You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore what Thailand has to offer!
You have the opportunity to assist in an elephant rehabilitation program in beautiful Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. Join committed staff and volunteers in helping these intelligent animals readjust to life in the hill-country forests. Most of the animals in the program were maltreated prior to arriving at the project, often suffering from abuse, malnutrition, neglect or improper care. Some were rescued from the illegal pet trade and others have previously been exploited for the tourism industry. Your time here will be spent both in the forest observing the elephant's behaviour and in camp helping with a variety of project needs. The program aims to allow the elephants to live a safe, semi-wild life amongst a local hill-tribe community.
I have had the opportunity to observe and work closely with these social and complex animals, which would be impossible with elephants in the wild. I have been made to feel really welcome here and I feel privileged to be part of a project that is helping both the elephants and the community in which they live.
Avery | Thailand Volunteer
Meet Gemma, our partner's Base Manager in Chiang Mai.
Gemma's favorite aspect of her job? Having the opportunity to observe elephants in the forest every day and knowing that if we weren't in the village, these elephants may still be in camps. Being able to be a part of their reintroduction is amazing!
Gemma | Thailand Volunteer
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
Chiang Mai is a breathtaking city in northern Thailand. Elephant project work will take place a 5 hour trip from Chiang Mai in the mountainous Mae Chaem District. This beautiful area is home to famous Karen elephant-keeping communities who have had a sacred relationship with elephants for hundreds of years. Ease into their peaceful way of life and gain a new perspective on life while living amongst this community.
Chiang Mai Elephant Rehabilitation
Volunteer in the lush mountain forests of Northern Thailand and spend each day in the forest with elephants rescued from a life of servitude to tourists. Thanks to local and volunteer efforts these gentle giants now live natural lives in Chiang Mai Province, an area famous for its traditional elephant keeping communities. Learn about elephant behavior and contribute directly to the elephants’ lives - because by providing an alternative income for the owners, mahouts (elephant keepers) and local villagers, volunteers like you allow the elephants to be rehabilitated and re-discover their natural instincts.
Please note that due to the emphasis on rehabilitating the elephants to their natural habitat, this program does not encourage a "hands on" role with the elephants.
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 12 years experience in placing 19516 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 12 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Thailand and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on Thailand and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Volunteer Accommodation.
Meals: 3 meals daily.
Training: In-country orientation and training.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, personal expenses.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $30 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.
Your Program Package
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Your Program Package
Tell me more about Thailand?
The Kingdom of Thailand, covering an area of 514,000 square kilometres, lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Lao P.D.R. to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south. Thailand has a population of about 60 million. Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and thus strains of Mon, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian and most strongly, Chinese stock produce a degree of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and socially there is enormous unity. For more information we suggest you purchase the Lonely Planet’s guide to Thailand.
What is the climate like in Thailand?
In Thailand there are three seasons: hot, rainy, and cool. For the Europeans that arrive in Thailand there seems to be only one season: a hot season. During the night the temperature only drops a few degrees and the humidity during the day and night is over 70%. Luckily, the elephant program is in hill country and generally experiences temperatures about 5 degrees cooler than in cities.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Do I have to be from New Zealand?
No, the program is open to people from all over the world.
What age do you have to be to volunteer?
You must be 18 years old and above. There is no upper limit, you just have to be in good health.
Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?
Yes, English is the main language used at the project.
Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?
Yes, you can do this on your day off. You are also welcome to travel further around Thailand before or after your placement.
Are there more expenses once I arrive?
The in-country fee covers accommodation and meals. If you arrive early or intend on staying on in Thailand for longer than you are volunteering then you will need to have extra money for this time. Also some money may be required for your days off. Other costs include your flights, visa, shots, travel insurance, departure tax, and any shopping you will do personally.
How safe is it to volunteer in Thailand?
We work very hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering. Thailand is one of the safer countries in Asia and you will find the people very welcoming and kind. Of course any traveller can encounter trouble - especially if you are indiscreet with money or valuables.
Who organizes my visa for my volunteer placement?
You do if it is required. Our program guide has links to Thai Embassies through out the world.
Do I need travel insurance?
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
Approximately the size of France, Thailand covers an area of 510,000 square kilometres, and its population of 60 million is growing at a rate of 1.5% per year. Thailand shares its border with Myanmar in the west and north, Laos in the northeast, Cambodia in the east and Malaysia in the south.
The program is located in northern Chiang Mai Province.
Most of the animals residing at the sanctuary were maltreated before they arrived here, suffering from abuse, malnutrition, neglect and improper care, rescued from the illegal pet trade, or have previously been exploited for the tourism industry. Many of the animals arrive with permanent disabilities and hence, cannot be returned to the wild. The centre's mission is to give these animals the best quality of life possible in captivity.
What else can I do in Thailand?
Visitors to Thailand will have no problem finding things to do!
Take some time before or after your volunteer placement to explore urban Bangkok, bohemian Chiang Mai and the island of Ko Phi Phi.
During your free time when volunteering you can explore the local towns and their restaurants, markets, spas and hotels. Or take some time to cool off at the beach with a dip in the sea.