer with VFV? Find out more here http://www.visayans.org/volunteer

*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK




Posted in Disaster Relief, News, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment

Mothers get cooking for sponsored kids

Nanay Corazon Mabahin is very happy to be involved in the feeding programme

Mothers of sponsored children in Cangumbang are heading into the kitchen and cooking nutritious food for their kids through one of VFV’s feeding programmes.

Volunteers have always cooked lunch for the 35 children sponsored through VFV in the village but in an attempt to make the community more self-sufficient they have started handing over some of the duties to the nanays (mothers).

Three volunteers Melissa, Alban and Lauren came up with the idea. Alban said that during their placement they noticed that there were many people in the community not working.

Alban said: “It should be that we are helping them, not doing it all ourselves. We wanted to make them more self-sufficient. By getting the mothers to do the cooking it means the volunteers can concentrate on nutrition education programmes with the kids and passing our knowledge on to the local people.”

Alban said the trio spoke with VFV staff and then made a presentation to the nanays about why they should become more involved in the feeding programme. The response was fantastic as the mothers were keen to help.

Volunteer Alban and Nanay Maricel Superales buy ingredients at the market

To start with volunteers will take the nanays to the market each day and teach them how to manage the budget, what quantities of ingredients they need and give them ideas for recipes. Volunteers have always decided what to cook for the children each day and try and give them as much variety as possible.

“We will teach them about what is good food, why a lack of good food can be dangerous, why variety is important, why meat and vegetables are good for children and then teach them what to do everyday and how to handle the budget we have to spend on the meals,” said Alban.

Nanay Corazon Mabahin said she was so excited about being involved in the programme she couldn’t sleep properly the night before. “It is very exciting. It’s very nice for the volunteers to share their knowledge to many nanays here in Cangumbang. I enjoyed travelling with Sir Alban to the market. I learnt so much about meats and vegetables and what is of (nutritious) value for our children.”

Nanay Maricel Superales echoed this and added: “We have learnt a lot about what is nutritious for our children.”

Children tuck into lunch in Cangumbang

The nanays involvement so far seems to be going down well with the kids. Cherrymae, 12, said: “We like the volunteers because they are friendly and they teach us to have a good attitude. It has been nice having our nanays cook. They are good cooks.”

Alban concluded: “This new way of doing things shouldn’t just be for lunch. By giving them information about nutrition it should follow through to the meals they prepare for their children for breakfast and dinner.”

Are you interested in volunteering and making a difference? Click here to find out more information http://www.visayans.org/volunteer

*Written by volunteer Michelle Curran, journalist and editor from the UK

Posted in Child Sponsorship, Child Welfare, Education, News, Nutrition Volunteers, Uncategorized, Volunteer Abroad in the Philippines, Volunteer Program | Leave a comment
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