VOLUNTEER PROGRAM – TEACHING IN THE TIGER HOUSE
Do I need to know the Indonesian language?
- Our Indonesian teacher, Dona, will always be present and can translate and explain where necessary.
What do we teach?
- We teach English with an emphasis on the rainforest ecosystem and environmental conservation.
Can I help without any teaching experience?
- There are textbooks and other materials you can use. The teacher will be there to guide you and suggest appropriate activities, and she will help with translation and explanations.
How many students would there be in a class?
- Somewhere between 20 and 30. There are currently around 60 local children interested in our classes. They will not all be taught at the same time. We are trying to organise ability groups.
How old are the children?
- They are likely to be between 7-14 years old.
What is the students’ English level?
- This depends on the age of student. Students are usually able to have a simple conversation and know the names of animals and basic things, but they are often shy to speak in English even when they know the answer.
Do Indonesian children attend a state school?
- Yes. They start compulsory schooling at 5-6 years of age. The school day starts early to avoid the heat and is usually from 7am to 11am, 6 days per week.
Do the children learn English at school?
- Not in the early years. They grow up speaking the local dialect, so learn standard Indonesian when they start school.
How many volunteers can teach at one time?
- Usually volunteers co-teach with another volunteer. The optimum numbers of volunteer teachers per class is 1-3.
How much time is spent teaching per day?
- Tiger House classes run in the afternoon, usually from 2 to 4pm.
Do I have to commit to spending a specific number of days teaching?
- No. There is no obligation to spend any time teaching. Volunteers can choose to spend 2-3 days at a time at the Tiger House.
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM – GREEN LIFE RESERVE
What will we be doing on the GL reserve?
- Reserve maintenance – mowing grass, painting cabins, repairing stairs, clearing paths, replacing signage, cooking meals, fetching water – anything that is necessary.
- Anti-poaching patrols – positioning camera traps and checking their records, looking for evidence of poachers.
- Learning about the rainforest ecosystem and its plants and animals and the threats posed by deforestation.
Will I have free time during my volunteering placement?
- Teaching in the Tiger House takes just 2-3 hours in the afternoon, the rest of day can be used how you want.
- There is only one fully free day during the two week stay on the reserve. Generally we work for 2-3 hours in the morning and afternoon, with a long break for lunch.
- There is only one fully free day while in Pulau Banyak but there is plenty of other free time to swim, snorkel or explore the islands.
Can I choose where I sleep on the GL reserve?
- To a certain extent. Anyone with specific physical requirements will, by prior agreement, be given priority. Otherwise the use of the reserve cabins is by negotiation and volunteers will be expected to spend time on both sites when we are busy.
Can I share a cabin with my friend or partner?
- Couples and friends can stay together and we try to give everyone privacy if possible, but sometimes it will be necessary to share a cabin with other volunteers.
What do we eat on the reserve? Is the water drinkable?
- We cook vegan and vegetarian food for ethical and health reasons. As animal rights activists, we don’t want to participate in the killing of either wild or farmed animals. Without refrigeration there is no way to safely store meat.
- We provide 3 meals per day.
- We drink water straight from the river Sembelang. We tested the water and it is completely clean. If you want to be sure, you can bring a water bottle with a filter.
Where can I do my laundry?
- In the river Sembelang. We soak our clothes in a bucket and then rinse them in the river, so please only use the minimum quantity of an environmentally-friendly detergent.
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM – PULAU BANYAK
What will we be doing in Pulau Banyak?
- Travelling from island to island by boat to clear rubbish that has washed up on the beaches.
- Learning about conservation of the marine environment.
- There will also be opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak, play beach volleyball and generally relax.
Do I need to be able to swim well?
- An average swimming ability is required. The currents in the shallows around the islands are not strong and the clear waters make it easy to see hazards. Buoyancy aids are available for boat journeys into deeper water for those that want them.
I have never snorkelled before. Is it easy to learn?
- It is not difficult to learn and you will have plenty of time to practice. There are many websites offering tips and basic guidelines.
Can I borrow or hire snorkelling equipment?
- We do have a few items that can be borrowed, but we recommend that you bring your own. You will only need very basic equipment that can be bought for £30 or less.
What do we eat on the islands? Is the water drinkable?
- We do not presently have cooking facilities on this site and have arranged with local people for the provision of cooked meals, which will be vegan or vegetarian.
- We provide 3 meals per day.
- We provide bottled water that we buy locally.
TRAVEL, SAFETY AND GENERAL QUESTIONS
Is it safe to stay in the rainforest?
- It is safe if you follow the advice that will be given on arrival. Although the Green Life reserve is situated in tiger territory, tigers will generally avoid contact with people. However, there are other creatures that might bite or sting if you step on them or disturb them in the dark. For this reason we advise volunteers not to wander in the forest in the evening, early morning or at night.
Do I need special vaccinations?
- No special vaccinations are required for travelling to North Sumatra, but tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis vaccinations are recommended for any travel in Asia. Avoid touching animals, especially dogs and monkeys, because they may carry rabies.
Are mosquitos a problem?
