Get up to 20% off
in our Mega May Sale >
Volunteers in a classroom helping children with schoolwork

Thai Orphanage & Community Volunteers

By Jane McLellan

Last updated: 27th March 2013

Our Thai Orphanage & Community Volunteer project is a lovely, warm and welcoming project that offers a meaningful and rewarding gap year experience for so many Gap 360 volunteers.  The project is located less than two hours from the popular Thai beach town of Hua Hin, a laid-back beach resort with beautiful beaches and a laid-back vibe.

With monthly start dates on offer for all potential volunteers, this amazing project is a great way to experience the real flavour of Thailand as well as getting involved and hands-on with some really rewarding community work.

The programme starts with an exciting two-day stay in the lively and buzzing capital of Bangkok. All of our volunteers are personally met at Bangkok airport and taken to our comfortable guest house in the fun and vibrant backpacking area around the legendary Khao San Road. In the evening the group meets up with their friendly guide and enjoys a shared group dinner, the ideal opportunity to really get to know everyone in the group and start to forge new friendships. The next day includes a brilliant whistle-stop tour of Bangkok, including a visit to the awesome Grand Palace and Wat Po.

On day three, volunteers travel by private mini bus, escorted by our project staff, to a pretty rural village in the Thai area of Padaeng. On arrival they are given time to rest and freshen up before enjoying a full introduction to the incredible orphanage project. The manager of the orphanage is a lovely guy called Samson and he gives an introduction to the background of the orphanage and explains all the planned volunteer activities. In the afternoon there’s time for a trip to Palau Waterfall, where volunteers are taken to relax and enjoy a cold dip in this idyllic spot.
The group return to the children’s home around 4.30-5pm and then get to meet the kids for the first time. This is time for bonding with the brilliant kids as volunteers take on their new role as mentor and friend.  In the evening there are opportunities to help the kids with their homework, assist with some useful chores and play games with the children, making for real hands-on help and the chance to be an inspirational mentor!

When I first arrived to the project I was welcomed by Samson’s friendly smile. All of our volunteers love Samson. He really cares about the kids and is keen to ensure that all our volunteers are having a great time. He explained to me how the orphanage was started and why the project needs volunteers. Samson was a Burmese refugee and because of his personal experience, he really understands why it is so important to care for and help out these young kids. He has such a big heart, and it was really touching to listen to his personal story and learn more about his plans for the orphanage’s future development.

An orange bulding at the orphanage

The orphanage is located close to the Burma border, which is where most of the kids originally come from.  The children are part of the Karen hill tribes, whose communities are sadly not recognised by the Thai government, leaving the Karen Hill people stateless and not entitled to any help. Through the help and dedication of our volunteers, and the local staff, the orphanage project can help educate the children and give them the skills they need to have a brighter future. By improving their education, and helping them to achieve their full potential, the children improve their chances of getting a permit in the future, which will allow them to legally work in Thailand when they are older. So it is a truly worthwhile project and one where the benefits and results feel very real, making for an ultimately rewarding and moving volunteer experience.

Volunteering Projects

Roughly divided into two volunteer areas (teaching & childcare), while you’re a member of our Thai project there are a number of activities and projects you can get involved with.

During the teaching part of the project, you’ll have the opportunity to go into school and help teach basic subjects such as English and Maths, as well as playing sports with the kids and joining in on inspiring arts and crafts projects. Working either in the morning or afternoons, for around 4 hours per day with breaks (split into 4 teaching classes), you’ll be working with the class teachers to help those children who enjoy and flourish in the academic world to further their study, with the potential to go on to university.  For those children who are less studious, you can help them work at developing manual skills back in the orphanage. As no child will be asked to leave the Home before they have developed some form of skill, and have secured themselves a job, our teaching projects are vital in the formation of these kids’ futures. Be a true inspiration and gain vital teaching experience for the future in Thailand.

Childcare activities, which are continuous and outgoing, are mainly focused around cooking, cleaning, feeding and playing with the kids back at the Home, and helping with those kids who are too young to attend school. Daily duties may include help with transportation, cleaning, and practical maintenance and upkeep of the Home, as well as working on the land to harvest fresh produce for the kids’ daily meals. Most importantly, you will get a chance to interact with the kids in every aspect of their day-to-day lives, ensuring they have a warm, supportive and comfortable living environment, supported by you and the other dedicated team of volunteers.

Being there to give emotional support and affection to these adorable kids, you’ll soon have learnt all about their individual personalities and be a part of the gang, as a friend, mentor, team captain, chef, and honorary parent.

I met up with four of our orphanage volunteers on my trip to Thailand– Katherine, Charlotte, Sophia and Emily. Samson told me they were all brilliant volunteers, who were all getting really stuck in helping the kids not only with school work but also with other useful life skills like brushing their teeth and the importance of good hygiene. Our Gap 360 volunteers were having a great time. It was their last week at the project and they were really sad to be leaving. They were spending their last Sunday doing an extra English class for the kids, and I was fortunate enough to sit in on this lesson, and I could soon see first hand the good work our Gap 360 volunteers do. The girls were making education fun, and the kids were having a giggle whilst learning new English words through fun games and sing songs. The children clearly loved our volunteers and whenever they got the chance, they wanted to hold their hands or get a cuddle. It was amazing to see and I was really proud of our volunteers and for Gap 360’s ongoing work helping out at this thoroughly deserving orphanage project.

My next stop was to visit the volunteer house, which is located about five minutes drive from the orphanage. It offers modern, clean and very spacious accommodation and sleeps seven volunteers. There is a nice kitchen area with a washing machine so you’ve got all the facilities you need. Wifi was also being fitted when I was there, meaning there will soon be problem getting in touch with home by email etc. The volunteer house is situated in a lovely, safe setting, and one of our project staff lives right next door, a really great guy called Gai, who is the volunteers’ personal driver and chef. Each morning he comes to the volunteer house and prepares a yummy breakfast before driving our volunteers to the orphanage or school, depending on what the activities are for the day. He also collects the volunteers from the project at the end of the day and then cooks them a delicious dinner. All of our volunteers are a big fan of Gai and also his mum who also lives next-door, apparently she is like the volunteer project’s honorary mum!

Kitchen at the volunteer house

The accommodation is located close to a rural village where our volunteers can get access to an ATM machine, internet, medical centre, and shop for supplies and snacks. If volunteers need more shops, then they can pay Gai to drive them to Hua Hin which is around 90 minutes away.

Each week the volunteers get some free time, when they can choose what they want to do. They can relax and chill out in and around the project, or they can take time to visit local places of interest. There is a list of places to visit, and the costs of each trip are given to the volunteers.  Wherever the volunteers want to visit, Gai can arrange to take them, for an agreed amount. When I was talking to our volunteers, they had done a variety of exciting things with their free time, including visiting waterfalls, spending a weekend by the beach in Hua Hin as well as going to the famous Full Moon party on Koh Phangan!

Overall, this Thai project is a really rewarding and inspirational volunteer experience and one which I was happy to have had the chance to learn more about from the committed local staff and enthusiastic Gap 360 volunteers!

Share this article:

Want more stories like this?

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest advice, inspiration, and news.

You'll get our helpful travel news, updates and offers. Unsubscribe anytime.

Browse over 200 trips and 50 locations from the comfort of your own home! Send me a FREE brochure!