The power of volunteering for a stay-at-home expat parent

One of the monthly BAMBI committee meetings in 2017.
Photo by Azusa Uchida Photography


When I put aside my 'professional career' to become a stay-at-home mom in Thailand, I missed having a sense of purpose and of contributing to the good of society. Volunteering with BAMBI gave me an important outlet, for which I am grateful.

The other day, we had our monthly BAMBI committee meeting.

I know meetings — especially committee meetings! — are generally not something people look forward to. But I am actually energized each time I come into contact with the wonderful parents on this committee, who make BAMBI run.

BAMBI is run entirely by volunteers. Many of these volunteers are in Thailand as 'trailing spouses' — i.e., they are here because of their spouse's job. Many have put their careers on hold, and, with very limited work opportunities for foreigners, end up being the main stay-at-home caregiver for their children. It's a double shock and isolation, to suddenly find oneself home-bound with the young ones after being a working mom/dad for years, AND to be in a foreign country where one doesn't speak or read the language.

As stay-at-home parents, much of our daily lives revolve around nursing and feeding, potty training, sleep training, running after our kids, school drop-offs and pick-ups, and planning/supervising/organizing/joining play.

Oh yes, we are making the ultimate contribution to humanity: forming the future of a whole human being, and, collectively, of the human race. I've been reassured on that point by several people including a former boss and my mother-in-law.

But as noble a cause that may be and as lovely as it is to be with one's children, it's not quite enough to fully stimulate the grown-up side of our brains — at least, not mine.

That's where volunteering for BAMBI comes in. It's an outlet for many parents, like me, who are not allowed to work in this country, but are itching to get out and make use of all those skills and experiences that they've (we've) built over the years.

I love being part of the BAMBI team because it lets me do work that I love (editing, coordinating, and writing for the magazine), and satisfies my need to be a productive, professional worker. It stimulates me by bringing me into contact with like-minded parents who are driven, miss their professional selves, and are willing to put in their time and energy and to shoulder responsibilities for the good of this community of expat parents.

So that's why I actually look forward to the committee meetings.

Each time I get together with the core volunteers, talk shop and catch up, I am invigorated and inspired by their ideas and example. And seeing many of them pursue their interests and passions through and after their BAMBI experience, in the shape of new, reinvented career paths, has given me the courage to try something new too.

So thank you, dear fellow BAMBI volunteers! And the more power to us!

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* This blog post is not endorsed or anything by BAMBI ;) but if you are an expat parent in Bangkok and want to volunteer with the group (note that you need to be a member), there are always opportunities opening up, so keep an eye out on the BAMBI Facebook page for announcements, or contact vicechairwoman@bambiweb.org *

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