Volunteering in Israel

Thailand: Akha Hilltribe Aid and Experience

Location
Volunteers will be based in Chiang Rai, and the project will take place in various hill tribe villages around this area. Chiang Rai province covers some 11,678 square kilometers with a population of 1.23 million. The average elevation is 580 meters above sea level, Myanmar borders on the north, and Laos on the north and northeast. The provincial capital is 829 kilometers north of Bangkok.

Chiang Rai was founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai and was the first capital of Lanna Thai (Kingdom of a Million Rice fields). The province contains Thailand's northernmost point at Mae Sai which is well known for its crisp mountain scenery, and hill tribes. North Chiang Rai and falls within the region known as the Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos converge.

About the project
This project gives you the opportunity to volunteer for the indigenous AKHA tribes of Northern Thailand. As a volunteer you will experience and learn about their unique culture and traditions. The aim of the project is to support the AKHA way of life while promoting sustainable cultural exchange between the local community and the international volunteers.

During the  project volunteers will work with orginizations that support the AKHA minority. The volunteer work is very diverse, from construction, to teaching and working with the villagers; it will all depend upon the needs of the community at the time and on your personal preferences! During these two weeks we will also visit local markets and help to sustain local initiatives.

About the Akha hill tribes
The Akha are a hill tribe of subsistence farmers known for their artistry. The ethnic group may have originated in Mongolia around 1500 years ago. Most of the remaining Akha people are now distributed in small villages among the mountains of China (where they are considered part of the Hani by the government, though this is a subject of some dispute among the Akha themselves), Laos (where they are considered Lao Sung), Myanmar (Burma), and northern Thailand, where they are one of the six main hill tribes.

Schedule and volunteer activities
This volunteer program requires cultural sensitivity, flexibilty, and an open mind in order to work and interact with the AKHA people. Typical project schedule for 2 weeks:

First Sunday

Pickup by coordinator in Bangkok airport. They will direct you to the project site.

First Monday

Arrival in Chiang Rai during the early morning
After some rest, a short explanation of the program and a general volunteer schedule for the next 2 weeks
Upon arrival, there will be lectures about the area, AKHA customs and do's and don'ts. 
In the afternoon, depart to the hill tribe village.
First Tuesday-Friday

Thai and AKHA people are very spontaneous and act instead of following a precise schedule. Below are some possibilities of what could happen.

Visit the local market and use this as a starting point to learn on how to bargain (in Thai)
Construction & renovation of the nearby areas.
Agriculture & environmental work is also possible in the villages
Helping in the herb garden
Volunteers can help the students with homework  Playing and participation in fun activities with the students is part of the job
Getting familiar with the public transport system
First Saturday

Trekkiing trip
Back in the evening
Possibility to stay on one's own in Chiang Rai and return Sunday evening
First Sunday

Free time
Second Monday-Friday

Continue with volunteering and different activities
Don't be surprised by any unexpected changes in the schedule this week: It keeps everyone alert and enables our coordinator to show you more of the area and culture.
Second Saturday

Free Time
Sunday

departure 

Accommodation and facilites
Volunteers will stay in a Homestay or in a volunteer center. Please note that the accommodation is very basic. Thai bathrooms include Asian toilets and ‘shower' only.There are limited laundry facilities so expect to wash your clothes by hand . All participants are expected to be environmentally aware and to use all resources with restraint, especially water, paper and electricity. You will be expected to clean up after yourself, and to play your part to keep the accommodation neat and organized. All food is included during your stay. The meals will be typical AKHA / Thai fare, including plenty of rice dishes. You have the opportunity to learn how to cook - Thai style, by preparing your daily meals with the assistance of your new Thai friends and other volunteers. Sleeping bag is required.

Minimum requirements
Min. age 18
Good level of English
Motivation to work with children and meet new cultures
Full travel & medical insurance
Immunizations (please consult your doctor)

To apply for this program, see Akha Hilltribe Aid and Experience

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