Thailand isn't just about beautiful beaches and mouth-watering food: there are some vital community projects and charities at work in this slice of paradise. Here's how you can get involved...
1. Help reduce the stray dog problem
Homeless dogs and cats are a huge issue in Thailand. Thousands on the streets are ill and mistreated, and the threat of disease continues as their numbers grow. The Soi Dog Foundation
in Phuket has worked to eliminate these problems, to the extent that Phuket is now the only rabies-free province in Thailand.
Volunteers at the shelter can help with the day-to-day care of the dogs and cats, rehabilitating them to be healthy and comfortable around people. If you have two years of veterinary experience and skills, you can also assist with the shelter’s sterilisation projects.
2. Head to the beach for marine conservation
There are numerous volunteering opportunities in Thailand for those interested in environmental issues and protecting the planet. While Thailand is utterly beautiful and in many parts pristine, the country has still seen its fair share of climate change issues.
Projects Abroad runs a diving and marine conservation placement
that offers volunteers PADI-certified scuba diving courses and research experience, focused around protecting Thailand’s coral reefs and coastal areas. With this project, you can help organise a beach clean-up, get involved with reef check surveys, work on reforestation of mangrove and lowland forests, and more. No experience is required as all training is provided.
3. Teach in a village school
Teaching English in Thailand gives students the opportunity to learn from native speakers and develops their skills to a high standard, which opens many doors for them in the future. There are thousands of teaching positions to choose from, but if you’re looking for a more reputable organisation, consider Andaman Discoveries
Working with disadvantaged, orphaned, and disabled children – some who don’t have access to any education whatsoever – Andaman has a number of different teaching centres in Thailand. Volunteering is available year-round, and there are positions for skilled and non-skilled workers.
4. Get involved with building projects
Construction work is one of the most popular forms of volunteering abroad, and there are plenty of positions available across Thailand for these jobs. Projects building schools, community centres, gardens, or play areas often need extra pairs of hands, so you won’t find it difficult finding something to help out with.
If you have construction experience, opt for the more demanding projects that need skilled workers; it’s important that these positions are filled by those who know what they’re doing. If you’ve no idea how to lay foundations or build walls, look for easier jobs like painting or planting.
5. Offer support for local healthcare initiatives
Even if you’re not a qualified medical professional, there are healthcare volunteer positions available in Thailand. There are some fantastic projects that work with mentally and physically disabled children, where volunteers can lead games or run art therapy courses, or perhaps teach health education in local schools or community centres.
Support for the disabled in Thailand is limited, so these positions are valuable for local communities who would otherwise not have access to this kind of care. These sorts of volunteer jobs require a lot of patience and understanding, but are rewarding in return. Have you encountered a wonderful Thailand charity, animal welfare group or volunteering experience? Nominate them in the Thailand Green Excellence Awards for your chance to make a difference to eco-friendly tourism in Thailand. And to say thankyou, we'll enter you into a draw to win a GoPro camera. Hurry: entry closes 14 September 2015. Click here to make your nomination!