Volunteering your time in Bangkok

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There are quite a few work opportunities in Bangkok for the sizable expat community that calls the city home. A fair proportion of the job openings are for native English teachers and these do usually come with monthly salaries, albeit with significantly lower net earnings than is the average in Western nations. There are also some opportunities for foreigners with specific skills, such as a master chef or an engineer. 

Bangkok has a plethora of opportunities for people with time on their hands and sufficient funds to enable them to volunteer as a teacher or a care assistant. Again the priority for teaching positions is English fluency, but many schools and aid centres will take non-native speakers who have reasonable proficiency in the language.

People wishing to provide love and care could give up a few hours a day or even once a week to volunteer at a special-needs facility such as an orphanage or a home for the blind or deaf. There is no age limit for volunteering in Bangkok and anybody from 18 to 80 and in reasonable health will find themselves more than welcome.

Nowadays, people wishing to find voluntary work as English teachers can arrange jobs prior to departure from their home countries. There are agencies that specialise in placing volunteers in schools on the equivalent of a fully inclusive internship that comes with accommodation, food and sometimes a little spending money. 

Volunteering Solutions, Cross-Cultural Solutions, Gap Year Solutions and i-to-i operate reservation websites for volunteer English teachers. Costs vary, but prospective volunteers can book teaching vacations for durations up to three months from as little as 6,000 Baht. Most of this initial outlay goes towards the price of the volunteer’s accommodation and food.

Volunteer teachers are usually only expected to teach four or five 50-minute  periods a day on weekdays. Weekends and abundant holidays allow volunteers the time to enjoy the diverse delights of Bangkok and take excursions around the surrounding regions of central Thailand. Positions are occasionally in nurseries (anubahn) but mostly junior (pratom) or senior (mathayom) schools.

Volunteering Solutions is based in India and claims it offers some of the cheapest volunteering in Bangkok teaching packages on the market because its administrative costs are lower than in the US and Europe. Another useful resource is the non-profit organisation Volunteer Work Thailand, which provides links to voluntary teaching positions in Bangkok as well as other unpaid work throughout Thailand.

The Goodwill Group is located in the Klong Toey area of the city and dedicated to ensuring that underprivileged women are able to make better lives for themselves and their families. A spokesperson for the foundation says they are always on the lookout for charismatic English speakers to teach intermediate level learners. Applicants for volunteer jobs at Goodwill need to be prepared to commit to three hours a week for at least six months. Goodwill accepts preliminary e-mail applications which are followed by face-to-face interviews. 

Father Joe Meier and Sister Maria Chantavarodom set up the Mercy Centre in Klong Toey almost 40 years ago. The centre is dedicated to the poor of this area as well as other Bangkok districts. Volunteers with patience and gentle demeanours are required to help with English teaching, taking care of children, playing games and other fun activities.

Baan Nor Giank is a residential centre for orphans of AIDS victims and youngsters with the disease. All the children at the facility are between two and seven years old. Volunteers play with the children and provide them with a degree of normality. Baan Nor Giank is situated off Sukhumvit Road’s Soi 26.

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Friends for All Children operates a residential nursery that offers temporary care for toddlers with family troubles. The foundation’s Bangkok facility is on Setsiri Road’s Soi Ronnachai 2. The nursery welcomes volunteers who wish to play with the youngsters between 09:30 and 11:30 and 14:00 to 16:00.  

The Bangkok School for the Blind is near Victory Monument and always needs volunteers for a multitude of tasks that range from computer and English tuition to creating media suitable for blind people. The school has no age, ethnicity or gender restrictions. The only criterion is that volunteers are interested in helping the school’s students.

The Bangkok Refugee Centre assists immigrants from the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Volunteers help teach classes or hold one-to-one conversations with refugees. Get-togethers at the centre’s onsite café enable refugees and volunteers to meet in an informal setting.

Based in Nonthaburi, the Christian Care Foundation takes on foreign volunteers. Although the foundation’s primary focus is medical professionals and therapists, there are openings for some volunteers with other talents to help with disadvantaged and abandoned children. Volunteers could find themselves working at the foundation’s own residential home, Rainbow House, or at one of the other facilities it supports. 

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