Volunteerism is a valued act in Indonesian culture for both natives and foreigners alike. Rich in culture, cuisine and countryside beauty, this island nation will never leave you with a dull moment.

As a volunteer this island nation of over 6,000 inhabited islands has a wide variety of volunteer projects to get involved in. Whether you're looking to work with animals -- such as Orangutans, Sun Bears, Elephants, or Tigers -- or get involved with a community development project, Indonesia is sure to have volunteer work that matches your goals and skills.

In your off time, explore Indonesian rain forests, chat with friendly locals, and immerse yourself in a diverse, fascinating, and unique Southeast Asian culture.

Teaching English

As the 4th most populous country in the world, Indonesia is up-and-coming on the world market. The education system needs improvement and volunteer enthusiasm and expertise is always welcome. Volunteer to teach in local schools, community centers, and with NGOs.

Do keep in mind, however, that the majority of volunteer English teaching projects tend to be on the longer side.

Wildlife Refuge

Animals saved from illegal trade, such as orangutans and macaques, need rehabilitation and protection. These wildlife refuges in Indonesia operate mostly on the efforts of dedicated volunteers. This a perfect opportunity for a volunteer who wants to work with animals and get their hands dirty.

Some popular animals to work with as a volunteer in Indonesia include orangutans, tigers, sun bears, and sea turtles. For some projects -- especially if you have experience working with wildlife conservation and can commit to a longer volunteer stint abroad -- you will work directly with animals. For many others, however, you are more likely to assist with animal care by cleaning cages, helping to track animal populations with local experts, or monitor the progress of an animal population.

Environmental

Indonesia is a beautiful and biodiverse nation, housing everything from idyllic beaches to lush, tropical rain forests. Unfortunately, it also has some serious environmental issues that are threatening the stability of these ecosystems.

Indonesia has issues with deforestation, water pollution from industrial waste, and air pollution in super-populated urban areas. As a volunteer you can aid in projects working on waste disposal, preserving the potable water supply and slowing the large-scale deforestation taking place, and with educating local communities on best practices for keeping their environment protected and healthy.

Tsunami Relief

Indonesia has been hit with five devastating earthquakes in the last ten years and is still working on cleaning up the messes left behind by the quakes and resulting tsunamis. If you have experience with disaster relief, you could get involved with this. Unfortunately, the demand for unskilled volunteers for working with disaster relief is generally low.

Volunteering Tips

In Indonesia, Volunteerism is held in high esteem by the government, which has periodically used the concept of Gotong Royong, the joint bearing of burdens or “working together,” as a main tenet of national philosophy. Support for volunteers can be found all over the country, so foreign volunteers should feel as though they are working with Indonesian natives and not for them.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Indonesia

Indonesia straddles the equator and therefore has a hot and humid climate frequently beset with floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis and forest fires. The country is also home to the most volcanoes in the world, about 70 of which are still active. In such an environment it is important to be prepared to fight dehydration with clean water. Before traveling to Indonesia, speak to your doctor about vaccinations, in particular for yellow fever and malaria.

Visas for Volunteering in Indonesia

Traveling to Indonesia does require a visa, which can be purchased upon arrival for around $25 or can be pre-arranged through a travel agency. Be prepared with vaccinations, proper clothing and housing arrangements before traveling to Indonesia. Accommodations with volunteer organizations are often inexpensive and usually offer very basic living conditions. Bali, a popular tourist destination, is also a common place to find volunteer work. A typical Balinese meal of rice and vegetables costs about $1.

Contributed by Leah Weisman

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