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FAQ
A. VolTra  B. International Workcamp  C. Workcamp Selection  D. Workcamp Application
E. Fee Policy  F. Preparation Before Departure

A1. What kind of organization is VolTra?

VolTra is a non-governmental voluntary organization (NGO), which is a registered charitable institution in Hong Kong. VolTra dedicated to promote international voluntary services in Hong Kong through a well-established worldwide network of international workcamp organizations. It was set up by a group of volunteers in Hong Kong operating on internet platform. Should you have any queries, please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected].

A2. What are the differences between the international workcamps provided by VolTra and the overseas voluntary projects provided by the volunteering organizations or travel agents in Hong Kong?

There is a big difference. VolTra offers:
Reliable platform: VolTra is the Members of the Network for Voluntary Development in Asia (NVDA) and the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS), and has well-established international network providing over 3000 international workcamps every year in more than 100 countries all over the world.
Value-added service: VolTra provides up-to-date information and consultation service as well as holds regular seminars, briefings and training programmes for workcamp participants.
Lowest entry barrier: Most workcamps do not have application restrictions. No interview, selection or fundraising is required. Passion is what we need from you.
Great flexibility: There are over 3000,international workcamps every year in more than 100 countries all over the world. You can choose which countries to go, what type of projects to work on and which dates to participate according to your availability.
Reasonable pricing: Comparing with the prices of overseas voluntary projects charged by the volunteering organizations or travel agents in Hong Kong and even the workcamp organizations in other countries, VolTra offers a relatively lower price.
Global perspectives: A workcamp is a well-organized programme with participants from different countries, not restricted to Hong Kong participants only, facilitating cultural exchange with people all over the world.
Devoted to community: Workcamps are organized by local hosting organizations. They offer work and service to overseas and local volunteers which can match with the needs of the local community. In addition, most workcamp locations are remote areas where tourists seldom visit. Thus, participants can deeply understand the real life of the local community.

A3. How does VolTra operate and finance?

VolTra is a non-profit organization financed by the application fee received from workcamp participants. The income will cover VolTra’s expenses on daily operation and administration as well as the costs of organizing international workcamps and voluntary service projects in Hong Kong.

B4. What is an international workcamp?

An international workcamp is an international voluntary project in which participants from different countries can meet, live, work, learn and exchange with local people concerning issues about environmental conservation, cultural heritage, social justice, rural and human development, etc.
International workcamps can be divided into short term voluntary projects (STV) and long/middle term voluntary projects (LMTV). STV projects are international workcamps for less than 2 months, while LMTV projects are those lasting 2 months or more. The most common international workcamp lasts for two weeks with a group of 10-20 overseas and local workcamp participants.

B5. There are some abbreviations in the workcamp description such as “ENVI”, “CONS”, “AGRI”, etc. What are their meanings?

Abbreviation Meaning Abbreviation Meaning
ARCH Archaeology MEN Male volunteers only
ARTS Arts MENT Mentally handicapped service
AG/AGRI Agricultural work MIXED AGE Volunteers aged over 30 especially welcome/priority given
CONS Construction PEACE Peace work
DISA Disabled service PHYS Physically handicapped service
ENVI Environmental conservation RELIEF Disaster relief work
ELD Elderly service RENO Renovation
FEST Festival SOCIAL Social service
FAMILY Open to families STUDY Discussion/informal learning
HERI Cultural heritage STV Short-term voluntary project
KIDS Children service TEACH Teaching
LANG Language course TEEN Open to volunteers under age 18
LMTV Long/middle-term voluntary project WOMEN Female volunteers only
MAINT Maintenance work YOGA Yoga practice or study
MANUAL Manual and labour work YOUTH Youth service

B6. What is the accommodation arrangement in a workcamp?

Accommodation arrangement differs from workcamp to workcamp. Accommodation is arranged by hosting workcamp organizations. School campus, youth hostel, buildings near the workcamp site, or tents are common venues. On some occasions, sleeping bag is required and this will be specified in the information sheet.

B7. Why should I join a workcamp? What can I gain?

By joining an international workcamp, you can meet, live, work, learn and exchange with people from different countries and the local people. Each person may discover his own values in a workcamp.

B8. What is the meal arrangement in a workcamp?

Normally, workcamp participants take turn to cook and enjoy global tastes. The hosting workcamp organizations will prepare the ingredients for the participants. In some workcamps, there may be a chef to cook for the participants.

