"It is a great experience and you will feel so accomplished after doing it, and you are helping such a good cause."
Carmel is a transport manager from Ireland who volunteered for four weeks at the Cambodia Bear Sanctuary in February and March 2016. Here she talks about her special time with the bears.
When I finally made the decision to leave my job, family and friends to go travelling for six months in South East Asia I wanted to do something that was different to my every day office job along with helping others.
I didn't know where to start and so I opened Google and searched volunteering in Asia. Globalteer was the first website that came up, and after searching through a number of different websites, I felt Globalteer was everything I was looking for. They offered so many different volunteering programmes but the bear sanctuary really stood out for me.
Getting to know the bears
All of the over 130 bears steal part of your heart, but my favourite had to be Emily in house three. I loved how she and her keeper interacted with each other. Also my friend Suzanne had a little girl called Emily just before I left to travel.
Volunteering at the sanctuary
The local people at the sanctuary were amazing! They were friendly and accommodating to all of us when we volunteered there. Seeing how the keepers interacted with the bears on a daily basis was incredible. You could see that being a keeper wasn't just a day job for them – they loved the bears they where looking after.
In the morning time we helped the keepers prepare the breakfast for the bears. We then cleaned and scrubbed the enclosures the bears used when being feed, and then off we went to the kitchen to prepare food for the bears in the afternoon and for the next morning. Around 3pm we scattered food for the bears in their enclosures for the bears to find as part of the sanctuary’s enrichment programme. It was brilliant watching them do this and their sense of smell is incredible. At times we painted the enclosures, made hammocks for the bears and anything else that needed to be done. One of the weeks myself and another volunteer, Rowena, got to work on a project monitoring the feed intake of the sun bears, which was a great way to understand more about bears’ nutrition.
For people thinking of volunteering …
Do it! It is a great experience and you will feel so accomplished after doing it, and you are helping such a good cause. You meet so many people and some that you will stay friends with for a lifetime – I know I have!