If you want to volunteer with a Thai NGO and you are an animal lover, the Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW) may be your place. Cat lovers, try to hold your composure, there are a lot of friendly felines involved in this post.
What is This Thai NGO All About?
The Lanta Animal Shelter on the Thai island of Ko Lanta is an organization that works to ease and control the suffering of animals on the island.
Through their permanent shelter and mobile clinic, they rescue animals from bad situations and spay and neuter, vaccinate, rehabilitate, care for and adopt them out to loving homes.
They also run educational programs to inform the local community and school children about animal rights and proper treatment. Services are carried out and funded through volunteers, donations, the purchase of their merchandise and proceeds from their associated resort, Time For Lime which also functions as a restaurant, bar and cooking school, offering lessons in traditional Thai food.
My Experience With Time For Lime and LAW
After leaving my own fuzzy babies back in The States, I can feel the pain of travelers and expats longing for cuddles from their animal friends. On the recommendation of a cat loving and traveling comrade, I headed to the island of Ko Lanta to stay at Time for Lime and drop by LAW.
I knew we had made it to the right resort by the trail of twirling, purring cats lining the walkway to reception. Scooping them up and persuading them to love me was more prioritized on my to-do list than actually checking in. The resort could have been a dump but I wouldn’t have noticed and as I took off the kitty-blinders, I found that Time For Lime was actually a pretty rad place. We stayed in a bungalow equipped with a porch hammock, got drink tickets for complimentary Mojitos at the bar and were directly located on the beach.
That evening, we learned that all the cats who lived on the property were rescued and currently up for adoption. They were let out of their “cat-houses” during the day to chase lizards in the grass, sunbathe on the walkways and sneak into the guest’s bungalows to cuddle in the beds. Two of them however, suffer from Feline Leukemia and were not allowed to leave their cat houses in order to keep the others safe from the disease.
While depressing, this is where we got to help out. As we were just traveling through and not able to commit to a month volunteering at the shelter, we were able to help out by keeping one of the sick cats in our room overnight to keep them company. We chose Leo on our first night and although he was vocal throughout the evening, he curled up to sleep between us quite nicely once he settled down.
On our second night at the resort, we watched other guests learn how to cook Thai food during one of Time For Lime’s cooking classes and lazily ordered our vegetarian and carnivore friendly dishes from the resort restaurant. A couple of lemongrass margaritas over Grimes playing in the background was the perfect touch to the sound of waves surrounding the beachfront restaurant. That night, we brought Fleck, another Leukemia afflicted cat, into our room, and snuggled him between his ventures under and over our mosquito net.
As if I couldn’t get enough animal love at the resort, I met up with a friend and took a 10 minute taxi ride to the Lanta Animal Welfare center to check it out. Although we missed the time for the tour, we were still able to chase the cats around and walk some of the dogs.
As I grew up with cats, dogs are not particularly my favorite creatures and after 26 years of life, I had yet to walk one. While my friend got paired with Jude, the fun-loving shaggy one, I got set up with Cookie, the tiny, smelly one who didn’t like to move much. I spent the entire experience trying to get her to walk, pulling on her harness and then worrying that I was hurting her so I just stood around waiting for her to stop sniffing at things.
Not even five minutes into the journey, she was panting like she was going to die so we poured her a bowl of water and waited for her to ferociously lap it up for a good, long three minutes. On the way back, she gave up all together and I had to pick her up and carry her all the way to the shelter. Although I pictured a walk much different than what I got, I still got enjoyment from helping Cookie out, even though her sweaty little dog body left a lingering scent on my dress for the rest of the day.
How Can You Help This Thai NGO?
LAW makes it easy to help out by offering many ways to support their mission and help their animals. Here are a few ways you can do your part!
• Volunteering at The Shelter
LAW needs volunteers to work with the animals and run their reception/shops. Volunteers must be at least 20 years of age and commit to a month of volunteer time. Volunteers must pay a fee of 10,000 Baht (roughly 280 USD) and will receive 5,000 of it back on completion of the month stay. Those who choose to volunteer will reside in volunteer housing and get to meet, live and work with others from places all around the world. Besides working for a good cause, you will be living on a beautiful island and will have plenty of time to explore.
