Thailand is an amazing country. Its culture, people, food and weather attract millions of visitors every year. Only here you can sip on an exotic cocktail while laying on a beautiful, paradise – like beach one day and trekking in the mountains, meeting minority tribes and learning how to cook the next day. Holidays in Thailand are like no other holidays.
No wonder then that it’s easy to forget that the famous Land of Smiles has its own serious problems. Poverty, not respecting human rights, pollution, cruelty to animals, poaching – these are only a few of them. Good news is that travellers and expats in Thailand can help others by volunteering and donating money to charities. Nowadays there are many foundations and organisations that try to scam good-hearted people and their goal isn’t supporting the community, but rather earning money and getting rich.
If you’re going to Thailand, or currently living here, and would like to support a cause without being worried how your money will be spent, I have a great list for you of organisations that are trustworthy and are making a difference here in Thailand. Some I know personally, some I’ve been following on Facebook for a very long time and some I’ve heard of from others who have been involved in projects and volunteering work.
Have a look at these wonderful organisations and support at least one of them when you’re on holiday in the Land of Smiles. This is the best way to say thank you to the country that accepted you with open arms.
Charities helping people
Baan Dek Foundation
Who they help: migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia.
How they help: they place children at schools, organise English lessons and holidays for children that are left without care when their parents go to work during the day. They make it easier for the migrant families to access healthcare and education.
How can you get involved: Baan Dek Foundation very rarely accepts volunteers and if they do, you need to commit to 3-6 months full time (Monday to Friday) work. The easiest way is to make a small donation.
Who they help: migrant children from Myanmar and Cambodia.
How they help: they provide social services to the families and children, like trainings, reintegration services and protect the rights of children by working in detention centres and along the Thai-Cambodian border.
How can you get involved: There are a number of ways you can help: you can donate money, clothes and food, shop at Amazon Smile or organise a fundraiser. Friends International runs a number of restaurants and beauty salons in Cambodia, where underprivileged teenagers receive training to later become professional cooks, waiters and beauticians. You can also shop at their stores – income from your purchase goes to help migrant families.
The Bangkok School for the Blind
Who they help: blind children around the capital.
How the help: manages and facilitates quality education to children to develop their potential skills.
How can you get involved: You can help with making audiobooks, teach English, music, or any other subject. You can volunteer at their library or help with homework. There is no time limitation, nor particular skills are required.
Website: The Bangkok School for the Blind
Free Bird Cafe and Thai Freedom House
Who they help: ingenious people and Myanmar refugees.
How they help: Free Bird Cafe in Chiang Mai is an organic vegetarian and vegan charity cafe established for a love of healthy, whole, local homemade food, coffee and smoothies and to support the work of Thai Freedom House; a language and arts community learning center for Indigenous Peoples and Burmese refugees.
How can you get involved: visit the cafe and buy some food there. All your money goes to support the charity. If you’re an expat and have some unwanted household goods, or clothes, you can donate them in the cafe. Teach English to the migrants – remember that they need at least 3 months commitment and regular classes.
Who they help: young people from villages.
How they help: they support local schools, help them with providing materials, Internet and English lessons to empower them for the future.
How can you get involved: you can become a volunteer or make a donation.
Website: Openmind Projects
Charities helping animals
Elephant Nature Park
Who they help: elephants
How they help: they buy sick and maltreated elephants from tourism and logging industries. The animals recieve medical help and are free to roam around a huge open space.
How can you get involved: during your holiday in Thailand buy a day out at Elephant Nature Park and interact with these gentle giants. You can also volunteer, or shop at one of their Elephant Parade shops.
Website: Elephant Nature Park
Who they help: stray cats and dogs on Koh Phangan island.
How they help: they provide disease control and emergency care to stray dogs and cats on the island. Their programmes also include vaccinations and stiilrzations.
How can you get involved: you can volunteer. PACS often looks for vets and vet nurses to help out with their work. When your on Koh Phangan, you can donate food and blankets to the shelter as well as medication. PACS also encourages people to adopt strays
Santisook Dogs and Cats Home
Who they help: stray cats and dogs around Chiang Mai.
How they help: they give shelter and medical care to stray animals in and around Chiang Mai.
How can you get involved: you can visit one of their shelters, play with the animals and donate money, blankets and medication.
Website: Stantisook Dogs and Cats Home
Care For Dogs
Who they help: homeless dogs in and around Chiang Mai
How they help: they provide shelter and medical care for soi dogs in and around Chiang Mai.
How can you get involved: you can volunteer once a week at the shelter, donate money, blankets and medication.
Website: Care for dogs
Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand
Who they help: wild animals
How they help: they provide animal sanctuaries and fight against the illegal wildlife trade in endangered species.
How can you get involved: you can join one of their two projects: The Gibbon Rehabilitation center in Phuket and The Wild Animal Rescue and Education Center, where you can participate in activities like looking after the animals, research, building cages, and informing tourists about wildlife protection. You will need to be available for at least three weeks and pay for your own travel and food costs. Accommodation is provided, though.
There are many ways you can make a difference in the world. You don’t have to spend half of your holidays in Thailand volunteering. Simply switch your computer on and you’ll be a few clicks away from helping others. If you really want to give something back to the country for hosting you and giving you the time of your life, you can also send some books, clothing and other items by post. You can organise a fundraiser, or an event and donate all of the collected money to the cause. It’s really not difficult at all. Remember – every little helps!