Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) FAQ’s
1. Why am I not receiving email responses from VFV?
In the wake of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), connectivity and communications in and around Tacloban are unreliable, and you may experience a delay in response. Please be assured that all VFV staff are safe and accounted for, but are focused on relief efforts in Tacloban and may be temporarily out of communication. If you have urgent inquiries, please send them to our partners who are helping respond as follows:
- For inquiries regarding Sponsored Children: Elsa Thomasma at firstname.lastname@example.org
- For inquiries regarding sending relief supplies to Tacloban: Christopher Franks at email@example.com
- For inquiries regarding volunteering in Tacloban: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For inquiries regarding donations for VFV: Elsa Thomasma at email@example.com
- For inquiries regarding the GoAbroad Foundation: Rachael VanDerWerff at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. How can I donate to VFV to help with relief efforts?
We have set up a donation page in which you may make donations via PayPal. You may also pay by check or bank transfer as follows:
Pay by Check
1: Print and fill out the GoAbroad Foundation donation form.
2: Enclose your completed donation form with a cheque made payable to “The GoAbroad Foundation” and mail it to:
324 East Oak Street
Pay direct to Volunteer for the Visayans
Account Name: Volunteer For The Visayans,
IncAccount No: 232235000020
Routing No: 026 003004
Bank Name: Philippine National Bank
Address: Justice Romualdez St., Tacloban City, Philippines
Phone No: +63 (053) 321-2053
Swift Code: PNB MPHMM
Note: (No IBAN)
3. Can I still come volunteer in the Philippines?
Yes, we are now accepting volunteers to help with disaster relief. Please CLICK HERE for more details.
1. Is the Philippines Safe?
The Philippines is one of the most beautiful and friendliest countries you will ever visit. There have been isolated incidents in the southern region of the Philippines related to political disagreements, but keep in mind the Philippines is a nation of islands, so the island of Leyte is generally safe for travelers. As with any other country, tourists and visitors must always take precautions when traveling abroad.
2. Can I extend my Visa?
Yes! If you decide to lengthen your stay, you can easily extend your visa for up to 59 days. Please visit www.immigration.gov.ph for more information.
3. What Vaccinations do I need for the Philippines?
We advise that all our volunteers have a travel consultation a few months prior to traveling to the Philippines, to assess what vaccinations you are up to date with and which ones you will need for the Philippines. Malaria is not a concern in Leyte, but if you plan on traveling to other areas of the Philippines, you may want to bring some anti-malarial tablets for your travels. We recommend that our volunteers be up to date with Tetanus, Typhoid, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B.
Please note: Volunteer Arrangements and Placements as of November 2013 are completely focused on Relief and Restoration following Typhoon Yolanda. Check out our Volunteer Program Page for more information or our FAQ that is Relief Specific.
1. What are the living arrangements like for volunteers?
Prior to Typhoon Yolanda, Volunteers were placed with local Filipino families carefully selected to host international volunteers. Living arrangements are simple. Volunteers are provided their own room (or a shared room with another volunteer) but most houses only have one “C.R.” (bathroom) for the family.
2. Is it ok if I’m vegetarian?
Filipinos eat a lot of meat and fish in their diet. It may be more challenging for vegetarians to find acceptable food in the Philippines (especially since Typhoon Yolanda) but fruits, vegetables, rice, and eggs are usually available. Our homestay families have extensive experience in accommodating volunteers with special dietary restrictions as well.
3. Can I volunteer with a friend?
We can accommodate friends or partners that want to volunteer together.
4. Will I be met at the airport?
Our local staff will greet you at the airport when you arrive. Make sure you send us your flight itinerary before you leave so we know when you will arrive.
5. How long can I volunteer for?
We can accommodate volunteers from any duration of stay as of November 2013. For longer placements, it may be necessary to extend your visa once you are here.
6. Will I be able to communicate with locals at my volunteer project?
Waray-Waray is the local dialect of northern Leyte. English is taught in the schools starting in grade one, so most people can understand and speak English very well.
7. What is your age policy?
Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Volunteers younger than 18 must present a letter of parental consent (currently we are not accepting individuals under the age of 18 as of 11/08/13).
8. Can I bring my laptop?
Some volunteers do opt to bring their laptops, however we do ask volunteers to be conscious of their electricity consumption in homestays.Volunteers coming to help with Typhoon Yolanda Relief should not bring a laptop as there is no electricity currently.
