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General information

The general information section holds details of such things as intake start dates, volunteer check list, etc. Whilst this section contains important details for volunteering with us, they are not as vital as those in the Required Reading section.

How to access your form

When we register your name on our website as a volunteer (usually you have signed up via an agency), an automated email is sent out with your login details, and general information.

  • If you registered as a member on our website, and then sign up directly with us to volunteer; or
  • Cancelled your volunteer programme, but then reinstated as a volunteer
  • You should alredy have an email with your login details

These login details are very important, as they are needed for you to access your webform, and also to access the lesson planning database if you are signed up to teach.

I can't find the login details... what do I do?

If you can't locate, or have deleted the email we send out with your login details, please complete the instructions below.

Request

All you need is the email address you registered to volunteer with:

  1. Go to the main page and click on the relevant link: 'forgot your password?' or 'forgot your username?' in the login area.
    • There are 2 login locations:
      • in the 'Quick Links' menu on the left side of the page
      • in the 'Login' tab at the top right of the page
  2. Follow the instructions
  3. Go to our website and login

If you are still encountering problems, contact us via email and we will be able to help.

Your main login page is http://thailandvolunteer.org

Once logged in, your form is accessible from the 'My Stuff' menu on the left side of the home page.

The form needs to be completed fully, as soon as possible. This helps us prepare for your stay (food, accommodation, pickup, etc), and is vital to making your time here as comfortable and productive as possible. The background check should be sent to us at least two weeks before you begin the programme.

• Volunteer form •

The form is designed to give us the information necessary to prepare for your arrival - i.e. we need your gender because we have single-sex dorms; we need your diet option because we buy food in bulk to save costs; we need your arrival details because we have to pick you up at the right place and time; we need your insurance, and next of kin, details in case there is an emergency.

It is very important this form is completed as early as possible. We understand that flights and insurance details may not be immediately available, but much of the information can be entered immediately. As the form is online, and only accessible by you, you can return to it at any time to update your information.

• Volunteers menu (My stuff) •

When you log in to our website, a menu will appear on the left side of the page, called 'My stuff'. The contents will vary slightly as you change from 'future' to 'current' to 'ex-' volunteer, but this is where information, forms etc, specifically for you, are found.

• Registered volunteers tab •

Also, when you log in to our website, a new tab will become available to you called 'Registered volunteers'. This tab gives you access to a number of areas, including the ability to view our lessonplanning website (important for Indoor applicants especially) - you will only be able to update records when you are on your programme. There will be other things added here over time, as well as in other areas of the site. Please return to it often to check for new volunteers joining with you, messages from others, etc. We will be offering subscriptions to newsletters and competitions as the site develops further.

• Info and FAQ tabs •

indoor20092011 079These two tabs should hold all the information you need to prepare for your programme. The information section has general information, but also an area called Required Reading - this should be gone through thoroughly to make sure your application and preparation is smooth. If you cannot find an answer, try using the search. If all else fails, ask us and we'll try to give you an answer. Please remember we are very busy, so look for the answers yourself first. Also, as much as we want to fill your head with information, we are not a tour agency or a booking service - questions about the islands, tourist destinations, and other pre- or post-programme information does not hit the top of our priority list of jobs

• Other tabs and areas •

There are a number of other areas in the site, which will increase and alter over time. We have a gallery of photographs, a link to our YouTube video channel, links to our Facebook and Twitter pages in the menubar, articles written by volunteers and staff, news items and more. If you have suggestions or comments, please let us know

Any help you may need, or questions answered, please contact us at the email address below.

The Ecotours Team

email: 

main web: themirrorfoundation.org 

volunteer web: thailandvolunteer.org

106 Moo1 Ban Huay Khom, T Mae Yao, A Muang, Chiang Rai 57100 Thailand | tel: +66 (0)53 737616

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Pickup information for intake days

Please note that this information is a guide only, to give you a general understanding of our pickup arrangements - We will send out specific details to arriving volunteers around 3 days before the start date. This is so that we have as much information from volunteers as possible - completing your form late delays this information.

If you have not yet completed our volunteer form - please login on our website and complete the form as soon as you can. Everything should be filled in, and documentation emailed or uploaded by the Thursday before your start date.

Read more: New volunteers -regular pickup process

As part of our drive to reduce waste, especially plastic waste, we are ending our use of individual bottled water. Instead, we will increase our water filtration systems onsite, and the use of 20 litre reuseable water bottles on homestay and outside work.