B9. What people will I meet in a workcamp?

Normally, a workcamp is composed of overseas and local participants. As the number of participants from each country is limited, you will easily meet people from different countries. The work in a workcamp is always closely related to the local community. You will therefore work with the local participants and meet some local people.

B10. Is it safe to join a workcamp?

Local people welcome workcamp participants warmly and most workcamps are located in peaceful remote areas, so it can even be safer than a tourist or business trip. Of course, safety also depends on your carefulness, especially when you travel before or after the workcamps.

B11. What can I do if I get injured or sick during the workcamp?

We highly recommend you to buy travel and medical insurance before joining a workcamp. If you get injured or sick during the workcamp, the workcamp leader will take you to the clinics or hospitals when it is necessary. Please note that if you do not buy insurance, the medical charge can be very high. You are also advised to bring your personal medicines. Some workcamp organizations in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea may buy insurance for the participants, but it is quite limited.

C12. Are there any tips for choosing workcamps?

Here are some tips on how to choose a workcamp:
Submit application as early as possible: You better submit your application three months before the start date of workcamps. Remember, workcamps are first-come-first-serve!
Pick choices as many as possible: We recommend you to pick at least three choices so as to save the placement time in case your choices have already been full.
Check workcamp vacancy before application: You can make use of VolTra’s Workcamp Search Engine to access the latest vacancy information. However, please note that vacancy information in search result will be updated from time to time, therefore it can be taken as reference only.
Avoid to choose popular workcamp: The popular choices are workcamps in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and the European countries and they become full quickly. Application for workcamps, which are organized in economically disadvantaged countries and require a camp fee, is much easier.
Choose workcamps organized by the same hosting workcamp organization: Once the application process starts, we will liaise with the respective hosting organization according to the order of your workcamp choices. If you choose workcamps offered by the same hosting organization first and then those offered by other hosting organizations, it will help save the placement time.
Choose workcamps which fewer Hong Kong people have been successfully placed: Since there is a restriction on the number of workcamp participants (normally 2 males and 2 females) who come from the same country, you should avoid to choose those workcamps which have been successfully applied by many Hong Kong people.

C13. Can VolTra place all workcamps which can be searched in the databases of the web sites of the other workcamp organizations?

VolTra can only place those workcamps organized by our partner organizations. You may refer to the Workcamp Organization List and VolTra’s Workcamp Search Engine.

D14. Must Hong Kong people apply for workcamps through VolTra?

According to global practice, participants must apply for international workcamps through the workcamp organizations in their countries and cannot apply through the overseas workcamp organizations directly. Hong Kong citizens or residents must apply for workcamps through VolTra and thus other workcamp organizations will not accept any application from Hong Kong people.

D15. Is there any special requirement or restriction for application for workcamps through VolTra?

In General, Hong Kong citizens or residents of any nationality who is at least 18 years old can apply for international workcamps through VolTra. If you are between 14 and 17 years old, you may apply for teenage workcamps, which are specially organized for teenagers. Basically, there is no special requirement or restriction on language, physical fitness, training or interview for joining a workcamp. If there is any exceptional case, it will be specified in the workcamp description.

D16. Is there any deadline for application for workcamps?

Applicants must submit their application at least 30 days before the workcamp commencement date (based on the date of receipt of the application). Those workcamp choices, which will start within 30 days, will not be processed and VolTra will only process the other eligible choices. If all workcamp choices do not comply with the 30-day deadline rule, the applicants are required to re-submit a new application form with new choices. For example, if the workcamp commencement date is 1 July, the application deadline is 31 May.

D17. How many months in advance do I need to apply for workcamps?

You better submit your application three months before the start date of workcamps. Remember, workcamps are first-come-first-serve! You are recommended to submit application as early as possible!

D18. What are the criteria that workcamp organizations use to determine the acceptance of application? Is there any quota for the number of applicants from each country in the course of workcamp placement?

Workcamps are first-come-first-serve. As long as there is a vacancy, workcamp organizations will accept application. However, most workcamp organizations will reject application if there are too many applicants from the same gender or nationality in the same workcamp. Normally, workcamp organizations will only accept at most 2 male and 2 female applicants who come from the same country.

D19. How do I know the vacancy number of workcamp? How sure will my application be accepted?

