Please note: Volunteers will be working extensively with children. Baan Dada therefore requires a completed application form and one of the following from all applicants: a criminal record report or a referral letter from a long-term volunteer (past or present).
Please see ‘Current Home Projects’ and ‘Community Projects and Services’ from more information on what will be happening at Baan Dada when you come to volunteer.
The basic atmosphere at Baan Dada is holistic, with weekly yoga, and meditation practices (which you can join if you like), vegetarian meals and dedication to the service of others.
Baan Dada offers food and accommodation and asks for a small contribution of:
400 baht per night (volunteering more than 2 weeks)
500 baht per night (volunteering less than 2 weeks)
Please note: As volunteering at Baan Dada is a 1 week minimum, volunteers are required to pay this 1 week minimum of 3,500 baht, regardless if you choose to leave before your 1 week is finished. Please understand that this is due to the work involved in preparing for your stay and this payment is non-refundable.
All volunteer monetary contributions go strictly towards the supplied food, accommodation, extra wages for the single-mother cooks and care givers, and maintenance of the home.
Baan Dada has a very tight budget. To make it easier for us to manage your day-to-day needs, it is essential that you pay the appropriate amount for your entire stay upon arrival or on the next day. Money can be given to the Volunteer Coordinator. If there is no Volunteer Coordinator, please give to Dada or place money in the donation box in our office and write it up in the ‘Log Book.’
We also have a ‘Registration Book’ for incoming volunteers which has to be filled in upon arrival or on the next day.
Length of volunteering time:
There is one-week minimum for volunteering. Groups coming to Baan Dada to complete certain tasks or projects are an exception. In saying this, the longer you can volunteer at Baan Dada the better for both you, the children and the home!
Please think about your motivation for volunteering. Remember that volunteering with us is not a holiday. There will be a combination of office work, teaching English, cleaning the volunteer house and physical work. Often the work is labor-intensive and teaching can be frustrating, but it is always worth it in the end. It can also be stressful for some people to live in such a remote area, so take this into account as well.
Tasks and activities:
Teaching English is one of the most important jobs a volunteer can do! It is therefore a compulsory part of volunteering. The children are divided into groups by skill level and receive classes at night.
You also can teach arts, music, or any other skills you have, or simply organise different activities for the children.
Other tasks include building, farming, tutoring, driving, administration work in the office, cooking, fundraising or helping to support many community projects Baan Dada is involved with.
Who can volunteer:
We are seeking volunteers from all backgrounds who are experienced (or are eager to gain experience!) in a variety of skills. We are especially in need of those with experience in:
- Teaching (English, music, art, and computers)
- Engineering, metal work, and masonry (to help with construction projects, and/or teach about mechanical things)
- Agricultural skills (if you have knowledge about grafting, seedlings, or general agriculture and would like to volunteer please specify in your email)
- Graphic design and office experience (to help with press releases, fliers and website maintenance, and fundraising)
- Medical fields ( to help with the children’s health and eye car program)
If you are interested and able to volunteer time from your own country, we have many things you may be able to help us with. Please contact us for details and see ‘Current Home Projects’ and ‘Community Projects and Services’ for more information.
Volunteers will be responsible for their own return ticket, health insurance, and visa arrangements. They are expected to respect the local cultural norms and holistic lifestyle at the project.
The project is free of drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Anyone can have a drink, but they must stay in a guest house in Sangkhlaburi for the evening. Smoking is permitted FAR from the view of any children, as it is not the type of behavior we want them to replicate.
Please arrange your stay with us prior to arrival so we can make sure there is a bed available!
What to Bring
Items volunteers will need to bring:
- Toilet paper
- Mosquito repellent
- Washcloth and quick drying travel towel
- A spare pair of rubber sandals/flip flops to wear in the bathroom areas
- Long clothing to protect from mosquitoes at night. Breathable fabric is good.
- Malaria tablets (please check with your doctor)
- A torch/flashlight
- In cool season, bring some warmer clothes as the mornings and nights are cold, while during the day it is still hot
- If in rainy season, waterproof or quick dry clothing, a rain jacket/poncho, an umbrella and rubber non-slip flip flops (June – October)
- Cash for your stay, ATM’s can be found at Siam Bank and Krungthai Bank in Sangkhlaburi town. Bring enough to pay for your stay in advance and buy some snacks and other small things (cheap convenience stores are 20 mins walk).
- A small first aid kit, plasters/bandages for blisters etc.
