Letter of Introduction to the International Volunteer Program for the ‘Centre de Rehabilitation des Primates de Lwiro’ (2009)
Thank you for considering applying for a volunteer position at Lwiro Primate Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This letter is written to give you a general outline of what you can expect from the volunteer program, and will help you to decide if you wish to continue with the application process. Lwiro Sanctuary currently houses 46 monkeys of various species and 37 Chimpanzees. The volunteer duties change constantly, as the need of the sanctuary evolves. It is therefore important that you come with no pre-conceived thoughts on what your role will be. But instead be happy to help out wherever you are needed at the time. We endeavour to have as little direct contact with the animals as possible at the sanctuary, if contact is needed Congolese staff will be the first called upon for this purpose. Therefore, if you are looking for a project where you are able to hold and cuddle chimps, this is not the project for you.
The cost of volunteering is US$500 per month if you are staying for a three or six month placement. We also offer placements for 7-12 months, at US$300 per month; however, the selection process for this is very strict. The fee includes basic accommodation at the guest house and three meals a day, and also includes a contribution to the sanctuary. The guest house is a 3 minute walk from the sanctuary and is very basic. The bathroom facilities are shared with other guests (although it is likely you may be the only guest), showers are taken using a bucket of water, and electricity is only supplied to the area during a small portion of the day. At night, no staff members are present at the guest house, and you may be the only guest in the building. There is a sentinel patrolling the grounds however. The food you receive is also very basic. For example, breakfast is bread, butter and tea. You can negotiate with the manager to pay extra for different food. However, this is strictly between you and the guesthouse! You can also bring supplies from Bukavu if you wish to have extra food and a few luxuries.
Please be aware that DRC is a very expensive African country. Taxis and food are at a higher cost than you may expect. We recommend that you budget to have US$100-200 per month for extra ‘pocket money’. This may cover mobile phone re-charge cards, coke, beer, cigarettes, extra food, taxis etc.
It is important to understand that DRC, and in particular the South and North Kivu regions are classified as being a post war zone, and are still highly insecure areas. It is vital that you check your countries travel warnings and are fully prepared for coming in to the country. It is also important to purchase travel insurance to cover all situations. It is for this reason, and others, that we will not accept volunteers under the age of 25.
As Chimpanzees are so closely related to humans, we can risk transferring diseases to them. Therefore we stipulate that you need to have many different vaccinations. You will need to provide supporting documentation for this. It is also very important that you are open and honest with the volunteer co-ordinator if you have any other infectious diseases. And it is a requirement of the sanctuary that all volunteers spend one week in quarantine upon arrival. If you are unwell, you will also not be able to have contact with the animals.
Please be aware that working at Lwiro will be both stressful and tiring. You will not get days off (unless organised with the sanctuary manager for a specific purpose). If you are after a relaxing holiday, this is not the program for you. It is likely that you will work 10-12 hour days, seven days a week while you are here. Although it is not a pre-requisite, it is also advisable to know, at least, a small amount of French to be able to communicate with the staff effectively.
If you still feel you would like to continue with the volunteer application process, please email the volunteer co-ordinator at email@example.com. Please include your CV and the dates you would like to volunteer. If you feel this is not the volunteer program for you, we hope you will still consider supporting Lwiro Sanctuary in alternative ways in our goal to give the primates at the sanctuary the best possible care. Please email us if you feel you can help the sanctuary in another way.
Thank you for your interest, we look forward to hearing from you.
AWARE e.V. and the Lwiro CRPL-team