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Assist in this very worthwhile live-in residential care project to help children with mental, physical and emotional disabilities as well as some young adults and abused women/children.

The Home is a publicly-funded residential home near Kota Kinabalu offering care for the underprivileged and helpless community. It is a shelter for abused women and children, victims of rape and children with mental and physical disabilities.

Physiotherapy work is available to those who are qualified.

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Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration From 4 weeks, up to 6 months, subject to visa requirements.
Requirements Some experience or qualifications would be excellent, but are not necessary. The only requirement is a big heart and a desire to provide care and support. Ideally, you should have some skills in nursing, physiotherapy or caring for those with physical and/or mental impairments.

If you have a background in physiotherapy, you can take a wider involvement in this instead of the care elements. If you don’t have any such skills but are very enthusiastic about getting involved please speak to us and we’ll be able to confirm whether this placement is suitable for you.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your Program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Meeting you at the nearest airport/station
Return transfer to the airport
All accommodation
Transfer to the placement site
In-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion.
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visa.
Who can do this Project?

All our projects are open to all nationalities.
Unless otherwise stated, you need to be aged between 17 and 70+
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in caring for children, teaching or working with children overseas while doing voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or short break in Malaysia or South-East Asia, or for those interested in TEFL teaching.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and Malaysian culture!

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping disadvantaged women and children and knowing that you made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

One of the young boys after music practice

Some of the home's residents in the arts centre
Some of the home's residents in the arts center

At the Center, the children are given the necessary care and love (some on a one-to-one basis) according to their physical and emotional needs – bathing/washing them, feeding and general care (e.g washing of clothes, room cleaning and sweeping, cooking and playing). The home is constantly alive with the caregivers tending to the needs of the 48 residents, 33 of which are either orphaned, abandoned or have no proper home.

Some of the children have multiple disabilities and need close attention most of the time. There is a varied range of disabilities including; Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning difficulties, Paralysis and Deafness. If you have experience as a Physiotherapist you'll be able to get involved with treatments.

Only 5 of the 48 residents go to normal schools so one of your main responsibilities will be to provide additional support and care for the children during the day. You’ll help by talking, playing and reading with them. You will also assist with mealtimes and some times cleaning up after them. The main mode of communication is Bahasa Malaysia but English is widely spoken and used amongst the staff.

It has always been the goal of Bukit Harapan to aid the helpless so that they may find confidence in life again, see the reason to stay alive, stand on their own feet and forgive those who have hurt them, giving them the chance to look forward to the future.

Each child is given an Individual Education Plan (IEP) according to his or her needs. They then follow a special educational program that is modified or particularized for those students with special needs, such as learning differences, mental health problems, or specific disabilities (physical or developmental). Modifications can consist of changes in curriculum, supplementary aides or equipment, and the provision of specialized facilities that allow students to participate in the educational environment to the fullest extent possible. Students may need this help to access subject matter, to physically gain access to the school, or to meet their emotional needs. Support is targeted to the needs of the individual student and can be short or long term.

The home is also engaged in some outreach work to remote communities and a Rural Youth program to help support individuals in the area and provide them with the skills required to care for those with disabilities.

Bukit Harapan relies heavily on public and private support to run as it supports 48 residents and 16 full-time and live-in staff, who do not have any fixed days off. The home is grateful that many individuals from middle to high-income brackets have been giving their support in the form of donating food essentials and other necessities to run the home. These are anonymous philanthropists who only wish to see the welfare of the home’s residents taken care of. However, the home is constantly in need of donors either in cash or kind to ensure the health and well being of its’ residents.

To sustain the livelihood of Bukit Harapan a nursery project has recently been initiated with the hope that sales from the plants and orchids will assist in the smooth operation of the home. An orchid mist house has been built with a herb garden in the pipeline. It is also part of the homes ‘green’ effort to rejuvenate the environment.

08.00 am – 12.00 pm : Special Education
12.00 pm – 12.30 pm : Lunch
12.30 pm – 01.00 pm : Cleaning
01.00 pm – 03.30 pm : Afternoon Nap
03.30 pm – 03.45 pm : Afternoon Tea
03.45 pm – 05.00 pm : Recreational Activities
05.00 pm – 06.30 pm : Shower
06.30 pm – 07.30 pm : Dinner
07.30 pm – 09.00 pm : Free Activity
09.00 pm : Bed Time

"It feels so unique to be helping people with a bad start to life, and all this experience is done in a culture I knew nothing about. I have seen how the staff work every day of the week for little money and share a room with the children so get no privacy. They do not ask for vacations and never complain. By living in this environment I have learned how the Malaysians care more about the group than the individual. Also, I have learned how fortunate us Westerners really are, and I hope I will use this information to fully appreciate everything.

There are 46 children here, all with a sad story, so it really opens your eyes. It is good because you do not have to be able to speak much of the language with the children, you just need the able to make them laugh and play games.

Imagine walking into a room with lots of children running at you all incredibly happy to see you. For example with me they scream 'Brother' when I walk into a room. They are all happy which is rewarding. This is a worthwhile placement in which you generally make a difference not just to the children but to yourself. You make other people happy, and in return learn a lot about the culture and how fortunate we are in the Western World.

