Monday, May 27, 2024

Expat Volunteers Hitting The Streets

What happens when you retire, and move halfway around the world? You have made the change, you are living the life and enjoying your daily routine of food, friends and fun. It’s life without a care in the world. Of course your weekly coffee with Sam, lunch with Mike and friendly meetings with Bill are going to keep you out of mischief, but likely in time, you might want to look for something more interesting to keep your attention.

Your “bubble” is interesting, your social scene consists of talking about your next meal and reminiscing about the previous one. This conversation on repeat each day with that day’s scheduled group of friends. It’s easy to fall into a rut, however you know there’s got to be more. 

Sometimes you slowly see an unhappy change coming over you and you want to do something about it. Well you’re not alone, many specialists, executives, teachers, entrepreneurs, chefs, medical professionals have spent years in satisfying jobs, whilst dealing with kids and growing families and all the daily juggling that requires.

Joining Communities On Social Media 

Technology has made living easier in many ways. You can join local social networks to discuss broader topics you find interesting. These do offer expansion of your networks with a little bit of opportunity for banter and argument. Unfortunately, sometimes these interactions can turn nasty, so many people avoid these. Most of the time you can discuss with longer term expats about suitable volunteering options available. It’s even an opportunity to try something new.

Joining Organizations 

Another of the many options could be becoming involved in local Expats’ groups like an Expats Club, Rotary, Lions, Toastmasters or similar community service group. These groups usually offer regular opportunities to socialize and serve the local community and provide a gateway for using some of previous experience. You can easily find more information about these groups via a quick local Google search.

There are also some hidden gem organizations that welcome long term available Expats in many different sections of the community. Some of the local schools may have opportunities to teach English to the students or teachers, for pet lovers, many animal rescue organizations have ample opportunities for volunteering walking cats or dogs or playing and helping feed the animals, or even connection with the local neighborhood leaders to discuss different options in this regard. However, in some countries and circumstances, volunteering for just a few random sessions is discouraged by the local NGO/NFP due to necessary preparations and training required for helping the organization.

What To Look Out For (Opinion)

I would avoid all the direct pay for volunteering services, agents and organizations. These packages are profiting the middle men and the money goes more into marketing than the grass roots organization that you are located at. Don’t worry, you can easily find many similar groups who need your help more just around the corner.

Helping Local Organizations

When you look at helping a local grassroots organization, you will notice, these groups are usually financially restrained and running with small budgets. An extra set of “free” hands are welcome, especially if you have a specialized skill from your former life. Once you join and feel comfortable with how things are organized and managed, you may wish to advocate for them, share their message with friends in the hope of gaining some new donations, thus making a greater impact in the longer term. 

These organizations will always have some ways for people to participate depending on your availability and it’s possible to contact them and discuss simple ways you can connect and help them.

I hope this article has given you a bit of a better understanding into the volunteering industry. Yes there is a great need, yes there are many obstacles, but your reward will sometimes be a thank you, sometimes a smile or something more than that a priceless exchange of you helping someone change their life.

I’m trying to do my part, maybe you can to?

You can find Shayne at https://www.facebook.com/chiangmaicleancity 

If you have any recommendations of worthy causes, please contact Asia Lifestyle Magazine for some free coverage.
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Shayne in Thai
Shayne in Thai
A 10 year veteran full time volunteer in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Lifelong part time volunteer through hundreds of groups and foundations Founder of Chiang Mai Clean City, a simple organization promoting everyone, everywhere cleaning the streets for one hour.

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