Volunteer your time to support and assist with the daily care, learning and interaction with children in a suburb of Bangkok.
The first few years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general.
Recent research confirms that the first four years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child’s brain architecture. Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow.
PMGY childcare volunteers support children at a pre-school in Patum Thani that aims to offer such structure. Founded in 2009 and home to around 150 3 to 4 year olds, it is located on the same premises and adjacent to the school where our teaching volunteers join us. The pre-school children here are provided with mental stimulation, attention and encouragement to help them grow, learn and develop.
For children this age, it is all about playing activities, building social skills and learning how the world works. The classes here focus on basic elementary education that is not as intense or formal in its daily syllabus as for the slightly older children in the neighbouring school blocks in A1 and A2.
Teaching the children basic life and hygiene skills is a key focus which volunteers are expected to encourage and get involved with. Volunteers are advised to always be mindful of their body language and tone throughout as children can be easily influenced and the local teachers will be particularly observant. You will also get involved in organising and supervising play activities. The main teacher will usually lead the sessions and so your role is largely to assist.
The pre-school generally comes with the modern and developed facilities and infrastructure to enable an environment for children to flourish and grow in their early years. Likewise to the teaching programme, it comes with 7 well furnished and equipped air conditioned classrooms extending into well developed playground facilities.
It is worth noting that although the school as a whole will appear quite well off and developed from the outside looking in; the reality is this is not the case overall with many of the children coming from underprivileged backgrounds.
Education and childcare here is free to those who are from the local village in the surrounding area. In the province each village has its own local government and the underlying aim of this local government was and remains to provide free accessible education and care to the children. This also incorporates embedding life skills, routines and positive behaviours as part of this commitment that the parents of the children must coincide with. Prior to this such opportunities were not forthcoming for the local children.
For our team it is a positive to have such an establishment available on their doorstep for the children from under resourced areas. This is because it shows the local government is investing taxes back into the right areas for future growth and development within the local education infrastructure as oppose to say other corrupt avenues.
You should arrive into Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok (airport code BKK) on the selected Saturday start date. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Volunteers will also get the chance to experience the morning assembly rituals and cultural norms that is brought with this. In addition you will support and deliver activities that help children with nerve and movement developments, assist with a weekly syllabus, help at meal and nap times and play games with the children.
Working with children is a really fun and highly rewarding experience. From helping the children during mealtime, to singing songs and teaching them essential life skills, you will play a part in their early life development. The pre-school facility makes such a difference to the lives of low-income families, and single parent families, whereby the parent/s can work and earn in the day knowing their children are in a safe and secure environment.
IN & AROUND BANGKOK
PMGY volunteers are based in the suburbs of Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. It’s a city of contrasts. Modern yet cultural, chaotic, traditional and bizarre – you will never get bored in Bangkok we can assure you of that!
Here air conditioned megamalls sit side-by-side with 200-year-old village homes; gold-spired Buddhist temples share space with neon-lit, bar lined strips; slow-moving traffic bypassed by long-tail boats plying the royal river; and streets lined with food carts are overlooked by restaurants on top of skyscrapers.
The great thing about Bangkok is although it is pretty vast, getting around is simple, fast and affordable with the BTS (inner city rail network). Which also means the great nightlife is easy to get to too whether its backpacker central on Koh San Road or catching some great live music at one of the cool bars near Victory Monument.
The Grand Palace was once the official home of the Kings of Siam. It is unquestionably one of Thailand’s major tourist must-sees. The complex houses a number of top attractions including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). This 45 centimetre Emerald Buddha carved from just one piece of jade is the holiest and most revered religious object in Thailand.
Wat Pho is another amazing 8 hectare compound incorporating a host of superlatives: the city’s largest reclining Buddha (46 metres long – genuinely impressive!), the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the country’s earliest centre for public education.
Chatuchak Market is among the largest in the world and seems to unite everything buyable, from used vintage sneakers to baby squirrels within its 15,000 stalls. It is well worth a full day here as there’s a plethora of things to see and do, but make sure you’re there early to beat the crowds and the heat.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
Cool and lush, Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest reserve and an easy escape into the jungle. The 2168-sq-km park, part of a Unesco World Heritage site, spans five forest types, from rainforest to monsoon. The park’s centrepiece is Nam Tok Haew Suwat, a 25m-high waterfall that puts on a thundering show in the rainy season.
Around 200 elephants tramp the park’s boundaries. Other mammals include tigers, leopards, bears, gaur, barking deer, otters, various gibbons and macaques and some rather large pythons. The bird list boasts 392 species, and one of the countries largest populations of hornbills lives here.
AYUTTHAYA & BANG PA
The temple town of Ayutthaya, formerly Thailand’s capital, and the nearby Summer Palace compound of Bang Pa-In are both popular day trips from Bangkok and easily accessible. Ayutthaya’s temples are magnificent — both Khmer and Thai-style ruins lie along the rivers here, in what was once Thailand’s greatest city.
You will be picked up at the airport by the Plan My Gap Year team and taken to your accommodation.
If you would like us to also arrange your return, we will charge a fee of £15.
During your time with PMGY in Thailand you will live in our Volunteer House located in the town of Pathum Thani, a safe and quiet suburb of Bangkok and around one hours drive from the main tourist areas such as Koh San Road. Much like London and other big cities around the world, Bangkok has an inner-city rail system (known as the BTS), which makes getting around the city cheap, convenient and fast. There are regular buses and vans which provide a quick and affordable route into the centre of the city.
The house is a local property within an extremely safe and quiet neighbourhood. It is around a 30 minute walk from the main street where you will find local restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs.
All volunteers stay together in the Volunteer House. The accommodation is basic but comfortable with free Wi-Fi (intermittent). Our local team are close by so you will have daily interaction with our team.
There are fans throughout the house and the bathrooms are of western standard. Rooms are shared, up to 10 per room (all bedding and mosquito net is provided).
We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase and/or store any valuables with our local team in their private area. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled.
The local coordinators live within a short distance of the house and are on-call 24/7 should you need anything.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
You will be served breakfast and dinner everyday at the Volunteer House. Most meals are traditional Thai dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Thai cuisine consists of a lot of rice, noodles and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available.
All meals are freshly prepared each day. If you fancy some western comforts, you are best to head into Bangkok where you will find plenty of restaurants serving western meals.
You are required to purchase your own lunch and there is plenty of options during the lunch break at the project on the main street of Pathum Thani around a 25 minute walk from the project. This includes traditional Thai street food options as well as a 7/11 supermarket where volunteers can get western lunch options such as ham and cheese toasties, spaghetti carbonara and sausage sandwiches.