The quality of the water will remain the same, but the reduction in waste (even though we do recycle all our water bottles) will be significant.

This will have the effect on volunteers, that they will need to bring their own refillable water bottles, and top up from our filtration system points. If a volunteer doesn't bring their own bottle, then we will have some on sale at the foundation.

Summary

A refillable water bottle is now part of the list of required items to bring.

Example reusable water bottle

refillablewaterbottle 2

As you may already know, the first case of MERS has been discovered in Thailand. A report from Reuters.com gives the main details:


s3.reutersmedia.netThailand confirmed its first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Thursday, becoming the fourth Asian country to register the deadly virus this year. Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin told a news conference that a 75-year-old businessman from Oman had tested positive for MERS.

"From two lab tests we can confirm that the MERS virus was found," Rajata said, adding the man had traveled to Bangkok for medical treatment for a heart condition.

"The first day he came he was checked for the virus. The patient ... contracted the MERS virus."

The health minister said 59 others were being monitored for the virus, including three of the man's relatives who traveled with him to Bangkok.


We have scoured the internet to bring you the latest information on the outbreak, to not only keep you informed, but also to put the situation in perspective. There are currently no travel warnings in place for Thailand, and in fact a number of western countries, including USA, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy, have all reported cases prior to the Thailand case.

If the situation changes for the worse, we will be contacting registered volunteers, either directly and/or via the volunteer agencies, to update and review. Below are some questions which you may be asking yourself (Source: WHO website)

What is Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)?

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Where is MERS occurring?

The following 25 countries have reported cases of MERS: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Middle East); Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (UK) (Europe); Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt (Africa); China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the Philippines (Asia); and the United States of America (Americas).

The vast majority of these cases have so far occurred in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The latest information on cases can be found here:Latest information

What are the symptoms of MERS? How severe is the syndrome?

A typical case of MERS includes of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. Pneumonia is a common finding on examination. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and support in an intensive‐care unit. Some patients have had organ failure, especially of the kidneys, or septic shock. The virus appears to cause more severe disease in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with such chronic diseases as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Can a person be infected with the MERS virus and not be ill?

Yes. Infected persons with no symptoms have been found because they were tested for MERS‐CoV during follow‐up studies of contacts of people with MERS infection. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because the early symptoms are non-specific. For this reason, all health care facilities should have standard infection prevention and control practices in place for infectious diseases.

How do people get MERS-CoV?

Transmission from animals to humans

It is not yet fully understood how people become infected with MERS‐CoV, which is a zoonotic virus. It is believed that humans can be infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels in the Middle East. Strains of MERS-CoV have been identified in camels in several countries, including Egypt, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Transmission from humans to humans

The virus does not appear to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact such as providing clinical care to an infected patient while not applying strict hygiene measures. This has been seen among family members, patients, and health‐care workers. The majority of cases have resulted from human-to-human transmission in health care settings.

Is MERS-CoV contagious?

Yes, but apparently only to a limited extent. The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as occurs when providing unprotected care to a patient. There have been clusters of cases in health‐care facilities, where human‐to‐human transmission appears to be more efficient, especially when infection prevention and control practices are inadequate. Thus far, no sustained human-to-human transmission has been documented.

What is the source of the MERS virus—bats, camels, domestic animals?

The source of the MERS-CoV is not yet fully clear. A coronavirus very similar to the one found in humans has been isolated from camels in Egypt, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. . It is possible that other reservoirs exist. However, other animals, including goats, cows, sheep, water buffalo, swine, and wild birds, have been tested for MERS‐CoV, but so far none have been found in these animals. These studies combined support the premise that dromedary camels are a likely source of infection in humans.

Is there a vaccine against MERS‐CoV? What is the treatment?

In countries in the Middle East affected by MERS-CoV, as a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and avoid contact with sick animals.

The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, including milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection from a variety of organisms that might cause disease in humans. Animal products processed appropriately through cooking or pasteurization are safe for consumption, but should also be handled with care to avoid cross‐contamination with uncooked foods. Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking, or other heat treatments.

Until more is understood about MERS, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS‐CoV infection. Especially in the Middle East people should avoid contact with camels, consuming raw camel milk or camel urine, as well as eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

Camel farm and slaughterhouse workers in the affected areas should practice good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing after touching animals, facial protection where feasible, and the wearing of protective clothing, which should be removed after work and washed daily. Workers should also avoid exposing family members to soiled work clothing, shoes, or other items that may have come into contact with camels or camel excretions. Sick animals should never be slaughtered for consumption. People should avoid direct contact with any animal that has been confirmed positive for MERS‐CoV.

