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Volunteer: Program Overview

Through our Pediatric Massage Volunteer Program, Buds to Blossoms brings international teams of volunteers to Kathmandu, Nepal and Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), Vietnam several times a year. There the volunteers provide pediatric massage and other forms of bodywork to AIDS orphans, children affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans with disabilities, and other disadvantaged children.

This program is special in that it not only promotes the children's health, well-being and development, but it also creates opportunities for the children and volunteers to learn, grow and have fun together by sharing gentle massage. Our time with the children is a joyful blend of nurturing touch, play, tranquility, song, smiles, hugs and laughter.

Volunteers receive basic instruction in massage for children at an orientation meeting. They learn to provide massage in ways that not only deliver important health benefits but also communicate to children they are safe, loved, and respected.

Most of our work is not highly technical. Instead, it flows naturally from our capacity to reach out to others with warmth. Although volunteers are required to have some massage or bodywork experience in an educational or professional setting, they need not have completed a certification program. And while experience with children may be helpful, it is also not needed for participation in this program.

Massage and bodywork students are welcome to apply.

Although the HIV-positive infants and children we work with receive treatments which help them recover and slow progression of the disease, some of them continue to have AIDS-related medical problems. Some live in orphanages where there are relatively few adult caregivers and volunteer help is crucial to meeting their needs.

Massage is of particular value to the children we work with because its immune system-strengthening effect may improve their compromised health. The massages we provide to orphans with disabilities improve their mobility and lessen the discomfort of perpetually-contracted muscles. Massage also promotes the children's well-being by bringing relief from pain and anxiety and helping meet their emotional and developmental needs for one-on-one nurturing attention and touch.

During this program, volunteers get a tremendous amount of hands-on experience providing massage to children. Although the program's focus is on service to ill and disadvantaged children, volunteers may also offer massage to the children's caregivers and to a few adult AIDS patients.

Please read about the costs of joining the program and the steps to volunteer, familiarize yourself with our policies, select program dates from the calendar and send in your application form. A representative of Buds to Blossoms will follow up with you by email. If your application is accepted, we will provide you with detailed information on how to confirm your enrollment and prepare for the program. If you want more information before applying, please contact us.

We look forward to sharing this incredibly rewarding, therapeutic and fun experience with you and the children.