• Staying at Time For Lime
If you’re visiting Ko Lanta anyway, why not stay at this Pinterest worthy resort? Their restaurant has a tree house, the bungalows have hammocks, it’s literally right on the beach, you can cuddle with kitties and the proceeds go to a good cause.
• Learning How to Cook Traditional Thai Food in Their Cooking Course
If you’ve been interested in learning how to cook traditional Thai food, take a break from the beach, throw on an apron and learn how to cook your dinner. The proceeds for the cost also go to LAW.
• Eating in Their Restaurant at Time For Lime
They have tasting menus, vegetarian food and specialty chili or lemongrass margaritas. You can eat your dinner overlooking the beach and underneath a tree filled with twinkly cloth lanterns. Don’t forget….the proceeds go to the fury guys!
• Purchasing Their Merchandise
Time For Lime and LAW both have a modest merchandise section that sells some cloth bags, knitted cat bookmarks and reusable water bottles. Buy some gifts or souvenirs and support a good cause.
• Donating Money
If you don’t want their food, cooking classes, bungalows or merchandise, you can simply donate some cash in the donation box at the LAW shelter. As LAW doesn’t receive any money from the government, they truly depend on the donations from people like you. Whether it’s a large donation or small, every bit counts and makes a huge difference to the animals who need the care. If you can’t make it to the LAW shelter or even Koh Lanta, you can donate with just a few clicks of a button here!
• Becoming a Flight Volunteer
Animals are often adopted from LAW from people overseas and it can be expensive to send them as cargo. If you happen to be flying home from certain airports in Thailand, you can qualify to bring one of the animals along with you. LAW does all of the work and helps you check in at the airport and you get to see the smile on the face of the adopter when you unite them with their new pet.
• Visiting The LAW Animal Shelter
If you are looking for activities to do on Koh Lanta, come for one of their daily tours around the grounds or just stop by to play with the 50+ cats that are roaming the property. They also have plenty of dogs that need to go for walks so you can grab one or two and head to the beach or around the local neighborhood.
• Adopting an Animal
This of course would be ideal! If you are headed back home after visiting Koh Lanta, consider taking one of these loving animals with you. The paperwork will be taken care of by the organization. If you are not traveling to Thailand, animals can still be adopted from your home country and sent to you from Ko Lanta.
• Sponsoring an Animal
If you are unable to adopt but feel a lot of love towards one of the animals, you can become a sponsor. Make a monthly donation that will go towards food, toys and medical care for a specific dog or cat.
What Can You Learn From This Experience?
My blog is all about learning from experiences while traveling, and by volunteering at LAW or Time For Lime, you can take some new found knowledge home with you (and maybe a new pet too!) Some of these things include….
-Care and keeping/ rehabilitation of cats and dogs
-How to cook traditional Thai food
-Vet. Tech skills
Who Might be Interested in This Type of Experience?
-Vet students or future vet students
-Any animal lover
For those that are interested in getting involved with this Thai NGO, here are the contact details to get you headed in the right direction!
Lanta Animal Welfare : http://www.lantaanimalwelfare.com/
Volunteer Queries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adoption Queries: email@example.com
General Queries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Time For Lime : email@example.com
If you really aren’t into animals and prefer to stay somewhere free of nosey cats, I found a few other hotels that offer a little education and experience for guests combined with their stay. You can check them out down below!
Cha-Ba Bungalows and Art Gallery: A quirky resort on the beach that offers art workshops
Lanta Sport Resort :A hotel that offers Muay Thai training packages
Lanta Klong Nin Beach Resort: A Resort that offers a traditional Thai massage workshop.
Note: I have not stayed in these three hotels myself but merely researched to find hotels on the island that offer educational opportunities. The links that appear for these hotels are affiliate links. This means, if your interest is piqued by these resorts and you happen to book them through these links, I get a small percentage of the sale which helps fund my quest to bring you more opportunities like these! So….thank you guys!