My name is Shylie and I am currently a work-study volunteer at the IHF center in Bali. In signing up to be a Work-Study volunteer at the International Humanity Foundation, I was unsure as to what I should expect from the experience. On arrival, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the center is. Beautiful flowers and trees surround both the main house and the smaller house where we sleep. Everything is made from bamboo and wood and the garden is so well maintained.
However, after meeting the children, I was no longer so pre-occupied with my surroundings. Getting to know the kids and the ways in which they learn and study has been the most difficult yet challenging part of this whole experience. The kids here don’t learn the way I learnt at school in Australia and getting used to that is a big part of this whole experience. The most rewarding aspect of my time at IHF is knowing that these kids leave the center every day having learnt something new that you have taught them.
In my time off I have also seen some amazing places in Bali with the other volunteers that are here and it’s been great having our own little family. It’s truly been a home away from home.
I’ve been here for two weeks now and have two weeks left of my time volunteering. Sadly, I wish I had more time but it’s great to know that I will be welcomed back whenever with open arms.
I'm a graduate student from China, I wanna a break after I finished the research report this term, that's the why I decide to be an international volunteer. I can say that IHF(International Humanity Foundation) is not hard to find on DOUBAN website, which is very famous website in Chinese youth people.
My classmates, friends, professors are jealous of the international volunteer stuff, especially the place is Bali. When you talking about Bali, everyone will think of honey moon, swimming pool, wonderful beach, blue ocean... We know it's beautiful~
But please understand that IHF Bali Center is not the land of dream, we are volunteers here and the weather is really hot. Talk about those Balinese children, they really need a lot of help with education, some kids are smart, cute and shy, I really adore them~ We have classes every afternoon expect for Sunday, English classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Wednesday is computer class and Saturday is special class (painting, cooking, dancing, yoga and so on).
Some little kids can’t understand Eglish a lot, and we learned a little Indonesian which is fun. Apa kabar? (How are you today?)
When the work-study volunteers finish their teaching and online job, we have time to enjoy the local life, like I just said before, swimming pool, wonderful beach, blue ocean(LOL). All of the local people I met are really hospitable and sweet.
I have always wanted to volunteer but I was studying and I could not do it in summers because I had to work to pay for my studies. So when I completed my Master’s degree in law last September in France, I had two choices: finding a job straight away or applying to be a volunteer. I am 23 years old, I love travelling and sharing cultural experiences, and I knew that I could not take this opportunity when I will have more important obligations such as a permanent job or children (or at least it would be much more difficult to leave for 8 months). That is the reason why I chose the second option.
IHF Bali center is located in a small village, Buitan, in East Bali. The good thing is that it is very easy to meet locals and share a part of their daily life, to talk to them and to learn from them.
Of course it is quite isolated but it is always possible to reach other places with a motorbike. Anyway, the week is quite busy with class preparations, the international tasks on the internet for IHF and games and special projects with the children before classes or on Saturdays. It is only my third week here but I already feel very comfortable with my work as it is exactly what I wanted to do: sharing a little bit of my knowledge and positive energies with the children, sharing a daily life with the other volunteers and directors, being part of a local community (of course not like a Balinese person but what I like is that I am not considered as a tourist which is much more different from my other experiences as a traveler). I like working a lot at the beginning of the week and having more time to spend with the children and the local community at the end of the week.
Our center provides free math, computer and English classes for Indonesian children. They go to the public school in the morning and are free to come to the center in the afternoon from 1pm to 5pm according to the schedule. Our classes are relevant because of the absence of a good educational system in Indonesia. Children often come before their classes to play and speak together and with the volunteers. It is not always the best time for us because it is lunch time but I think it shows that they feel good in this place and that is the most important thing. Moreover, they convey such a nice and positive energy that it is impossible not to appreciate their presence. They are always eager to learn a few words in another language, to dance or to show us the most popular Balinese songs. I think I will try to follow the same students during my stay here as a teacher so that I would know exactly what they have learnt and what the specific difficulties are for some children. I used to be youth leader in summers and it helps me a lot to teach the younger children with playful educational tools.
