When I was in Vietnam I had a chance to cooperate with different NGOs. All of the projects were fantastic, so for those who are wondering where to volunteer, I might inspire you to try Hanoi. I am gonna write some more info about three NGOs: CSDS, Mercury Center and Fly Center
- CSDS (Center for Sustainable Development Studies)
CSDS is a big and well-organized NGO that cooperates with various national and international organizations. The main issues of CSDS is development in Vietnam, climate change, environment protection, women empowerment, children support and youth development through international exchange and non-formal education.
As regards volunteering in CSDS, basically in CSDS, they are trying to find the biggest potential in you and place you in the project that fits you the best. If you have any preferences they are respectful and support you with all your decisions. As there are many different projects, I am sure you will find the one you will like.
As I stayed in Vietnam for 9 months so I was able to take part in different projects. I used to teach English local university students within the CSDS project English Community Classes. We had to prepare lesson plans but classes themselves were so much fun. As Education is non-formal, it gave us a lot of space to play games, discuss interesting topics, do outdoor activities and actually build a relationship with students… Working with university students is really amazing experience. All of them are very excited to learn something new and to spend time with foreigners.
Besides teaching, I completed volunteering in marketing field in CEPEW, which is NGO cooperating with UN that deals with Women Empowerment and Gender Equality. I was always into Photoshop and I like creative work so this was a great chance for me to try these skills. There are also other interesting community projects, e.g.: eco-tourism project for ethnic minorities in countryside or social centre: SOCI HUB, that organizes workshops and other events for local Vietnamese youth.
In the beginning, the placement was a big challenge. Mainly, cultural differences – language, different customs, low hygiene standards, Hanoi itself is a huge city and moving around seems to be pretty difficult too. But in this case, CSDS helped us a lot– they provided us Vietnamese volunteers that helped us with the language and with orientation in the city. So basically they came with us to our classes to translate what was impossible to show with our hands 😀 It was also a great chance to get to know the culture more and make friends. By the time, I got used to Hanoian craziness, got a motorbike :P, fully enjoyed the culture and my project 😀
There are more than 20 volunteers from different countries of the world living together. Rooms are with bunk beds – for 4-6 people with common bathroom in each floor- for 2 rooms. Volunteers come for different periods of time – from 2 weeks up to 9 months and everybody work on different project. There is a kitchen and a cook that everyday prepare delicious Vietnamese lunch and dinner- Atmosphere in the house is amazing.
From our personal experience, I can’t imagine better staff than the one in CSDS. All of them are very friendly, careful and ready to help us with any obstacles we have with our volunteering or everyday life. Believe or not, it is not as easy as it seems to live in neighbourhood where almost nobody speaks English (which would be probably ok if we speak Vietnamese) and where everyday something totally unexpected happens (e.g. no electricity, no water, Vietnamese local radio announcing local news at 5AM, rat in your toilet, lizard in your bathroom and much more…) But thanks to all the great people working in CSDS all the problems became just funny memories.
2. Mercury Center
It’s a smaller NGO as regards number of volunteers, usually there are just a few volunteers. But It feels like a big family where everybody take care of each other, cook together, work and spend free time together J
NGO is focused on empowering Viet Nam ’s youth through English language education, vocational training, and social development guidance. Main objective is provide education, promote equality and inclusivity for less privileged students within free English classes, as well as other low-cost classes. The students are mostly university students, they are very very hard-working and eager to learn, with the hope of a better future.
All the international volunteers, Vietnamese volunteers and manager of NGO live together. As a volunteer you will get two free traditional and delicious meals.
As regards work – teaching university students was very rewarding as they were so excited to learn and have opportunity to practice English with foreigners. All the energy invested was worth it and my expectations of having a feeling to be helpful for the local community were definitely fulfilled
STAFF + FREE TIME ACTIVITIES
All the people working in Mercury center are incredibly nice, friendly and helpful. From the first minute you will get to Hanoi they will be there for you. They will come to pick you up to airport, make sure you eat enough and sleep enough J Thanks them- Dap, Dung and Peter I felt like Vietnam is my new home. They invited me to spend the biggest holiday with their family and it was incredible experience of their culture and traditions. Besides, they organized trips every Saturday to see other parts of Vietnam and during the evenings we lived life of locals – so we got a tea, beer or a crazy dinners in some of the street restaurants.
Free + you will get free accommodation and food J
Check out their workaway page: https://www.workaway.info/814356271768-en.html
3. Fly Center
The NGO was founded by Trang and Phuong – two young, enthusiastic, amazing girls that are spending all their free time to help local community in their hometown.
Teach English for free for the youth and students in Vietnam who are in difficult conditions.
– Teach English for free for orphanages’ children, rural children and minority ethnic children.
– To encourage students and the youth to participate in social activities and voluntary activities, to raise the young generation’s role in education and environmental protection.
– To increase work capacity and teamwork skills for Vietnamese youth and students in community activities and voluntary environment.
I used to teach kids from 4 years old up to 10 years old and all of them were awesome, respectful, willing to learn.
Trang or Phuong always helped me with the class and after 7 months I felt like we did a big progress.
The environment where will you work is a countryside – so its very relaxed, there are nice people all aroud. You will stay with family, so that’s a great chance to experience local life. On the other hand if you wanna experience the craziness of the capital – Hanoi is very close!
I recommend this place if you are looking for volunteering-English teaching in relaxed environment as probably you will stay most of the time in countryside. There are no other international volunteers so you will have chance to get to know Vietnamese culture.
Free + you will get free accommodation and food J
Check out their workaway page: https://www.workaway.info/687491642324-en.html
I will be happy to help with any further doubts 🙂