Note to all Current and Prospective Sponsors: in the Wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda, please email email@example.com with any questions regarding the sponsorship program at this time.
1. How much does it cost to sponsor a child?
You can sponsor a child for $25 USD a month ($300 USD annually), payable in 6-month or 12-month installments.
2. Will the sponsorship fee increase in the future?
We will do our best to maintain the sponsorship fee at the current rate by continuing our careful financial planning and by working on a lean budget. If an increase is needed in the future to keep up with inflationary costs or devalued exchange rates, we will allow sponsors to continue sponsorship at current rates until they feel they can increase their contribution.
(Please note that the only administrative cost included in the sponsorship program budget is the cost incurred by our sponsorship staff during monitoring visits. All other administrative costs are covered through our other programs).
3. Why don’t you put pictures and details of children waiting for sponsors on your webpage like other Sponsor-A-Child providers?
We do not openly advertise the details of our children waiting to be sponsored because as an organization we value the privacy of our clientele. Rest assured, once you show an interest in sponsoring a child, our staff will send you a profile of a child who is deserving of your support. Aside from this, it is also against local social welfare regulations to publish individual pictures of our clientele. As a responsible social welfare agency, we value such rules.
4. I can’t commit to sponsoring a child right now, but I want to help in some way. Could I make a one-time donation or occasional donations?
Yes, your donation will help immensely. We will place your donation in a Special Sponsorship Program Fund, which is used to support children who have special needs or who are waiting for a regular sponsor. Here are some examples of what your donation could provide: a donation of $50 will provide three malnourished children with vitamins for a full year, $75 will provide three families with medical insurance for a year, and $100 will maintain a child in the program until a sponsor is secured.
We often feature the activities of our children on our website and social networking channels, so you can see how your money has been put to good use.
5. Are the sponsorship fees and any other financial contributions I make tax-deductible?
Yes, the GoAbroad Foundation, which is based in the United States, provides us with administrative support and shoulders all wire transfer fees for our international sponsors. Donors interested in tax-deductible donations can send contributions to the GoAbroad Foundation, which is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt charity.
6. How will the sponsorship fee be used?
50% of the annual payment goes directly to daily feeding programs and monthly grocery supplement, 20% of the payment contributes to medical support, a further 20% to educational materials, school fees, and school supplies. The final 10% is used for educational trips, recreational activities, Christmas gifts, and travel expenses incurred by our staff during monitoring visits.
The children also receive additional benefits such as after-school tutorials conducted by staff and local and international volunteers, involvement in our volunteer program, including activities and outings to places of cultural and historical significance, close social welfare monitoring for the whole family, and scheduled meetings and awareness presentations for parents at no additional cost.
7. What children are eligible to participate in the sponsorship program? How long does sponsorship last?
The children come from impoverished families that need help to keep their children in school. We select children with the most need, based on an extensive assessment process. The parents must maintain communication with our coordinators, and the child must continue to attend school and fulfill academic requirements.
Children are generally eligible for sponsorship until they graduate from high school, with some exceptions. Since the educational system in the Philippines does not include a middle school, children typically complete high school by age 16. Some of our children, through no fault of their own, have not attended school regularly in the past and will not graduate on schedule. Our goal is to continue sponsorship for these children until they finish high school. (Note: The Education System in the Philippines is also in the process of increasing the years of study prior to university).
Some of the children in need of sponsorship are older teens who will complete high school within a year or two. Sometimes we may have a teen who needs help for a year or two on a vocational-training course. Please consider sponsoring one of these older teens if you feel you cannot commit to a larger period of sponsorship.
8. Will I be able to continue sponsorship if my sponsored child goes on to college or technical school?
If you have sponsored a child up until graduation, you have helped to provide the child with a solid foundation for future success. You are not required to continue sponsorship once a child graduates from high school, though we encourage continued sponsorship for a three month transition period and are happy to have sponsors further extend their support into college or university.
We do try to help our children obtain post high school vocational or professional training, or enroll in college if it is a viable plan for the individual child. Our Sponsor-a-Scholar program allows a sponsor to help an individual through college, although it comes at a higher sponsorship fee.
