The Thabarwa Center is a Buddhist institution, providing home, nutrition, nursing and medical care for around 2500 people in need. You will live with and meditate with the monks and nuns, and you support the centre with social work related activities. Volunteers with experience in nursing, medicine and therapies are particularly needed. You can also get involved in communications and teaching English.
What is your placement organization doing?
A large part of the population of Myanmar don't have access to any social security system that would help them out in difficult situations. For this reason, particularly old, sick, physically or mentally disabled, unemployed and destitute people are under the threat of a life in poverty, marginalised by society. The Thabarwa Center offers these people accommodation, nutrition, and nursing and medical care.
The Thabarwa Center was initially founded as a place for meditation. Nowadays, Thabarwa Center attracts visitors and volunteers from all over the world who come to meditate and to do volunteer work. The centre provides shelter to around 2,500 people with physical and mental impariments or health problems, as well as people who are for various reasons unable to provide for their own survival (orphans, homeless people, etc.). They receive free basic medical and nursing care, accommodation and meals.
The center is run by Buddhist monks and nuns who also live on the grounds. Many activities in the center depend on the help and commitment of volunteers.
How can you get involved?
Do you like working in a team in an international environment? Great! At the Thabarwa Nature Center you can look forward to working with numerous volunteers from all over the world!
Your day usually begins with accompanying the monks and nuns to the village on their alms round. You will help them collecting donations for the people supported by the center. According to Buddhist principles the monks and nuns are traditionally barefooted (but this is not a must for you).
Afterwards you will take care of the people who live in the center. Many of them are frail or have physical limitations, and are looking forward to an outing with you using a wheelchair.
You can also help clean the rooms, the common areas, the water tank or kitchen or help to wash rice. Volunteers also assist in the care of patients (washing, dressing, feeding, making beds, tidying rooms).
Volunteers can also help with garbage collection in and around the center. Volunteers before you have started a composting and gardening project which you can continue.
The center is especially pleased with volunteers who have experience in medicine, nursing or therapies (e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy)
Volunteers can also support English classes for monks and nuns of different language levels (beginner to advanced).
If you have experience with photography, video or sound editing, you can support the center with the creation of audio translations, social media, website updates, etc.
Are you ready to immerse into the life of a community and support it wherever help is most needed? Then this is the right place for you!
You will notice that there are numerous ways to get involved. It is important that you actively participate in activities that you would like to support.
A great extra: Volunteers can participate in daily meditation sessions free of charge!
Important: During your time as a volunteer you will live as part of a Buddhist community that allows you to immerse deeply in the local culture and religion. In order to maintain a harmonious and respectful relationship, there are some rules to be observed. These rules include the complete abstinence from alcohol, cigarettes and narcotics during your entire time of volunteering – both at the center and outside of it. We can provide you with more information on this topic.
Location: Thanlyin, Myanmar
Availability: all year, flexible start
Minimum Duration: 1 week
Maximum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirements: English
Accommodation: Free accommodation and meals at dorm room
Supervision Possible: No
Minimum Qualification Of Intern: -
Further Contribution To Project: -
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Being proactive, you are expected to work independently.
Further Contribution To Project: None
Expectations: Professional attitude, Do you have the "right" attitude?
Accommodation at Thabarwa Center
You can stay for free at the dorm room, sharing with other international volunteers (simple standard). You will get 2 simple, local meals per day, free of charge.
I. World Unite! Service Package
Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
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(Rate per Person)
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The World Unite! Service Package includes:
- Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
- Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
- Preparation Session via Skype; together with further participants
- Arrangements of necessary documents for your visa application, but not the official government fees for them (See costs below)
- Pick-up and Transfers from/to Rangun International Airport (RGN) on arrival and departure from/to Yangon
- Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
- Orientation and Introduction in Yangon
- Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
- 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
- 50 USD Contribution to your project
- Local SIM Card with 10.000 MMK air time
- Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
- Costs for 10 seedlings of indigenous trees that we plant on the slopes of Kilimanjaro
The Rates do NOT include:
- Accommodation and Meals (see below)
- Travel to/from Myanmar (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
- Official fee for Visa (see below)
- Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
- Personal Expenses
- Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
- Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.
