Over the past year, I’ve gotten plenty of emails and messages inquiring about volunteering with my org, TLSDF, or requesting information on other NGOs in CM. Recently, I got the bright idea to just write a post highlighting some of the fabulous and reputable organizations in and around the CM area. While most may not have the funds to hire an employee (mainly due to the tough Thailand foreign worker laws), they love volunteers!
The Life Skills Development Foundation (TLSDF or Rak Dek) – This is the NGO I work for! Our expertise lies in indigenous/hill tribe community and skills building related to child rights, early education, HIV/AIDS awareness & stigma reduction, coalition-building and advocacy. Here is the website: rakdek.or.th. While we don’t have an official program set up for volunteers, we often accept interns from universities in Chiang Mai and have worked with a few amazing media/photojournalism volunteers from South Africa and the U.S. this past year. If you have graphic design, social media or web content skills and want to help us out, shoot me an email: email@example.com.
Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture Thailand (IMPECT) – IMPECT is a partner group of TLSDF and kills it in the advocacy department. They are the go-to organization for all Indigenous Peoples knowledge and have effectively established their place as the source of inter-tribe collaborations. Along with TLSDF, FAL and PCF, they are one of the groups involved in founding the first child rights coalition of Northern Thailand. I love working with them!
Foundation for Applied Linguistics (FAL) – FAL works to promote the integration of Indigenous People’s mother-tongue languages with school curriculum. It addresses a complicated dilemma in the Thai education system regarding migrant, hill tribe and indigenous learning.
Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation Thailand (PCF) – PCF is one of TLSDF’s funding organizations and works with us on a number of capacities. Not only are they huge supporters of coalition building amongst child rights-related NGOs in Chiang Mai, they also take the lead in promoting multi-lingual education in indigenous schools and have access to a huge network of orgs in northern Thailand and Switzerland. PCF is Swiss-based after all!
Raks Thai – These guys are a ton of fun and have a fairly extensive operation throughout northern Thailand. Their focus is on sustainable development within disadvantaged and marginalized communities. I’ve only observed their Power Teens group during an HIV/AIDS awareness event and they were pros at media outreach!
Dulabhathorn Foundation – This small, but wonderful organization focuses on the development and education of disabled children, a group often discarded by Thai society. Located on an absolutely gorgeous estate just outside of main Chiang Mai, they have been the forerunners in progressing education initiatives for children with Down’s Syndrome and autism. I believe they are in need of experienced & innovative educators seeking long-term volunteer work or employment teaching children with developmental disabilities.
Schools of Hope – While not exactly in Chiang Mai (it’s in Nong Ook/Arunothai, about 2 hours from CM), they are one of my favorite organizations I’ve ever run into. It was founded by Noom, when he was beginning his monkship, and is located at a temple on the Burmese/Thai border. The temple takes in orphaned or neglected Shan migrant children from the surrounding area and provides them with shelter, food, community, education and empowerment opportunities. I am constantly amazed at how well Noom and his children are able to advocate their cause throughout Chiang Mai. One reason Schools of Hope is so special to me is that Noom not only provides the kids with standard education, but really encourages them to express themselves artistically. One of the kids self-taught himself how to play a number of instruments by observing others and simply listening to the tune of a song. These kids are seriously talented.
I’m not particularly familiar with the inner workings of the below organizations, but they have solid reputations amongst the expats in Chiang Mai. They’d be worth a look!
Childlife – Mae Sai
The Best Friend Library
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEA CLE)
Thai Freedom House
Documentary Arts Asia
The Gate Theater
The Mirror Foundation
Peace in Burma Now