Important Volunteer Information & Guideline
Here we will explain you a little bit more about the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation as well as about life as a volunteer and our expectations of you.
The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation started as a result of the December 26 tsunami that hit, amongst other places, Thailand. Today however, we do not seek to help victims affected by the flood waves, in fact, not a single person at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation today is here because of the Tsunami. Many people in Thailand were poor and exposed already before that particular tragedy. Therefore all children live at The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation have poverty in common. Some children have been abandoned by the mother and/or father and primary income earner. Some children have been seriously neglected by their parents and some are simply poor.
The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation opened in June 2007 and is pretty much in a state of constant change. In other words, there is no “this-is-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” solution to a problem. Additionally, the situation at the PSV is under constant change. Decisions that we cannot always influence happen fast; new children arrive with very short notice or children that you have grown fond of can move out just as quickly etc. Consequently, as a volunteer you have to dare to make your own decisions and feel secure in an ever-changing environment.
Professional experience from similar “jobs” as well as relevant education in teaching, psychology, health care etc. is, of course, very good, however, not a requirement. We cannot underline enough that the most important is involvement, humor and patience. These are qualities that we feel that you can only use if you yourself are in a “good place” in your life.
Let us be very clear about this; there is no place at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation for volunteers who have a lot of “issues”, feel burnt-out or think that the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation is a good place to recoup. You should feel that it is rewarding to help other people; other volunteers and local personnel but foremost the children living at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation.
Being a volunteer means that you live at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation – and the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation is the home of the children. Children tend not to be quiet when they are awake, but children do tend to wake up before volunteers do.
It is very important that you never forget the fact that you will be a visitor, a guest, in another culture and another country. And that the children most probably never will leave Thailand. This said, you understand that many things will be done in the Thai way. This way might not always be your cup of tea – deal with it. The children we take care of must primarily function in the Thai society. It is therefore important to humbly listen to the Thai staff and their opinions on how to raise children.
The Thai staff will be your colleagues but they are working under Thai working conditions. They have a six-day work-week, work 10-12 hours per day or more and make very little money compared to a similar job in western countries. They were here before you started thinking of coming and they will be here after you have gone home. We expect you to show the staff respect and also to realize that they do a lot of important things that you will not see or understand. You too will do some things that they will not see or understand but the Thai staff will fully respect you as their colleague. The volunteers who have made the most out of their experience are, of course, the ones who have integrated well with the Thai staff. Do not think them – think we!
We accept volunteers from any country in the. The children and the staff on the other hand speak Thai. Some of them speak a little bit of English as well, the rest hardly speak any English at all. This is why you have to have the guts, strength, stamina and will to deal with people in a situation where the English language can only be a small part of the communication.
Each volunteer must find ways to cooperate and communicate with the Thai staff and through this interaction gather information about the children and the on-goings at The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation. Why wasn’t I informed that… is not a good question at all!
The volunteers that interact the most with the Thai staff are also usually the ones that have the most fun and benefit the most from the stay here.
As mentioned before, the children have very different backgrounds. Some have had a comparatively decent childhood, some have not. Most of the children are very easy to get in contact with, a few are harder. We can’t change what has already happened in their lives but we can help them help themselves. We will truly succeed with some children but we might also truly fail with a few. For the moment there are 35 children at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation. Many of these are teenagers. A sincere interest in dealing with teenagers – and all the challenges related to that age – is therefore essential.
You are fully responsible for your belongings and the safe-keeping of them. The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation will not be liable for any damage or loss. You must make sure that you are fully insured for the entire stay this includes insurance for personal injuries.
The children are absolutely fantastic and both need and deserve fantastic volunteers. The type of volunteer that does arts & crafts and play ball, hugs and comforts, teaches English, manages the supplies and guides visitors and many other things.
