The Pagoda Thinh Dai is located in Ha Nam Province approximately 55 kilometers from central Hanoi, and only 45 kilometers from the famous inland water way of Tam Coc, a frequently visited tourist attraction in Northern Vietnam.
Thay (Vietnamese for Monk) Hoa has seen a steady flow of children left in his care over the years, some babies left at the gates in noodle boxes. He has always accepted them and they now number 25, age range 2years to mid teens. The conditions the kids live in have improved as time has passed with help from the local community and kind benefactors, but the conditions are still very substandard.
Thay Hoa is a wonderful man and his helpers are also of a kind nature but they do adopt a strict discipline code for the kids. There is very little English spoken in this area and foreigners are rarely sighted. There is no English spoken at the Pagoda but that will be your job to help the kids and Thay Hoa improve in this area, communicating is not so hard with the use of body language and you will have our support throughout, physically on site at the least the first few days. If you have an interest in Buddhism, have a caring nature for children, wish to fully experience another culture, and importantly have a willingness to understand, then this is the program for you.
To ensure everyone has a truly meaningful experience we have restricted numbers at the Pagoda program to 4 persons. Also because of its isolation it is also one program that we would be a little apprehensive to place only 1 volunteer at. There is no danger in the area but we believe the journey will be more rewarding and comfortable with the support of others.
Cost: One Off Placement Fee: US$560
The Placement Fee is payable one month in advance of your arrival
If you need to cancel your trip due to an emergency VIVPS will refund US$400 of the fee, but will retainUS$160 to cover administration costs
Accommodation: Volunteers will find accommodation in the Bao Son hotel approximately 3 kilometers from the Pagoda, cost is approximately $13 per night, cheaper if twin or triple share. The hotel is very comfortable with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and even a little western TV. Although the area is quite isolated it does have most conveniences including a coffee shop, places to eat, a bakery not too far away and other shops such as pharmacies. Volunteers will travel to the Pagoda each day on pushbikes provided by VIVPS, a great way to start and finish the day riding through rural Vietnam. If you are not of a physical nature you may hire a local Xe Om (motorbike taxi) for a cost of approximately $2.50 per day, or use a local taxi.
Meals: The hotel can provide breakfast $1.50 and a very basic dinner for $2.50. The hotel also has a restaurant with a full range of meals depending upon what you would like to eat and pay. There are other eateries close to the hotel. Lunch will be eaten at the Pagoda with the kids, unlike other Pagoda’s that are strictly vegetarian, here to cater for the kids only, meals also have meat.
Activities: Your duties would include teaching English and general help around the Pagoda. Helping the staff and the kids prepare meals and clean up, general cleaning around the Pagoda and of course playing with the kids. You are welcome to join Thay Hoa in meditation and even challenge him in badminton, his favorite leisurely pursuit. It is not a program where you will be constantly directed but one where you will need to use your initiative. A fun program that you can really enjoy and also one that will teach you a little, or as much as you are willing to immerse yourself in.
Minimum Length of Stay: 2 weeks
Support: Airport Pick up
Placement in a quality project, allowing you to maximize your time and efforts for a good cause
Guidance and support of the local VIVPS Coordinator (24/7 in case of emergency)
Site visits, ongoing support during the term of the assignment