Below are some frequently asked questions by applicants about volunteering at Lotus. If you have any questions not listed here, do not hesitate to contact us.
Can I volunteer if I haven’t volunteered before?
Obviously it is advantageous if you have experience of volunteering and working with children, but a lack of such experience does not means you are ineligible to volunteer. The most important thing is your attitude towards taking on this new experience and learning as you go. If you do not have experience you should show that you are enthusiastic and proactive in organising your project.
Can you help me obtain a visa?
To volunteer you just need to apply for a standard tourist visa which, depending on your nationality, is usually valid for 30 days. This can be extended by a further 30 days if you register at the immigration office within 7 days of your arrival. You will not need an invitation letter from us for a standard tourist visa. As an NGO we are unable to provide support for longer-term visas.
What happens when I arrive in Mongolia?
It is strongly recommended that you spend at least one night in Ulaanbaatar when you arrive in Mongolia before coming out to Lotus. This gives you a chance to acclimatise, catch up on sleep, change money, buy a SIM card and register at immigration if necessary. If you would like to reserve a stay at the Lotus Guesthouse then contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The guesthouse can arrange an airport pickup for you and also transport to Lotus from the city.
What happens when I arrive at Lotus?
When you arrive at Lotus you will usually be greeted by the volunteer coordinator (and lots of children!) In rare cases if the volunteer coordinator is unavailable then you will be greeted by another experienced volunteer. You will be shown to your accommodation and introduced to your new volunteer colleagues. Your orientation will involve a tour of the centre covering bathroom facilities, where to collect drinking water, the kitchen and dining area, and also anything relevant to your project such as classrooms and equipment/material storage rooms. Usually you will be paired with another volunteer for your first few days to help you settle and get to know how things work, before starting on your own project.
How will I be managed as a volunteer?
Our volunteer coordinator is on-site at least 5 days a week during the summer volunteer season, and is always contactable by phone and email. They will offer guidance for your project, and ideas for other things you can work on. However, you are expected to be proactive and self-motivated in your approach to work. The volunteer coordinator will hold regular meetings with volunteers to plan the short-term schedule of classes, jobs and activities.
Do I need a specific project to work on at Lotus?
Our volunteers work on a variety of projects, usually depending on their own skills or interests. We understand the desire to be flexible and help with as much as possible, but it is very important that you have a specific project that will be your main focus during your volunteering period. This will not take up all of your time though, and spare time from your main project can be used helping out with daily tasks.
Am I expected to work every day?
You are expected to complete the full term of volunteering that is agreed at the application stage. However, you are welcome to take some days off during this time if you wish, but it should be arranged with the volunteer coordinator so it can be put into the schedule.
What provisions are there for medical care?
Lotus employs a dedicated doctor that works normal office hours from Monday-Friday. Outside of this time we have 24 hour access to our medical room, and all of our staff are first-aid trained. There is a small hospital and pharmacy in the village, and there is access for an ambulance from the city if necessary.
Why should I have to pay to volunteer?
At Lotus, regrettably we simply cannot afford to host volunteers without a financial contribution. Volunteers are provided with traditional ger accommodation with separate toilet and shower facilities, and three meals per day. Your contribution covers the cost of providing and upkeeping these facilities. By covering any such expense incurred by you as a volunteer, it means whatever contribution you give in terms your time and effort will result in a net benefit for Lotus which is the impact our volunteers tend to want.
If you are looking for a volunteer-orientated organisation which offers to negotiate food and accommodation in exchange for your time then unfortunately we are not a suitable organisation for you.
How can I overcome the language barrier?
Many of the Lotus children speak English at varying levels, and most of them understand basic English. The children help each other with languages and communicating with volunteers so if you find you cannot communicate clearly directly with a specific child then another child or staff member will be able to translate.
What items can I bring to donate?
Please see our wishlist for items that we are in need of. You can also contact the volunteer coordinator for advice on anything that there is an immediate need for. It may be that the most helpful thing would be to donate money towards a larger item than we need to buy.