- Wet wipes
- Tampons (can buy a limited variety in 7/11)
- Washing powder
- A water bottle
Items we provide:
- Blankets, pillows and sleeping sheets
- Mosquito net
- Fridge, water boiler and toaster (when they are working)
- Safe drinking water
- Three cooked vegetarian meals a day
- Internet access (when it is working)
Items you can bring for the kids:
Items such as school supplies, toys, medical gear and so forth can be purchased more cheaply in Thailand, therefore monetary donations rather than items are best. However, there are some things you can bring:
- Educational games, new laptops, software, and computer supplies
- Used eyeglasses, and sunglasses preferably real UV protected
- High-end specialised tools (such as those for auto and bicycle maintenance)
- Old jewelry, accessories, and used clothing (baby clothes and mens shirts sell well) for the children to sell on market day
- Old digital cameras (preferably still in working condition)
Many volunteers do some fundraising before going to Baan Dada. This allows them to pour money into the project that they are most passionate about, or perhaps propose a new project. In the past, ex-volunteers have conducted small charity dinners, walks, concerts, or bike rides and have raised thousands!
You can either get a mini van or bus to reach Sangkhlaburi (a town 13km from Baan Dada).
Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit)
Air-conditioned buses leave Morchit bus station and go directly to Sangkhlaburi. It will take approximately 7 – 8 hours. There are usually 2 buses – one at 5am and the other at 9.30am. Get there with plenty of time for the bus you want to catch as tickets often sell out early! If the bus is sold out, you can get a mini-van to Kanchanaburi and then another mini van to Sangkhlaburi.
Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai)
Mini vans or buses leave Sai Tai Mai for Kanchanaburi every 30 minutes. It will take approximately 2 – 3 hours. From Kanchanaburi, get a mini van to Sangkhlaburi, which will take approximately 3 – 4 hours (last van leaves at 4:30pm).
Mini vans leave Victory Monument for Kanchanaburi every 20 minutes. It will take approximately 2 – 3 hours. From Kanchanaburi, get a mini van to Sangkhlaburi, which will take approximately 3 – 4 hours (last van leaves at 4:30pm).
Note: If you arrive at Kanchanaburi after 2:00pm, it’s strongly suggested that you should stay there for one night (the Jolly Frog is a cheap hostel) and then catch a bus to Sangkhlaburi on the next day. It takes about 3 – 4 hours from Kanchanaburi to Sangkhlaburi by bus, and there will be no Songthaews or motorbikes from Sangkhlaburi to Baan Dada after 6:00pm.
Once in Sangkhlaburi:
You will arrive on the same street as 7/11 and CJ Express. At the end of this street (near 7/11 end) there should be a few green songthaews (covered pick-up trucks). Get on a songthaew that is heading for Huay Ma Lai (the village where Baan Dada is located). There are no English signs, just walk up to the drivers or the people hanging out near the songthaews and say “Huay Ma Lai” or “Baan Dada”. All of the drivers know about Baan Dada and will know where to drop you. Huay Ma Lai is about 13km from Sangkhlaburi and the songthaew ride is 40-60 baht (depending on how many people are in it; 300-400 baht if you are on your own).
Alternatively, you could catch a ride on a motorbike or truck by the stand just outside the large parking lot and go to Baan Dada. It should cost around 150 baht per person.
Once in Huay Ma Lai:
The songthaew or motorbike driver should drop you at Baan Dada. If not, you will most likely be dropped off at a crossroad bus stop with a small waiting stand on the right. You will be walking from this point. Take the right at the crossroads. Walk about 500 meters, you will go up a hill, and then down it. Early into the walk there will be a small Christian foundation on your right. At the top of the hill there should be a clay and dirt quarry on your right, next to a rubber tree plantation. You will come to another crossroads intersection as you are going down the hill. Take a right at the Baan Dada sign.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s the weather like?
There are three seasons, warm season from February to May, rainy season from the end of June to October, and the ‘cool’ season which extends from November to January. From February to October the temperature averages 35°C but during the cool season it can reach as low as 10°C, so remember to bring layers. During the rainy season there is frequent unpredictable rain.
Where do I dispose of my garbage?
Garbage is separated into ‘rubbish’ and ‘recycling’ at the volunteer house. When the bins are full, the rubbish goes to allocated areas at Baan Dada.
Is there a dress code?
There is no enforced dress code. It is advised however to not wear anything too revealing or short, to fit in with the culture of Baan Dada. Comfortable, practical clothes are best. Bring some older clothes too, which you are happy to get dirt or paint on!
Is there Internet access or cell phone service?
Yes, there is phone service, and there are computers in the office with Internet access (wired and wifi), but volunteers have to share them with the staff and children. Sometimes the internet service is not that great, and there might be days with no service. Office work takes priority over personal internet use on Baan Dada computers. There is also good mobile phone service in the area – you can either use your existing cell phone number or you can buy a Thai SIM card in Bangkok, at 7/11s or at a mobile phone store in Thailand to pop into your own phone. (Currently only 1-2-Call has reception in the area). Data service for many smartphones also work here, but check your phone carrier for roaming and international charges.
Is there a post office nearby?
Yes, there is a post office in Sangkhlaburi.
Do volunteers sleep in the same space as the children or separately?
