Volunteer Experiences - Lyn Got Stuck In Helping The Orangutans At Samboja!

Volunteer Experiences - Lyn Got Stuck In Helping The Orangutans At Samboja!

Posted by Connor Whelan on 16th Jan 2017

We have another volunteer experience for you, this time from Lyn who ventured over to the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project for 4 weeks back in July last year! Lyn absolutely loved her time at the sanctuary, and you can see what she had to say about it below!

I’m 59 with 4 grandchildren and have to say that my 4 weeks volunteering at Samboja Lestari was the highlight of my entire life. I really don’t know where to start describing how it was, except that every day was am…az…ing. I am so glad I stayed for 4 weeks.

Borneo Tree Cutting

Each morning our group of 12 volunteers (aged 21 to 64) took the same short trek down to the enrichment area where we usually began our working day, walking past beautiful big Bujang the orangutan on our left, and the orangutan gang on the island to our right. Once at the enrichment shed all the keepers were preparing for their day ahead, every one of them had a smile from ear to ear as we all arrived. All the keepers have a natural love for their job and the orangutans, like a parent’s love for their children, and I could see in their eyes that they are extraordinary human beings. I never thought I’d be able to make huge hammocks or saw so much bamboo but I did. We also made big ice blocks with fruit and peanuts which the orangutans and sunbears loved.

Orangutan Enrichment

Since volunteering I’ve been asked many times by my friends … “What was the highlight of the 4 weeks with the orangutans?” and “Was the experience what you expected?” In short, there were no particular highlights because every day was new and ever so special, and even though most days consisted of hard physical work, it was so rewarding when it was done. The experience I had at Samjoba was much more than I ever expected. All us volunteers have become great friends and still keep in touch via our own Facebook group page - we are from all over the world.

Borneo Boat Trip

By the end of 4 weeks of volunteering we got to know the habits and idiosyncrasies of many of our friends (and I’m referring mainly to the orangutans) …. Haha. Sadly some are obviously mentally troubled, physically maimed, and some young ones are orphaned learning how to live without their mother. However, on the bright side they are all in the best possible recovery programme available and we need to keep that opportunity going by doing volunteering work or donating money.

Even though we worked hard every day, we had lots of fun doing it. At the end of the day we all looked forward to meeting at the Lodge bar for a cold Bintang (beer) and a laugh before heading for a refreshing cold shower. After dinner we found our second lease of life and enjoyed fun and games downstairs in the Lodge where Kate (our co-ordinator), Wiwik & Sam (full time keepers) always joined in for a good laugh. Friday nights we visited the night food markets in town and Sunday lunch was at a seafood restaurant in Balikpapan which was delicious, so it’s not all hard work!

Volunteer in Borneo

I could go on and on about how amazing this was but I won’t. The only thing I will add is DO IT !!! If you have a love for animals, nature and making a difference you will love this holiday.

There are a few of us from our group who are planning our next volunteering holiday with The Great Projects in South Africa at the end of 2017.

If you want to see all of the things Lyn mentioned in her volunteer experience, you can volunteer at Samboja too! All you have to do is take a look at the project page and decide when you want to volunteer!


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