What to Know Before Going on a Service Trip

June 23, 2021

Going on a Service Trip?

Humanitarian service trips are an important part of our work at A Child’s Hope Foundation, with volunteers being the backbone of every trip we do. On these trips, volunteers provide hands-on service at the orphanages, play with the kids, eat delicious food, and have lots of fun! Whether this is your first or fifteenth time coming, or you are just interested in learning more, here are a few things you should know before serving with us.

What to Expect

As you prepare to go on a service trip, it is helpful to know the different attitudes and behaviors the children may exhibit while you are there. To begin with, most of the kids won’t immediately warm up to you. Don’t worry, this is completely normal as they are usually shy and will need some time and interaction with you to become more comfortable. We suggest offering them a game or activity to do to help with this process. After all, play is the universal language! Emma Worlton, a therapist who specializes in attachment disorders, gives this piece of advice:

"Like all kids, avoidant children want to connect, they are just more afraid to. The best way to engage an avoidant child is to respect their independence and boundaries, but continually show that you are interested in including them and learning about them. They may need a bit more space and time to decide that they want to join in, but they will always appreciate the bid for connection, even if they don't always show it."

Additionally, you may have children who display negative attention-seeking behavior such as throwing things, acting out aggressively, and having tantrums. Many orphaned children come from an array of difficult circumstances which sometimes lead to negative and aggressive behaviors. Worlton advises that, “when kids are exhibiting aggressive behavior, we need to clearly explain what’s happening and what’s appropriate.”

Lastly, it is also a possibility that the kids will exhibit normal, healthy behavior towards you due to the positive relationships the kids have with their caregivers. Overall, all children are in need of friends who will show them positive attention, love, patience, and understanding. As a volunteer, you can provide that!

What to Avoid

Our mission at A Child’s Hope is lifting orphans from surviving to thriving. We try to be positive role models to the children as we partner with the orphanage directors and help empower them to achieve their own visions and goals for the children. For this reason, it is important that we are not so disruptive that we get in the way of the kids’ routines.

Another thing to be mindful of are the physical interactions with the children. We love to play with the kids! However, try not to be rough in play to avoid any injury that may happen. We provide instructions to our volunteers to help mitigate some of these risks. 

Finally, one of the most important things to avoid while you are on a service trip is making promises or commitments to the kids that you cannot 100% guarantee. Unkept promises, like how soon you will return to visit, can have negative effects. Focus on providing positive, impactful interactions as a role model for the kids through being your kindest self.

How to Prepare

Good preparation is key to having a successful service trip experience. We suggest learning a few common words and phrases in Spanish. Practice introducing yourself and asking engaging questions. Another helpful way to prepare for your service trip is to bring supplies you can use to interact and play with the kids. Some examples include: Arts & Crafts, Cards or Games, Small Toys, Bubbles, and Balls.

We Can't Wait!

We are so excited for all of our upcoming service trips this year, and even more excited for our incredible volunteers who are making such a difference. Thank you so much for your continued support and willingness to volunteer your time, effort, and love to these wonderful children.