Is there a vaccine against MERS‐CoV? What is the treatment?

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.

Are health‐care workers at risk from MERS‐CoV?

Yes. Transmission of MERS-CoV has occurred in health‐care facilities in several countries, including from patients to health‐care providers. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS‐CoV early or without testing because symptoms and other clinical features may be non‐specific.

For this reason, it is important that health‐care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients.

Droplet precautions should be added to standard precautions when providing care to all patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection. Contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for suspected or confirmed cases of MERS‐CoV infection. Airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol‐generating procedures.

How is WHO responding to the MERS-CoV outbreak?

WHO is working with clinicians and scientists to gather and share scientific evidence to better understand the virus and the disease it causes, and to determine outbreak response priorities, treatment strategies, and clinical management approaches. WHO is working with affected countries and international technical partners and networks to coordinate the global health response, including providing updated information on the situation, conducting risk assessments and joint investigations with national authorities, convening scientific meetings, and developing guidance and training for health authorities and technical health agencies on interim surveillance recommendations, laboratory testing of cases, infection prevention and control, and clinical management.

The Director‐General has convened an Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) to advise her as to whether this event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and on public health measures that should be taken. Up-to-date information on the deliberations of the Committee can be found here: IHR emergency committee

Travel advice for countries, practitioners, and individuals

The following advice is given to reduce the risk of MERS‐CoV infection among travellers and those associated with their travel, including transport operators and ground staff, and to increase self reporting of illness by travellers:

General travel advice

Given the current pattern of transmission of the disease WHO does not recommend travel or trade restrictions with regard to this event.

However, based on countries’ risk assessment, precautions aimed at raising awareness of MERS-CoV and its symptoms among travellers to and from affected areas, can be taken.

As required by the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), countries should ensure that routine measures are in place for assessing ill travellers detected on board means of transport (such as planes and ships) and at points of entry, as well as measures for safe transportation of symptomatic travellers to hospitals or designated facilities for clinical assessment and treatment. If a sick traveller is on board a plane, a passenger locator form can be used. This form is useful for collecting contact information for passengers, which can be used for follow-up if necessary.

Information regarding other diseases can be found on the WHO website, here

General health information regarding Thailand can be found here

Our situation in Chiang Rai

We are completely unaffected by this, as is 99.99999999999999% of the country's population. We are continuing as normal, and don't foresee any need to advise against travel here. Of course, if the situation changes, we will reassess and advise again. Please feel free to do your own research, and ask questions if necessary. Our paramount concern is for the safety of those coming to donate their time, and those living here, so we will stay on top of this for as long as it takes.

The Ecotours Team

Baan Pordeedin guesthouse

misc from fbook 007
The Mirror Foundation, in association with a number of staff, have opened a new guesthouse in Chiang Rai city. The modern 22 room building features a range of amenities, including free car parking, a laundry service, and an ecotour agency.

The guesthouse has been built as a social enterprise project, designed to improve our self-sustainability and reduce our reliance on grant funding for projects. It will be used as a model to propose similar projects for other NGOs in the country.

We offer double and twin rooms, as well as larger family rooms which include a bathtub. All rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, cable TV, deep luxurious mattresses, ensuite bathroom with hot shower and western style toilet, and the room rate includes a cooked breakfast.

double03
If you are arriving in Chiang Rai before your start date, and wish to book a room, please use the link below:

Baan Pordeedin Guesthouse 

TMF 0566We are based in the countryside, about 16km outside Chiang Rai city. It is the countryside (yes, I've said it again... to let it sink in a little), not the city. As such, we are surrounded by trees, forests, streams, hills, fields, and all other things natural to the countryside. In this setting, animals live, of all shapes, sizes, numbers, colours, and degrees of cuteness/annoyance/scariness/danger.

Animals range from: dogs; cats; geckos; ants; spiders; mosquitoes; mice; rats; cows, horses; birds; beetles; snakes; fish; and multitude of insects not already mentioned. Some you'll see every day, some you may never see during your entire stay (rats and snakes are a rarity, but they do turn up from time to time).

Certain animals appear at specific times of the year, for instance: although ants are around all year, they will appear more frequently during rainy season (or before rain storms arrive); during May-June, for 2-3 weeks, there is a particular flying ant which appears after dark, attracted by lights, dying in the hundreds and leaving the remains to be taken away by the ants. 

How does this affect you, and the animals?

Well, hopefully it doesn't negatively - all the animals will be more scared of you than you of them. What it does mean though, is that you take precautions for comfort, and occasionally safety. For instance, always keep the mosquito screen doors and windows shut. If the light is starting to attract insects, turn it off before you get inundated. Everything that dies inside your room, as well as half-eaten snacks or opened cans of soft drinks, will attract ants. We can do nothing about this, and even if we were willing to exterminate everything for your added comfort, we don't wish to do so - it is for you to adapt to our environment, not us who should adapt to you.

Generally if you leave the animals alone, keep your living area clean, and close the screen windows/doors, you should have minimal problems. Please do not resort to an early volunteer's mantra - "I'm American - we kill it first, then find out if it was dangerous!", as he wiped the remains of a spider off his boot...

UPDATED - Please read!

It is now possible for citizens of G7 member countries, to get 30 day Visa Exemption on arrival at Thai land border crossings.

Previously, 30 day Visa Exemptions were only available to those who arrived by air, and subject to the nationality of the individual. However, a new rule, which was brought into effect in November 2013, allows citizens of UK, USA, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Japan, to cross into Thailand by land and receive a stamp allowing a 30 day stay.*

The rule that an individual can only stay for a maximum of 90 days within an 180 day period has also been scrapped, so there is no legal limit to the number of times you can enter the country within a certain period. This wil be down to individual border crossing officials.

*Always check the actual date that is stamped into your passport - errors can be made, and officials are not always aware of new rule changes. Remember, this is not a visa, it is a visa exemption.


 

UPDATE:

The Immigration Bureau has announced that, of August 29th 2014, you will be able to extend your visa exemption period whilst you're in Thailand by 30 days, instead of the current 7 days, giving a total visa-exemption stay of 60 days. The fee for extension of stay is 1,900 Baht (unchanged).

In effect, you can be in the country without a visa for 60 days.

Also - the Commander of Immigration has removed the proposed lifetime ban for overstaying 10 years. The Immigration Commander has also stated that immigration are working to ensure that the new rules are being standardized at both immigration checkpoints and immigration offices nationwide.

If you are traveling on visa-exempt or with a tourist visa, bring these documents for your extension:

  • Your onward flight ticket or eTicket out of Thailand within the 30 days
  • Minimum 10,000 Baht, or rather 20,000 Baht
  • Hotel booking confirmation - and if you have it, your itinerary
  • One photo, passport sized.
  • Application fee, 1,900 Baht

Accommodation letter

A requirement sometimes asked for, for travellers entering Thailand, is a written note of the accommodation details of the place of residence. As such, you can use the address below for reference.

The Mirror Foundation

106 Moo1 Ban Huay Khom, T Mae Yao, A Muang, Chiang Rai 57100 Thailand

Tel: +66 (0)53 737616

Everything in the required list is, strangely enough, required - you MUST supply a criminal record check; you MUST have medical insurance cover; you WILL need a sleeping bag whether you are here for a couple of weeks or up to 3 months; You DO need smart clothes for teaching, and modest clothes for general wear... I won't go on about it further, but just trust us to know what we are telling you.

Read more: What to bring

The map below shows the location of our foundation, set in the heart of the countryside north of Chiang Rai. The foundation comprises of a number of dwellings, dormitories, offices, a communal kitchen, clay and sewing workshops, and a small handicrafts shop. It is home to 30+ staff and families, and houses up to 70 volunteers and Thai intern students at any given time.


View The Mirror Foundation, Chiang Rai in a larger map

Culture/Transitional Shock

It is totally normal, but experienced differently by each individual.

Transition shock is a state of loss and disorientation predicated by a change in one's familiar environment which requires adjustment. There are many symptoms of transition shock, some which include:
  • desire for home and old friends
  • homesickness
  • boredom
  • withdrawal
  • excessive concern over cleanliness and health
  • feelings of helplessness
  • irritability and anger
  • moody
  • glazed stare
  • physiological stress reactions (i.e rashes, getting sick)
  • getting "stuck" on one thing
  • excessive sleep
  • compulsive eating/drinking/weight gain
  • stereotyping host nationals
  • hostility towards host country

Click below to read about the strategies of coping with culture shock.

Read more: Culture shock

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MirrorChiangRai Oh! We're upgrading our booking system, to incorporate a channel manager... technology is double-edged sword! ;)
Thailand Volunteer! - by The Mirror Foundation