Volunteer FAQ’s

Volunteer Frequently Asked QuesTions

What kind of activities do volunteers usually take part in?

Within the different school programs (transition school, day school, and dormitory), there are many opportunities for teaching and learning.  Teaching English to staff and/or students, playing games, coaching sports, teaching art and crafts, joining in recreation and providing teacher training are areas in which volunteers are a great help.  Before you come, we will work out a general outline for the kinds of tasks you’ll be involved in (teaching, helping, coaching) and who it will be with (staff, students, student parents).  It is great if you can brainstorm and prepare for these ideas in advance.  Again, our goal would be to help you work with activities and an audience you can have success with.

What language(s) will I need?

Papua is home to over 250 indigenous languages, but Bahasa Indonesia is the common (national) language on the island.  Bahasa Indonesia is also the primary language at Papua Harapan, but with the help of volunteers, students and staff are growing in their ability to use English.  Depending on the activity, simple English and demonstrations may be enough to communicate a skill.  If necessary, staff members or other Indonesian-English speakers can be called upon to translate.

Generally, it is helpful to learn Indonesian greetings and phrases for thank you, shopping and transportation.  Phrase books and the “Learning Indonesian” podcast are good resources.

What is the area around the school like?

Sentani is located on the north coast of Papua, to the west of Papua’s capital, Jayapura.  It is backed by Mt. Cyclops to the north and Sentani Lake (Danau Sentani) to the south.  A main road connects Jayapura to Sentani to the coast (approximately25 km or 15 miles in either direction).  Weather in Sentani is typically hot and humid, 30’C (86’F) on a normal day.

Sentani and the surrounding area is currently experiencing rapid economic growth, and is urbanizing quickly.  Sekolah Papua Harapan is on the western edge of Sentani, in a rural area.

Where will I stay?

International volunteers are encouraged to live with friends already in Papua who can provide a home and some help getting around the Sentani area.  For those who do not have connections in Papua, some basic accommodations may be available on school property, alongside Papua Harapan teachers.

What is available to eat?

At school, meals are a social time and food is provided for staff, students, and volunteers.  Outside of school hours, a wide variety of local food is available to explore at the local market and small, family-run restaurants.  National and international franchises arrived recently, including KFC and Dunkin Donuts.

What about transportation?

Most residents of Sentani use the local taxi system.  The system is slow, but taxis are widely available and affordable, charging USD $0.20-$.50 per ride.

How much should I plan to budget for my trip?

The following categories provide a framework for anticipating approximate costs for traveling to Papua (in U.S. Dollars per person).

Travel: $2000-$3000

  • International ticket: enter Indonesia at Jakarta or Denpasar/Bali
  • Domestic ticket from Jakarta or Bali to Jayapura: ~$500 round-trip (less-expensive if purchased within Indonesia)

Visa:  $250-$2500

The type of visa you apply for largely depends on your time frame.  Sekolah Papua Harapan will help you determine the right kind of visa and will provide directions for how to apply.  A short stay of 60 days is around $250.  A 1-year work visa is around $2500.

Living:

  • Housing: varies; ~$0-$10 a day
  • Transportation: varies; ~$4 a day
  • Food:  varies, ~$5 a day for local food

School:

  • Special items for your volunteer project or activities
  • Donation to the school

Extra Costs:

  • Souvenirs: varies
  • Travel within Papua: varies; ~$200
  • Before coming: Immunizations and malaria prophylaxis