The Morning Star Center is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in December 1995 for the early detection and care of mentally impaired children. Chaired by Professor Nguyen Tai Thu, it is a subsidiary of the Vietnam Relief Association for Children with Disabilities and has nearly 70 staff members caring for approximately 240 children ranging in age from 1 to 16 divided into 19 classes. The number of children changes from time to time.
The Center is to be found in Thanh Xuan district in South West Hanoi. Amongst the staff are teachers, psychologists, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists whose mission it is to promote charitable activities that help to provide opportunities for children with mental impairment to receive an education, and to feel included with their local community. In particular, the center strives to provide assistance for those children suffering from developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, Autism and Cerebral Palsy.
Furthermore, the center has begun offering some vocational and pre-vocational courses for teenagers, in addition to sending them to outside vocational schools. The courses help increase the children's independence and confidence, and their abilities to get enrolled in professional training centers outside. Having recently set up a coffee shop at the entrance of the center, some of the children help out and in the process receive valuable experience in working and interacting with the public.
The aim of the program is to jointly bring care, love and happiness to the children through volunteers’ activities.
In general, the work is quite challenging and requires volunteers to be active and patient. The possible tasks include:
Caring for Autistic children
Playing with the children with provided toys
Helping them do some movements (walking, standing up or jumping…)
Washing hand, face for the children.
Helping the children with drawing and coloring.
Cleaning floor or toilet or toy.
Guiding & helping the children go and use toilet.
Feeding the children during lunch time
Guiding the children who are not able to feed by themselves.
Helping the teacher to make teaching material as drawing, painting, modeling (depending on volunteer’s ability)
Sharing with the teacher about teaching methods.
Organizing games and other activities for children
Teaching English for the staff/teacher in leisure time
Calling for charity or Subscription, editing document(depends on volunteers)
Working hours: Usually from 8.30 am to 4 pm (Mon – Fri) with a lunch break from 11am to 2pm, but the schedule is quite flexible.Travel to work from accommodation: about 1 hour by bus.
Volunteer requirements / Skills
Volunteers should like to work with handicapped children as well as have maturity and initiative spirit.
Preference: Volunteers with background or experience in medical work or special education. However, volunteers without experience or background will still be able to join in different work as children are very excited with foreigners.
Besides, volunteers should be very patient and in the mean time, creative and active in that working environment.
Age: 18 or over
Minimum stay preferred 4 weeks.
Be open-minded and sociable.
Be willing to learn about different culture and adapt to different working style.
Morning Star Center is situated in Thanh Xuan District in South West Hanoi, close to Ha Dong district. It is a 30 minute bus ride from the city centre. This is a very lively and convenient area.
Hosting Situation (Board and Lodging)
Volunteers will stay in a dormitory with rooms shared with other volunteers. Living conditions will be Vietnamese standard with shared bathroom, shared room with bunk-beds. Mattress, blanket, pillow and mosquito net are provided. Food will be provided at accommodation. Meals will be mostly local food, which vary from the daily cooking schedule. During working days, volunteers will have lunch outside of the centre by themselves.