I will never forget it and have no regrets."
David Llewellyn

Volunteer David Llewellyn with some of the children

School lessons for some of the children




The home was first established in 1989 and has recently moved to new premises built on land donated by the Sabah State Government. Its new location is just 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu. The home now consists of seven residential blocks, with 3 to 4 rooms each, to make up the dormitories for the residents and caregivers. It also has a Sundial school block consisting of five classrooms and an office. The main 2-storey block houses the dining, living, kitchen, laundry and staff room while the upper floor consists of an office, an interview room, visitors’ hall, store and bedroom with an ensuite.

This is a live-in volunteer program, so you’ll be accommodated on site and will live, eat and sleep at the home. In this way you’ll get to know the staff and children quickly and will become part of the community at Bukit Harapan. You’ll be encouraged to join in with all activities and will be fully immersed into Malaysian culture in a very unique environment. This is a challenging but incredibly rewarding placement to take part in.

Click for MAP

Some of the staff at Bukit Harapan are qualified care-assistants and others are ex-residents who have been successfully rehabilitated. For example;

Hamid, a 51 year-old orphan who is paralysed from the waist down and has been at the home for 15 years. Despite being wheelchair bound, he takes care of the garden, does minor maintenance around the home as well as care for the younger residents. Hamid is a very artistic person with great carpentry skills.

Jaafar, a 46 year-old orphan who is a slow learner. Jaafar helps in cleaning and sweeping around the compound.  He runs errands for the home, as well as ferrying children to and from school and picking up food.


Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure!

Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:

When you arrive, you'll be welcomed by Ronn. She is the Volunteer Co-ordinator, assisting Albert, our Malaysia Manager. Ronn will take you to your accommodation in Kota Kinabalu, where you will spend the first couple days of your trip. She will show you the nearby facilities such as banks, pharmacy, food and beverage outlets etc.

Albert will give you an evening induction (so you will be free to do some activities during the daytime).
You will then be taken to your project and accommodation and introduced to everyone concerned. You will be made to feel very welcome by all! 

Our projects in Malaysia are very popular and you are sure to have a wonderful time during your stay in Sabah. Your adventure has begun :-)


Travellers' Malaysia Manager Albert and friends!
Travellers' Malaysia Manager Albert and friends 

Facts on Malaysian Food

The home's new premises includes school classroom facilities


WhiWhile on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.

PADI Open Water Diving Courses
Climb Mount Kinabalu Excursion
Day Tours around Borneo
Turtles and Primates Excursion

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Malaysia, Thailand or South-East Asia - thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment! Our recommended comindations are Thailand or Sri Lanka, Malaysia or the Pandas in China!



Kota Kinabalu, or "KK" (as it is locally known), is the capital of Sabah. KK is home to the International airport and this will be your first point of arrival in Sabah - it is a great place to start your trip and get used to the Malaysian way of life.

Although Kota Kinabalu is far less developed than Kuala Lumpur (its counterpart on the Peninsular), the people are very friendly and the atmosphere here is more relaxed. KK also boasts impressive markets, restaurants and nightlife and is a fun introduction to the wide variety of attractions that Sabah has to offer.  

Just off the coast it is possible to see an array of beautiful islands which make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Exploring the coral reefs and marine life in this underwater world is fascinating and day trips here can be easily arranged - most islands are less than 45 minutes away by boat. Once you arrive you will be amazed at how clear the water is and just how many different fish you can see. There are also many wonderful beaches to be explored on the islands!   

Facing inland, it’s possible to see the peaks of Mount Kinabalu in the distance. This is another of Sabah’s main attractions and the views from the top at Sun rise more than make up for the two day climb. Afterwards you can soak your aching muscles at Poring where the sulphur hot springs provide a therapeutic bath.

Throughout the whole of Sabah you will find many local "Tamu", meaning market - the variety of fruit, vegetables, plants and handcrafted items on sale at cheap prices has to be seen to be believed!


There is excellent diving and snorkelling on a number of islands surrounding Sabah. The Semporna Islands Marine park, located towards the south of the island, is one of the best. Here you will find Sipadan Island, the most famous within the park and classified as one of the worlds top dive sites.

Sipadan is an oceanic island shaped like a mushroom - it was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct undersea volcano. Due to its geographic position it is at the center of one of the richest marine environments in the world - both the diving and snorkelling here are outstanding!

Rebecca Decant told us about her experiences of some of the excursions that took part during her placement.

"Sipadan (diving/snorkeling) - We all stayed on an island near Sipadan island called Mabul. We had a practice scuba dive the day we arrived to get us used to the equipment. In the evening we walked around the small island and met lots of local children who obviously hadn't seen many foreigners. Early the next morning we took a boat to Sipadan where some people snorkeled off the beach, which was quite small but the reef was huge! I scuba-dived for the first time and it was the best thing I have ever done I think (except work with Orang-Utans obviously!). The teachers were really good and helped us when we struggled to get the breathing right.

We got about 45mins underwater and saw the beautiful reef, turtles, millions of fish and some white-tip sharks. The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the beach and snorkeling. You could see the same snorkeling as you could diving, but the experience of diving was well worth the few extra pounds!"

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.


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