I started to learn Bahasa Indonesia from the first day I arrived in Bali. I think there are lots and lots of advantages to be able to express yourself and understand the local language (actually, they speak Balinese but everybody understands the national language which is much easier to learn and which you can speak in all of the 18,000 Indonesian islands). First of all, it is really useful to teach the younger children. Of course it is not good for them to translate every sentence they hear in their own language but using Indonesian when they do not understand what you are expecting from them is really interesting. Moreover, when they start being too naughty (even if they are always respectful), they listen much better Indonesian warnings than English ones. Of course I repeat them in English as they should know the class instruction in this language.
Speaking a little bit of Bahasa Indonesia also enables me to be in contact with the local population. I often go to the beach, sharing a few words with the fishermen for instance. It is also part of the culture to ask a lot of questions about how old you are, if you are married, what you did during the day… so they are not offended and they even like it when you are interested, and even more when they see that you are making the effort to learn their language (they actually know how hard it is since a lot of Balinese people had to adapt to the arrival of tourist flows and learn English).
I do not want to try to think of what I gained from this experience yet since I am staying 5 months in IHF Bali Center and this is just the beginning for me. I can just say for now that this experience is even richer than what I expected, culturally speaking and in terms of sharing with the population, the volunteers and the children. Hopefully, I will take the best of this opportunity for a deeper immersion in the Balinese culture in the next few months.
My name is Kerri. I am currently a volunteer at the Bali IHF center. To an outsider, the center provides supplemental English, Math and Computer classes to children who live in the area. To anyone who knows a bit about IHF or who comes here, knows that it offers so much more than that. The center is a place for the kids. On any given day there are children running around, playing cards, talking with the teachers or just hanging out. The center gives them a safe place to go and provides them with opportunities and resources that most of them would have never had without the IHF. At the IHF – the children are the number one priority. I’ve learned that you can do a whole lot with a little and that sometimes it’s the smallest things – like taking the time to have a conversation about the latest Indonesian pop song – that mean the most. So far, my experience has been extremely fulfilling. It’s great volunteering with an organization where you actually feel like you are making a difference.
My name is Jing from Beijing and I’ve been working here at IHF Bali center for 3 weeks now. Before coming here, I had worked as an English teacher at a secondary school for 3 years, and the experience helped me quickly blend into the work vibe at IHF Bali, especially when it comes to working with the young.
Here at IHF Bali, we offer supplementary classes to underprivileged students from primary to senior high school. Almost all the courses are taught by helpful volunteers from all over the world. Apart from the knowledge we try to share, it’s also the abundant care, love and joy we bring that the kids cherish dearly.
One would be naïve to think that we are here only to give and teach. The fact, however, is we ourselves are undergoing a process of self-reflection and transformation. By spending time with the local, getting to know the culture and trying to see things both through their lenses and ours, we are learning, day by day, and gaining understandings about a once unfamiliar land, which we now feel connected with. Isn’t it one of the marvels of life?
My name is Esther Manzanera and I am a Work-Study Volunteer in IHF Bali. I have been here for already two months and I could say that this experience has changed my life so I would recommend it to anyone! Since the day that I left my hometown in Spain and I arrived at the center I could see how easy was to help the children most in need. I have enjoyed the happiness of the kids, which is the most grateful thing that you could have. They do not worry about material things, about having the best PlayStation or iPhone, they don´t need those things to be happy, they will be smiling every day even living on the most basic conditions. The life in IHF shows you a different way to understand the world where you learn to value the most simple things.
In the Bali Center we have around 200 children registered so there is always a lot of work to do here, so I would like to encorauge everybody to come here to see the life through our balinese children's eyes. Living with their culture, learning about their families, traditions, religions, costumes, and appreciate a different way to live.
This is the second time I come to Bali center, I never thought about that I will come back. But now I’m here.
I’ll stay Bali center for 5 months at this time. I’m very glad that many children know me by name. I also remember these children: Icha, Goga, Putu, Meri, Melinda……I miss them very much. And I also happy I can see Hanna and Gregor again, I adapted to the center’s life soon in Hanna’s help.
