Although this page is part of our ‘Activities and Adventures’ section, this doesn’t mean that you should view ‘volunteering’ as just another thing to do in South East Asia.
Before you decide that you want to be a volunteer you must think carefully about what you can offer, how long you are willing to commit and also do your research thoroughly on the kind of organization that you want to get involved with.
Before you start, we advise that you read this: Responsible Volunteering: 15 Points to Consider.
To begin with, you will need to think about the type of volunteering you would like to take part in. Do you want to get your hands dirty with some conservation work? Or do you have experience as a teacher? Or perhaps you have some medical knowledge? Wondering how you can make yourself useful throughout your travels? Why not become a Trashpacker!
The following charities and NGO’s have been recommended to SEA Backpacker by our readers, we cannot vouch for them individually…
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Volunteering with children and education-based:
IMPORTANT: If you’re in Southeast Asia for just a short while, we wouldn’t recommend working with children. It is not beneficial for children to have foreign volunteers come in and out of their lives at such a rapid rate. This system of volunteering does not give them stability and the actual long-term support that they need. If you have a longer time to commit, you can consider the organisations below…
Volunteering with Orphan Impact in Vietnam (Read the interview with Tad Kincaid, founder of Orphan Impact in Issue #14 – page 48)
ConCERT Cambodia – “Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism” – is a not for profit social organisation based in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
WLS International – (World Language Studies – Volunteering Abroad in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, China, India, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
PURE! Volunteer – PURE! Volunteer – PURE! focuses on increasing opportunities for children, adolescents and mothers in Cambodia, Bali, Sumatra, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand by providing free education and training. PURE! also advises on responsible travel and internships.
Globalteer – A UK based Charity providing overseas volunteer placements in orphanages, schools and community projects in Asia and South America.
In Search of Sanuk – Using the Thai word for fun or “sanuk”, American Dwight Turner, challenges you to create your lifestyle of giving, working with street children in Bangkok. (Read Dwight’s Article in Issue #8 – page 16) or follow Dwight on Twitter @InSearchOfSanuk
CHA – The Cambodian Handicraft Association (View on Trade Aid) – CHA seeks to assist landmine and polio disabled reintegrate into society. Read Article by Rebecca Gennard about her experience with CHA in Issue #15 (page 50)
OBT – a non-governmental organization that operates in Chiro village, 5km from Kampong Cham that is run only by Cambodian staff. OBT enables underprivileged young Cambodians from the countryside to achieve free English and Hospitality courses, in order to facilitate their future employment and to give them the chance to go on to higher education. They offer home-stays and volunteering – www.obtcambodia.wordpress.com
Sambhali Trust is a non-profit, grass-roots, charitable organisation whose focus is the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan. The goals of the Sambhali Women Empowerment Policy are to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. The objectives include: creating a suitable environment for the development of women through the implementation of positive economic and social policies; helping asset-less and marginalized women become economically self-reliant; offering access to health care, quality education, employment, equal compensation and social security.
International NGO – AHHA Education – Currently looking for interns in Thailand (Buriram province) and volunteers who can teach English in Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, India and Thailand. Check out more info on their website and Facebook.
Sawah Bali – An opportunity to learn sustainable farming in a small Balinese village, the aim of this NGO is to conserve and sustain a working landscape in Bali and to restructure agricultural production to secure greater economic equality and wellness for farmers. The NGO is looking for volunteers and charges $375 / month fee to cover accommodation and our administration.
International Humanity Foundation – Jakarta, Indonesia – Read more in our article here.
Volunteering with animals:
Lanta Animal Welfare – Volunteering with stray animals in Koh Lanta, Thailand (Read volunteer’s experience here: Volunteering – it’s a dog’s life! Volunteering at Koh Lanta Animal Welfare By Jessica Simmonds)
Dutch organization, Bring the Elephant Home Charity and Thai based The Surin Project – Elephant conservation in Thailand, recommended by Suzanne van Gils and Manouk Maas in #Issue 20 (Read their letter of the month in Issue #20).
Mr T’s Organic Farm, Vang Vieng, Laos – Read Penny Atkinson’s blog about her time working on the farm
Rak Tamachat Natural Living Farm, Sikhiu, Thailand – Live with nature, not against it, help us to develop natural sustainable ways of life, and share with others.
There are beach cleanups in many parts of Southeast Asia, which are fun and worthwhile projects to get involved in, especially if you’re only staying in a place for a few days. Check out ‘Trash Hero’ on Facebook and their various pages for destinations throughout Asia, i.e. Trash Hero Chiang Mai, Indonesia, Koh Lanta.
Check out our article on Trashpacking here.
The AIPNO is an Indian based volunteering company looking for those interested in helping with a rural medical mission. To contact the AIPNO President Dr. Jaya Shah directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lao Friends Hospital for Children – Opened Feb 2015, is in great need of volunteers and applications are accepted on a rolling and continual basis throughout the year. Currently seeking Nurses and Doctors, as well as Sterilization, Radiology, and Laboratory Technicians. Additionally, all trained medical professionals and individuals interested in volunteering are welcome to send their resume at any time. For more information check out their page here.
Angkor Hospital for Children – Looking for volunteer doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatric residents, medical students, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists, laboratory scientists, laboratory technicians, respiratory therapists, and other medical professionals. Due to the growing popularity of AHC’s volunteer program, it is advisable to apply as early as possible. See more info here.
Other online resources:
Help Exchange – HelpX is an online listing of farmstays, hotels and even sailing boats who invite volunteers to stay in exchange for food and accommodation.
Nerdy Nomad – A.K.A. Kirsty Henderson is a traveller turned volunteer who has worked in disaster zones all over the world. You can purchase her e-book ‘The Underground Guide to International Volunteering’ on her blog and read about her experiences.
Volunteer Global – Offering internships volunteering abroad.
Workaway – A site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travellers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of activities.
Unsure about visas when you volunteer? Read our visas for volunteering guide here.