Jenny talked me through their process. She booked my flight and provided me with insurance during my voluntary placement. They de-brief all volunteers regarding what we expect to gain from our volunteering, what we expect the barriers to be and channels of support available both in Vietnam during our stay and back home, should we wish to communicate with ICYE while we’re in Vietnam. She also explained the cultural differences and the possibility of getting a cultural shock. To give me a better idea of what to expect, I read a case study, completed by one of the previous volunteers, who had returned from Saigon. I was able to get a sense of what to expect and how it would be volunteering in Saigon on a day-to-day bases.
Another important aspect which we discussed was fundraising. As mentioned before, volunteering aboard is not cheap and going through a umbrella organisation often means high costs. A lot of the money paid goes to the umbrella organisation rather then directly to the projects you sign up to. I set up a just giving page and managed to raise some funds for my trip. To be honest, I was happy to pay, it was after all my dream so why should someone else play for it? I had enough money saved up and I was ready to give it to ICYE.
Jenny explained they work in partnership with Volunteers for Peace Vietnam (VPV). This organisation is based in Saigon and they have several projects supporting children in health centres, schools and orphanages. I would be picked up at the airport by Hiep and he and his colleagues would brief us about Vietnam and how the projects operate. I was provided with detail literature and information about what to expect and was happy to give it a go. It is a respected and legitimate organisation receiving volunteers from all the world.