Tara Richter, the president of Richter Publishing, returns home from four months abroad. She spent the summer months of April-July 2019 living and volunteering in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. She ventured out on this sabbatical to explore new cultures and give back. This amazing trip was an opportunity to actually live in these countries, get to know the locals and help out non-profits.
The first stop was in Hanoi, Vietnam where Ms. Richter lived along with 17 other people in her group. They volunteered their sweat and muscle working on the farms that were donated to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. The group worked clearing the land to prepare it to grow crops later. Blue Dragon relies on the many amazing volunteers who commit their time, energy and expertise to working with them in Vietnam and around the world.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation provides exceptional care to Vietnamese children and families in crisis while creating long-term change for a better world. You can go to their website and help them out from wherever you live too.
The next stop on the journey was Thailand. A beautiful country filled with mountains and thousands of Buddhist temples. Tara spent lots of time visiting the shrines and speaking with the monks learning more about the Buddhist ways. The group she was traveling with first visited the Wildflower Home based in Chiang Mai.
The Wildflower Home is a temporary shelter for women and children who are coming out of situations such as sex trafficking, domestic violence and sever poverty. The grounds are self sufficient, so the women work to grow their own food and do daily chores in the homes the live in. They have a mushroom farm that now is their source of income to sustain the non-profit. However they are in need of donations such as clothes and diapers. Ms. Richter and some of the group bought clothes in Vietnam to donate for the children once they arrived. They spent time playing with the children and working alongside the women. (Their website is currently down for more information.)
Also in Thailand they took a day to help out at the Elephant Freedom Project. Located in Northern Thailand, near Chiang Mai city, this project was formed in cooperation with a Lanna Thai family who has lived and worked with elephants for two generations. The family is glad for the opportunity to transition from elephant riding to a more evolved form of elephant tourism that provides a better life for the elephants, where they will be treated with the love and respect they deserve. The herd includes elephants who used to labor in the dangerous logging industry and were later used for elephant riding. By visiting this project you are making it possible for these elephants to enjoy a more natural, peaceful life.
Ms. Richter’s group spent an amazing day feeding the elephants, walking with them and giving them a bath in the river. Unfortunately in Thailand most of their elephants are abused for tourism. You will see baby elephants chained up and removed from their mothers for viewing. Or people paying to ride them which is not good for the elephants. This sanctuary helps them live a more natural life while still allowing people to enjoy their presence.
Elephants spend about 12-14 hours a day eating. They can eat anywhere from 200 – 600 pounds of food depending upon their size. So it takes a lot of resources to keep these sanctuaries going. By donating and spending a day volunteering with the elephants, you are helping to keep these places alive to save more animals. Visit their website here to find out more: https://www.asianelephantprojects.com/
Ms. Richter is back from the orient and loved all her time that she spent there volunteering with her group. Even though she has much work to catch up on with her authors here in Florida, she is planning another two to three month trip back to Asia in the summer of 2020. She has plans to hold writing workshops in Thailand and Bali. During this time she will be going back to these non-profits to bring more supplies and new people to volunteer and give back.