II. Accommodation Costs
Accommodation at Guesthouse, Hostel or Bed&Breakfast, incl. simple, local breakfast. You can choose between the following options:
Dorm Room bed (4-share to 12-share): 6-12 USD/Person/Night
Single Room: 20-30 USD/Night
Double/Twin Room (only available in case of 2 persons booking together): 10-15 USD/Person/Night
Farm-stay near Hmwabi:
200 USD/month/person on full board
At the Buddhist meditation centre Thabarwa:
Tourismus and Hotel internships:
With tour operators and hotels in Yangon that don't provide accommodation: See rates above ("Yangon"). Hotels in the rural area usually provide accommodation free of charge.
Overview of other costs:
- Around 80-140 USD/Month for self-catering (lunch and dinner at affordable yet good restaurants)
- Visa 70 USD per 70 days
- Small local expenses (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
- Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month
How do I pay?
Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.
Other Projects That Might Interest You:
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more!
Travel Health Insurance
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, work and travel, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
Getting to Yangon
You will book your flight to Yangon Airport (also: Rangoon; RGN). Please remember to share your flight details with us so we can pick you up at the airport and bring you to your accommodation in Yangon.
Even if your workplace is not in Yangon, you will spend your first few days there to acclimatize (we will organize a good accommodation for you in Yangon). In Yangon you will participate in an introduction and orientation program by your local coordinator and get to know the other participants of our program. After that you will travel by bus or airplane to your actual workplace. Buses go from Yangon to almost all corners of the country and cost around 20 USD per route (e.g. to Mandalay, a ride of 10-12 hours), domestic flights are around 50-90 USD per route and only take around 1-2 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Of course you can travel around during your time in Myanmar and get to know this fascinating country. If you want to travel during your time of volunteering/internship, you should ask at your placement whether your absence is ok. Probably it is better if you plan some time to travel AFTER your volunteer/internship assignment.
Is it safe to travel to Myanmar alone as a single female traveller?
As most Buddhist countries, Myanmar is considered a safe travel destination for women. Approximately 80% of our participants are female and between 18-25 years old. Not a single instance of a serious security breach has occurred. Our coordinator will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - your dressing style, valuables, and in dealing with local men. Our preparation materials elaborate on this matter. If you follow these basic rules that apply equally to many other places, the risk in Myanmar is minimal.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Yangon?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Myanmar, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so.
What vaccinations do I need?
We recommend that you ask your physician or an Institute of Tropical Medicine for recommendations. Our preparation materials also include a chapter about vaccinations and health.
Where do I live?
In Myanmar and in Yangon we cooperate with several hostels, guest houses and Bed&Breakfasts, and we have a suitable option for any preferences and standard. You will share the accommodation with other travelers from around the world or other participants of our programs.
We also consider the distance to your volunteer/internship assignment.
In Yangon, accommodation is typically in the city centre, e.g. China Town or near Sule Pagoda.
As a non-resident, it is not legal in Myanmar to live in private accommodation or with host families.
Can I choose my accommodation?
You can tell your room preference (e.g. single, double, dorm room) and we will suggest you the available options.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
Yes, the hostels usually have Wifi internet. You can also access the internet with your smartphone. We will give you a local SIM card with some initial credit, which you can top up as needed. You can easily activate a data package (around 10 USD for 6 GB).
How can I do my laundry?
You can either do your laundry by hand, or ask for laundry service at your accommodation.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Many restaurants in Myanmar at least have one vegetarian dish. At the supermarkets there are many vegetarian food ingredients.
What language skills do I need?
English language skills are widely spread in most parts of the country. Anyway, people are happy if you try at least to speak some words in their local language.