Yvette Lalonde – Volunteering at an Elephant Sanctuary

Walking Away from a 10 Year Career in order to volunteer at an Elephant Sanctuary

The Adventure:

I walked away from a 10 year career in order to volunteer at an Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand.


I was raised under the mentality that one should find a good job, work your way up and stay there until you retire. I was supported and encouraged by my colleagues to continue down my career path, and it was a good one. I had been recently moved to Toronto from Calgary to be the Assistant Spa Director at Canada’s largest urban spa.

How it all happened:

But, one phone call at 3am on my 30th birthday shifted my whole perception about life and my place in it. I found out that my previous relationship of 6 years was a complete lie; this was the catalyst for me to take stock of my life and face where else it was full of illusions.

Within two weeks, I had quit my job, shaved my head (which was very liberating) and was on my way to Thailand. I had no plans except to possibly partake in a silent meditation and visit an Elephant Sanctuary located in Northern Thailand.

The Adventure:

I was fearless, determined and excited until I landed, all alone, in Thailand after a very long, exhausting flight.  Within hours panic set in and I was on the phone to a dear friend crying wondering what was I doing there?

Little did I know I would end up finding my true self at that Elephant Sanctuary where I spent almost 6 months volunteering for room and board.  I discovered and received healing on a spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual level. If I could sum it up with one word it would be CONNECTION. I connected to mother earth, to the elephants, buffalo, dogs, cats and other souls that visited the park.  It was through my connection to all of this that for the first time ever I really found and connected to myself.

The End Result:

It is this experience that drives me to find a way to create this opportunity for others; I have since received my diploma in Counselling, started a private practice and am currently volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation centre. I wish to one day open a healing sanctuary for animals and humans alike. My dream is that one day people will visit my space and find that connection to the land and the animals which results in a deeper union with the core of who they are. My hope is as a result of this relationship my visitors will live life authentically connected to all that is around them.

Ps. I did also manage to make it to the silent retreat which was also a deeply spiritual experience.