During your travels in Asia want to do more than sightsee and there are variety of wonderful opportunities. Below are organizations who provide for formal volunteering, but we are delighted to arrange specific and private volunteering activities during your trip from from a couple of hours to several days, such as teaching in local schools or within medical institutions if you are a professional. Be wary of "volunteerism" companies, who in exchange for thousands of dollars, offer to provide volunteer work building schools or the like in these countries. That money would be better spent on donations, but there is no need to pay to volunteer. Contact us for more details.
VSO is a large non-profit offering numerous volunteer positions in a wide variety of projects in Asia and Africa. with an impressive record of efficacy. Over 2019/20, VSO supported over 2.8 million children's access the quality education and 785,000 marginalized people to realize their rights to healthcare. Example opportunities include education advisors, IT specialists, and working with youth on job skills training.
Laos is home to stunning scenery and amazing wildlife, including the majestic elephant. For the most part, people in Laos respect and revere these graceful animals. However, elephants are still being used in the logging industry. The Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury rescues elephants that are being overworked and poorly treated, and gives them a safe environment to live, breed, and grow. Volunteers of all ages are welcomed to help out at the center. This is a very hands-on job, as volunteers get to work alongside the elephants, feed baby elephants, assist the vets, and harvest natural medicines from the gardens. This is an excellent volunteer position for people who are studying to be a veterinarian, or for those who simply love these gentle beasts.
Monks in saffron-colored robes are a common sight in Laos, especially in the northern city of Luang Prabang. However, what many people do not know is that a large percentage of monks enter the monastery to escape poverty and gain an education. This means that many of the monastery schools are overcrowded, and as a result, the quality of education can vary. Global Vision International (GVI) offers a program where volunteers can teach English to the monks and members of the community in Luang Prabang. This is an excellent way to contribute to the monks' education, and to learn about the unique customs and culture of Laos.
The turbulent history of war and genocide in Cambodia has taken its toll on the country. Although Cambodia is now developing at a quick pace, there are still many people with little to no education, few financial prospects, and a complete lack of healthcare. This was the driving force behind the formation of the Green Gecko organization. Green Gecko supports 70 street children who were living on the streets of Siem Reap, begging as a means to survive. The organization also offers support to 32 families in the form of education, healthcare, and psychological counseling. Outreach programs include women's health workshops, addiction counseling, and domestic violence counseling. Volunteers are welcome to apply to lend a hand with the workshops and programs, although preference is given to those who have experience in education or social work.
The abundance of unique and rare wildlife in Southeast Asia makes it a major target for the illegal wildlife trade, and Cambodia is no exception. Fortunately, there are organizations like Free the Bears, that rescue and rehabilitate endangered animals that have been poached and give them a new chance at life. The Free the Bears organization at Phnom Tamao Zoo, just outside of Phnom Penh, has recently started up the 'Bear Keeper for a Day' program. Here, volunteers can spend a day feeding the bears at the center, cleaning their enclosures, and learning about the many endangered species at Phnom Tamao. This is a great opportunity for people who want to volunteer but are short on time.
While most people come to Thailand for the beautiful beaches and lush jungles, there is another side to Thailand that is not advertised in the tourist brochures. Many people in rural communities in Thailand struggle to make ends meet and lack the level of education and skills necessary to get ahead. The SERVE development and volunteering foundation works to tackle poverty and injustice in oppressed communities. They have a number of centers throughout Thailand that work with young people, women, and minority groups to enhance lives and empower the people. Volunteers can teach English and computer skills to children and villagers, provide outreach services to women involved in prostitution, and assist with informal education in hill tribe communities.
Rural communities in Thailand often lack functional facilities including schools, homes, and centers for the elderly. Starfish Ventures aims to develop and build new houses for the elderly and poor families. They also work to improve existing schools and public buildings by utilizing a team of volunteers to assist with everything from construction and painting to digging wells in rural areas. Volunteers typically work four days a week, and then have time off to travel or relax in the local communities. This is a great way to combine travel with volunteer work.
Before committing to a volunteer program, it is important to research each organization to find out exactly how they help, what is expected of their volunteers, and whether there are any fees for joining the programs. Each organization is different, and there are literally hundreds of places in Southeast Asia where young people can volunteer. This is a great opportunity to give back to the people and the countries that travelers visit, and a sure-fire way to make new friends and learn about the world outside the beaches and bars of Southeast Asia.