Rules and code of conduct
The number-one priority of OSSO’s code of conduct is to ensure safety among volunteers and children. OSSO’s strict code of conduct has helped establish and maintain respectable relationships with the nuns, directors, and orphanages we serve.
Volunteers will likely be dismissed from the program and sent home at their own expense for any of (but not limited to) the following:
- Breaking curfew
- Consuming alcohol
- Taking pictures of the children
- Violating Confidentiality Policy
- Engaging in romantic relations with other volunteers, orphanage staff, children, or people you meet in town.
- Repeated unexcused absences
- Promoting any religious agenda against the will of the orphanages
- Using OSSO’s internet or electronics to view any type of pornographic material.
Specific rules and safety guidelines may be adjusted at any time.
We leave it to the discretion of OSSO’s in-country directors to make appropriate adjustments. Volunteers are expected to comply with rules announced by the Directors.
The children OSSO serves in the orphanages come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many have experienced neglect, abuse, and all have experienced the trauma of being removed from their home. Each orphanage has professional staff such as psychologists, social workers, therapists, and directors. These staff members are responsible to work with each child and their family on an individual basis. Each child in the orphanage is not “abandoned” or available for adoption. The social worker of the orphanage works with many parents to set goals which enable their child to be “reinserted” with the family upon approval of the courts. OSSO requires all volunteers to respectfully leave this role to the professionals at the orphanages.
OSSO volunteers are not to discuss a child returning to their family or being adopted, without specific instruction from the orphanage staff and confirmed by the OSSO directors. When the child is close to being adopted, the orphanage staff may post a picture of the child’s new family and ask that volunteers help reinforce this idea to help prepare the child.
OSSO requires all volunteers to treat each child’s personal story and information with the highest respect and confidentiality. Often the child’s background is unknown, as it is continually investigated. The OSSO directors will inform the volunteers if they need to know a specific concern from the child’s past to better serve the child. When this information is shared, it will be done privately in the volunteer house. OSSO volunteers are not permitted to discuss the child’s past at the orphanage; regardless of age, mental understanding of the child, or language spoken. If volunteers have a concern or question about a child, it should be addressed with the OSSO directors in private at the OSSO volunteer house. In the past, volunteers have said comments in English on the orphanage grounds, only for a child to overhear resulting in obvious emotional damage. The comments are not said to hurt the child, but it often brings up painful memories. OSSO’s volunteers are asked to create the most loving and safe environment for the children we serve. For this reason, we require the highest level of respect and confidentiality with details about the children’s background.
Dress and grooming
The people of Ecuador and Thailand are more conservative and formal in dress and grooming. Grungy, immodest, or very casual attire is not worn in public. While you will see tourists who do not dress according to this local standard, you will lose the respect of the local people and will not be a proper role model for the children you serve, if you dress inappropriately. Modest clothing must also be worn in OSSO housing. Clothing should be modest in fabric, fit, and style.
The dress and grooming (including hairstyles) of both men and women should be modest, neat and clean.
NO Tank tops or sleeveless shirts, shorts or short skirts, skin-tight or revealing clothing, extreme visible piercings.
Volunteers are prohibited at any time to be outside orphanage grounds alone.
When exploring the city or traveling, you must be in a group of 3 or more* and have notified the OSSO staff of your intended destination(s).
*This can be adjusted based on the size of the volunteer groups. For your safety, each city has specific rules about traveling outside OSSO accommodations that includes a strict curfew. Exceptions to the curfew or traveling rules must be approved by OSSO’s managing director in Rexburg.
Volunteers are not allowed to date while participating in the program. Hugging, kissing, flirting, and other intimate behavior is prohibited. You may not be in the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex. There are many complex cultural differences in international dating that make romantic relationships unwise and even dangerous.
Attendance and work commitment
We recognize OSSO volunteers give of their time and money to serve the children. Volunteer housing is reserved for those committed to assisting OSSO fulfill its mission by working in the orphanages. The schedule of an OSSO volunteer is designed to give first priority to serving the children.
We recognize volunteers older than 18 as adults and expect them to independently care for themselves as well as fulfill work commitments. We cannot legally discuss private details about an adult volunteer with their parent. WE encourage parents and participants to keep a direct open communication with each other. Volunteers older than 18 have the right to sign-out of the program, he/she may not use any of OSSO’s resources. For liability reasons, OSSO staff cannot help or accommodate a volunteer’s travel plans outside of OSSO. The volunteer becomes responsible for all safety, transportation, food, and housing accommodations during their travels. No refunds are given if a volunteer chooses to change the volunteer dates they have previously committed to.
OSSO and religion
We are a non-denominational organization.
We do believe in God, and we pray that He will help us in our efforts to better the lives of the children we care for. We expect everyone to be tolerant and compassionate toward the religious beliefs of other volunteers and staff members. Most of the orphanages we work with are primarily Catholic (Ecuador) or Buddhist (Thailand).
OSSO leaders try to support the volunteers physically, emotionally and spiritually. OSSO’s leaders, employees, and volunteers are NOT to use their participation with OSSO to proselytize or advance any particular religious doctrine or agenda. This is taken most seriously in the orphanages. Volunteers may be sent home for promoting a religious agenda against the will of orphanage leadership.
In Thailand, Buddhism is the primary religion. Buddha is seen as sacred and the government has mandated that no replicas or Buddha heads should be taken from the country. Many souvenir shops still sell these items, but you can be heavily fined for purchasing and taking a Buddha head from Thailand. We ask that OSSO volunteers refrain from purchasing Buddha figurines.
Volunteers work between 25-30+ hours each week in the orphanages. Orphanage and OSSO directors coordinate to set work schedules with two main orphanages—a baby and toddler home as well as a boy’s home—located on the same grounds. Shifts are from 9-11:30 AM and 2:30-4:30 pm, Monday through Friday in the baby and toddler home. Depending on the schedule, volunteers will plan evening activities for the boy’s home a few times a week. During free time, volunteers can go into the city with another volunteer, sightsee, sleep, call family, relax in the house, etc. Depending on scheduling, volunteers take off an entire day together for a field trip paid by OSSO.
Long-term volunteers( 4+ weeks) are expected to work 45+ hours each week in the orphanage. The nuns and Orphanage Directors coordinate with the Volunteer Directors to set work schedules for volunteers. Typically, work shifts in Ecuador include: 7:30-12:30 and 2:30-6:00 with a 2-hour lunch break each day. Volunteers are given 3 shifts off each week, including time for a weekly Spanish class (optional). During free time, volunteers can go into the city with another volunteer, sightsee, sleep, call family, relax in the house, etc. Once a month, volunteers take off an entire day together for a field trip paid by OSSO. Volunteers may work additional evenings or night shifts as needed.
Your responsibilities may include:
- Bathing, feeding, dressing children, and changing diapers
- Preparing activities, crafts, and sports to do with the children
- Possibly work during the night to care for infants or special needs children (Ecuador)
- Provide therapy and help the children reach developmental milestones
- Cook meals with other volunteers
- Sweep, mop, take out garbage, clean bathrooms, bedrooms, and general living areas in the volunteer house.