- Not really. Mosquitos in this area are not known to carry malaria. They are mainly active at dawn and dusk, and wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers with repellent on exposed skin at these times will usually prevent any problems. There are mosquito nets in the cabins.
How much money will I need during my stay?
- We recommend around €100 – 150 (1.7 – 2.2 million rupiah) per volunteer program. You won’t need money in the forest or on Pulau Banyak, but close to the Tiger House is a small café where you can buy beer for 35,000 rupiah and also soft drinks. It is possible to hire a motorbike or car and travel to another village in your free time. There are also guided trips from Batu Katak into the partially submerged caves or rafting expeditions down the river.
What kind of money do I need in Sumatra?
- In Batu Katak, and most other villages, you will need to pay with Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). In larger towns and cities you may be able to pay by credit/debit card.There are no automated teller machines (ATM) in the Batu Katak area.
Where can I exchange my money for Indonesian rupiah?
- If you haven’t already done this in your home country, the best place to exchange your money is at the airport in Medan, where you may benefit from a better exchange rate. There are ATM at the airport, but if you plan to rely on cards, we advise that you have more than one, check that they function overseas and be aware that there is a limit on how much can be withdrawn at one time.
Are there any restaurants or cafes? How expensive are they?
- There is one small café in Batu Katak where they can prepare simple local food like Nasi Goreng (fried rice with vegetables). Any food is likely to be vegetarian as it is difficult to store meat without refrigeration. A meal costs around 15,000 rupiah. The café (Green Warung) also sells beer and soft drinks.
- There are no cafes within easy reach of where you will be staying in Pulau Banyak
What power adapter /converter do I need for Sumatra?
- A power adapter/converter to suit a two prong plug at 240V AC is required.
Where can I charge my phone?
- In Pulau Banyak we use a petrol generator for a few hours in the evening to give us light. Phones can be charged then.
Is there access to the internet?
- The wifi signal in Batu Katak is very poor and internet access is intermittent. One hour away in Bohorok is an internet café with reliable access, if this is important to you.
What if I need to postpone my placement?
- If there is space on another program, we will be happy to arrange this. Please let us know as soon as possible.
What should I bring?
- light clothes like T-shirts and shorts (daytime)
- light long trousers and long sleeved shirts (evening)
- light waterproof jacket
- comfortable hiking boots/shoes with flexible soles
- free-draining rubber shoes suitable for wading through water
- swimwear and towel
- snorkel, mask and fins
- hat and sunglasses
- sunscreen and insect repellent
- head torch and spare batteries
- strong re-usable water bottle
- waterproof bag for passport, tickets and money
- small backpack to carry water and essential items on trips
- basic first aid kit, which should include sufficient quantities of any prescribed medicine, painkillers, plasters, antiseptic and diarrhoea medicine
Do I need travel insurance?
- Yes. The policy should include medical and repatriation cover, personal liability and loss or theft of personal belongings as a minimum.
Do I need a visa?
- Yes. A free 30 day visa is available to 90 countries for the purpose of tourism, but there are restrictions on the airport or harbour of entry and exit. The free 30 day visa cannot be extended for any purpose. If you think you might want to stay longer or leave by a different route, you should purchase a 30 day VOA (Visa On Arrival) which can be extended by 30 days if necessary. If you are certain you will be in the country for 30-60 days, it is less time-consuming to organise the visa in advance in your home country.
All visitors to Indonesia will require:
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the day you enter Indonesia.
- A passport that has at least one complete blank page.
- Proof of a return flight or onward flight out of Indonesia.
Who organises my flights?
- You do. Once you have confirmed your volunteer placement and are ready to book your flight we will put you in touch with other volunteers who are on the same program, as you may be able to travel with them or meet up with them for part of the journey. We can offer help with finding the best route and air fare from your home country.
How do I get from the airport to the Green Life reserve?
- There are details of the various options here. Link
Why volunteer abroad?
- It is an opportunity to experience a new culture and engage with local people in a meaningful way.
- Your commitment to environmental conservation is important to local people who often feel powerless defending their land rights against the activities of big companies and the inability of the government to enforce the law.
- Learning about the incredible diversity of nature will be a beautiful and unforgettable experience here.
- On a personal level, volunteering offers a chance to make friends with like-minded people, develop your skills and increase your self-confidence, independence and social awareness. It can also be added to your CV.
Why should I pay for volunteering?
- We are a non-profit organization and receive no government funding. There are a number of costs involved with the services we offer volunteers and any profit made from the program goes to support the Green Life Project.
How is the Green Life reserve funded?
- The Green Life Project and the activities of NGO Forest For Children are funded from several financial streams:
- Regular standing orders from supporters
- One-off donations from supporters
- Entry fees to public lectures (about 40 lectures per year)
- Sales of certificates – Save the Forest (for land purchases), Tiger House (for completion of construction and operation), Tiger Patrol (for the operation of anti-poaching patrols)
- Business sponsors
- Subscriptions to the Green Life magazine
- Sales of promotional items
- The Volunteer Program donates all profits
- The Green Life Education school program (REPE) donates 2/3 of its profits. The remaining 1/3 funds educational films used by the school program and for fundraising.