This is only a brief list of organizations we recommend considering who have projects and provide support services in the region. In-country, while visiting we can also arrange for you to visit a school to donate school supplies (above) or teach an impromptu English lesson (a wonderful experience for kids if you are traveling with family), or arrange placement for professional service such as with the University of San Francisco's Vietnam Nurse Project whom we have partnered with for over a decade.
San Francisco-based Room to Read provides for the building of libraries throughout Asia —and has been phenomenally successful, building over 13,000 so far, while distributing over 10 million books. From Room to read: "We are a global organization dedicated to promoting and enabling education through programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education. Our Reading Room program provides libraries to children so they can read and to explore. Our Local Language Publishing program allows children to read books in their mother tongue. Our School Room program gives children a safe place to learn. Our Girls' Education program enables girls to enroll in and stay in school. We currently work in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia – with plans to expand so we can bring educational opportunities and resources to children throughout the developing world. Web: www.roomtoread.com
If you are traveling with your children to Luang Prabang, we will be arranging a visit to this delightful place, an international project that has worked in Luang Prabang since 1993 providing safety, shelter, and schooling for local children. The village is a wonderful model for similar projects, with children places into "families" who share housing, vocational training and learning together. Web: http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/sponsor-a-child/asia
This French non-profit charity works to help children in Southeast Asia gain access to education and health. "EdM'" works to promote children's and their families' quality of life and opportunities for a better future for the whole region.
Founded in 1958 as the Association pour la protection de l'enfance du Laos (APPEL) by French doctor René Péchard the original aim was to help orphans in Laos through sponsorships and volunteer French dentist services. In 1977, APPEL became Enfants du Mekong and is now active in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, and Yunnan region in South China. Annually, 22,000 children receive school scholarships. In addition, the organization supports about 60,000 children on a daily basis. Web: www.enfantsdumekong.com.
EdM's work also addresses infrastructure needs to improve the welfare of communities, building and renovating schools, kindergartens, and access drinking water. Projects are monitored on-site every year by EdM with local teams to oversee their progress and ensure the correct use of funds.
The first international project to provide post-graduate education for nurses in Vietnam. The project's mission is to improve the health and well-being of the people of Vietnam by improving education, training, and practice standards of the nurses who care for them. The VNP organizes trips for American volunteer nurses to travel to Vietnam and provide education and training within the country. Web: http://www.usfca.edu/nursing/vietnam/
The Vietnam Project. War veteran and past Indochina Traveler Raphael Benjamin is one member of this humanitarian organization established to improve the quality of life for poor, disadvantaged, and disabled people in Vietnam. Principal forms of assistance are micro grants for small business start-up, vocational training, and education. www.vietnamproject.org
The Kim Bong Cooperative, located in a small village just on the other side of Thu Bon River from Hoi An. This project's activities are on vocational training and women may learn to create goods, such weaving rattan mats and baskets, or producing marketable food items, such as dried noodles. Visit with the cooperative's officers to learn more about the project.
Charity for Misfortunate Pregnant Women. A charity project providing shelter, food and career support for pregnant girls who have no support or resources. Women can stay at this project until they give birth to their child and after that, they can continue to stay here if they want for some time.
The Mai Tam House of Hope is a home and center for HIV/AIDS positive widows, mothers, and children that provides shelter, medicine, medical care, education, and referrals for its residents and the many walk-ins it receives in need of support. Web: http://www.maitamhouseofhope.com/
Founded by M.I.T. professor and author Alan Lightman (Einstein's Dreams), the Harpswell Foundation has two dormitories in Phnom Penh that provide room, board and leadership training to up to 80 young women while they attend university. Our in-house curriculum includes critical thinking, analytical writing, debate, civic engagement, current events; and computer, English and French lessons. As of Spring 2020, 168 young women have graduated from Harpswell, and are making their mark in Cambodia or in their studies abroad. http://www.harpswellfoundation.org/
AFESIP is a non-governmental, non-partisan, and non-religious organization established at the grass-root level in Cambodia in 1996. AFESIP operates several shelters devoted to “humanly correct development” to aid the fight against the trafficking of women and children for sex slavery. Web: http://www.afesip.org
Rehabilitation Craft Workshop. A project to provide opportunities for Cambodians with physical disabilities. Web: http://rehabcraftcambodia.org/
The Cambodian Women Crisis Center. The center's goal is to provide women who have been victims of gender-based abuse and their children with crisis intervention services and to reduce violence against women. CWCC provides services at both a drop-in-center and confidential shelter. Web: http://www.cwcc.org.kh/
The Cambodia Women's Development Association (CWDA) is non-profit, non-government organization with a strong feminist agenda. It is dedicated to promoting self-sufficiency and self-reliance in Cambodian communities and the advancement of women's economic and social rights. Web: http://www.pub22.net/cwda/
Not specifically focused on women, but Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (PSE), a French non-profit organization, does effective work with boys & girls in providing schooling and vocational training at their center in Stung Meanchey, where the clients can also enjoy lunch and visit the PSE center. Web: https://www.pse.ngo/
59 countries and states suffer from the blight of hidden landmines. APOPO's landmines detection rats ignore scrap metal and only detect explosive scent, making them much faster at finding landmines than metal detectors.
