Volunteering at KOPEL
KOPEL welcomes independent volunteer support at any time outside of our peak visitor season, which is between July & August every year. During the July-August period we can be fully booked with student group programs, and we feel that we cannot provide adequate support to individual or independent volunteers at this time. Any time outside our peak visitor season, there is a lot of great work happening at KOPEL, and we very much welcome volunteer support.
The general focus of our volunteer efforts revolves around; (a) our work to remove the invasive water weed Salvinia from the Tungog Lake, and (b) our forest restoration initiatives. Both of these activities are ongoing throughout the year. Many other targeted activities are also implemented from time to time, depending on the individual volunteer’s skills and our needs at any one time. For example, occasional we have special project work that includes construction work across our community, or facilities. Even so, these projects are usually short-term in nature, and are only programmed when needed.
Please feel free to inform us if there are specific skills you may like to share during your stay.
Volunteers are welcome to stay at a village homestay or at the Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp, although logistically and for wildlife observation the Eco Camp is at the heart of it all.
KOPEL doesn’t provide financial support for volunteers. The reality on the ground is not so fortunate, hence we welcome volunteers to support and strengthen our programs annually, whilst providing a unique travel experience in the process. We charge a flat rate per person per day for volunteers which covers all lodging, all meals (full board), and daily boats to/from worksites. Volunteers will collaborate with local staff, and depending on the length of stay, aptitude, and skills-set, volunteers will be given more autonomy to work individually on projects over time.
In parallel with a focus on work outcomes, work health and safety is very important to us. On registering a program with KOPEL, volunteers will receive an information pack that should be read prior to arrival. The information pack provides useful information for your stay with us, logistical tips for getting here and away, and further information on what to expect during the program with us. It provides as much information as possible, without trying to scare people off, even so it should be noted upfront that the work is hard and often physical.
We are located in the equatorial tropics, please come expecting it to be very warm and humid, with lots of sunshine to make things grow very fast, plus lots of heavy tropical rain to cool things down - every day.
Please do take note, that KOPEL is located in the heart of the Kinabatangan floodplain. Although the focus of volunteering is “work outcomes”, it is done with a backdrop of some of SE Asia’s most amazing rainforests and by far the highest density of lowland wildlife in Borneo and Asia. Local culture is amazing too, and being a community-based program, you should never be a stranger in our village. Our place is a great place for forest walks, wildlife and bird watching, trekking, caving, and so on. Village life can also be lots of fun, so depending on your work program each day, and level of energy, there should be plenty of time to do sunrise or sunset river cruises to see wildlife, play some volleyball with our local teams, or simply relax and focus on photography or swing back in a hammock in the Jungle.
We hope that being part of the KOPEL team, as a volunteer, means initiating effective two-way communications, before, during and hopefully after your stay with us. We have a dedicated team at KOPEL to handle communications, they are good with all the popular apps and tools to help you with information prior to arrival, and onboarding when you arrive. Please do reach out if you need our help.
Please contact us if you have any specific questions. For more information on getting involved, volunteering or setting up a school or university program with KOPEL please feel free to contact KOPEL Office at +6089551070 or visit our Contact page.
Please read the additional documentation here, it is designed to provide more context to volunteering with KOPEL, than this brief website blurb.