Long Term Volunteering

Help Orangutans by Volunteering long term

The OFI Long Term Volunteer Program offers individuals a rare opportunity to travel abroad and witness firsthand the impact and realities of wildlife and habitat protection, by working at OFI’s Orangutan Care Center in Pasir Panjang, Kalimantan. The OFI Long Term Volunteer is an unpaid position designed to increase OFI’s impact and to offer participants a unique insider experience. Orangutan Foundation International protects 6,000 wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Facilities include the Orangutan Care Center, which rehabilitates 330 young orangutans and prepares them for return to the wild, 16 guard posts throughout the park and numerous staffed feeding stations. Volunteering for OFI can have a big impact — on your life and the lives of the thousands of orangutans we fight to protect. Each year, OFI is grateful to receive many kind inquiries from volunteers willing to spend weeks, months, even years in Kalimantan, helping in the Orangutan Care Center or in Tanjung Puting National Park.

Except for the positions listed, OFI is not currently setup to accommodate volunteers in the field. We are proud to be a major employer in Pasir Panjang (home of the Care Centre.) Each job we create for Indonesians represents proof that environmental conservation and economic development can go together.For our successful long-term volunteers, OFI is pleased to be able to offer letters of reference that will serve as testimony of their dedication to our organization and the quality of the contribution they have made to our cause. Volunteers are expected to submit a final report on what they have learned, experienced, and accomplished during their tenure with OFI.

About the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ)

volunteer The OCC&Q is situated in the village of Pasir Panjang, a 15 minute drive from the small city of Pangkalan Bun. This city has an airport and is situated in the south of the province of Kalimantan Tengah, Borneo, Indonesia. Living conditions are basic, with limited running water, no landlines or Internet. Internet is available a 10 minute ride away in the town. Most of the locals speak rudimentary or no English. Languages are Indonesian and local Dayak dialect. The OCC&Q houses over 300 orphaned orangutans, most of who are being prepared for release. The majority of individuals are under 10 years old. The Centre consists of a central clinic and units housing the older individuals, while the outlying juvenile units and the medical quarantine facility are set in the surrounding 80 hectare forest. Most of the orangutans are very well-habituated to humans. They arrive in the OCC&Q by confiscation from homes, black markets, entertainment industry, and abusive zoos.

Life at the OCCQ

Volunteers work on a daily basis in the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine in Pasir Panjang. The staff working hours are 8:00 to 16:00, with a lunch break at around noon. If desired, the volunteer may take one day off a week. Living arrangements are typically with a local family homestay. The quality of care in the homes varies, from simple room accommodation to cooking and laundry. OFI makes an effort to arrange homestays for all its interns and volunteers, but there is an element of unpredictability in any such arrangements. In case of emergency, hotel/motel accommodations are present in Pangkalan Bun and even closer to Pasir Panjang. Food is provided to local staff and all willing volunteers in the Care Centre twice a day (breakfast and lunch). The fare is simple but healthy (usually rice and vegetables or tofu). Dinner is the responsibility of the volunteer (homestay families may cook for their guests).

Critical Success Factors

Successful OFI Volunteers tend to share certain skills and characteristics:
  • Experience traveling, working or volunteering in developing, tropical nations
  • High degree of flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity and optimism
  • Strong interest in orangutans and other endangered wildlife
  • Dedication to working in the field in primitive conditions
  • Ability and commitment to fundraise for the trip

Program Costs and Requirements:

Volunteer positions are unpaid. The volunteer is responsible for flights, internal transportation, visas and health insurance. Successful applicants will receive an assignment of four to six months. OFI will organize a homestay with a host family. Room and board ranges from $200-$250 USD a month. The complete cost of a six-month volunteer experience originating from North America is approximately $3,800 USD. The following documents are required from all volunteers prior to departure:

  • Proof of vaccinations of: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus (Vaccination book scans/photocopies, or a health certificate from a doctor)
  • Negative tests results from the following diseases:
    • Tuberculosis
    • HIV
  • Proof of medical insurance (including emergency evacuation)
  • Proof of travel abroad insurance
  • Signed work contract
  • Signed confidentiality agreement
How to Apply For a Position in the Long Term Volunteer Program:

Admission to the volunteer program is competitive. To apply, please follow these steps:

  1. All applicants must be members in good standing of OFI. To join OFI, please visit here. The fee is $35 for a student or senior membership.
  2. Fill out the Long-term volunteer application form using the button below:APPLY NOW
Submit the following documents to ofivolunteer@gmail.com:
  • Proof of OFI membership
  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two contact names of reference

You will receive a return reply from one of our volunteer coordinators within one week. Please note that all of our volunteer coordinators are themselves volunteers, so please be patient if there is an occasional communications delay. The following are positions in our volunteer program. Please note that not all positions are available at all times.