Everything of center gets in order. The children have some change happening, Some kids are very quiet, some kids are very lively, but they are not shy any more.
Now I’d taken the class for four weeks. I really hope that my time don’t walk so fast.
I teach SD1 to SD5, although the course is easy, but also it’s not lightly in class. I will ask students to repeat the word after me. Especially for the sd1
SD1’s kids can’t speak any English I teach them simple word, and teach them to read again and again. Sometimes I pointed to a book, table, desk or eye, nose, hair, let them to speak out the English word.
Sd3’s kids are most naughty. They always like jumping and yelling at the class. It’s not easy to let them listen carefully.
In Sd4, every children’s English level are different, every time I will to teach based on their level., some kids can recite a essay in half hour, but some kids have reading problem. I need to teach them from simply phrase.
There are all girl were came to class in sd5, they are sensible clever girl. It’s easy to teach them.
Sometimes I will give them sticker when they have good performance, they will super happy for this.
I come here for 3 weeks, I have been used to the local food , climate, temperature, the Indonesians enthusiasm and shy. The most important of all, I adapted to English accent of the volunteer from different countries. It is the biggest challenge for me.
If you come here as a tourist, you will find it is very quiet village. Compared to other tourist attractions, There is no visitors, no store. Only the rolling sea, rice paddies of the frog, and local people . Every morning, you can see the men to push the boat out to sea to fish, the women took out a paving stone, the children played football on the beach, In the evening, every child become warriors, each wave up, they will face up. The sea, is the paradise for them.
It is a indispensable experience for me to live here, I teach English and computer for the local children, live and work together with volunteers from different countries .Every day, you can hear Chinese, English and Indonesia. Life is very simple, just preparing class, having class, do online work, eat, walk and go to sleep.
I think I was 4 or 5 when I went to a very poor part of Mexico called Oaxaca and my parents took a picture of me with many rural kids in the jungle. It was definitely my favorite picture in the world. I used to take it to school and tell the other kids I had been in Africa and I had made new good friends.
It was not true, but I loved the idea of traveling far away to another continent and meeting different kids to play with them and make new friends. As time passed, together with many different life experiences, I developed a very intense interest in different cultures and societies, especially in the ones that were suffering or struggling with poverty or war.
When I graduated from high school I took a sabbatical semester to figure out what I really wanted to study for my university. My options were narrowed to learning something I was sure I could be able to use after to help people have better lives, as well as choosing a career that would allow me to learn things from all around the world. So I decided to study International Relations.
I really enjoyed university, I was one of those nerds that would make all the reading, participate in the classes, get involved with the assignments, and always trying to get the best from what the teachers were trying to teach us. I always enjoyed more the social subjects, especially things that had to do with conflict resolution and human rights.
Since my first semester I decided to orient my studies to the Middle East and African region. I have always been drawn to this area and I find it very fascinating, contradictory, ironic and sometimes sad. Most of my essays and research projects were orientated in studying the conflicts and the main problems in the area.
When I finished university this May 2014, I was sure, and had been thinking about it for 4 years that I was ready to go to Africa and find an organization in which I could volunteer with. The original plan was to do it for 1 year, but then I decided that 6 months were enough. Now that I am here, I want to stay for a long long time.
It was difficult to find an organization in which I felt comfortable with the way they do things. Most of the NGO's working in Africa today have all these different projects and programs that I consider are not really helping anyone. It's more like a "voloun-tourist" thing where you pay great amounts of money and you travel and "help" at the same time. But at the end, they only make short visits to each community, and I am sure that 1 week or less in a new place is not going to make any difference. That was definitely not what I wanted, but was the only easy thing to find everywhere.
After many months of researching, asking people that had done similar things in Africa, I found IHF. I felt comfortable with the organization for many reasons; the first one is that they were not asking me to pay a lot of money when I was going to be doing volunteer work. It’s ironic to think that you have to pay for working. The second one is that the name of the program was called “work-study volunteer”, and I found interesting that while working in the center I could also learn all the administrative functions of an NGO by doing my “International Tasks”. This was an important reason, because as I have graduated from university, the fact of doing some volunteering that could also give me an administrative experience sounded like a good decision.