Workcamps are open for applicants all over the world and applications are processed by the workcamp organizations of the respective country. We therefore do not know if there is still vacancy in a particular workcamp before starting the application process. Since the vacancy number of workcamps always changes, we suggest applicants to submit application as soon as possible and choose as many choices as possible in order to save the placement time.
You can make use of VolTra’s Workcamp Search Engine to access the latest vacancy information. However, please note that vacancy information in search result will be updated from time to time, therefore it can be taken as reference only.
You can also visit our Workcamp Organization List, where you can download the workcamp description provided by VolTra’s partner organizations. You can also make reference to the List of Placed Workcamps and VolTra Workcampers’ Evaluation to assist your workcamp selection.

D20. Can I request to be placed with my friends in the same workcamp?

You can make such request by specifying it clearly in your application. However, you should note that there is restriction on the number of applicants of the same gender and nationality in the same workcamp. Thus, you should prepare for a longer placement time and a lower chance of successful placement.

E21. What is the Application Fee?

The payment mechanism of collecting Application Fee by workcamp organizations is a global practice. Participants apply for workcamps through the workcamp organizations in their home countries and pay for Application Fee for workcamp placement service.

E22. Why do workcamp organizations collect Application Fee?

Workcamp organizations usually make use of the income from the Application Fee to cover the expenses on daily operation and administration as well as to organize workcamps and voluntary service projects in their countries.

E23. What is the Camp Fee?

Most hosting workcamp organizations do not charge Camp Fee (sometimes also called “extra fee” or “participation fee”) and provide workcamp participants with free accommodation and meals. However, some of them may collect the Camp Fee from the participants on their arrival of the workcamps. Generally speaking, most of the workcamps organized in economically disadvantaged countries, such as Southeast Asia, Africa and Central/South America, will charge the Camp Fee. The Camp Fee of each workcamp is usually between US$100-300 per month and the exact amount has been specified in the workcamp description of each workcamp.

E24. Why do some hosting workcamp organizations collect Camp Fee?

The Camp Fee is usually used to cover the hosting workcamp organizations’ expenses on accommodation and meals for workcamp participants when they organize workcamps in their countries. In many cases, this extra fee is the only form of financial support for their organizations, especially those in economically disadvantaged countries, where there is little or even no alternative funding source. In addition, the number of placement of workcamp participants abroad is very limited, which makes them impossible to operate only by the Application Fee received.

E25. Are workcamp organizations responsible for arranging and paying for transportation fee of the participants?

Workcamp organizations are not responsible for arranging and paying for transportation fee of the participants. Besides airfare, the workcamp participants need to pay for the domestic transportation between their home and the airport and between the airport and the workcamp site.

E26. Do the hosting workcamp organizations buy insurance for participants?

Workcamp participants are highly recommended to buy travel and medical insurance of enough coverage since nobody can compensate in case of accidents or injuries. Some workcamp organizations in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea may buy insurance for the participants, but it is quite limited.

E27. Other than Application Fee, Camp Fee, transportation fee and insurance premium, what are the other expenses?

Other expenses include travel costs before and after workcamps and during the free time of the workcamp (e.g. accommodation, meals, transportation, etc.), personal expense (e.g. phone, drink, snack, souvenirs, etc.), application fees for passport and visa, vaccination fee, etc.

E28. Why do we need to pay for volunteering?

An international workcamp is an international voluntary project in which participants from different countries can meet, live, work, learn and exchange with local people concerning issues about environmental conservation, cultural heritage, social justice, rural and human development, etc. It is not an activity purely restricted to volunteering, but a combination of voluntary work, travel and cultural exchange.
The payment mechanism of collecting Application Fee by workcamp organizations is a global practice. Participants apply for workcamps through the workcamp organizations in their countries and pay for Application Fee for workcamp placement service. Workcamp organizations usually make use of the income from the Application Fee to cover the expenses on daily operation and administration as well as to organize workcamps and voluntary service projects in their countries.

E29. How does VolTra make use of the Application Fee received?

VolTra is a non-profit organization financed by the application fee received from workcamp participants. The income will cover VolTra’s expenses on daily operation and administration as well as the costs of organizing international workcamps and voluntary service projects in Hong Kong.

E30. If I choose both workcamps less than 2 months (short term voluntary projects) and 2 months or more (long/middle term voluntary projects), how much do I need to pay for the Application Fee?

