"The time we spent here was life-changing…the buzz you get from this type of volunteering is addictive and gives you a very different perspective on life..."
We love hearing back from volunteers about their experiences on our projects, and this week we have been lucky enough to receive some feedback on our 'Malaysia Orangutan Experience' from past volunteers James Craddock and Dr Rachel Louise Nowak.
This is a fantastic project, offering volunteers the unique opportunity to spend time working closely with animals (including orangutans) in Zoo Negara, Kuala Lumpur, and to have a positive impact on habitat restoration within the lush rainforests of Borneo which makes this project s much more than just an orangutan holiday. It also offers the opportunity to spend time with the local community in Sukau, bonding with the villagers over theimportance of habitat restoration and orangutan conservation.
Why did you get involved in the project?
"Our interest was focused on orangutan conservation and the programme appealed to us because we would be able to help captive orangutans, see them in the wild and get involved in the rebuilding of habitats for them".
What kind of work did you get involved with whilst here?
"We were involved with animal enrichment (like creating puzzles) whilst here, which is absolutely critical for the crafty and very endearing captive orangutans and chimpanzees at the zoo! This included carpentry for habitat construction, animal feeding, cleaning enclosures and even helping to construct a new hammock. After letting the dominant female orang utan out, she went straight up to the hammock and climbed onto it. Although these animals have no facial expression, we could see in her eyes that she was so pleased. It brought a lump to our throats!" Craddock recalls.
"The zoo workers are really fortunate to be able to care for the animals: it must be so satisfying!"
What did you make of the project facilitators?
"The programme organisers here are really special. Their passion and commitment to improving orangutan welfare really helps to make the experience as rewarding as possible for volunteers. It really opened our eyes and made us feel like we were really making a difference".
What did you make of the project?
"This volunteer programme was not a vacation and it was about working as hard as possible to make a difference for others and the environment. Our views of vacations have changed now and we are much more eager to look at volunteering and supporting locals through home-stays when we plan our future travels," says James. "What's more, we fell completely in love with Malaysia and that will last a lifetime".
"It might seem crazy to use your holiday to do volunteering work. Anyone can lie on a beach but everyone should try volunteering as it will be one of the best experiences you will ever have".
It's fantastic to hear such great comments on this project, and we welcome all feedback and picture updates from any one of our thirty projects! Please [email protected] if you would like to contribute.
For more information on the 'Malaysian Orangutan Experience', please click here.
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