It’s been one month since I came to Kenya. The center is located in the neighborhood of Githima in the city of Nakuru. One month has passed so fast and so slow at the same time. The center is overwhelming, there is always something to do, there are always kids around, and there is always something happening. I have learned many things from the children at the center. They all come from a tribe called Pokot, which is in a very dry area of Kenya. The situation in Pokot is not very promising; they face continuous drought problems, not enough food, lack of education, and violent conflicts with other tribes caused by robbery of cows and goats to pay for the wives they would like to have (it is usually more than two).
The children at the center were chosen some years ago by the chiefs of their tribes to be sent to IHF because they were orphans, came from a very poor backgrounds, or had a specific situation going on that was better they lived and got access to education with the organization, than staying in Pokot. Many of them have been living here for more than 7 years, they have grown up here going to school in Nakuru and learning how things are done outside their tribe. It’s not easy for them to live without any close relatives, with different customs and with international directors and volunteers that come and go.
The school system in Kenya is very complex, the problem is not that there is a lack of schools; the problem is the bad quality of the institutions. For example, it is still permitted for teachers to beat the children with a stick; they do things like sending them back home because they are not wearing the exact uniform (which costs a lot of money, and not everyone can afford it); and they let the kids sit in silence without anything to do in a classroom all day long while they are having a teacher’s meeting; amongst many other things. So it is our job to make sure that the kids are getting the best possible education while living here, but the educational system is not really helping.
As a work-study volunteer we are committed to 4 hours of local tasks and 4 hours of international work in the computer. I must say local “tasks” are my favorite. “Tasks” is in semicolons because I don’t see them as such, for me, spending time with the kids, helping the local staff with their chores, or taking them to see a doctor when they are feeling bad is what I came here to do, not work, but a way of living and helping around. I get to learn a lot by doing all these things and getting involved in the lives of the children and community.
We have many talented, intelligent, active, curious, capable, amazing young minds at the center, and I am really hoping they will grow older to become leaders of their community, professionals, doctors, teachers, musicians, engineers, soccer players, and I imagine many more bright futures ahead of them, buy it is not that simple, we already have a few that have graduated from high school, and many that are about to do so, but they haven’t had the opportunity or the funds to go to College or University. We still need to work a lot to find the best way to ensure higher education for the IHF family.
One of the things I have enjoyed doing with many of the children, is coloring mandalas (designs that represent the universe and energy flows). I brought many different styles of them, with different meanings and levels of complexity. The kids love choosing one and knowing it’s going to belong to them until they finish it, their name gets written on the paper, and then they can start coloring. They enjoy it even more when there is music on and they can relax and draw. I have decided to make one of the walls in our room the art wall, so every time they come visit us, they get very happy to see their mandalas making the room warmer.
Learning the names has been one of the most difficult things, there are so many, with very similar sounds and the same letters. Many of the girls start with “Chep” something, and they all have recently shaved their head for school, so the faces were very difficult to distinguish at the beginning. It’s definitely not simple, but after asking some of them more than 10 times, looking carefully to their facial structure, expressions and personality, I think I got almost everyone’s name now. My new plan is to get to know more about them, their lives, their fears, their dreams and their expectations. I have enjoyed very much listening to some of their familiar stories, their current worries, and their plans for their future.
I hope my experience will continue to be as enriching as it has been now. I am sure I am learning much more from them than what I could teach them, but I am also sure that I want to make my time here worth it by contributing positively to the challenges that we are facing in the center and with our IHF family. I believe that the only way to change something is to change ourselves first so we are able to share something of value with the community, and I also believe love is very powerful tool.
In my life and travels I've often experienced and seen how knowing other languages really opens up a world of opportunities in all areas - personal, educational, career etc. So apart from teaching English back in Singapore, I've always hoped to volunteer my skills in other countries.
