Curated by Tiportoviaconme
Photos by Tiportoviaconme
During our one-way trip, we came across Langkawi, a small island in Malaysia. Just when we had decided to give a different direction to our trip, destiny ran towards us. We wanted to stop. To travel even slower, to really savor every single particle of the place we visited. We wanted to find a place to volunteer, eager to make our contribution to help. As if by magic, Langkawi Lassie was there waiting for us. A place to call home for some time.
What is Langkawi Lassie?
Langkawi Lassie is a refuge for abandoned animals. Dogs and cats that need treatment or are simply stray animals, who would otherwise live on the streets. It is located on the island of Langkawi, within the Bon Ton Resort. Since the shelter is a non-profit, the main aid and finances are covered by the resort. All the animals managed by the volunteers are healthy and checked on a daily basis. The place is ideal for single travelers or couples. In fact for safety reasons the refuge does not accept children. Even if the animals are docile, it would be too much responsibility for Langkawi Lassie to keep children safe when in close contact with the dogs.
How did we find this refuge?
After two months of traveling it was time to stop. We both agreed that we had to find a place to volunteer. Before leaving, we signed up on two very popular platforms, Workaway and Helpx, to find work in exchange for board and lodging. By registering on these sites and paying a small annual fee you can find jobs in every corner of the world. The jobs are of many kinds: from waiter to the assistant on a farm, from social media manager to English teacher. So, while reading the announcement on Helpx, we knew that this was the right place for us. We immediately wrote to find out if it was possible to volunteer for two weeks. The answer came immediately and we arrived at Langkawi Lassie the first days of November.
It was one of the most enriching experiences ever. Working every day in contact with animals and immersed in nature is stimulating and regenerating. By volunteering at Langkawi Lassie, you have free board and lodging in the volunteer house inside the resort area. Inside the house there are two double rooms with double bed and mosquito net, private bathroom, air conditioning, a small refrigerator and a washing machine for common use. Meals are self-service, always delicious and varied with vegetables and meat. All prepared by the restaurant staff at the Bon Ton resort.
How is the daily volunteer work structured?
The volunteers are busy all day. From 10.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 17.30, with one free day per week. This will be agreed upon with the refuge coordinator. The morning activity takes place with about 30 dogs. It consists in taking the dogs in turns to walk in the area around the refuge, maximum two dogs per volunteer.
The dogs are all very docile, some more lively than others, but it will be easy to lead them on their morning walk. They are used to seeing different people. They know by heart the path to take and they can’t wait to get out even if for a short time from their room. Giulia had never had experience with dogs before, but a couple of days were enough to comfortable around them. Thanks also to the coordinator and the more experienced volunteers that assisted her.
After the walk, the dogs that need it will get a shower. Or while you wait for lunchtime at 12.30 you can go visit the cats. They are about a hundred. They are taken care of by the refuge employees, who give them the necessary care and food. Volunteers can go to the cages to play with them and cuddle. We always get out of the cages full of cat hair but with much love received. They are animals that need affection and as soon as you cross the threshold of the cage you are literally submerged by their purring. The last activity of the morning is distributing food to dogs, picking up and washing all bowls.
The afternoon was our absolute favorite moment. Work begins at 15:00 and ends at 17.30. In this area of the refuge there are 30 dogs with the rooms overlooking a closed garden. In the morning they are taken for a walk by some employees out of the area. While in the afternoon the volunteers have the task of letting them run free in the garden on a rotation of 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how many dogs are in the refuge at that time.
On a board you will always find the sequence of shifts updated with the duration and notes on which dogs need to bathe. It’s all very simple, impossible to make mistakes. The dogs will be the first to help you in the job: they know when it is their turn and the time to go back to their cages. It’s funny to see that up to a minute before they run and play and at the end of their time they stop motionless in front of the door waiting for your clap indicating that it’s time to enter. The afternoon is the time for weekly showers, games, pampering and tick control. Being with them in complete freedom creates true friendship relationships.
How can you help?
Langkawi Lassie animals can be helped in several ways. Volunteering at the refuge in Malaysia. Donating on their website. Adopting a four-legged friend. If you fall in love with a dog or a cat you can in fact adopt it and the refuge will take on the task of providing you with all the documents and all the necessary to get your new friend to your destination.
The experience that was originally supposed to be two weeks extended to three, although we would have liked to have stayed much longer. If you love animals and nature it is the ideal environment because the resort is completely surrounded by greenery and is an experience that we recommend to everyone. It will fill you with hair but it will open your hearts to cuddles. The furry friends of the Langkawi Lassie are waiting for you.
For more information about Langkawi Lassie: https://www.langkawilassie.org.my
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