For the time being, volunteers work 5-6 days per week, nine hours per day at leas and following a schedule. We work our shifts alone but the shifts overlap in order for us to give the children as much time and attention as possible. Additionally, there is some “stand-by shifts” when we normally do not work but have to be present at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation. Working hours and workload naturally vary according to the number of volunteers at that time. Being a volunteer means that you have to be flexible with your working hours since these may change with little or no prior notice. If something important comes up you will be called in even if you are not scheduled to work. For instance you might have to spend the night at the hospital, on a mattress, should a child become ill. And this on a night you had planned to something completely different.
The work tasks consist of the following:
- Help with the morning routines; wake-up, dressing, breakfast and getting the children off to school.
- Help with the after school routines; making sure they get their afternoon snack, helping with homework, playing a lot, being there at dinner and for the going-to-bed routine.
- During day-time, play with the children not in school.
- Manage the clothing supplies and the handing out of clothes.
- Manage and keep tidy the storage as well as organizing/decorating the rooms/houses when new children arrive.
- Help the children and making sure they wash their clothes, clean their rooms and get to bed in time.
- Teach English and other knowledge at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation.
- During the weekend, go on different excursions. This often includes going to the beach/pool with the children (whom we are trying to teach how to swim).
All our volunteers should teach English at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation. The English lessons are something where our volunteers really can make a difference. With your presence we hope to give the children inspiration to learn English as well as help them improve their pronunciation.
As volunteer you stay for free at The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation with breakfast, lunch and dinner included. The food is very healthy, sometimes spicy and in general Thai-style. We can and will not make any exceptions because of special diets, allergies or such. The food is made with the children’s best in focus. If you want to buy your own food, you should calculate minimum 60++ Bath per meal. The rooms, that are of Thai standard and similar to the ones the children live in, are shared with other volunteers or staff. Thai standard means that you have a fan, mosquito net and cold running water.
There are also cats and dogs staying at the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation. The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation is not located in a city but in the countryside. This means that snakes, lizards, spiders and other animals can and will “visit” us – deal with it.
16 consecutive weeks is the absolute minimum. It is incredibly important that you and the children have time to get to know and trust each other. The same is true between the employees and the volunteers. With respect to the children and the other volunteers, the length of stay agreed upon is conclusive.
We want to point out that, as we have mentioned earlier, the Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation is under constant change. In other words, things might be different once you come to work with us. This is the current situation.
Concerning immunizations, we recommend you to contact your local vaccination/immunization place.
We must once again point out the fact that you must make sure that you are fully covered, regarding everything, insurance-wise. The Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation does not have any kind of insurance that covers volunteers.
And once again, the period for which you have signed up is binding. No, you may not leave early, no, you may not take time off. Volunteers are there for many, not the other way around.
Straight talk: Are you kind but lazy? Do you complain a lot? Are you overly social and better at talking than at working? Do you like to be at the center of attention? Do you often get ill? Don’t like animals or insects? Do you really look forward to hanging out with the other volunteers? Are you bad at taking criticism? Are you heat sensitive? Do you expect gratitude or leniency from children or staff because you are a volunteer?
In that case – do not apply.
Parts of the information above may sound harsh or even deterring, but out of experience we want to be very clear on facts. The majority of our volunteers have been amazingly adaptive and hard-working people. They have come here with all the intention of helping the children. They have lived here with an open and humble frame of mind. But we have also had a few applicants that more or less were looking for free lodging during a “holiday” and a few have come here as a solution to personal problems. Working with the children seemed to be more of a necessary evil for them. Some have also displayed disrespectful behavior towards the children, the employees and the Thai culture.
The volunteering can and will be terminated immediately should a volunteer not follow the above mentioned rules, the child protection policy or Thai law. In the case of this happening, all costs related to a volunteer having to leave will be a matter for he/her to clear.
Before you send your application, make sure you really want to do this and read the “Volunteer’s promise”. Please send us your CV, references and a copy from the authorities of your criminal record by e-mail. We will get back to you.