This year, I finally managed to arrange a month off work, and so decided to take a month-long stint at the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) Banda Aceh centre. This centre was established to help the disadvantaged in Acehnese society, a mission that became more critical during the 2004 Tsunami. Ten years on, the city and people have made a great recovery, and the centre continues its work providing education and opportunities for the community to interact.
At the centre, I was largely involved in teaching English and Mandarin classes for children and teenagers ranging from 7 to 17 years old. I was also a part of the centre's daily routines - planning lessons, cleaning and sweeping, and looking after the children until their parents picked them up. On top of that, I was given jobs helping out IHF itself through online work. All of this gave me a first-hand insight into the needs, challenges, and possibilities running a centre and working in an NGO.
In the end, what I really liked about the Banda Aceh centre was how both local and international volunteers came together in a family-like atmosphere - we didn't just work together, but also hung out at the centre on weekends, or went out to eat and see the city together. This is an experience that just visiting as a tourist doesn't always give you: a way for everyone to share and understand their culture and also themselves.
Jakarta center locates in the east part of the city, it offers the local children (from SD1 to SMP) English, math, Aflatoun and computer classes on weekdays and Saturday. As a work study volunteer in Jakarta center, I am responsible of teaching activities such as English and art classes and undertaking international assignments from four different teams in IHF. My initial purpose of volunteering is quite straightforward—to help those in need, but gradually I find that in the process of voluntary work, what I have learned is no less than what I have taught. Thus, being a volunteer connects me with the unprecedented life and experiences I cannot even imagine before. What I have gained from this work study volunteer experience is learn how to swiftly accommodate myself to a new environment and people from various culture and background, and the most important, how a grassroots NGO as IHF, operates to realize its commitment to children in need.
Here comes the third week. I am supposed to be in Medan center for four weeks. Since half of my journey has already passed, I’d like to talk about my experience here. I’m an ordinary girl from China, who is looking forward to having a different experience. I like to meet new friends from different countries and like to communicate with children since normally you’ll learn innocence from them. Here, I started to get used to say morning to everyone when I get up. Here, I started to forget about all the social networking services and started to sense the bright sunshine from the beginning of each day. Here, I made lots of friends including the children, volunteers, house-keeper, and co-director. Here, I am exposed to different culture and learned different styles of the buildings. I teach classes here and do some postings to advertise this organization. I play games with children, sing songs and watch them dance. I’ll miss everyone and everything here I guess when I left.
I stayed at IHF for one month in Medan. I had a great time playing with the children at the centers and teaching them English. One of my highlights was doing some new student recruitment where we had to walk through the streets and hand out fliers. The children in the community were very excited to see foreigners and wanted to talk with us. People in Medan are very friendly and will often talk to me when I am walking around. It is a great cultural learning experience talking to people and if you want to learn Indonesian there are ample opportunities. The center accommodation was better than I expected for a developing country, but it was often a bit dirty. People in Medan have basic necessities and other things such as mobile phones. The country is advancing very rapidly. It is interesting to observe this. Medan has all the basic facilities one needs and is close to really cool places like Lake Toba and areas where Orangutans live. The local volunteers and students are all very friendly and the place feels quite homely.
I’m a college student from China. I have been volunteering with IHF from 7.22-8-19. Where I have been staying is a town called Banda Aceh in Indonesia. IHF Aceh Center is a wonderful home for volunteers from all over the world. Here, we live, teach, work and have fun together. Usually in the morning, we do some housework, also some online tasks since I’m a work-study volunteer. In the afternoon, students of SD1 to SMP will come to the center to attend different classes. Although it takes efforts to communicate with the students, their eager for learning is really a delight for all of us. It’s so much fun to teach them as well as play with them. From my volunteering experience with IHF, what I treasured most is the friendship with all the local volunteers, who are always helpful and friendly to us. With every talk, we learn a little more about each other’s culture and I feel more close to the local life here in Indonesia. This volunteering experience has become part of who I am and I will carry the spirit of “pass it on” with me in the future.
