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Charity Work, "What should I do in Thailand?" (Bangkok)

Fellow Members: People sometimes write me and ask about charity work, and I have lots of opinions about this. How about you? I will start...

One lady wrote:
<I am interested to do some volunteer work in Thailand and...(Name) ...told me u know people who is involved with it...I'll really appreciate any kind of help.>

My question to her:
<What kind of work are you interested in? Do you want to do the traditional kind, or do you want to do change leadership/paradigm shifting stuff? I can help you with both.>

She wrote back:
<Actually when i did it in the past was the traditional kind of volunteering (mostly with kids) but i'm kind of curious to know what is change leadership/paradigm shifting stuff?

Right now i'm ending my studies here in (Country) so the plan is to be there around (Month). I was thinking maybe to do it for short periods of time and in all the area, I mean not only Thailand but Vietnam, Laos, etc. Do u think is it a good idea?>

I told her MY OPINION:

<The traditional kind of volunteering involves more of a tourist approach, (you know, where tour groups go around the world, spending a day in ten cities, and at the end of the day, they have lots of pretty pictures in different countries, and they can send postcards home, "been there, done that", check it off their bucket list. They never got to really understand the people they met, and they did not change inside. And then here are the "travelers", they wander without a timeframe or set prejudices, they engage, they are like Ulysses, they make a difference in the places they settle, sometimes for years, however long it takes to make their stamp on the world, and they change profoundly, becoming new persons, they also change the people around them.)

Paradigm shifting stuff can take a day or a year or ten years, depending on you: your open mind, caring heart, strong ability, and general willingness.

If you want pictures of you handing out stuff to peasants and slum children, or teaching english for a few days, I can give you a few websites to contact, maybe give names of a couple of organizations that I know. But if you want to do something more profound for yourself and others, that may require a little research on your part, and I could guide you a little. But it takes courage. You'd have to as a first step be open to seeing the world in a different light.

IMHO: the few days in each country around the region sounds a bit touristy to me...wouldn't you enjoy it more just taking a holiday? Without worrying about photos of charity groups (and believe me, they have been photographed alot) you could be taking pictures of Ankhor Wat, for instance.

Don't worry about if you still want to do traditional stuff, last time someone asked me this same question, I wrote alot less back, because obviously all he wanted was to go back feeling like some kind of hero to Asians, he simply went to the (Place), who knows what he did, and after a month came out thinking he was Paul Bunyan or James Bond or something, hehe! Probably got some nice photos.

Why don't you do a little web research into the countries you are interested in, and let me know if you have an idea what their issues are? And the general mood and issues of the region? What country do you have a feel for, what are you drawn to? And by the way, what are you studying?

That would be a good starting point.
Life is short, make it count.>

So now, your turn. Do you have an opinion on this?
What makes for Real Work with charities?
What is charity? What helps communities?
Lets have some discussion on this.