The largely rural and agricultural province of Surin in Thailand is one of the poorest areas in the country. Clinics and hospitals make a crucial difference in terms of maintaining health and wellbeing of the often underprivileged communities who live there. Rural Thai communities have complex healthcare issues, meaning local clinics and hospitals have to serve a diverse set of needs.
This rural healthcare clinic, with the assistance of volunteers, helps sustain the health and wellbeing of these rural Thai communities and gives volunteers the opportunity to lend a hand in this crucial sphere of work, as well as get to know the people and communities of the region.
As a volunteer at the medical project in rural Thailand, volunteers are assigned tasks according to their skillsets and the needs of the patients in the clinic or hospital. You’ll familiarise yourself with the medical facility and observe the Thai medical staff to start with, before getting on with assigned tasks. This could involve helping out at the hypertension clinic looking at blood pressure, weight and general health checks, or participating in the diabetes clinic. You may join home visits, assess child development in the community, participate in the school health programme, help run health checks for monks at local temples and help educate local communities to remain healthy. Those who have formal medical qualifications may be able to help in the diagnosis and treatment of illness, dress wounds and dispense injections.
Before travelling to the volunteer project, you’ll fly into Bangkok and acclimatise to your surroundings from a backpacker’s lodge on the famous Khao San Road. You’ll have your orientation with the group and meet your fellow volunteers, before enjoying a city tour of Bangkok where you’ll see the old city, temples and take part in a river boat ride. After two nights, you’ll travel to Surin by air conditioned train or bus to start your project.
From Monday to Thursday, you’ll be picked up from a meeting point between 07:00 and 08:00 (start times vary according to the work being done) and travel to the healthcare clinic around 30 minutes away. You’ll work with a co-ordinator at the medical facility so you can be assigned tasks conducive to your level of experience as well as the needs of the patients at the time. Even if you don’t have any previous medical experience, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference. Lunch isn’t included, so you’ll grab your own food when you have the chance for a break; the medical staff like to recommend their favourite local food options. The volunteering day finishes at around 15:00 when you’ll be given transport back to your accommodation in a shared, self-catering volunteer house in Surin city, when you’ll have your own free time until the next day.
From Friday to Sunday you can enjoy a long weekends off. Since it’s the capital city of a mostly agricultural province, you’ll find many modern conveniences in Surin city, from ATMs and pharmacies, to bars, restaurants, market stalls and regular events. Some volunteers also use the long weekend as an opportunity to explore other places, such as Khao Yai National Park and the beach at Koh Samet.
Note there is Wi-Fi in Surin city, but it can be sporadic in these rural parts of Thailand.
Volunteers at this medical project truly feel the value they bring to the local communities they work with, whether it’s by offering healthy lifestyle advice or assisting in clinics and ad hoc medical situations.