Lend a helping hand
By Shaan Bajaj
Sewa, also known as selfless service, is one of the first few concepts I was taught. Whether it was through serving food at langaar (community kitchen) or sending food to a children’s home every Saturday, it has been ever-present in my Sikh household. Moreover, I knew I wanted to help from a young age, regardless of the expectation to do so. As I have grown older, volunteering and charity work has become an important part of my life. It has helped me develop compassion and gain a better perspective on how our lived experiences differ. I realised how incredibly privileged my upbringing has been, and while I may never truly understand what it is like to be under-privileged, I can use my time and resources to bridge the gap and create a more equal world that is built for everyone.
It is a lot easier to volunteer when you are a student but as you start working a 9-5, it can
be tough to find the time to do your bit. If you are looking for a cause to get involved with,
here are seven organisations you can volunteer at, despite your workweek schedule. There
are of course plenty more that you can get involved with, including a few renowned global names, but this is our list of Bangkok-based charities that you may not be familiar with.
BANGKOK COMMUNITY HELP (MISCELLANEOUS)
Established at the beginning of COVID by Friso Poldervaart and Greg Lange, Bangkok Community Help currently run a variety of different projects that require volunteers on a daily basis. They provide food aid, education for kids, housing for lower-income communities, and renovation for public schools. Their office is located in Sukhumvit Soi 10, where they prepare and distribute 500 meals daily from 10am to 2pm. They also take in donations of clothes, toys, home appliances, and furniture. For more information, visit www.bangkokcommunityhelp.com
HOME OF GRACE (FOR HELPING TEENAGE MOTHERS)
Home of Grace is a charity organisation that aims to provide teenage mums-to-be or girls who have given birth, with a safe haven. The home runs a charity shop at the property to raise funds for the girls and their children. Volunteers are needed to sort through all the donations to see what can be sold, and to help organise the shop. Additionally, people can volunteer by getting to know these girls and babysitting or providing maintenance at the property. For more information, visit their Facebook page: @homeofgracebkk
SPEAKING HUB (FOR TEACHING ENGLISH)
Prima Pupornchai founded Speaking Hub as a digital space to learn English for middle and high school students from rural parts of Thailand. She and the team are dedicated to provide free online classes that help students speak English and think critically. As they grow, they are always looking for volunteer teachers who can teach in the evenings or over the weekend. To become a teacher, you need to be a current undergraduate student or have already graduated.
For more information, visit https://www.speakinghub.org/
SATI (FOR MENTAL HEALTH)
Sati App, founded by Thai-Indian Amornthep Sachamuneewongse, is an app that offers a 24-hour listening service for anyone who might be struggling and is in need of someone to talk to. They aim to create a safe space to talk about mental health, and serve as a reminder that there are people who care. They often look for volunteers who would like to be listeners, after a short training period that covers the basics of mental first aid. Once completed, you can volunteer with them on the app on your own time. For more information, visit www.satiapp.co/
RUTH CENTER THAILAND (FOR HELPING THE ELDERLY)
Ruth Center is dedicated to helping the elderly community in low-income neighbourhoods. They help by providing basic necessities and maintenance, organising trips, caring for them, and spending time with them. They also help them make a living for themselves through selling fabric products that they are taught to make. You can volunteer at the centre by helping with construction projects, caring for the elderly, or organising activities.
For more information, contact them through their Facebook page: @ruthcenterbangkok
NEILSON HAYS LIBRARY (MISCELLANEOUS)
The digital age has slowly seen a decline in libraries, highlighting the importance of keeping them alive. Neilson Hays Library, a beloved cultural landmark in Bangkok, welcomes volunteers from Sundays to Tuesdays, to help with a variety of events and operations spanning kids’ programmes, fundraisers, school visits, writing press releases, social media, and graphic design. If you are a book lover or just want to help preserve the educational community provided by libraries, reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE TERRACYCLE GLOBAL FOUNDATION (FOR CLIMATE ACTION)
Plastic waste often ends up in the ocean, harming animals and their natural habitat. The TerraCycle Global Foundation clean up waterways by installing traps within rivers to collect the waste before entering the ocean. Waste pickers and local communities come together to pick out the waste before it is sent to be recycled, or used for energy consumption. They collect waste at the Ladprao Canal every day. To volunteer with them, communities, business, schools, or organisations can plan a clean-up event at the canal.