I get numerous inquires from travelers, writers, researchers, bloggers, photographers and academics interested in volunteer work and/or social activism in the region. I have yet to find a comprehensive web site listing the NGOs in Chiang Mai and since I continue to receive inquiries, I thought I would put some out there. So here you go! This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a list of NGOs that are reputable within the community.
The Elephant Nature Foundation is dedicated to the survival of the Asian elephant, we protect habitat, provide sanctuary from abuse, and work with groups of people involved.
Thai Freedom House is a non-government, not-for-profit, community language and arts learning center in Northern Thailand dedicated to assisting families and individuals who are refugees from Burma and indigenous peoples of Thailand. We not only provide education in Thai and English language and the arts but house a community resource center with information on where to find valuable resources for people in need. In addition we have an on-site clothing donation and distribution center which provides hygiene and household supplies to those in need when possible.
Art Relief International works to transform the lives of struggling social groups in Chiang Mai, Thailand by offering them the opportunity to express themselves through an artistic lens. Art changes lives. It is both a powerful means of expression and a recognized means of therapy – two things that are vital in the lives of ARI participants. ARI works to cultivate creativity, create an atmosphere of inclusion for groups that are often cast out and ignored, and encourage social change.
The Human Rights Education Institute of Burma is a nongovernmental organization that facilitates a broad range of human rights training and advocacy programs for grassroots organizations and community leaders. We are dedicated to building a peaceful, democratic and just society where the people of Burma possess a critical human rights consciousness, enjoy political and social space to take action to promote dignity, and are empowered to initiate rights-based solutions to social problems. HREIB is a registered foundation with administrative offices in Thailand.
We Women Foundation is dedicated to empowering unrecognized refugee women from Burma. By providing professional and educational opportunities to the strong women of Burma, the We Women Foundation strives to build capacity within the unrecognized refugee community so that women might make and influence policy decisions which are too often made by outsiders.
Women’s League of Burma has three functioning arms, namely the Peace Building Program, the Women Against Violence Program, and the Political Empowerment Program. Women’s League of Burma is dedicated to building trust, solidarity, and mutual understanding between all nationalities of women. Each of the programs consists of a dual approach to catalyzing change, through capacity building and advocacy. Our other projects include; Subgrant Capacity Building Project, Inland Project, International Criminal Court Project and our Media Advocacy Project.
The Burma Study Center (formerly The Best Friend Library) was founded in Burma in 1999 by two concerned monks with the purpose of encouraging people to become more educated, aware and active in the struggle for peace and freedom. The main belief is that education can open up people’s eyes and ears and is the best way to eradicate poverty. The Best Friend operates free libraries in Burma and Thailand. The libraries offer free internet access and literature, books, research reports, news magazines, films and other materials for English speakers as well as books in Burmese and ethnic minority languages.
Documentary Arts Asia is a non-profit organization which works primarily in photography and film, but also audio and narrative writing, to tell the stories from Asia that need to be heard. Our Documentary Arts Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, supports documentary artists through the provision of training and library resources, grants and promotion. We also strive to gain recognition for the importance of high-quality, independent and objective documentary practice through our own agency, magazine and documentary arts festival.