Family volunteer vacations: What you must know

October 02, 2018
  • Start off with a “Level one” type of trip
    1 / 6 Start off with a “Level one” type of trip

    That would be a wiser and safer approach to get yourself and your children acquainted with overseas volunteer trips, instead of say, jumping right into volunteering in a high-risk area like a disaster zone, says Jonathan How, chief executive officer of Relief Singapore.

    Related: Why these Singapore families take young kids on volunteer trips overseas

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  • 2 / 6

    Consult the relevant non-government organisations before embarking on any overseas volunteer trips, Jonathan adds.

    They would be able to advise whether the trip is suitable for families with children.

    Related: 7 animals volunteer causes in Singapore you can volunteer with your children

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  • Be aware of safety and security issues
    3 / 6 Be aware of safety and security issues

    Not every place welcomes foreigners, so make sure that your local contact is reliable and that communication with this person is not too difficult, says Grace Loh, a stay-at-home mum who has taken her kids on several overseas mission trips.

    Ideally, families should always go with an experienced group who will be able to ensure good organisation and safety of the entire trip, Dr Pang says.

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  • Donate responsibly
    4 / 6 Donate responsibly

    Give responsibly if you intend to donate to the community. Family therapist Elijah Sim advises consulting reliable authorities or the trip organisers on how to do so.

    If you’re organising a donation drive at home, Dr Pang suggests involving the kids to make it meaningful for them. For example, they could help pack items to be donated.

    Related: How to volunteer with my child?

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  • Prepare your kids mentally
    5 / 6 Prepare your kids mentally

    Tell your children what to expect. The mums and dads Young Parents interviewed showed their children images of the villages, community and how the people there live.

    Parents should also prep themselves mentally and be comfortable in participating in such trips. “If we show unease, our kids will pick that up and also feel uneasy,” Grace says.

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  • Take health precautions
    6 / 6 Take health precautions

    Ensure that the entire family’s vaccinations are in order, Jonathan says. Visit a travel health and vaccination clinic to determine the appropriate immunisations before you embark on your trip.

    In general, it is recommended that you do this early, at least four to six weeks before departure.

    Grace advises packing common medications, probiotics and a first aid kit, all of which would be difficult to obtain if you are far from the city or a pharmacy.

    “In general, you should also be careful about consuming water, ice or exposed food as our stomachs are nowhere as strong as the locals’,” she adds.

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