Posted by: Admin | August 23, 2017

Volunteering at Tasikoki: Hard Work but Meaningful and Magical Experience

Having visited Tasikoki for a week back in 2014 on a teacher reconnaissance trip, followed by organising student visits from my school in Hong Kong, I felt it was about time to volunteer myself and learn more about Tasikoki. Being initially inspired by the work of Willie Smits and the Masarang team as well as being a Science teacher with an interest in environmental systems and sustainability, my objectives were to volunteer my skills as an educator and obtain life learning experiences for myself that I can share with my students.

In short, I came away fulfilling all my objectives and experiencing much more, with the addition of making great friends.

Laughing and enjoying the views around Tomohon with some of the friends I made at Tasikoki

The charm of Tasikoki blew me away from the beginning. The setting is magical, my favourite time being 5am; looking over the forest towards the sea, watching the fishing boats come in while listening to the sounds of dawn. The people I met are amazing, each engaging in a different way but all sharing one passion. The drive and dedication the team showed is inspiring and encouraging.

5am sunrise and dawn chorus were magical

At the beginning of my visit I supported the education team hosting school groups of about 20 students. We lead the groups through varying activities on and off site at local projects. The students relished in the opportunity to hand make enrichment for the rescued wildlife. Some lucky students watched the wildlife interacting with the enrichment but all students were happy in the knowledge of the impact they were making.

The offsite trips gave us a glimpse of the wonderfully biodiverse corner of the world we were in, on land and underwater. Meeting local people and talking to them about their lives allowed the students to link the three pillars of sustainability: ecology, economy and society. Through conversations I found that most of the students are aware of current environmental issues and I was encouraged to find that most of them want to take responsibility for their part in the care for our Earth’s future. This requires being a conscientious consumer and reduction of waste which is a challenge in Hong Kong, but it can be done.

One of the school visits with a sugar palm tapper

Part of the solution is making more people aware which was my next (on-going) task. I reached out to companies with corporate responsibility, other local or international schools wishing to visit, learn and volunteer. This is where I will make a brief appeal for any contacts you wish to share who might want to donate or volunteer. Please contact Masarang HK or If you want to ask me any more questions about my experience I am happy to expand, just direct the email to me through Masarang HK or Tasikoki.

Back to the Wildlife and Rescue Centre; the rest of my time was spent helping out preparing food and enrichment for the wildlife. I had a rare opportunity to be present while three newly rescued macaques were given the once over, microchipped and physically assessed before being kept in quarantine. Talking to the person in charge of animal care she explained the lengthy process it takes from rescue to release. There is so much more than I thought. I am truly in awe at the commitment she has along with all the members of the team. Unfortunately, we have the stark realisation that the displacement and mistreatment of wildlife will continue if the root of the cause is not dealt with. I will leave you to ponder and discuss this, as I did at length with the many insightful people at Tasikoki and do with anyone who wants to…… (we’ll assume I can include my students as wanting to).

Even though some of the physical work is hard in the hot weather, the goals are sometimes far off and the conversations serious, we all had one thing to keep us going, humour. Without the laughter and support for each other I don’t think as much could be achieved. That’s why I would definitely recommend some time at Tasikoki to share your skills, volunteer your time, hands, ears and patience to help where it’s needed most and learn first-hand the work of these environmentalists.

Lisa Pang, Volunteer and Masarang HK Committee Member

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