Sapa O'Chau's social work would not have been able to continue without kind volunteers and the generous donations from its Friends and Family.
Sapa O'Chau provides high school age students accomodation so that they can attend high school in Sapa Town. This saves them from travelling more than 10 km a day mostly on foot to and from town and village. The ethnic minorities are not native speakers of Vietnamese language, hence they need extra coaching to catch up with their native Vietnamese-speaking counterparts. To support our 35 students costs Sapa O’Chau at least USD4,000 per month. This covers Vietnamese school fees, in-house tutoring to help catch up with peers, accommodation, utilities, food and personal hygiene supplies.
Until Sapa O’Chau can gather the resources to buy land and construct a building, we are renting property in Sapa. The boarding facility’s monthly rent is USD700. During the off peak tourist period, we may need your generous donation to pay for the basics: rent and food. Why not choose the month of your birth or of someone you would like to honor, and pledge to pay the rent for that month for one or more years?
Over the last few years, Sapa O’Chau has been lucky enough to receive funding from the Canadian Embassy to Vietnam via the ‘Canada Fund for Local Initiatives’, The Republic of Korea via the ‘Smile Together Partnership’ and Vietnam via the ‘Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion.’ This funding has allowed us to grow as an organisation and improve the services that we offer to the community.
As a social enterprise, Sapa O’Chau is trying hard to pay for itself. However, donations help us to keep on going. We greatly appreciate your generosity! If you are visiting Sapa and want to make a donation then please come to our office. Here our accountant will give you an official receipt. As a way of saying thank you, we would love to take you on a guided tour of the whole project, including the boarding facility. If you are not able to visit us, but would still like to support our work, then please use PayPal. Please be aware that PayPal fees are around 10%.
Become part of the Sapa O'Chau family by volunteering or pledging a regular donation to support us. Alternatively if you would like to make a one-time donation you can do so.
Sapa O’Chau is reliant on volunteer support to sustain its teaching requirements, help with projects, and facilitate administration. We aim to make sure our volunteers get as much out of the experience as the people and communities they help.
You can join our program from as little as one week to a few months! The minimum age for volunteering is 20 (younger volunteers must be accompanied by an adult). Your schedule will be individually organised and your unique skills utilised.
For positions at the boarding facility, we are looking for:
- English Teachers - Volunteers with teaching experience. Native English is not required, but fluency is essential. Minimum time commitment: 1 month.
- IT and Maths Teachers: No formal qualifications required, but an interest and capacity to teach basic maths and/or computer skills are vital.
- English Speakers: For one-on-one conversational English classes with our staff.
If you speak Vietnamese and English, you have an added advantage for our students and staff to understand you. Please do spare some time during your vacation to help our students and staff improve their English.
For other positions, we are looking for volunteers to help with:
- Designer: Fashion and accessories infused with traditional patterns. E.g. clothes, bags, house decor, jewellery, etc.
- Photography, Videography and Social Media. Product photography.
- DIY: Small do-it-yourself projects around the office, the café or the centre.
- Administrative tasks.
- Fundraising and Marketing.
- Project development work: Past projects have included environmental conservation projects, community development projects and arts projects.
- Tour Operator: Work with us in our tour department along-side the SOC staff team. For this position we ask for a minimum commitment of 3 months, and we offer full training, support and free room and board.
Please email for more details. Don’t see anything here for you? Contact us! Tell us what skills you have and we will try our best to fit you to a project!
Volunteers are expected to be flexible, patient, and respectful. We want your experience in Sapa to be as special as possible and you will be welcomed as an important member of the Sapa O’Chau family.
Once we have received and reviewed your application we will contact you about possible volunteering positions.
When you arrive in Sapa, your accommodations can be one of the Sapa O’Chau boarding facility’s volunteer rooms, a local guest house or a hotel that fits your budget. During the weekends you can trek to the Sapa O’Chau homestay in Lao Chai village. Prices at the boarding facility range from USD10 per person, per night for short-term stays (less than 4 weeks) to USD5 per person, per night for long-term stays (4 weeks or more). Lunch and dinner, consisting of basic Vietnamese meals with the students and staff, are included. If you are looking for something different to eat, visit one of the many restaurants in town, or eat tasty and economical food in the market. It is very easy to find great food to eat in Sapa and recommendations can be given or you can discover them for yourself. Sapa caters to all budgets in regards to meals, you can eat for as little as one dollar a meal or up to as much as you wish to spend.
I spent two months working in the Sapa O’Chau office in mid-2013, assisting the organisation to develop its management structure and administrative procedures at a time of significant development. It had just been licensed as Vietnam’s first minority run tour operator and at the same time expanding its tourist and cafe operations to provide more income to support its social objectives. While I worked in the office, my wife Lyn, a retired English teacher, gave English lessons to students in the Sapa O'Chau classroom.
Two months with Sapa O’Chau gave me a good insight into the organisation, its operations and objectives.
To see Hmong and Dao women toiling each day on the streets of Sapa, selling handicrafts to supplement subsistence income their families earn from tiny farms in the valleys far below, is to realise the tough lives these people lead – yet they are always so cheerful! The mothers often have children as young as 3 and 4 in tow (not to mention babies on their backs!), with the children also canvassing tourists when they should be at home playing or, more importantly, at school learning.
It’s to people such as these that Sapa O’Chau is committed. Its enrichment program uses volunteers to teach English to teenage ethnic minority youth. This will help them move from school to jobs in the Sapa area or to further training in vocational schools. Through its training program and other programs that will doubtless emerge in the future as Sapa O'Chau builds on its past successes, the organisation is affording the next generation of ethnic minorities in this corner of northern Vietnam a real chance at a better life. It is such forward looking, compassionate and committed organisations run by locals that hold the promise of a better future for the many impoverished and disadvantaged people of this emerging country. For a westerner like myself to work with them was a real privilege and a most fulfilling experience.