Volunteering at Gaia Ashram

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Gaia Ashram and taking the time to look at our website.

We take volunteers throughout the year except when we run courses we do not take volunteers and when we are not at Gaia Ashram we do not take volunteers either. We ask volunteers to arrive on a Mondays which helps us organize. At the moment Gaia Ashram is still in the establishing phase and the main space holders is us Om, Tom and our son Jake. Now we seems to be having more people that are willing to commit to stay a longer time and to be part of the Gaia Team.

This is an exciting phase & their is a lot of learning for all those who chose to come & support Gaia Ashram’s growth. As Gaia Ashram is still a young project we ask of volunteers to be aware that the facilities at Gaia Ashram are basic. We also want to bring to the awareness that we are not a guesthouse, or a cheap place to hang out & we do not intend to be. If you are looking for a cheap place to hang out, this is not the right place for you.

The spiritual Ashram aspect of Gaia Ashram is also under development, we are experimenting, learning as we go. We are not like most Ashram’s that you would find in India where you would devote all your time to a certain spiritual practice.

For us the main aim is to develop  our connection & raise our sensitivity with nature. We encourage people who are here to do a spiritual practice. At the same time we feel it is important that we do the physical work to learn how to restore nature. We intend to bring mindfulness practice in the work we do as a lot of time we spent here is about taking care of Gaia Ashram and setting up the physical structures that allow us to live here. We do practice meditation in the morning & evening and we encourage people to join. If there are people interested in teaching yoga there also will be yoga in the morning We ask people who stay here that during their stay they respect the culture we wish to create together (see more under Holistic Ecovillage Design).

We are looking for volunteers who are genuinely interested to learn about taking care of nature, ourselves & each other.  Volunteers who are interested in sustainable living, permaculture, deep ecology, ecovillage living & are looking for changing their lives to become more sustainable & holistic are most welcome.

Volunteers with skills are most welcome & we would give you plenty of space to further develop or share your skills (skills in our interpretation is very wide, could be creative skills like painting, singing, dancing, teaching yoga or it could be building/gardening skills, teaching kids etc.). Just let us know of any skills that you might have that you wish to share with us.

Activities Description:

We ask of volunteer to do a minimum of 5-hours of work a day and the minimum time for volunteering is two weeks. Generally we have three kinds of activities at Gaia Ashram building, nature regeneration & gardening and Gaia School Asia activities. The work depends on the season. We have three seasons in Thailand and below are the seasons and the activities related to the seasons:

Rainy Season July until October

In this time we are planting lots of trees and some water-loving veggies. There might be some ongoing building projects going on that we will be working on.

Cool season November until February.

This is the main time for vegetable production and organic gardening. But we are also building during this time as it is dry.

Dry/Hot Season March until June. This time is a bit slow and generally it is a time for building and this is also a good time for us to go places that are not so hot.

Building

From the building perspective we are focusing at the moment on ongoing projects which include Sala, the Fairy House and our house. We try to use as many natural materials as possible and we try to design our systems to have a very low to zero environmental impact.

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Volunteers in the mudpit

One thing that volunteers will be doing is making mud/adobe bricks that can be used in our buildings. We try to close our loops by for example building a compost toilet we reduce huge amounts of waste, water & chemical usage that is associated with conventional western type toilet systems and sewage treatment plant. Our wast actually becomes food for our timber trees. Volunteers will have the possibility to learn and gain skill about building & natural building. If you already have some skills we will give you the freedom to experience and refine your skills.

Nature regeneration & Gardening

Gaia Ashram is also in the establishing phase from nature’s perspective, the land we are regenerating is two-hectares and used to be a rice field i.e. nothing on it. Now after two years we can see the land is restoring itself, pioneering species are doing their work, native trees are coming up again and we assist nature or Gaia in its self-restorative ability. This process of assisting nature is one of the most important volunteers jobs. You will be here to help regenerate the land and nature on this site. By doing this volunteers can get an understanding of what it takes to help nature restore/heal itself i.e. from a zero bare situation towards a thriving throbbing with life productive edible Eco-system and thereby making its contribution to the larger Biosphere.