I am a college student from China, and I am working at Aceh Center as a work study volunteer now. I have experienced Ramadan and the following Id al-Fitr, it's a great fun. I had a great experience with students here, and also the local people, other volunteers and of course my center director. At center, I taught classes to SD2 and SD5-6（all primary school student）with another Chinese volunteer. In the beginning it's a little bit difficult because young children don't understand much English, but we still found it interesting. These children are cute! Besides, we also do cleaning and other tasks, like recruitment, creating posters and flashcards. All in all, great to volunteer in Banda Aceh.
While I was thinking about applying for a volunteer experience with International Humanity Foundation, I went through a YouTube video about IHF, and in one of the comments there was written: “Don’t hesitate to apply”. I’m now nearly at the end of my experience with IHF here in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and would really like to thank the guy who wrote that comment, because it made me more confident about applying.
So now I want to give the same advice to whoever is reading: if you’re staring at this testimonial now, trying to figure out whether it is a good choice leaving your country and spend two weeks, one month or more, volunteering in one of IHF’s centers: stop thinking! Don’t hesitate anymore and send the application form! Volunteering with IHF is an absolutely unique and incredibly enriching experience. You will have the possibility to pass your knowledge to students, who are extremely eager to learn, but also to get to know a different culture in a deep way, to experience what real travel is. I met incredibly welcoming and nice local and international volunteers, and had the possibility to work in an international and highly stimulating atmosphere. Also getting to know, from the inside, how an international NGO works.
Often teachers says that teaching is a two way process, in which the teacher also learns from his students: this has been specifically true in my experience! In fact, working with IHF largely widens your perspective about the world and gives you the possibility to get to know cultures, ways of life and traditions different from yours. This experience will leave me life-lasting memories.
My name is Yuxuan Zhu. Originally from China, I’m now studying Economics and Psychology at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. As a psychology major, I always want to put my professional knowledge, passion for work as well as love for disadvantaged children into serving those who need us.
Volunteering is a way for me to learn about the world, to create value out of my skills to help others, and to tie myself with the world together with love and care. From my past two years of experience in volunteering in Youth Volunteer Association in University of Science and Technology Beijing, it generates happiness for both others and me at the same time. Bringing love and warmth to acquaintances is the best way to help us seek brightness out of the dark and give us strength to overcome difficulties throughout our lives.
Being a volunteer is not new for me; but it’s the first time that I have devoted such intensive time and energy to an underdeveloped country and that I have lived with children day and night. I was not only refreshed by the peaceful and gorgeous scene in Chiang Rai, but also touched by enthusiastic local people, especially the smile of our kids in the center. We are like a big family – though from different countries with various race and ethnicity, we feel as if we are jointly parenting our kids, paying attention to needs and characteristics of every single one. You are never worn out because the lovely faces will cheer you up.
I used to think this month in the IHF center might be hard for me, but after these two weeks, it turns out that it’s more heart-warming and encouraging than tiresome. Admittedly, we volunteers have been going through lots of challenges both physically and mentally - weeding the garden in the hot sun, picking up kids from school in gloomy weather, and sleeping at night with dogs barking and mosquitoes humming. It might be hard to imagine for those raised up in cities and fed by their parents. However, it is the very contrast of living conditions and the fact that the kids are so independent and cheerful that teaches me that it’s the optimism and hard work rather than physical satisfaction that brings us real and long-lasting happiness.
My name is Yanyi and I’m from Shanghai, China. I’m currently spending 4 weeks in total at IHF Jakarta center. My main local task is to teach English to first to fourth grade. Since teaching small children can be very hard for beginners like me, the staff here has been incredibly helpful. And when you see the children giving their efforts to learn and making progress, it’d be eventually worth it. Plus, the children are really cute :) I first came to Jakarta partly because I wanted to see Indonesia’s culture and local life, which would be new and exciting for me. But now I’m here, the more impressive thing I’ve found is how warm the people in Jakarta are, even though it’s such a big city. I have learned a lot from my colleagues, students as well as the local people and I’m just glad that I made the choice to come here.