Communications Volunteer


Job Description

The OFI Communications Volunteer is a position well-suited to energetic and innovative individuals. The Communications Volunteer is an integral part of the OFI Team, acting as OFI’s eyes and ears in the field and helping to extend limited resources to maximum effect. The Communication Volunteer’s dual background in both communication and conservation allows him or her to be at home amidst the confusion of the Orangutan Care Centre while translating the action to a public presentation for the global OFI community. This requires correct interpretation of events and engaging, appropriate presentation through various forms of communication media. Communication Volunteers gain experience and insight, and contribute fresh thinking, into a critically important aspect of conservation – involvement of the international public. OFI has a long and established history as a research, conservation and education organization. It is vitally important that this work continues to be brought to the attention of the public, and the friends and donors involved with OFI. OFI Volunteers fulfill tasks set out in a Work Plan defined by OFI. The Volunteer is based in the Orangutan Care Centre and works closely with OFI’s North American staff and volunteer team.

Work Plan:

  • Connect OFI donors who have adopted orangutans to their adoptees by getting to know the orangutans in the care centre, observing the behavior and personalities, communicating with the stuff for unique stories and quirks, photographing the infants; subsequently,compiling the information and presenting it in attractive format for the bi-annual updates.
  • Co-supervise the on-the-spot orphan orangutan adoptions which visitors to the Care Centre can sign up for. This involves regularly sending new donor information to the OFI head office in Los Angeles.
  • Participate in production of monthly eNewsletter and bi-annual printed PongoQuest newsletter. Specifically: write articles and collect other written and visual material, edit the newsletter, help with formatting, etc.
  • Contribute material to OFI’s main website by writing diverse articles on events and news, as well as day-to-day points of interest, about work in the Care Centre. Articles are meant to be multi-faceted and diverse so as to appeal to the wide range or visitors to the website.
  • Keep OFI’s other communication channels (Facebook page, Twitter, Ning volunteer site) updated and current with material suitable to the channel’s audience (e.g. new arrivals to the centre, Photo of the Day/Week).
  • Photograph significant events, orangutans, OFI staff, jungle flora and fauna, and other subjects as needed by the OFI team. At the end of the term, submit non-personal photography for OFI’s educational and marketing use and reference.
  • Develop innovative ways to facilitate connections via creative journaling, YouTube video, and other means.
  • Create blog entries, visuals, and other updates to help build the rich content that encourages OFI donors to adopt orangutans and to renew their adoptions
  • Be the link between the OFI team in North America and the other OFI volunteers on the ground in Kalimantan. Duties would include airport pick-ups, introducing new volunteers to the rest of the team and staff, emailing on behalf of volunteers out in the field, if necessary, and other tasks as needed..
  • Help OFI by gathering field data and partnering with remote OFI staff to create grant proposals and to fulfill the reporting requirements for existing funding.
  • Communicate regularly with OFI, preferably daily or once every other day.
  • Understand and promote OFI policies.
  • Provide updates and feedback through weekly progress reports and a final end-of-term report within one month of returning.
  • Complete other tasks for OFI as needed.

The tasks outlined above are only the standard responsibility of the communications volunteer. Every tenure will also involve one or more special projects which will address the communication, outreach and fundraising needs of OFI on and off the field at the time.

Job-Specific Requirements:

  • Excellent writing skills
  • Strong interest in orangutans and other endangered wildlife
  • Familiarity and comfort with various web applications
  • Dedication to working in the field under primitive conditions
  • Experience in working with teams of people of very diverse backgrounds and personalities
  • Some experience with photography and video filming, and ability to bring own camera with video capabilities to the field.
  • Sincere interest in the history and culture of Southeast Asia
  • Fluency or some communication ability in Bahasa Indonesia
  • Background in environmental sciences


Field Volunteer Coordinator

The Orangutan Foundation International Field Volunteer Coordinator is a position well-suited to energetic, outgoing, and adaptive individuals. The Field Volunteer Coordinator will gain an applied experience in field conservation and outdoor leadership.

