Volunteering in Indonesia – One Big Family

Posted by: Paola

During the first week, we had an orientation in Ubud, Bali. I was with many volunteers from both the Bali Sea Turtle Rescue project I signed up for, and also the Education and Community Work project. During this week, you visit local touristic places in Ubud and you are introduced to the local culture thanks to cooking classes, ceremony preparation (flower offering) and tissue making. It is nice as you meet many volunteers from all around the world and you get introduced step by step to a new culture.

For weeks two and three, I moved to Nusa Penida to start the real volunteering project. Nusa Penida is a non-touristic island not far from Bali (south, 1 hour by boat). There are only a few hotels and bars, so you can really experience local culture, rest and see amazing landscapes. During the day, you usually work from 9 to 11/12 and from 14 to 16/17, depending on how fast your group completes the tasks. You mostly take care of turtles, i.e. feeding, cleaning tanks, catching crabs on the beach for turtles, measuring turtles to send data to universities. However, other side tasks must be done as beach cleaning and English teaching (once a week) in local schools.

The greatest aspects of the project are two. First of all, you really feel useful as local coordinators need our help to take care of all turtles as they are not enough to do the job alone. Second, compared to Ubud, there are less volunteers (around 25, even if they told us that during the high season it can go up to 70). As you are not a lot, no small groups are done; we are all part of a big group, or even better a big family. You really get close to volunteers and to coordinators and cookers.

After working, you can go to the few bars available on the island or just chill at home with the other volunteers talking, watching films together or resting. Moreover, during the weekend, which is free, you can stay in Nusa Penida and visit this amazing island or go snorkeling, or you can leave Nusa Penida for weekends in Bali. Since I was there for just 2 weeks, I preferred staying in Nusa Penida visiting the amazing beaches (Atu Beach, Crystal Bay, Broken Beach, Billabong Angel’s) and going snorkeling (is it really famous for Manta Ray and Mola Mola, amazing!).

I think the most incredible experience was the turtle release. When a turtle is ready to leave the center (when is strong enough or is it not sick anymore), you release them in the ocean at Gamat Bay, an amazing secluded beach. I personally cried: it was really an emotional experience to release back the turtle into the wild.

For week four I went back to Ubud for the Adventure week. It was amazing! I did cycling in the rice fields, rafting in the middle of the jungle, went to a turtle conservation center close to Kuta, relaxed at the beach, climbed up to M. Batur at night for the sunrise and had a massage the last day to relax!