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Building & Gardening at Home for Single Mothers – Volunteer Thailand

This project is available in Chiang Mai.

From sustainable gardening to bamboo construction, life at the single mothers’ home is about more than just babysitting. As a gardening and construction volunteer, you’ll play a role in steering disadvantaged single mothers onto the path to self-sufficiency.

Volunteering in Thailand – A day in the Life

For volunteers, the day starts at around 9:00 am, but you’ll probably find the work in progress when you arrive on the site. The first thing you’ll hear is the two-wheeled “steel buffalo” rattling through the on-site rice paddy. Here on the gateway to the rural north, against a backdrop of jungle-clad mountains, it’s easy to forget that you’re only minutes from Chiang Mai city proper.

Volunteer Tasks & Skills

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Your daily tasks vary according your skills, the compound’s needs and the season of your assignment. The most pressing need is for hands-on construction. This single mother’s home is growing fast, and homes are needed not only for the mother’s and their children, staff, administration and volunteers, but also for the live-in construction team.

Volunteer Building

During your tenure on this assignment, you’ll learn the tricks of building with one of nature’s most sustainable building materials: bamboo. Every jointed pole has to be treated and sealed before it’s tied off into frames or slatted into walls. Depending on current phases, the crew may also need help laying cement foundations or painting.

Volunteer Gardening

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Gardening is another major component of this project. Some of the rice and produce eaten on the compound is sustainably and organically grown here. The single mothers, staff and volunteers do it all: planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning and harvesting. This is the kind of hands-in-the-earth solidarity that travel agencies wish they could offer.

But don’t sweat the heat. If the wide-brimmed hat isn’t doing its job anymore, there’s plenty you can do in the shade. You’ll also have a midday break where you can study Thai, get to know the employees or catch a quick nap.

Making a Difference – Volunteer

Assisting single mothers in their efforts to gain skills needed to survive and prosper will be your number-one objective. Many of these women hail from the mountains of Northern Thailand. They represent marginalized ethnic groups that are too-often overlooked, and they’re unaccustomed to strangers taking an interest in their welfare. You’re an ambassador, of sorts – a vote of confidence that simple kindness exists outside the village.

Part of the foundation’s goal is to equip disadvantaged mothers for successful careers. There’s a good chance you’ve got a skill worth sharing, and you’ll be encouraged to do just that. Most of the single mothers and their children have little-to-no English background. They take regular classes, and fluent volunteers are an invaluable resource. Computer skills training, how-to handicraft demonstrations and just about any form of cultural sharing are also in high demand.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Simply being on-site to help out with the chores is a great help. Many of these disadvantaged women hope to return to their villages one day, and the gardening and construction skills they learn here will be of direct benefit in that setting. Just having an extra set of hands around frees them up to focus on picking up a new skill or refining an old one. And who knows, you may pick up a skill worth taking home with you as well.

Volunteer Qualifications

The minimum age requirement for volunteers in this project is 20. Due to having to work outside and spend a lot of time in the heat, the home requests for volunteers to be in good physical condition. Volunteers should have a basic knowledge of building and tools, be between the ages of 20-40 and able to work in the heat. Volunteers should be able-bodied, flexible and enjoy working outside.

Volunteer Stories

Overall it is a meaningful experience that offers something for everyone, and I would recommend it to anyone considering a volunteer project in Chiang Mai.” – Jared Halperin, New York, USA

The people there became my teachers, and caused me to break through my own theories of how life should be lived, and how to define success at the end of the day. – Kelsey Gagnon, Maine, USA

Volunteer Fees

Participation in the Building Volunteer Project at the Single Mother’s Home starts at $999 for four weeks. Each additional week is $119.

Volunteer Fee Includes

Airport pick up, accommodation during orientation and entire project time, breakfast every morning, lunch every work day, 2 day orientation, half day city tour, cultural dinner and show, onsite coordinator and 24 hour emergency assistance.

Volunteer Fee Does Not Include

Plane tickets, travel insurance, cost of transportation to and from work location and accommodation, ride to the airport after service, dinner.