Job Description:

This position is based in the Central Kalimantan village of Pasir Panjang and works closely with OFI’s local and North American staff, Volunteer Committee, and volunteer field team. We are interested in finding someone willing to make a significant commitment to our volunteer program as well as making a greater contribution to OFI in the future. This position is an excellent way to make a concrete contribution to field operations while learning in depth about OFI`s conservation, rehabilitation, and research efforts, as well as Borneo’s ecology, culture, and political climate.

OFI runs two volunteer programs: Long Term Volunteers (6 month positions in Communications, Orangutan Enrichment/Release, Sun Bear Rehabiltiation/Husbandry, and Veterinary Assistants) and Short Term (Construction Teams lasting 2-3 weeks). We are looking for someone to manage the field aspects of both programs. Responsibilities include handling logistical arrangements, acting as a mentor and facilitator to new volunteers and a liason between volunteer and staff, and keeping accounts and records as necessary. The Coordinator should be prepared to advise volunteers directly on both professional and personal issues, or be able to find the staff-person most qualified and available to help the volunteer. The Coordinator will report to both Dr Birute Galdikas and to the Volunteer Committee in North America, keeping all parties updated as to events in the field, and acting on their directives at critical junctures.

The Field Volunteer Coordinator should be familar with all the volunteer positions, understanding the job descriptions, requirements, and daily tasks. (As the Enrichment/Release position often requires the most involvement, candidates with experience in Animal Enrichment and Animal Husbandry are preferred.) The job descriptions are each very broad, including more tasks than a single person can accomplish. The intention is that each volunteer finds a focus/specialty suited to their skill-set and temperament. Often, volunteers have been accepted with specific assignments in mind relevant to their background. At other times, urgent need and extenuating circumstance requires adjusting volunteers’ focus or reassigning roles. The Coordinator should be part of such discussions with the Committee and Dr. Galdikas. It is the Coordinator’s responsibility to communicate assignments to the volunteers and ensure that they are comfortable with what they are asked to do, supported in learning and undertaking all tasks, and fully understand the expectations.

Position Duration:

one year (minimum)

Application Deadline:

Applications accepted until position filled/rolling


  • Leadership experience with people of very diverse backgrounds and personalities
  • Ability to keep timely and professional correspondence with remote work partners
  • Experience working in remote and rural field conditions
  • Communication ability in Bahasa Indonesia (with the willingness to learn ahead of time AND daily throughout the volunteer tenure)
  • Preferably, experience with animal husbandry (hands-on with exotic/non-domestic animals) and enrichment techniques

Life as the Field Volunteer Coordinator:

The Dayak village of Pasir Panjang is a 15 minute drive from the small city of Pangkalan Bun. The city has a small airport and is situated in the south of the province of Kalimantan Tengah, Borneo, Indonesia. OFI`s Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine is located in the village of Pasir Panjang. The Coordinator will live in a home-stay in Pasir Panjang (rent will be paid by OFI). The quality of care in the homes varies, from simple room accommodation to cooking and laundry. OFI makes an effort to arrange homestays for all its interns and volunteers, but there is an element of unpredictability in any such arrangements. In case of emergency, hotel/motel accommodations are present in Pangkalan Bun and even closer to Pasir Panjang. The Coordinator will accompany the Construction Teams to other field sites and stay there for the duration of the construction projects. Living arrangements depend on the project of the construction team. Regardless of this, conditions are basic, with limited running water, sometimes no electricity, and occasionally no cell service or internet access

The Care Center facility operates around the clock all days of the week. Volunteers are expected to work approximately the same hours as the majority of the staff (8am-4pm) six days a week (day off flexible). The Coordinator is expected to be present the same hours, but they will also need to be available/contactable at all time to volunteers and staff. There will be ocassional demands outside of normal working hours as meetings with Dr Galdikas generally take place in the evenings and Skype calls to other countries must be arranged around time-zones.

In order to truly be successful in this position the Coordinator must be open minded, learn quickly and have a genuine passion for working with people. In addition, the Coordinator will need to be capable and willing to make themself an exemplary example of appropriate behaviour and conduct; they must be sensitive to how their actions and attitude are interpreted in the cultural context and must be comfortable in an environment with no clear line between work and personal life.

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