Detecting tuberculosis remains one of the biggest challenges facing medical professionals. APOPO’s TB detection rats can check 100 samples for tuberculosis in 20 minutes; the same task would take a lab technician up to four days. Suspect samples are re-checked using LED fluorescence microscopy.
Adopt a HeroRAT at https://www.apopo.org/en
Women's Resource Center. Founded in 2008, the WRC's mission is to empower women by providing information and programs related to health education, mental health counseling, legal aid, literacy education and work skills training. Programs include reproductive health, literacy education, maternal and infant health care and resource referral program. Web: http://www.wrccambodia.org/
Human Resource and Natural Development (HRND). The mission of HRND is to provide support to the women and orphaned children, who make up so much of rural Cambodian society. Activities include nutrition education, sanitation and clean water projects. Web: http://hrnd-siem-reap-cambodia.blogspot.com/
Enfants D'asie Aspeca — a unique orphanage supported by a French organization Enfants d'Asie, where orphans from far-remote areas are trained the Khmer music and dance to preserve the traditional art. Web: https://www.enfantsdasie.com
Educating people about the danger and devastating effects of land mines. The long-time project also provides for education and support for at-risk youth and landmine-affected children. Web: http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/
Lao-Thai Scholarship Program on Gender and Health Equity. The program goals are to promote gender equity in sexual health and develop knowledge and human resource capacity on gender, sexuality and sexual health in Lao PDR. The program various activities include selecting students within the Lao PDR to participate in the M.A. Program in Women’s Studies at Chiang Mai University, Thailand, with a particular focus on gender, sexuality and sexual health; Supporting Lao students in national and regional seminars on sexual health issues; Field visits of students (both Lao and Thai), coordinators and professors in the M.A. Program in Women’s Studies to organizations in Thailand and Lao PDR working on sexual and reproductive health issues; On-site seminars on relevant topics such as gender mainstreaming in the provision of sexual services; safe sex negotiations and sexual power dynamics; and trafficking in women. Web: http://wsc.soc.cmu.ac.th/
Literacy is a major issue in Laos, lagging far behind Vietnam and Thailand, especially in remote hill tribe areas where many children have never held a book. In Laos we recommend Big Brother Mouse which publishes and distributes books to children. Consider becoming a sponsor during your trip, and even distributing books your self as you travel through the country. More on Big Brother Mouse: at http://www.bigbrothermouse.com/.
Almost all volunteering with elephant camps and care centers are volunteerism projects in which travelers pay to attend. We can provide details on over a dozen camps in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, which vary dramatically on location, infrastructure, amenities, and length of service. Contact is for specific details.
Adopt an Orangutan! The Orangutan Project (TOP) is a not-for-profit organization, supporting orangutan conservation, rain forest protection and reintroduction of orphans in order to save the species from extinction: www.orangutan.org.au
"We were pleased that Indochina Travel was small enough to provide the things larger companies cannot, yet with all the benefits of using a larger one. In Saigon, we were honored to visit our guide's family. The BEST parts of our trip were the PEOPLE we met, especially the real, local people, not just the famous ones (though they were fascinating as well). Cuong made this possible throughout our time with him."
—Ric Haas, Menlo Park
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—Ann & Chris McMurray, Alexandria, VA
"Overall, we had an excellent trip! Don and I both loved Bhutan and Myanmar. Both countries are beautiful, each in their own way. Our main comment would be to say how wonderful our guides were. As we've discussed in the past, it's really the difference between a good trip and great one. It was really nice to have the same guide for the entire itinerary, you really get to establish a rapport and they get to know us. We thought both guides were very professional, knowledgeable and personable, and we learned a lot from both."
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—The Anderson Family
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