Making a difference while traveling the world

Archive for April, 2011

Salanongkhon…and Shots, shots, shots

Not those kinds of shots.

I got an email last week from one of the directors of Volunthai, asking if I would mind teaching at a different school – a much smaller one in a more rural area than my original assignment that’s also in more need of English teachers. How could I refuse? It’s still in the Chaiyaphum Province – you can find it in central Thailand on this map below.

It’s called Salanongkon school, in the Bauyai district. There are 200 students from 5 to 15 years old. I hope I get some little ones. 🙂

So living in a rural area means more vaccinations! Today, I got my second round of the rabies vaccination. But even if I do get bitten, I have to get more shots (and I hear the needle is gigantic!) Luckily, I’ve always been pretty good with shots – even when I was a kid. My mom says I never really cried. And I didn’t today either. 😉 Last week, I also got the vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) – it’s carried through mosquitoes. With my track record – and since I’m going during the wet season – I need every shot or pill I can get to fight off bug-bite related diseases. So that also means malaria pills – that comes after one more round of rabies and JE vaccinations in a couple of weeks!


Sushi, Spirits and Serving Others…and other Fundraising Ideas

This might sound surprising, but you often have to pay to volunteer abroad (depending on what organization you choose)…sometimes as much as $1,800 to volunteer for 2 weeks – not including airfare! The fees usually cover accommodations, food, airport pick up and 24/7 volunteer support from the organization. That’s why I looked for organizations with lower fees – Volunthai has a $325 fee for one month and International Volunteer Headquarters has a $790 fee ($220 registration fee + $570 program fee for 4 weeks). Other costs of volunteering in another country include airfare, visas, vaccinations and travel insurance. It definitely adds up. That’s why fundraising is an option to cover those costs. I’ve decided to reach out to my friends and family for support through a silent auction fundraiser in San Diego. Here’s my invitation:

Do you love to travel? How about help other people? Would you like to learn about opportunities to do both at the same time?

Join me in this effort to build bridges with people all over the globe by giving of yourself – whether it’s feeding children in Tanzania, teaching English in Thailand or conserving the rain forest in Ecuador.

This summer, I’m going to live and volunteer with children in Thailand and Vietnam, while producing stories and shooting photos for my website – – so you can follow along on my journey and use my experiences as a resource to create your own!

But it costs to volunteer abroad! Teaching English for a month through an organization, called Volunthai, costs $325 and caring for disabled children for a month through International Volunteer Headquarters costs $790 – that’s not including airfare. I would appreciate all your contributions at this event as the majority of the proceeds support this goal.

Please join me at Sushi on a Roll at 1620 National Ave. in San Diego on April 28th from 6:00-10:00pm for some sushi and spirits – as well as to learn more and help me reach out to these children.

$10 includes sushi and dessert if you pre-pay online at or $15 at the door. I hope to see you there!

If you can’t attend, I would appreciate any donations for the silent auction, during which we can promote your business, or you can also visit

Other fundraising ideas International Volunteer Headquarters suggests include:

Have your own stall at local farmers markets, festivals, galas or even outside your house on the street.
Get your friends and family on the bandwagon to help prepare the goods. Cakes, slices, cookies are
popular sellers while preserves are particularly profitable. Incorporating a “guess the weight of the
cake” competition and a raffle are always great money spinners as well.

Pick a sunny day and organize a car wash and valet services in your local area. This works especially well
in the hot, dusty months. In the past, brave individuals have held swimwear car washes (males and
females) which have proved to be very profitable and seem to attract more customers.

Having a great band, delicious food and brilliant decorations are all paramount to a successful dinner
dance. Charge a good price, organize a raffle and allocate a generous amount of time to advertising.
Prior to dinner is a great time to hold a presentation and show photos to show what you hope to
achieve during your volunteering experience. These can also be held after your trip abroad to show
people what you got up to during your time abroad and to help offsets costs you may have incurred
while you were away.

Encourage your employer or family members/friends to match your fundraising efforts dollar for dollar.
Many large companies have policies that relate to this and small companies are generally more than
willing to help out where they can.