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Veggie beds

To heal nature and ourselves is what we are all about at Gaia Ashram and we hope that you will take this home with you and then apply it into your own setting, this could be on a big piece of land or it could be on your balcony in a big city. In order to learn about how we can create beautiful landscapes we need to make steps, develop skills, cultivate our heart and minds.

Gaia School Asia

Part of Gaia Ashram’s is the base and operational center of Gaia School Asia and Gaia School Asia’s vision is to work with children to deep their inherent nature connection throughout Asia. Locally, we have an annual Nature Youth Camp which allow us to work with the local kids. We also work with the local schools and do nature awareness programs with students of these schools.

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Local Kids making mud bricks

Volunteers who are interested in Gaia School Asia vision and can support us in the work in many ways and especially educators, outdoor educators and volunteers with experience working with kids are most welcome.

Holistic Ecovillage Design

Volunteers will be part of the Gaia Ashram Community which also means the community of all beings. When we live together we try to respect and honor ourselves and each other. We respect each other space and we try to life together in harmony when there is some difficulty or conflict we try to resolve it mindfully. We are all on our journeys and we are here at Gaia Ashram to journey together and learn form each other and from Nature/Gaia, who is our ultimate teacher. At Gaia Ashram we try to live a holistic lifestyle that is in tune with the natural cycles and the ecology. We are inspired by Permaculture and Ecovillage Design and we try balance the use of our head, hands and heart in our daily lives. To read more about the Gaia Ashram Design and our values go to: Gaia Ashram Design.

We are only human and in order for us to get closer to our vision of a holistic healthy life and to remind us of this journey we set up a structure for the work and contemplation.

Ecovillage Design Mandala

Holistic Lifestyle in all dimensions

Below is the daily structure and weekly structure that we try to maintain:

                    Daily Schedule:

  • 6:00-6:30          Meditation
  • 7:00-7:45         Breakfast Preparation
  • 7:45-8:30         Breakfast
  • 8:45-11:30       Morning Work Session
  • 11:30-12:30     Lunch Preparation
  • 12:30-13:30     Lunch
  • 1330-15:00      Break
  • 15:00-17:00     Afternoon Work Session
  • 18:00-19:00     Diner Preparation
  • 17:45 or 18:30 Sunset Meditation
  • 19:00-20:00     Diner
  • 22:00                Lights-Off

                                              Weekly structure:

  • Monday:       Weekly Reflection/cleaning blitz/Afternoon work session/Sharing circle
  • Tuesday:       Regular Working Sessions
  • Wednesday: Regular Working Sessions/ Trip to Market/Watch Documentary
  • Thursday:     Regular Work Sessions
  • Friday:           Regular Work Session
  • Saturday:      Personal Project Day*
  • Sunday:         Day-off and Internet trip
  • Buddha:        Contemplative working day/Optional fruit fast*

*Personal project days on Saturdays means that you will be working on your individual project that you are interested in and that will help Gaia Ashram in any way. This could be a creative/art project like making paintings or dreamcatchers or it could mean you would like to make natural cleaning products or process some of crops, or it could mean a small scale building project like making a book shelf etc.  It is important to look at a project that you can manage to finish in the time that you are here at Gaia Ashram. During this time you could also use to study some topic you are interested in that you might be wanting to share with the group.

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Waterspirit

*Buddha Days

We try to follow the flow of Thai local life and one important aspect of this is the Buddha Days that follow the Buddhist Calendar and are related to the mooncycle. During these days we try to maintain a contemplative attitude also during the work. We will look at work as service, we try to practice mindfulness in action and observed nature deeply when we are working in the garden. In the evening we will have a longer meditation and express our gratitude for anything that we are grateful for. For those who want to fruitfast during this day we will provide fruit.

