Long Term Volunteering

Help Orangutans by Volunteering long term

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Orangutan Foundation International protects 6,000 wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Facilities include 16 guard posts throughout the park and numerous staffed feeding stations in addition to the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ), which is currently rehabilitating over 300 young orangutans and preparing them for return to the wild. The majority of individuals are under 10 years old. The Care Center consists of a central clinic and units housing the older individuals, while the outlying juvenile and infant 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 OCCQ by confiscation from homes, black markets, bush camps, entertainment industry, and abusive zoos.

Volunteering for OFI can have a big impact on your life and on 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 at the Orangutan Care Center or in Tanjung Puting National Park. 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)


The OCCQ is situated in the village of Pasir Panjang, a fifteen-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. Volunteers work on a daily basis at the OCCQ in Pasir Panjang. Most of the locals speak rudimentary or no English. Languages are Indonesian and local Dayak dialect. The staff working hours are 8:00 to 16:00, with a lunch break around noon. If desired, the volunteer may take one day off a week.

Life at the OCCQ

Living arrangements are typically with a local family homestay. Living conditions are basic, with limited running water, no landlines or internet (although wireless USB modems can be bought in Pangkalan Bun and internet cafes are available in the city as well). The quality of care in the homes varies, from simple room accommodation to cooking and laundry provided. 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.

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:

Volunteers will be expected to cover their international flights to Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as domestic flights to Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah. Homestay rental fees are approximately 3,000,000 IDR (less than $300 USD) per month in Pasir Panjang, which includes three basic meals a day, electricity, and accommodation. Additional funds should be budgeted for miscellaneous personal expenses (there are small local shops for snacks, etc.). Volunteers will also be responsible for the cost of their initial visa, which OFI will help you acquire, as well as renewals three times during the six months (approx. 1,000,000 IDR average each visa renewal trip). Volunteers are responsible for basic field equipment. For the communications position, a well-functioning laptop computer is essential.

The following documents are required from all volunteers prior to departure:
  • Proof of vaccinations of (Vaccination book scans/photocopies, or a health certificate from a doctor)
    Chickenpox, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Meningitis, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Pneumonia, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever
  • Negative tests results from the following diseases: Tuberculosis, HIV, Hepatitis C
  • 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. Click here to join OFI. The fee is $45 for a student or senior membership.
2. Fill out the Long Term Volunteer Application Form: APPLY NOW
3. Submit the following documents to ofivolunteer@gmail.com:

  • Proof of OFI membership
  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two contact names of reference

4. OPTIONAL: As a Communications Volunteer applicant, if you have links to any online writing or photography samples, please send those along with your other application materials to the ofi.volunteer@gmail.com account. Applicants who progress through the interview process will eventually be asked to do a writing and photography assignment, but sending samples right off the bat will help the Volunteer Committee get an idea of your skills and suitability for the position.

Applicants will receive a return reply from one of our volunteer coordinators within two weeks. Please note that all of our volunteer coordinators are themselves volunteers, so please be patient if there is an occasional communications delay.

Communications Volunteer

The OFI Communications Volunteer is a position well suited to enthusiastic, creative and independent individuals.  OFI has a long and established history as a research, conservation, and education organization, with president Dr Birute Mary Galdikas a global authority on orangutan ecology and conservation. It is vitally important that this work continues to be brought to the attention of the public, as well as the friends and donors involved with OFI.  Communications volunteers gain experience and insight by contributing real-time, from-ground-zero material to a critically important aspect of conservation: awareness and involvement of the international public.


Job Description

The volunteers are based at the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) in Kalimantan Tengah (Central Borneo, Indonesia). As the point people on the ground, Communications volunteers are an integral part of OFI’s international team. Communications volunteers are given the opportunity to witness and participate in OFI’s field activities first-hand and to generate creative, exciting content to translate the action to a public presentation for the global community. This requires genuine curiosity and engagement with field operations, correct interpretation of events, and proficiency with  various forms of communication media.

Work Plan:

  • Connect OFI donors who have fostered orangutans to their foster orphans by getting to know the orangutans in the Care Center, observing their behavior and personalities up close in the OCCQ release forest, communicating with Care Center staff for unique stories and quirks, and photographing the orangutans; subsequently, compiling the information and presenting it in attractive format for the bi-annual updates.
  • Participate in production of monthly OFI eNewsletter: Track all developments in the field and identify potential articles and visual materials that can be used as items of interest for the general public. Identify an “Orangutan of the Month” to write about – highlighting unique personality traits, anecdotes, and developments in the rehabilitation process for this individual – and provide photos of focal orangutan. Contribute other written and visual materials as necessary and communicate, remotely, across time zones and with often mediocre internet, with all contributors to the eNewsletter to make sure all tasks are completed by the deadline. Volunteers may be asked to help with formatting and editing of the eNewsletter as well.
  • 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 Center. Articles are meant to be multi-faceted and diverse so as to appeal to the wide range of visitors to the website.
  • Help Dr Galdikas, OFI President, produce her present her public communications content, including articles and social media
  • Help Dr Galdikas maintain important contacts and relationships by providing the content and facilitating the communications (phone, email) with key individuals and organizations
  • Supply content such as photos of the week, new arrivals to the Care Center, orangutan rescues and releases, etc. to help keep OFI’s social media sites updated and current with material suitable to the channel’s audience.
  • Photograph significant events, orangutans, OFI staff, jungle flora and fauna, and other subjects as needed by the OFI staff and volunteer team. At the end of the tenure, submit non-personal photography for OFI’s educational and marketing use and reference.
  • Maintain, categorize, label and update OFI’s photo database
  • Provide on-demand content for the OFI LA office, promptly. Examples might be missing information for annual reports, photos or facts for a specific event or donor, a video for an emergency appeal, etc.
  • Develop innovative ways to facilitate connections via creative journaling, YouTube video, and other means.
  • Participate in OFI’s environmental enrichment program, producing food and habitat enrichment for orangutans and other animals, keeping an attentive eye on photo and written content opportunities
  • Understand and promote OFI policies.
  • Complete other tasks for OFI as needed.
  • Provide updates and feedback through weekly progress reports and a final end-of-tenure report within one month of leaving the Care Center.

The tasks outlined above are only the standard responsibility of communications volunteers. Every tenure will also involve one or more special projects that will address the communication, outreach, and fundraising needs of OFI on and off the field at the time. The communications volunteers will be expected to work as a team in the field, sharing responsibilities, and allocating work between two or more individuals accordingly. Volunteers can expect to work with other volunteers from various cultural and educational backgrounds and are expected to work professionally and diligently with limited oversight on the ground. Regular remote communication with the OFI office in LA and the OFI Volunteer Committee is expected and required.


Job-Specific Requirements:

  • Excellent English language writing skills
  • Photography and/or film experience (must own equipment and be able to bring to the field)
  • Willingness to work and live in remote field conditions
  • Ability to keep timely and professional correspondence with remote work partners 
  • Experience working with teams of people of very diverse backgrounds and personalities
  • Indonesian-language ability at basic or conversational level, preferred but not required; demonstrated willingness to learn Indonesian daily throughout the volunteer tenure
  • Background in environmental sciences preferred
  • Proficiency in Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator, preferred but not required

General Skills and Characteristics:

  • Strong interest in orangutans and other endangered wildlife
  • Experience working, traveling or volunteering in developing, tropical nations
  • Cultural sensitivity, understanding, and adaptability 
  • High degree of flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity, and optimism
  • Ability and commitment to fundraise for the trip
Position Duration: Six months | Application Deadline: Rolling
© 2017 Orangutan Foundation International. All rights reserved.

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