My trip to Thailand was all about social issues and volunteering. It is what got me interested in sociology and working towards social change. Here are a few places we visited that remain open to volunteers:
Elephant Nature Park is located outside of Chiang Mai, and is home to all kinds of rehabilitated animals – most notable, obviously, being Asian elephants. ENP gives volunteers various options to interact with the elephants, from a few hours to a few days. One day at the park includes bathing, feeding and observing the elephants, but they do have various other packages, like specifically taking care of the dogs at the park. Fees range from about $75 USD for a single day to $440 USD for a week-long education experience. Bathing the elephants was an incredible experience. Learn more about ENP here: https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
Agape Home, or Nikki’s Place, is an orphanage in Chiang Mai. Most of the children there are or are at risk of becoming HIV positive. The orphanage has children from infant to age 21, and also care & housing for HIV-positive mothers and infants. Volunteers are asked for a three-month minimum commitment. For more information, visit http://www.nikkisplace.org/
Songdhammakalyani Monastery is the first all-female monastery in Thailand, although the Thai government does not recognize female monks. Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni traveled to Sri Lanka to become ordained and become the first modern Thai woman to received full ordination as a Theraveda bhikkhuni. Not only is this an incredible place to meet female monks and learn about Buddhism, there are chances to stay at the monastery in exchange for volunteer work. Learn more about the Thai Bhikkhunis here: http://www.thaibhikkhunis.org/eng2014/index.html
Through a professor’s connections, we also spent a day at a high school in Chiang Mai to teach English and play games, and visited Rahab in Bangkok to help rehabilitated sex workers make jewelry. They are not currently accepting foreign volunteers, but to learn more about the organization and explore the products these women make, visit http://www.rahabministriesthailand.com.