If you love volunteering and traveling, especially to places that are off he beaten path, then volunteering in Borneo is an excellent opportunity to experience what it’s like to live and help out in a completely different part of the world. Borneo is a tropical island that belongs to three different countries (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) and is absolutely flourishing with wildlife.Photo credit: Rod Waddington.
If you are interested in volunteering in Borneo, you will find that most of the programs here are to aid in conservation. However, these types of programs can be narrowed down to helping the environment on land or sea, or getting to know the inhabitants of Borneo, whether they be indigenous tribes or wild animals. Along with many conservation projects, there are also opportunities to work with the local population on the island.
Many of the volunteer opportunities in Borneo involve working with the native wildlife. Borneo is home to elephants, orangutans, bears and other endangered species. If you love animals and want to fight to make sure these animals will continue to thrive, then a wildlife volunteering program is right for you. Examples include helping make sure sea turtles are protected during nesting season or helping build and maintain a safe home for orangutans.
If working directly with animals really isn’t your thing, then opt to help them another way. Whilst volunteering in Borneo, you can choose from a variety of projects to help enrich the environment, thereby helping the animals and wildlife that live there. Help to repair the coral reefs that were destroyed by fish bombing or build special devices that help increase biodiversity in the reefs. You can also help with reforestation, cleaning up a lake, or doing research or learning about how humans play a role in Borneo’s environmental future.
If you are more interested in helping the local communities in Borneo, you can choose to participate in a variety of programs. These include teaching English, coaching sports for children, renovating locals’ houses and boats, and helping to empower the community altogether. The great thing about community development programs is that many of them include treks and trips and many opportunities to see life in Borneo.
Health and Safety
Similar to the rest of Asia, volunteers will require some basic vaccinations that you might already have had from your home country. However, it is still important to check. Hepatitis A and B are recommended for all volunteers, and if you are going to be outdoors then it is recommended to get vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis as well as rabies.
Water is not drinkable and must be filtered, boiled, or bought bottled before drinking. Volunteers may experience some stomach insensitivities to food, and if any sickness occurs it is important to pay attention to the symptoms. In the event they last longer than three days, then you need medical attention.
Borneo is generally safe. People are friendly and willing to help. Like all those who are traveling to a foreign country, it is always important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. As far as nature safety, there are some venomous fish in the waters to look out for. For more information, visit MD Travel Health.
No Visa is required to volunteer in Borneo for U.S citizens however some countries might be required to purchase a Visa on Arrival which is not a complicated process. To find out if you live in one of those countries, go here .
Know Before You Go
It’s important to also remember that Borneo is an island, broken up into three different countries. Things may not be as easily accessible as they would be on the mainland, and it things might get frustrating at times. However, the amount of rich culture and life that Borneo provides is certainly a better trade off.
There are many languages used in Borneo, however almost everyone speaks English, so the language barrier shouldn’t be a problem.
Best Places to Volunteer
Due to the thriving ecosystems all over Borneo, volunteer opportunities can take place anywhere on the island. However, popular spots for volunteering are on the islands of Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), Kalimaritan (Indoensian Borneo), Kubah National Park, Turtle Islands and the well-known state of Brunei. Wherever you choose to go in Borneo, you will be sure to have an awesome, authentic experience.
Contributed by Hana LaRock