The Evolution of VWB
VWB started life in 2004 as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative by Track of the Tiger (T.R.D.) when seeking a way to develop a nature trail from its Pang Soong Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre, through the stunning Mae Lai Community forest to serve as an educational platform for its outdoor & environmental education programmes. Funding was raised from donors like the PATA Foundation, who provided a grant that enabled villagers from Ban Mae Lai village and our volunteers to build the 3km trail ascending from 1000 m.a.s.l. to 1600 m.a.s.l over and around 17 beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Track of the Tiger covered some labour costs, overheads, marketing, booking costs and the development of a nature trail guidebook. The project won the SKAL Ecotourism Award for 2006.
- Track of the Tiger benefited by establishing a platform for experiential learning programmes for its client markets - International school, corporate team building, and special interest travel.
- Track of the Tiger gained additional benefit when Pang Soong Lodge became a designated IB ESS & Biology Teachers Workshop venue.
- The trail provided the village community with the financial incentive and the argument they needed to protect the forest from those who would log it, hunt its animals, and in so doing, eliminated the risk of having the authorities revoke its community forest status.
- The village community benefited from the construction work, trail entry fees, employment opportunities for guides and service staff at Pang Soong Lodge and created better access to their traditional community forest.
- The trail created an opportunity for the village to generate sustainable revenue from tourism and agroforestry, as well as ensuring the long-term protection of the environment, whilst developing mutual respect and understanding between all involved.
The website www.volunteers-without-borders.org was registered in May 2010, and the foundation 'Volunteers Without Borders' was registered and approved by the Thai government in September 2011. The transitioned from CSR Initiative to registered non-profit foundation status ensured a clear separation of profit and non-profit operations as we extended our operations beyond the Pang Soong Lodge project.
On selling Pang Soong Lodge in 2015 Track of the Tiger T.R.D. continued its close relationship with VWB covering all overhead, admin and marketing costs, ensuring that the project funding contributed by volunteers (school,university,corporate and special interest travelgroups) went directly to the Community Service (CS & CSR) projects they worked on.
The Maekok River Village Resort & Student Centre now uses the non-profit umbrella provided by VWB to secure donor funding and labour from its visiting schools clients. Over a few short years they completed 150 projects injecting US$ 850,000.- (teaching English, building classrooms, water systems, toilets and a special needs school wing), into the schools of the Amphur Mae Ai, area. Their efforts were recently honoured with an award by the Thai Ministry of Education.
In 2018 VWB extended its operations to cover projects run from Track of the Tiger's Sanpatong Experiential Education Centre in Chiang Mai, and became a collaborating partner in the Responsible Tourism Alliance - an online platform providing micro and small tourism enterprises with non-commission based access to the responsible tourism market.
Most recently, The Abbot of Wat Koh Klang Chiang Mai, invited VWB to establish an Agroforestry Development, Training & Research Centre on the extensive hilltop forested area of the Wat Don Kaew Meditation Centre, some 15kms from the SEEC. The project, in collaboration with two local communities, is described under Sustainable Agriculture.
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