What is a 'Workcamp'
A 'workcamp’ is typically a 1 to 3 weeks volunteer program that involves people from all over the world, particularly young adults and students, who combine to work on a project that benefits local communities and builds global friendships by promoting multicultural understanding. While workcamps are built around the basic charitable initiative to improve the lives of others, the program brings people together, both local and foreign, and encourages them to work collectively, learn from one another and reflect on their own way of life whilst developing an understanding of the different values and methods of others. The significance of this learning and comprehension cannot be understated and by encompassing it towards an objective of community development will provide a valuable experience for both participants and beneficiaries.
Joining the Peace House project, you will live and work together for 2 weeks with other international and local volunteers to build or repair houses for the underprivileged in Vinh Long province (Mekong Delta region). Volunteers do no need to be skilled and will take part in works such as working on filling house foundations, laying bricks, transporting materials, cleaning and painting doors, walls and windows and also digging and building vegetable gardens for beneficiaries’ use after completion.
Workcamps are a great way to learn-by-doing and unskilled volunteers will be encouraged to learn new skills but should also be prepared to make some mistakes! As well as working, we promise to give you opportunities to see the different sides of Vietnam with tours in the vibrant, economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City and the rice basket of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta. Also you will take part in an International Exchange Day and experience the local lifestyle at the project-site. Various activities will be organised for the evenings after work with some nights just spent around the fire getting to know one another.
What to Expect
Workcamps will be led by a Vietnamese and international workcamp leader, however, teamwork is the foundation of a successful workcamp. Decisions will be made with input from the whole group; any problems that might arise will be discussed and it will be the group's responsibility to ensure necessary action is taken.
Volunteers are encouraged to take initiative, work out what needs to be done and how to do it and bring these ideas to the group so volunteers can make an informed decision as a team. By working collectively, volunteers will feel comfortable to discuss new ideas and seek solutions with the advice and communication of other participants. Every volunteer should feel they have an equal role and responsibility during the workcamp.
As volunteers will be joining the workcamp from all over the world, inter-cultural awareness between participants will be crucial. Living and working together on a daily basis, this is an opportunity to develop your understanding of different cultures by learning from your fellow volunteers. Inevitably, some misunderstandings may occur but it is how volunteers deal with these challenges that will help improve their understanding of others.
What Makes Us Different
One key aspect of our workcamp program is that its projects are mainly volunteer funded. This is not in the sense that volunteers pay large fees to join the program, but that we encourage and expect our volunteers to fundraise a set amount of funds that will be used solely as project capital. This creates an organic funding process where volunteers know exactly how their money has been used and even get to use it themselves by actually seeing and working with the materials and equipment purchased with it.
Through the fundraising process, volunteers will learn new skills and talents before even arriving in-country. They will have the chance to develop improved communication skills and the capacity to build and maintain relationships. Fundraising can also improve your organisational and project management skills. Volunteers could be involved in running events and advertising projects with financial targets, so creativity, imagination and an entrepreneurial attitude towards fundraising is crucial.
Volunteers will spend most of their time working in the remote, rural areas of Vinh Long province. However, to gain a better understanding of Vietnam’s society and economic growth, the program will begin in Ho Chi Minh City, where participants will have a tour of the city and learn more about it’s rapid development since the 1990s. Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and as a result the rich-poor divide has grown dramatically. This will become all too apparent when visiting the project site where volunteers will see a completely different way of life altogether. This comparison, should allow volunteers to gain wider views on life in Vietnam for different communities and while it will not answer all the questions (it will probably create more!), it will encourage discussion and awareness on the wider issue of social division.
The landscape around the project site is beautiful, with jungle, rivers and rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Volunteers joining the program will get the chance to live amongst that as they will camp at a compound owned by a local women’s institute within walking distance of the project site. Like a homestay this will allow volunteers to spend all of their time amongst the local community and further their understanding of the area, but also have the support and company of other participants whenever needed.