Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Volunteering With Animals!

The following is a posting from a few of our volunteers that are currently volunteering in our Elephant Camp Volunteer Project. These volunteers did not know each other prior to their arrival and have become very close during their project.

Volunteer in Thailand

Traveling to a foreign country to volunteer on your own can be a daunting experience, and one can only travel with courage and the hope of making new friends. The only thing you can do is pack your bags, say your goodbyes and cross your fingers. What you don’t expect is how easy it is to make friends with people who have a similar mindset to yourself. You realize once you get there how much you have in common with the people you meet, no matter the distances or difference in languages, because you all share the same hopes and goals. There’s nothing like throwing a group of strangers into a foreign country together to create an instant bond. Everyone is sharing the same new experiences, and no matter the age, background, or language, you find a way to come together.

If one has never visited Thailand before, it is a country of entirely unique sights, smells and sounds. Its beauty is awesome but can also be overwhelming at first. It helps to meet a travel companion, even if they’re just as clueless as you. Walking into the Friends of Asia house, we were greeted with bright smiles and “Hellos”, “Bonjours” and “Sawadee-kas”. Everyone is pulsing with the same excitement as you have, and you feel an instant sense of camaraderie. You are all eager to explore your new surroundings and share tales of home, travels and hopes. You have just walked into a crash course on adventure. The friendly and helpful operators of Friends for Asia arm you with a basic vocabulary, an intro to culture, and a run-down of what to expect in your chosen project. Regardless of what project you join, it is always exciting to come back to the Friends for Asia Volunteer House on the weekends to reunite with your newfound friends.

Volunteering with Animals

During the week my project is at the Elephant Camp. Seventy elephants and two-hundred fifty mahouts are there to welcome me on Monday morning. No matter what the people at the Friends for Asia Volunteer house tell you to train you for this project, nothing can prepare you for the warm, welcoming staff and beautiful, intelligent elephants. I saw my own feeling of awe mirrored in my companion’s faces as we arrived at our new home. The Elephant Camp is set in an idyllic landscape of lush rolling jungle, cut through by a wide but shallow river. Our rooms are simple yet comfortable, with great views and at night you can hear the elephants talking to each other in trumpets, grunts and squeals. Our excitement was palpable.

Volunteering with Friends

The only way to believe that it wasn’t a dream was because we were all having it. A walk through the jungle, a bath for a baby elephant, and a trip to a local tribe were a few of the daily activities that were offered to us during our stay. We were all aware of each other’s fears, strengths and hopes as we embarked on a journey beginning at 6am. There isn’t a feeling in the world like coming together at the end of the day to laugh and share stories about the encounters we had with our mahouts and elephants; stories of hilarious and awkward attempts at communication, touching tales of bonding with our elephants, and other note worthy experiences. At night we fall into a grateful and exhausted sleep, eager to begin the next day.