Being a Volunteer at Banda Aceh, Indonesia
My name is Qihui ZHENG. I just finished my sophomore year. I am now at the International Humanity Foundation's Banda Aceh Center. I am eager to teaching kids and knowing more about the people around here. Though I just came here for about 10 days and get annoyed by the mosquitos, I have already been impressed by the kids who are so excited about new knowledge and local volunteers who are very friendly and sincere. Sometimes, we would hang out together; they are very enthusiastic about local food and places with good views. We had a lot of fun. As for recruitment task for centre on field along with local volunteers after the school year, we visited the neighbourhood by motor bike and walk. The scenery around is actually stunning. People around are really friendly even if we are strangers to them. I will leave at 27th July, but for a moment, a-month-stay seems to be too short for me.
The International Humanity Foundation (IHF) has a small children’s home in Chiang Rai. As a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) we are registered in the US with the IRS as a 501(3)(C ) organisation. We are also legally registered with the Thai authorities as a Foundation in Chiang Rai and as such are operating and have been since conception as a legally recognised NGO. We have a Thai Council (albeit who has been inactive for some years). We have been contacted by the Thai authorities to file our financial statements and are currently in the process, through approved auditors, of submitting our financial statements.
Our volunteers come to us as either voluntourists using a tourist visa or longer term volunteers come to us on a Non-Immigrant ‘O’ visa. Thai law is contradictory on the visa requirements currently and we follow (as do all other NGOs in Chiang Rai) the guidance that an NIO visa is sufficient to work legally as a volunteer and a work permit is not required.
Therefore in both instance IHF is working legally and responsibly towards our volunteers and to state otherwise is in error. Visa rules and conditions change rapidly in Thailand and as such we give the best advice to our volunteers that we are able to at any one time in a very fluid situation.
Executive Director, Thailand and Kenya.
My name is Mary Stuart Wannamaker. I am a 22 year old from Charlotte, NC who lives in Madrid, Spain studying international relations, political science and foreign languages for my Bachelor’s degree. Yet, this summer, I am happily living in Nakuru, Kenya with the International Humanity Foundation family as a Work-Study Volunteer for 2 months (just shy of 9 weeks). Knowing that I am interested in a career goal concerning international development, human rights, and NGO organizations, when I heard back from IHF Kenya, it was an opportunity I could not pass as a summer internship. Upon my arrival to Nakuru, I was loved and greeted by many kids home from school on a Sunday and a handful of my co-workers. It was a great start to what is a great summer – or should I say winter as I am now in the Southern Hemisphere? I knew that Kenya deals with famine going into it, as each IHF center (centers are also found in Thailand and Indonesia) declares a focus on the particular issue within its country. Yet, I have learned much more of all the work that the center embodies since my arrival. As many of the children are from a Kenyan region known as East Pokot, a handful of our IHF team recently traveled out to the homeland for a famine feed, and from this, I was truly able to better understand what famine conditions exist with valuable second-hand stories as I stayed behind with the kids (yet, I hope to embark on a similar trip as well in the future to the communities so special to IHF Kenya). Though food is semi-plentiful in Kenya’s fourth largest city, still at the center, we depend on generous sponsorships to continuously feed the children through the weeks and send them to school with everything they need. Thus, play-time and study-time with the children is equally important during one’s time at the center to guarantee and maintain their fortune as happy, healthy, and loved by continuously focusing the attention on them, the reason why I, and all of us, are here in Nakuru. Though, as a work-study volunteer, I am involved less in all of the obligatory local tasks and more with the online international work to maintain volunteers and directors in all of the centers (including Thailand and Indonesia), I find that my time with the kids, helping around the center’s farm, and aiding as well as building relationships with our local ladies who help and cook and clean are all equally important in not only making a difference, but becoming a part of the Kenyan family. Though I seek to be involved in large-scale global issues regarding human rights and development, the personal connections between persons-to-persons and grass-roots movements are where real change begins for the individual when it comes to an improved and fair lifestyle, and I am very thankful to IHF Kenya for granting me the opportunity to embrace all aspects of local and international work, learn the ins-and-outs of how an international NGO runs, and continue to grow more loved ones around the world with an improved sense of cultural competency and leadership as well. I know already, that IHF Kenya is not only allowing me to love and learn from the Kenyan children and community, but it is also shaping me for great work in the future.