We work closely with the schools and enlist their help with career planning. There are some higher education scholarships and work study grants available in the Philippines, however even if a child qualifies for a full scholarship, the scholarship covers just the tuition and not the costs of books and other educational requirements. So our Sponsor-A-Scholar program helps supplement these costs. Fortunately the cost for public college education and training in the Philippines is low, compared to other countries worldwide. Should your sponsored child desire to attend college or vocational training and you wish to continue sponsorship, we can accommodate this amazing gift for your child. Just mention your interest to one of our child sponsorship coordinators and they can discuss this further.
9. How will I know how my sponsored child is doing?
When you sponsor a child, you will receive additional information on your sponsored child and the child’s family periodically. You will receive email updates and photos at least twice a year, and you can also check out our facebook page for updates on what we are doing.
10. Will I be able to correspond with my sponsored child?
We actively encourage you to write to your sponsored child and send personal photos. Your sponsored child wants to know who is helping him or her, and your letters can often be a source of encouragement. Some children may be eager to write back to sponsors, while others might not, especially since English language skills vary. Whenever possible, our program volunteers and staff will assist children who need help with these letters.
We try to ensure that your relationship with your sponsored child gets off to a good start. For this reason the exchange of letters should be conducted through our office. We will provide you with additional guidelines and practical suggestions on corresponding with your sponsored child at your request.
11. Could I send gifts to the child? Am I expected to send gifts to the family?
Your child will be thrilled to receive a card or small gift on special occasions like on birthdays or at Christmas. Gifts, such as games or books, which can be shared with siblings, make the best gifts. The family understands that the child is being sponsored and not the family. Although, should you chose to do so, you can send a gift to the family. However, in any case, we recommend that all gifts be sent through our office (Note: Sending gifts is not expected; we are addressing this question as it has been asked by our sponsors). Again, just let your sponsorship coordinator know if you are interested in sending a gift to your child.
12. Could I visit the child I am sponsoring?
Yes, visiting your sponsored child can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and the child. We will arrange for you to meet your sponsored child and the child’s parents at our community center. In most instances, you will then be able to visit with your sponsored child and family members on your own; generally, one of the parents should accompany the child on these visits. For everyone’s protection, all visits with your sponsored child must be authorized and arranged by us.
Contact our sponsorship coordinator at least a month in advance if you plan to visit. There are certain busy periods when we may have some difficulty accommodating visits. These periods include May to June, when we are busy with start-of-school preparations and December to early January, when we are tied up with holiday activities. We will be also be able to give you suggestions on accommodations and places to see during your visit, and of course you are always welcome to participate in our volunteer program as well.
13. Could I sponsor more than one child at a time?
Yes, some individuals do sponsor more than one child. If you wish to help other children you could also consider contributing to our Group Sponsorship Fund or you may also contribute to other projects we are currently working on to supplement your participation in our Sponsorship Program.
14. Could a group sponsor a child?
Yes, some of our children are sponsored by churches, schools, or service groups. These arrangements have worked out well in the past and we open to creating even more partnerships. Our only requirement is that there should be one person who serves as the group’s liaison, and consequently we will send a single group letter about the child and letters from the sponsorship group collectively should also be sent together if the group decides to send communication to the child.
15. Could I also sponsor the child’s sibling?
Due to the number of children waiting to be sponsored who have no form of sponsorship assistance within their families, we try to limit enrollment to one child per family. However, we do make exceptions when siblings also are at risk of dropping out of school or the family has a large number of children or they are a single parent family with extremely limited income.
We do our best to help our sponsored children’s families through our other projects as well, such as the Build-A-Home project. If we determine that a sibling should also be sponsored, we will inform you of this before opening sponsorship to other sponsors; also, should you wish to sponsor a sibling after your sponsored child has completed the sponsorship program we can often accommodate this request, please discuss this with one of our sponsorship coordinators if you are interested.
16. Okay, I want to sponsor a child, what do I do now?
To sponsor a child, please download the VFV Sponsorship Form (Word).
Send your completed sponsorship form with a check to cover six months of sponsorship ($150) or one year of sponsorship ($300) to the GoAbroad Foundation at the following address:
324 East Oak Street
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
Donations made to us through the GoAbroad Foundations are tax-deductible in the U.S. Donations made directly to us in the Philippines are not; however, feel free to utilize our other donation methods as long as you fill out the sponsorship form and mail it to the above address. Please also visit our donations page for additional payment options.