Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, and it’s a good way to travel and experience local life too, giving you a more rounded experience as a result. If you want to up your karma reserves, helping out here and there, then South East Asia has an abundance of options for your volunteering aspirations.
Like anything in life, it’s important to do your research before you commit to anything, and checking forums for advice is a good place to start. There are countless companies out there who will find volunteering projects for you and give you help and advice, plus support whilst you’re out there, so if you would prefer to experience volunteering in this part of the world with a bit of a safety blanket, then this is the way to go.
Alternatively, you could find volunteering opportunities yourself, and generally they all tend to fall within a few different subject areas. You will also need to be able to pay towards your food and accommodation if it is provided by the organisation, or find your own place to stay and feed yourself. Be aware of this.
So, what areas can you volunteer in?
Generally, it comes down to teaching English, helping with wildlife or stray animals, and farming. You will find wildlife parks and national parks may need volunteers to help not only look after the animals but help with the general upkeep of the area, cleaning, construction etc. If you do want to stay with the animal route, then there are many dog and cat rescue shelters who look for volunteers to help with the daily running of the shelter, feeding the animals etc. For anyone with a passion for wildlife and animals, this could be a very rewarding road to go down, although do be aware that you will probably break your own heart a few times in the process with some of the sights you may see.
Alternatively, teaching English is another way to give something back. Drop-in centres are dotted around many areas, helping locals to pick up a good grasp of the English language, and these centres rely on passing travellers to give some valuable input. You will find several of these especially in Laos. Some schools will also welcome your input in helping to teach the children a little English, and again, this is a very rewarding experience.
Farming is a staple industry of this part of the world, and more and more organisations are attempting to set up sustainable agriculture, helping to do their bit for the environment. Again, these organisations are always looking for helpers and volunteers, so do your research if this is the area you would like to go into.
South East Asia has many different volunteering opportunities, and provided you go into your choice with your research done, you could find this is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling ways to travel around this stunningly beautiful part of the world, whilst also meeting new people, and learning much about their traditions and way of life. Basically, you could find that you get back just as much as you’re giving.
Photo Credit: Clint