In this guest post, Riya shares her tips and experiences for volunteering in Chiang Mai. Whether you are skilled in conservation, construction or working with stray animals, there is something for everyone in this city.
Thanks Riya for this guest post about volunteering in Chiang Mai!
As a woman with a concern for the world, I have always wanted to do something that would help me to make a difference. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, the city is bursting with opportunities to help your fellow human beings. Who doesn’t want to donate a little bit of their time to worthy causes while enjoying the cultural beauty in the Land of Smiles! These are some of the potential opportunities that I researched:
- Stray Dogs
- Stray Cats
You have a multitude of volunteer programs and paying your way into a coveted volunteer spot in Thailand is not uncommon. Sometimes it raises the question of why am I paying $300 to work? The thing I learned is that this money will often help to keep the organization afloat, and in addition, it will pay the salaries of the local workers.
Read more: Should you pay to volunteer?
Some people might want to a more flexible volunteer position with no strings attached. I did some research, and there are places to volunteer like this, but you have to understand that they might be in areas of Thailand that have not been well developed. When you volunteer in Chiang Mai, however, you do not have to worry about this as much. Sometimes you will see some graphic and heart-wrenching scenarios, and there are poverty-stricken villages that do exist here, but Chiang Mai is a developed city.
Volunteering with Care for Dogs
The stray dogs of Thailand are a fairly common sight. In fact, you have street puppies that have been the victims of abuse, starvation, and diseases. Caring for these dogs helps to end the vicious cycle that many of these street dogs have become trapped in.
Care for Dogs is a Chiang Mai organization that helps dogs that have been whittled down to almost nothing but skin and bones. Many of the street dogs here are badly malnourished – so much so that they even struggle to stand. Perhaps you are a vet, or you are looking to become a vet. This is one of the things that you can do to help animals.
My volunteer experience here was a 3-day session. The orientation is held on every Wednesday where the staff will provide you information about the shelter and your individual activities. They taught me how to socialize adult dogs, how to ask them to sit, and how to properly pet and brush them. Learning all these elements are essential as it will you build trust and create a mutual understanding with a dog.
I got a chance to do the bathing for them, one-on-one. Since most of the dogs here had different types of skin conditions, the shampoo or treatment we put on them was prescribed by a vet. The fun part is when I tried to towel dry her, I had to be prepared for the inevitable “shake”!
If you are passionate about dogs then this may be the volunteer position for you. They ask for volunteers to commit to a minimum of three days and be ready to work hard!
Volunteering with the Bring the Elephant Home Foundation
In Thailand, you have multiple organizations that have chosen to focus on elephant sanctuaries in Thailand. This is an area where you can get up close and personal with the Asian elephants. Volunteer work with elephants also focuses on keeping wild elephants alive in Thailand.
Bring the Elephant Home Foundation focuses on restoring the natural habitat of Asian elephants while working to try to mitigate human-elephant conflict.
I did one of the volunteer programs with elephants because I wanted to keep them from going extinct in a country that has been developing rapidly. I got to work with a cute elephant and help it bathe and planted trees in the forest to build their habitats. This could help to maintain thousands of trees, expand forest corridors, and increase biodiversity for elephant migration routes.
What’s even better is that I met a cute guy who was a veterinarian from Australia, and we hit it off. We later met again for some drinks in Chiang Mai, so voluntourism can sometimes even have a slight edge of romance!
Note from Grassroots Nomad: We haven’t personally visited this organisation. Planting trees to rebuild their habitat is a great way to help mitigate the impact of deforestation on Asian elephants. To learn more about some of the issues facing elephants in Thailand, especially those in the entertainment industry, please read this article by D Travels ‘Round.
Who is Riya?
Riya is now living in Chiang Mai. She is delighted to work with many aspiring small business owners. Riya currently writes for several companies including SiamMandalay, a Thai handicrafts business based in Chiang Mai who developed wooden puzzles and traditional games. She loves cooking, crafting and yes! sipping a good coffee. Check out her Twitter.
Have you volunteered? We would love to hear from you!
If you have volunteered with a small, community-based organisation that upholds the values of responsible volunteering, we would love to hear from you! This wonderful post from Riya is part of our monthly volunteering guest post series. If you would like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
For more volunteering stories, make sure you read about Amanda’s experience volunteering with refugees in ‘the jungle‘, Anna’s guest post about why you should volunteer with the community, not for it, or even MY post about volunteering at a rescue shelter in Guatemala City.