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Connecting with nature

Deep Ecology Retreats:

Once in every two month we will also have a Deep Ecology Retreat in a nearby national parks. We will stay in tents in the park and try to deepen our nature connection by spending time in wild nature. We will be hiking and spending time at specific spots. We ask volunteers for financial contribution for the tents/food/fuel during these Deep Ecology retreats.

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Deep Ecology Retreats

Practical Information:

Thai visa:

We recommend volunteers to get a Thai Tourist Visa from the Thai embassy in their home country. It is also possible to get 30 days visa on arrival & then cross the border to Vientaine, Laos to extend your visa at the Thai Embassy there. We are relatively near Vientaine about two hours travel from Gaia Ashram.

Insurance:

We ask volunteers to get a appropriate travel insurance that covers volunteering in Thailand in case of any incidents. One insurance that affordable and is recommended by WWOOF is OV-Europa:

http://www.oveuropa.com/

Contribution:

We ask volunteers for a financial contribution of 150 thai bath per day to help cover the cost of food & other daily living expenses (such as electricity, groceries, water etc.). If volunteers stay longer then a month then after the first month the contribution is 100 thai bath per day. Payments can be made on the Mondays for a week or for the whole stay.

Facilities: 

We are still in the establishing phase and we would like to remind volunteers that we are not a resort and our facilities are basic.

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Gaia Ashram Sala

Accommodation: Dormitory, second floor of the Gaia Sala. Tents will be provided for those who prefer to stay in tents in cool or dry season.

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Gaia Ashram Sala Dormitory

Gaia Guesthouse:

This is a small bamboo house ideal for a couple with a small balcony. The rent for this house is 200 bath per day. The rent will go 50 bath to the Gaia Project & 150Bath to support Om’s family who has build the Guesthouse.

Common Space: First floor of Gaia Sala is common space and also dining space.

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common space

Toilet and Shower: compost toilets and roofless showers for men and women.

Internet: There is an Internet Shop & wifi spot in the next village is usually available everyday and can be walked to or we have bicycle that can be used.

Laundry: Laundry can be done by hand or there is the option by machine in the village which is 40 bath per kilo.

Natural Products:

We are asking volunteers to bring natural products such as natural soap & shampoo as the waste water goes directly into the land. At Gaia Ashram we aim to have all natural products for domestic use. We have created the Gaia Shop where we sell some natural products from the land  i.e. Mosquito Repellent, Natural Soap, Shampoo, Organic Rice from our land, Yoga & Meditation mats woven by the village women, herbal teas etc. Part of the profit from the sell of these natural products will go into the Gaia Ashram project & part will go into supporting the local community. We aim to work with the local community to empower them to create more & more natural products for sale. Your support would be much valued to help achieve our aim in getting the wider community more green & re-localizing the economy. For those volunteers with skill or interest in learning about making natural products you are most welcome to help us.

Food: The volunteers will cook together in shifts and we have go to the local market where we will buy the local food together.

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kitchen

How to get to Gaia Ashram?:

Gaia Ashram is located in the North-East of Thailand in between the small cities of Nong Khai & Udon Tani. We are relatively close to Vientaine, Laos. We are about 10-12 hours away from  by overnight bus from Chiang Mai or for Bangkok by overnighttrain & bus. There is a local airport at Udon Tani, generally we would prefer people to not fly to much as it means more CO2. On the following page you get detailed travel information:

https://gaiaschoolasia.com/donations/

No Alcohol or Drugs: We ask volunteers not to drink alcohol or use drugs on the land. We ask smokers to smoke out of sight away from other Community members at a designated spot for smoking.

To get an impression of Gaia from some other volunteers and interns please go to the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HTejGXcGc8&feature=share

Contact:

Interested in volunteering you can email to us:

gaiaschoolasia@gmail.com

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