Steps to volunteer with the family

Thailand 14 June to 12 July 2019 

With our family, consisting of Wout (6 years), Anoek (9), Charlotte and myself, we have been part of a small community in the Northeast of Thailand for a month. We stayed in a kind of compound where several volunteers could stay. Despite the fact that the facilities are less than we are used to in our little country, it turned out to be a wonderful retreat. We had a nice room, which we called our penthouse, a cosy communal area with various hammocks and a shower where occasional cosy beetles would delight you with a visit while showering and doing a message. The many insects in combination with the high temperatures certainly took us some getting used to, but you also get a very nice experience in return. During our stay we also met several volunteers, with in the first week a group of Canadians, then a group of Mexicans, followed by Portuguese and a group of Dutch young girls. So in our four weeks we met many interesting and nice volunteers from all over the world. 

In terms of work, we participated in the Ban Nong Kung primary school for four weeks. We gave English there, or at least made an attempt. Our children went to this beautiful school. We wanted to give our children an experience about how things are going in other places in the world. Thanks in part to this school, it has been a top experience for our children, and they look back on it with great pleasure. The children adapted easily and quickly had boyfriends and girlfriends. 

It is a very rural area with many rice fields around you. It is a poor area where people can use a helping hand. Although our presence has been short, you notice that the children have come to speak nice English. Whether that is due to the volunteers who are coming there for 5 years now or the teachers there, I do not know. But I am convinced that the Volun2thai project makes a positive contribution to the area.

It is a small community where everyone has always responded enthusiastically to our presence. It has been a special and educational experience in many ways. By staying a little longer in one place, we believe it is a nice way to get to know people better and to know the ins and outs of a community. And of course it is not all fun and fantastic, because you also come across yourself, which is also an educational experience for yourself. Sometimes it takes some time to find out how you can participate in such a project so that it leads to a positive experience for all involved, including yourself. For us it is at least an unforgettable month that we will never forget for the rest of our lives, just like our children. It is also very special that we have been able to experience this together with our young children.

This month was part of a longer stay with our family in Southeast Asia, where the question to our children where they would prefer to go back, they invariably mention the two volunteer projects (Sri Lanka and Thailand). Many thanks to all people and of course Raimund and Linly that we have been allowed to be part of this for a short period.

Steps to make a world trip with the family

In addition to good preparation, we have completed the following steps in the order mentioned. We deliberately chose to do it through the booklet and not deregistering from the Netherlands (which is also a possibility of not being subject to compulsory education). It seems a lot, but it is also easy to oversee.

Half a year prior to the intended departure: making a plan containing a place for the children's education. We deliberately opted for the period March - August, because there are relatively many school holidays in that period. This minimizes the missed education and there is no exemption required from the moment the Dutch summer holiday starts.

The first steps for us, after the global plan, were (half a year before departure):

- contact with the compulsory education officer (how we could do this, get permission, in accordance with the rules

- contact with the primary school, how they view this and to what extent support or teaching material is possible.

As a result of this contact, we chose to do volunteer work as part of our trip at schools abroad, whereby the children would then go to the schools where we were going to do voluntary work. In this way, they could experience education in another country. Our children are also formally registered at the school where we went, which obtained the exemption from compulsory education. In addition to lessons at the schools in Sri Lanka and Thailand, we have also taught our children using the Dutch learning material from their own primary school and digital tools (Squla, Qynzi kids, E-reader). We searched via internet for a suitable volunteer organization for the intended education. After first contact with the organization, it turned out that it was a possibility, so then proceeded more concretely and visited the organisation. 

After that:

- adjusting the plan, including the necessary budget (the costs during the volunteering period are considerably lower).

- contact with the employer for unpaid leave

- Schedule vaccinations 3 months before departure (some vaccinations must be repeated several times). Vaccination costs for family more than 2000 euros, so take a good look at the additional healthcare insurance

- renting out a home after approval from the mortgage lender and contact the insurer (household effects and building), with a lease contract through a broker (costs contract 300 euros).

If you have any questions, please send an email to sandervandermeer77(ET)


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