Nutrition Support for the Poor - Ho Chi Minh

Volunteer with IVI on our nutrition program in Vietnam. Help support a local NGO that provides low cost meals for locals who need affordable, quality meals. The NGO relies on donations to survive and volunteers can provide an essential assistence to this project. You will be preparing and serving meals to people in need.

 

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Accommodation Photos

Ho Chi Minh Scenic Photos

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Program Description

You will be volunteering at The Smile Food Shop, which was opened to help less privileged people by providing low cost lunches for only 2000 VND per meal (about 10 cents). Founded in 2012, The Smile Food shop is run by a local NGO, as well as passionate locals and overseas volunteers, like yourself!

Your daily duties may include food preparation, serving and cleaning up, as well as putting a smile on the faces of the people who greatly value this service.

During the project you will help to prepare lunches, serving the meals to around 500 people- mostly the elderly, local workers, persons with disabilities, students and children. These people come here for affordable and quality meals each day.

This project can be at times challenging and tiring but always engaging. Knowing you are giving back to people who genuinely need and welcome your help is a greatly rewarding experience.

The Food Shop program continues to run even when the NGO run facility is closed (including a month long closure around the Tet Holiday). During those periods, Food Shop volunteers will prepare food on-site at our accommodation kitchen and the free meals will be distributed at a local hospital to patients and local workers.

Program Duration & Availability

Min duration (weeks):1

Aims & Objectives

  • Help to generate funds so that the local people can continue to be provided with quality, healthy food at low costs
  • Gain practical experience in the kitchen and in food preparation
  • Assist the local staff at the food shop, serving meals to underprivileged local people

Schedule

Monday to Friday

  • Breakfast
  • Leave for the food shop project
  • Assist in the preparation of food, work in the kitchen, cleaning the area and serving food, etc.
  • Lunch at the food shop
  • Head back to the accommodation
  • Free time during the afternoon
  • Dinner

***This program is relocated during periods/holidays when the NGO facility is closed and meals prepared by participants are then distributed at a local hospital***

Additional Requirements

There are no further requirements for this program.

Additional Equipment

No specific equipment required for this program.

Location

Ho Chi Minh City (formally known as Saigon), is located in the South-Eastern region of Vietnam and is the country’s largest and most modern city. During your stay, you will be sharing a dorm within a college campus right in the centre of the city.

Accommodation & Food

About the Accommodation

The accommodation is located on a campus in a college dorm. As such, you will have to abide by certain campus rules such as a night curfew.

We also have a room reserved as an “office”, where you can go to if you want some peace and quiet. There are books and magazines available here for you to borrow.

There is a nice, quiet local café right next to the accommodation, which is a great place for fresh juices, snacks etc..

Available Room Types

Standard Room
All meals included Yes *
Free beverages Yes **
Persons per room 4-6
Wifi in public areas Yes
Laundry facilities Yes ***
Safety box Yes
Lockable rooms Yes
Hot shower Yes
Private bathroom Yes
Bed linen Yes
Towels No
Air conditioning Yes
Fan No
Mosquito protection No

* On weekends brunch instead of breakfast and lunch
** Water, coffee, tea at the accommodation
*** At extra cost

Food Arrangements

Basic Vietnamese meals are provided at the accommodation, with some western dishes such as sandwiches, spaghetti and bread.

Facilities

There are many taxis close to the campus. You can easily catch one from the main road to reach anywhere in Ho Chi Minh.

There are several ATMs close by, the closest being about 10 minutes walking distance from the accommodation.

Ho Chi Minh is a large city and you can find all the necessary amenities you will need for your stay.

Mandatory Orientation Day

On your first Monday, you will join our orientation day, to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings, as well as local culture. Your project will continue as usual from Tuesday onwards.

Schedule

  • Welcome meeting, House rules, Setting Expectations, Health and Safety Advice and handling of documents.
  • Vietnamese Do’s and Don’ts, Vietnamese Culture Lesson and Local Language Lesson.
  • Tour around the campus accommodation and local area; where to find local shops and arrange a sim-card if necessary.
  • Lunch
  • Activities with local students and more

Activities & Events

Wednesday Afternoon

Football is arranged for the volunteers every Wednesday together with the local coordinators.

Sights & Surroundings

Here are some interesting places to explore in your free time/weekends!

Within Ho Chi Minh City

As a large city, Ho Chi Minh has a lot to offer from shops to Vietnamese water puppet shows. Here are a few suggestions:

Backpacker street

Bui Vien Street is the main street in Ho Chi Minh City, also called ‘backpacker street’. There are many cheap restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, massage parlours, markets, tour agencies and hotels/hostels. This is a great place for tourists to shop, dine, entertainment and to party!

Landmark 81

Landmark 81 is the tallest skyscraper in Southeast Asia. It towers over the rest of Ho Chi Minh’s buildings and has incredible views form the top. Not only that, it also has an ice rink, virtual reality game, restaurant and shops!

Bitexco tower

Another place to go for a great view of the city. There is an observation deck (Saigon Skydeck) open daily and offering panoramic views of Ho Chi Minh City. From floors 50 to 52, there are more entertainment facilities, including a fine dining restaurant and bar/nightclub.

Dam Sen cultural park and Water Park

Fun for adults as well as kids, this water park is guaranteed to get you smiling! Plus, it also has some lovely gardens to walk around too. There’s animals, musical shows and restaurants too, making it a fun day trip.

Thien Hau temple

Thien Hau Temple is a beautiful Chinese temple, situated in district 5 of Ho Chi Minh city. It is dedicated to Thien Hau, (also named the Lady of the Sea). Inside there are many intricate carvings, statues and paintings, a very pretty and atmospheric place to visit.

Vietnam Quoc Tu pagoda

The Quoc Tu Pagoda is located in District 10 of Ho Chi Minh City, and is another interesting temple to explore, with its lovely incense smells, colourful statues, murals and shrines. It’s one of the tallest pagodas in the city with 7 floors. Usually only the first and second floors are open, but they open up the third and seventh floor to visitors every 15th of the month.

Monkey Island

A couple of hours out from the city is ‘Monkey Island’, also known as Can Gio Island. This huge 80,000 hectare nature reserve contains mangrove trees, water coconut forests, and yes- monkeys! Hundreds of them live wild here and they will be sure to say hello to you- just be sure not to bring food with you, they are pesky little creatures!

Ba Den mountain (The black virgin mountain)

The Ba Den Mountain trail takes you through lush jungle, mountain streams and caves, before reaching its rugged top. You can also take a cable car up to the top to see some wonderful views from above, sometimes from above the clouds!

Outside of Ho Chi Minh

Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta River consists of swamps, islands, Khmer temples and the local floating markets. There are many small villages situated along the river front. It takes 2-4 hours by bus from Ho Chi Minh. Float on a traditional boat, through the jungle, swamps and floating markets to get a real feel for the way of life here.

Vung Tau beach

If you fancy a beach trip, only a couple of hours from the city is Vung Tau beach. There are 4 beaches in this town but try Pineapple beach for calm waters, which are great for swimming and getting away from the more crowded Front beach. There is also a culture and ecotourism park here which has rides and other outdoor activities to have a go at.

Mui Ne beach

Taking around 5 hours by bus or 4 hours by train (from Ho Chi Minh), this is a long sandy beach, lined with palm trees. There are many restaurants, shopping venues and luxurious resorts along the seafront, as well as a fishing village (great for photographers). It’s also a popular place to kitesurf.

Da Lat

Located high in the mountains, Da Lat is pleasantly much cooler and is surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls. Close to the town is Datanla Falls, where you can walk to see a pretty waterfall (for the adventurous you can try water abseiling). You can also visit Elephant Falls, go tobogganing or just enjoy the beautiful jungle scenery.

Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a busy beach resort with a great nightlife, located along the South-central coast of Vietnam. There is a long stretch of white sand and palm tree lined beach, as well as many island hopping tours to gorgeous islands. This is a great place to go and enjoy some nightlife.

Hoi An

Hoi An, along the Centre of Vietnam’s coastline, is a very pretty town, known for its lanterns and its Japanese covered bridge. Although popular with tourists, the town still feels very authentic. There are many French architectural buildings, markets, nearby beaches and colourful lantern stalls to explore. This lively town also has a very relaxed and romantic vibe.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

A UNESCO Heritage Site in central Vietnam, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park hosts the largest cave in the world (Son Doong). There are also many other stunning caves to explore, on top of lush jungle, mountains, lakes and native wildlife. This is an adventure lover’s paradise, with the views you can get here being absolutely stunning.

Hue Ancient city

There are plenty of things to do in beautiful Hue, central Vietnam. This is a great place to explore temples, as there are many around. A Visit to the Tombs of the Ancient Emperors will take you around 19th and 20th century tombs, statues and carvings, with stunning backdrops of the countryside. Other popular places to visit are the Citadel, the Imperial City and the To Mieu Temple complex, all colourful and intricate temples.

Hanoi (Capital City)

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has a rich culture and is known for its Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influence, as well as it’s antient architecture. Located in the North of Vietnam, you can explore the old quarter, watch a traditional water puppet show, wander through the maze of streets or visit some of the many museums.

Halong bay

Easily done as a day trip from Hanoi, Halong Bay is known for its emerald green waters and giant limestone imposing cliffs. Hire out a traditional junk boat and cruise through the beautiful scenery. Or hire a kayak and explore the many different and colourful caves as you go!

Sapa

Sapa is a stunningly beautiful part of Vietnam, popular with trekkers. For miles you will see green rolling hills, mountains and rice paddies. Explore this beautiful area, stopping in the small villages as you go for an authentic experience. You can reach Sapa by an overnight train from Hanoi, taking 8 hours (or 6 hours by direct bus).

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh’s surrounding countryside is absolutely stunning and a great place for those who love the outdoors. Take a trip to Tam Coc, which is similar to Halong Bay. Drift through big limestone cliffs and bright yellow and green rice paddies. There are many things to do in this area from the Mua Cave, Bich Dong Pagoda, Bai Dinh Temple, a nature reserve and boat trips.

Transportation

From this location we provide free transport to your next project at the following location(s):

  • Mekong Delta
  • Phan Thiet
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