In this case, you have to pay for the Application Fee of the highest amount among your workcamp choices. If you are eventually placed to a choice with a lower Application Fee, we will contact you to refund the payment difference. For example, if the Application Fees for your 1st and 2nd choices are HK$1,850 and HK$2,850 respectively, you should deposit HK$2,850.

E31. If all workcamps I have applied for are already full, what can I do?

You have the following 3 options:
1.     Pick new workcamp choices and continue the placement process until it is successful. No additional charge is required.
2.    Hold up your application. A cash coupon will be given to the applicants for joining VolTra’s projects in the future. This coupon is transferrable. The coupon holder could use it for joining any VolTra’s activities as cash. All coupon could be used once and for only one event organized by VolTra. It is valid for 2 years from the issuing date. No additional charge is required.
3.    Give up to choose workcamps and request a refund. You are required to pay a Give-up Fee according to the workcamp duration.

E32. Can I change my workcamp choices after application submission or after acceptance by the workcamp hosting organization?

If you change your workcamp choices after application submission but before acceptance by the workcamp hosting organization, you are required to pay a Change Fee of HK$400. If you change your workcamp choices after acceptance by the workcamp hosting organization, you are required to pay the Change Fee of HK$800.
Note:
1. VolTra will only process your amendment upon receipt the new Application Form and the Change Fee.
2. If you cannot join a workcamp due to personal reasons and without making amendment, your application is considered as cancellation.
3. Any application which has already made amendment is not eligible for Give-up and refund of application fee.

E33. Subsequent to my submission of application, if I am unable to join the workcamp due to my personal reasons, can I request for cancellation and refund?

VolTra has a very strict cancellation policy to discourage cancellation of workcamp. If you request cancellation for personal reasons, all fees are non-refundable. Please make sure that you are able to participate in the workcamp before application. You may consider purchasing travel insurance to reimburse you in event of sickness, personal or family tragedy, flight unavailability, visa rejection, etc.

E34. Subsequent to my submission of application, if I am unable to join the workcamp due to my personal reasons, can I request to pay a Change Fee and then hold up my application and re-activate the placement process in the future?

You can do this so as to avoid losing the whole amount of Application Fee. A cash coupon*, valued equivalent to your application fee after deduction of administration fee (Before Acceptance: HK$400; After Acceptance: HK$800), will be given to the applicants for joining VolTra’s projects in the future. This coupon is transferrable. The coupon holder could use it for joining any VolTra’s activities as cash. All coupon could be used once and for only one event organized by VolTra. It is valid for 2 years from the issuing date. No additional charge is required.

F35. What things should I prepare before departure for the workcamp?

A workcamp is an occasion about international voluntary service. If you wish to devote yourself to it, we advise you to:
Be a positive, active and easy going team member
Adapt and enjoy the simple living condition in the workcamp
Be prepared to get along with people of different personalities
Understand and respect the culture of the local and overseas participants and be prepared for the cultural difference
Work together with other workcamp participants, like cooking, house cleaning, activity planning, etc.
Be aware of your English accent, speak English slowly, and try to learn and speak the local languages
Read the Information Sheet thoroughly and follow the instructions of the hosting workcamp organizations
Try not to arrive late and depart early, and inform the hosting workcamp organizations in advance whenever your travel plan changes
Be open-minded, enjoy the good or bad of your workcamp!

F36. Can I arrive the workcamp later or leave it ea.rlier?

We do not recommend you to arrive the workcamp later or leave it earlier because it will cause inconvenience to the hosting workcamp organization. Besides, you may miss the orientation or farewell party. However, if you arrive the workcamp later or leave it earlier for just one or two days, you may make such request to the hosting organization after your application acceptance.

F37. I have not received the Information Sheet of my workcamp and do not know the meeting point. Should I buy air tickets now?

You should buy the air tickets immediately upon receipt of the Acceptance Letter but no need to wait for the Information Sheet. The workcamp description has specified the nearest airport and therefore you should buy the air tickets to travel to that airport.

F38. When I arrive at the country where my workcamp is held, how can I travel to the meeting point?

In general, workcamp participants are required to travel to the meeting point by themselves. The Information Sheet of the workcamp has specified the details on how to get to the meeting point. Some hosting workcamp organizations may offer pick-up service but an additional charge may involve.


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