It is not prohibited to sleep where the children sleep, but it is not common.
What are volunteer conditions like?
There is one main volunteer house, as well as three bamboo huts. A couple of the toilets are ‘western’ and your shower will mostly be a ‘cold bucket shower’ or if you are lucky the hot water showers will be working. The volunteer house is situated 5 minutes walk from the main living area of Baan Dada. There is a volunteer fridge, kettle, toaster and fans available, and electrical plugs in rooms. Sleeping conditions are basic, a thin mattress on the floor and there are creepy crawlies around the volunteer house.
Do male and females sleep together?
There are no ‘rules’ for where to sleep in the volunteer house. It is completely up to the volunteers.
Will I share a room?
It depends on how many volunteers are staying at Baan Dada, but sometimes yes.
Does the volunteer house have electricity? Internet access?
There is electricity at the house, but internet access does not reach there. Power outages are common, especially during the rainy season.
What about food and water?
The ‘mothers’ who live and work at Baan Dada cook three vegetarian meals a day, which don’t include eggs, mushrooms, onion, or garlic. However, sometimes treats such as Burmese tea leaf salad, which contains garlic, is bought from the market. There is usually no dairy either as that is too expensive. There is sometimes fruit included with the meals, but more can be purchased at the local Thursday morning market which is is a 20-minute walk away in Huay Ma Lai, or in Sangkhlaburi. It is not allowed to bring meat to Baan Dada. Most volunteers comment on how great the food is. You can also help to cook, especially if they are understaffed in the kitchen – usually around 4am, 10am, and 3pm. There is safe water available from one tap in the kitchen. It is fine to use the water in taps at the volunteer house to clean your teeth, but make sure not to swallow the water.
Will I be washing my own clothes?
Usually volunteers hand wash their own clothes at the volunteer house. There is plenty of space to dry clothes there. There is also a washing machine at the main home.
Are there any medical risks?
It is recommended by doctors at the local hospital that you should use an anti-malarial prophylactic – Doxycyclin or Malarone are currently recommended. Please consult your physician for up-to-date advice. Please note the anti-malaria tablets are readily available here for a fraction of the price you may pay in your home country (ie. Doxycyclin is 3 baht a tablet in Kanchanaburi and 5 baht a tablet in Sangkhlaburi).
How long can I stay with a tourist visa?
Usually 30 days. It is up to the volunteer to organise their own visa. Please check with the Thai embassy or consulate in your country before coming to Thailand.
Can I extend my visa once in Thailand?
Yes. It depends on what kind of visa you have. Sometimes you can pay for a visa extension at an immigration office in Thailand, other times you may have to exit and re-enter Thailand. Many volunteers opt to do this via Malaysia, Cambodia, or Loas. We are close to the Burma border, although most times the border is not open.
Am I expected to take part in any religious practice?
No. There is a regular meditation practice which is open to all, but not at all compulsory.
Is there a volunteer schedule?
Weekly meetings will be held to create agreed upon schedules.
Do I have free time?
Yes. Volunteers are advised to take at least one day off every week, and are welcome to have time off during the day, especially if you are volunteering for more than 1 week.
How many volunteers are there at one time?
Anywhere from one volunteer to many. We have comfortably held over 30 volunteers in the past.
Is all of the work physical?
There is a lot of construction going on at any one time, however, there are always jobs which need little physical exertion, such as teaching and office work.
Should I be able to speak Thai?
No. It is not necessary to speak Thai, Burmese, Karen, or Mon. Both Dadas speak English. The children’s abilities to speak English range from very little to a good level of conversation. Most of the younger children speak Karen amongst themselves, while the older children speak Thai. You won’t need to speak Thai to use the transportation to Baan Dada, however, be patient if people cannot understand your pronunciation of place names.
Are there any animals at Baan Dada?
At the moment there are cats, so please bring any allergy medication if required. There are many creepy crawlies at Baan Dada as it is located in the jungle – such as ants, snails, frogs, insects, snakes, scorpions and geckos – some you see often, some just every now and then.
Previous Volunteer Contacts
The following past volunteers would be happy to tell you more about their time at Baan Dada and the projects they helped create and complete.
- Sean Jewell (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heidi (Australia) email@example.com
- Pol (Belgium) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Machteld (Belgium) email@example.com
- Mathijs (Belgium) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Katie (England) email@example.com
- Kate (Canada) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Katie Cumbers (England) email@example.com
- Matt Donatelle (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that you have read the above information all that is left is for you to do is email us with (1) your completed application form and (2) your criminal record report or a referral letter from a past or present long-term volunteer.
For US applicants you can obtain your criminal record report by going to the police department where you live and ask for your criminal record report. It’s free and immediate. Some stations have an automated kiosk where you can print your own report. Some stations don’t even require you to go there. You can just call them and they’ll mail it to you.
THANKS SO MUCH, WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU!