It has nearly been a year since we arrived in Chiang Mai and in a few weeks, we will be moving along to both freelance full-time and travel around Southeast Asia. Before leaving South Africa, we donated a lot of our stuff; mostly clothing that just wasn’t necessary for Southeast Asia.
However, after living here for a year we realized how much unnecessary stuff we still managed to fit into out luggage. Therefore, a few weeks ago we started the purge of all unnecessary items. This included the selling of a laptop, camera and printer (we bought the printer in Chiang Mai; we weren’t so crazy to pack a printer from S.A.) and the donation of more clothes, including three suits that Collen hasn’t touched since his teaching practical a year ago.
Where Did All Our Unnecessary Items Go?
I found Thai Freedom House after a quick Google search of where to donate clothing in Chiang Mai.
Who are Thai Freedom House?
Lisa Nesser who hails from St. Louis, Missouri in the U.S. started Thai Freedom House nine years ago. They are a non-government, not-for-profit organization working with refugees from Burma who have come to Thailand, as well as displaced indigenous Hill Tribe families.
Their mission is to “provide opportunities for displaced peoples that have slipped through the cracks of society; living almost invisibly around us.”
They have a school set up at the centre in Chiang Mai where they teach languages including Thai, English, Shan and Burmese. As well as preserving traditional values and arts of the individuals who have left their homes.
At the centre, they also have a charity café called Free Bird Café. All profits from the café go to supporting Thai Freedom House. The delicious vegetarian food will make you feel good, in addition to the knowledge that you are supporting a great cause.
Of course, the main reason why we visited them was the charity donation centre. They receive many donations each week and then distribute these to people in the city and along the border. Any items that can’t be donated are placed in their Pre -Loved Clothing Shop, located at the back of the café, which also provides 100% of its profits to help support Thai Freedom House.
How You Can Support Thai Freedom House
To keep the doors of Thai Freedom House open they rely on donations and your generosity and there is a variety of ways you can get involved.
If you are visiting or living in Chiang Mai then you should definitely pop in for a smoothie and a meal at Free Bird Café. They are open Tues-Sat 9 am – 5 pm.
Like us, you can drop off your gently used clothing or any other items that you no longer have a use for and could either be distributed or sold in their shop.
You can donate money either as a once off or set up a monthly donation
- $25/month: fresh soymilk for all young students every day.
- $50/month: basic school supplies for two weeks.
- $100/month: safe transportation in a hired van to and from the learning centre every day for the students.
- $200/month: utility costs including internet for use in the classroom and office.
- $300/month: supports their art and culture curriculum including occasional field trips and involvement in local art and culture activities.
- $400/month: rent expenses.
There are also volunteer opportunities, which you can read more about on their website.
Any involvement can make a huge difference for Thai Freedom House, so make sure you get involved.
Have you visited Thai Freedom House or Free Bird Café? We would love to hear about your experiences.