The life of the volunteer

by Travel Paulie on January 20, 2010

If you’ve been following along on my other main blog a few months ago, you would have seen my post about my having doubts regarding the validity of my whole plan to travel around the world whilst volunteering in projects as I go.  Those doubts, while on the whole they subsided, would never really go away until I’d successfully be able to plant myself within a volunteer organisation as originally designed.

Well, I’m here.  I’m in Nong Khai working for a volunteer organisation using the model I had hoped to find so all-in-all, it’s been a success story so far.  I’ll fill you in a little a bit on the setup and what’s been happening so far…

The organisation – Openmind Projects

The organisation I’m working for is called Openmind Projects and they are based primarily (it seems) in Thailand, with operations also in Laos, Cambodia and Nepal.  The head office is in the north east of Thailand, where I am right now: Nong Khai.  They also have an office/lodgings in the south, Krabi.

Openmind Projects offer roles for volunteers in Eco-tourism and English teaching amongst others.  You’re best to check out their website to get further detailed information on the projects they have on offer.

The thing that attracted me in the first place was the IT training volunteer opportunities, but it turned out after I contacted them, it seemed that they preferred I worked for the organisation itself in-house.  The difference for me is significant.

As a volunteer who comes out to Thailand to work in schools or in eco-tourism projects, you typically need to pay fees to support the whole process.  And that’s fine, but it’s not the model I’m searching for.  Buried in my ‘doubts’ post is the particular model I want which is: I come and work for a volunteer organisation and through my work I have my bed and board covered.  I’m not looking for a salary, but rather that I just get to live and work with the organisation in some capacity.

With my current position, this is exactly what I receive.  It’s perfect.  The accommodation isn’t 5*, but it doesn’t need to be.  The food (lunch and dinner) is absolutely top class and is prepared by some of the people that work here.  I really couldn’t ask for a better setup, especially for my first gig outside of the corporate rat race.

Day-to-day in Nong Khai

Currently I’m working as an IT guy and utilizing what I know about systems, servers and networks to revamp the existing infrastructure.  Since they prefer to not use pricey licensed software from the likes of Microsoft, Linux has been the system of choice.  I’m not Linux expert by any means but together with a colleague we have set up a new Ubuntu-based file and printer server.

It’s not rocket science, but there’s been a lot of learning and frustrations and it’s only 3 days into the process.  This weekend will see us re-cable the office and set the place up as if from scratch.  What comes after, is anybody’s guess, but it will all involve putting in systems to make the whole thing run more smoothly and improve collaborative ability and processes amongst members of the organisation.

IT aside, every day at 12pm and 7pm group lunch and dinner is prepared.  Anyone staying at the dorms and/or working there that day is welcome to dig in and it’s typically a very social time.

It’s really been a great experience coming here, and tomorrow morning it will have been 1 week already since I arrived on their door step.  The welcome and pseudo-family environment is really quite special.  I feel already that only being here until mid-March isn’t going to be long enough!

Anyhow, that’s really just a very light overview of the way I’m spending my time here but hopefully I’ll be able to write more on the experience as a whole, not just the volunteering in the next few days.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura January 21, 2010 at 00:55

All seems to have fallen into place- frustrations and planning that’s gone before has definitely paid off it seems! Can’t wait to hear about the area you’re in. x


Chloe January 31, 2010 at 18:27

Keep at it!! See you soon!


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