Fashion shows are a great girl’s night out and prove to be very popular. Local stores may lend clothes in
exchange for advertising on the night. Choose a song and get your models to prepare a routine for each
shop. Local celebrities and good friends of all shapes and sizes make entertaining and happy models.
Money can be made by charging a door cover charge and auction at the end of the night for some of the
items of clothing.

In everyone’s attic or basement there is junk that needs to be disposed of or passed on to new owners.
Have a rally around and collect your friends, families and neighbors’ well loved belongings to use in your
garage sale. A garage sale is great place to have a bake sale and adds to the profits. Market the sale in
your local paper to increase customers.

Sell tickets to a Halloween Ball! Go crazy with decorating the venue and supply ghostly snacks! If it is not
October how about a Masquerade ball or any other annual festival?

Look online for scholarships and grants given out in your area. If you’re still at university or college you
may find that they also offer scholarships and grants for volunteers who are travelling abroad. Also look
for general community grants and scholarships.

Get creative. Design and produce your own jewelry for sale. You’ll find many books in local libraries that
will provide assistance and if you buy beads in bulk you’ll find it to be very rewarding and profitable.

Ask a local pub or bar to host one for you and charge people to get in or take part. Advertise around
town and invite lots of your friends. Bars will often sponsor bar tabs and prizes for the karaoke (best
singers, best dressed etc) as it will encourage people to come to their bar for the evening.

Advertise in your local paper. A great way to earn money as there is never a shortage of lawns that need
to be mowed and a very cost effective, healthy way to earn some extra cash.

Send a press release to all your local papers asking for sponsorship from the companies and individuals.
You can use your verification to assist you with this.

Email prospective sponsors with a detailed plan of your volunteering adventure to gather support, once
again use your verification letter to assist with this.

Take a sponsored mid winter dip in your local ocean or swimming pool. If it is Summer time, set yourself
a challenging distance to swim and get sponsorship per meter or yard that you swim. Try to attract a
group of dippers to join you and contact your local media. The more publicity the better!

Hire a bus, approach 4-7 pubs or bars, get some friends onboard and organize a pub crawl. Bargain with
bar owners to provide drink deals and freebies that you can advertise to draw larger crowds. Ensure
when making arrangements that you abide by all local laws and regulations. Not only is a pub crawl a
great fundraiser but it is also a great chance to get together with all your friends before you head away
to volunteer.

Pub Quiz nights are generally very successful. Charge per team and get local businesses or the local bar
to donate prizes. Many free question banks are available online but is a
particularly good site. This method is extremely popular with many volunteers. If you do not wish to
hold the quiz night at a bar you can hold it at a local hall, house or community centre.

Or 60s, 80s (even 90s!!!!)… Everybody loves to remember the yesteryears even if we weren’t yet born! A
great excuse to dress up in outrageous outfits.

Hire a BBQ, buy some sausages and don’t forget the mustard, ketchup and onions! A very popular and
profitable fundraising venture and very successful outside popular shopping malls on weekends or
sports events.

Hold a treasure hunt. It’s a fun way to raise money that is very popular with primary school aged
children. Charge a small fee for entrance and hand out donated prizes and candy. Other ideas are “big
digs” in the sand for people who live close to the beach.

Collect teams who attended the same or nearby universities and hold a challenge to see which team will
come out on top. This challenge could be sporting or intellectual. Promotes healthy inter-university

Often when applying for assistance, potential sponsors are dubious about the authenticity of your
cause. On request, your program coordinator can provide you with a verification letter from
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) which will help you overcome this problem. To receive a verification
letter, email your program coordinator and request one today.

Invite a local wine dealer to bring along a few cases of wine and donate some of the proceeds of his
sales to your volunteer experience. Supplying trays of nice cheeses and crackers is always a great crowd

Ask for this year’s Xmas or birthday present to be a donation towards your trip. If you have raised
sufficient funds, get people to buy things that will be helpful on your trip abroad (see packing list) or
things that could be helpful on your placement,

Organize a walk for the youth of your community. Encourage them to get fit and get sponsored for your

Organize a slumber party or a night walk in your area.