Special Needs Care and Education in Borneo, Malaysia

WHY we need you in Malaysia


HOW can you help?

WHAT can you do?

Why Involvement Volunteers International?

Borneo Special Needs residents






  MIN AGE: 16+



Help care for and provide support to residents with various disabilities, aged between 10 to 53 years old. You’ll help in three main areas, the kitchen (cooking, etc), classroom (education and activities) and in general areas (gardening, cleaning).

The centre where you will be volunteering is home to 40 residents ranging in age from 10 to 53 years old. Many of the younger residents have multiple disabilities and require constant attention. There is a diverse range of disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning difficulties, Paralysis, and Deafness. The centre is comprised of seven residential blocks, each containing 3 to 4 rooms that serve as dormitories for both residents and caregivers. It also includes a school block with five classrooms and an office. The main two-story building includes the dining area, living quarters, kitchen, laundry, and staff room, with the upper floor featuring an office, interview room, and visitors’ hall.

Additionally, the centre is a publicly funded residential home that relies on support from the community, including donations of food and other essentials. It is constantly in need of donors, both in cash and kind, to ensure the health and well-being of its residents.

Additionally, we conduct outreach work to remote communities, and a Rural Youth program has been established to provide support and skills training to individuals in the area, specifically for the care of those with disabilities. Each child is provided with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) tailored to their unique needs. A specialised education program is then implemented to cater to the needs of students with specific learning differences, mental health issues, or physical and developmental disabilities. This may involve changes to the curriculum, provision of supplementary aids or equipment, and access to specialised facilities to enable students to fully participate in the educational environment.

You can help in 3 main areas:

  • Kitchen – For food preparation, cooking and cleaning (3-4 participants)
  • Classroom – For Enrichment activities (5-6 participants)
  • Public Area – For Gardening and general cleaning (4-5 participants)

General tasks will include:

  • Spending your time with the residents
  • Giving them your support and attention
  • Talking and listening to them
  • Playing games with them
  • Drawing or painting with them (it’s a good idea to bring some supplies from home for this)


Our programs are located on the island of Borneo, and most within the Sabah region, a state in East Malaysia which borders with Sarawak to the southwest and Kalimantan, which is the Indonesian part of Borneo, to the south. Sabah is a beautiful place, known for its lush rainforests, beaches and mountainous regions.

Project Tasks

  • Provide a high standard of care and support to the residents
  • To provide a safe, welcoming and nurturing environment
  • Taking part in recreational activities, playing games, education, etc

Food & Accommodation

Our accommodation is Kota Kinabalu. This hostel-style accommodation also offers It is located about 8 km from Kota Kinabalu International Airport; it offers a shared lounge, non-smoking room and free WiFi. This property is almost centrally located; nearby points of interest (within 15-20 minutes walk) include KK Esplanade (a perfect spot to see beautiful sunset), Atkinson Clock Tower (a historical landmark), Jesselton Point (entry point to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park) and Signal Hill Observatory (bird’s eye view of Kota Kinabalu City). Rooms are shared between 4-8 people, and hot showers, bed linen and fans are provided.

You will have 3 meals on weekdays and 2 meals on weekends. Typical dishes include white rice served with meat or chicken or fish dishes (cooked in sauces like sweet & sour, dark soya, mild curry, etc.) and a vegetable dish. Some restaurants also cater for vegans but you MUST inform us so we can advise you accordingly.  Breakfasts are varied, including toast, egg-dish, fresh fruit, and coffee & tea. Tea, coffee and purified water is available at the house. We do not recommend that you drink water straight from the tap.

The accommodation is centrally located in the city, so public facilities such as supermarket, gymnasium, swimming pool, saloon, laundromat, cinema, money exchange, ATM, sim card shop, and photocopy shops are all located within a 2 kilometers radius.

All prices in USD
  • 1 Week - $525
  • 2 Weeks - $655
  • 3 Weeks - $955
  • 1 Month - $1275
  • 2 Months - $2495
  • 3 Months - $3675
Vol House
What's Included
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Airport Pickup
  • Local Transportation
  • 1 Day Orientation
  • 24/7 In-Country Support
  • Project Materials & Equipment
  • Pre-departure Expert Advice
  • Preperation Tools & Checklists
  • Certificate of Completion


This program would suit patient, caring, and understanding individuals. If you have a general love for people, putting a smile on their faces, and don’t mind getting stuck in to each area, then this is the project for you. 

  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals p/day & 2 p/day at weekends
  • Arrival airport transfer (Sat/Sun arrivals)
  • Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea
  • 1 day orientation
  • Daily transportation to project
  • In country 24/7 support & emergency assistance
  • Fundraising support
  • University course credits (where applicable)
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Airfares
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tours, Souvenirs & spending money

Most of our programs will include a 1 day orientation on the first day, which will include things like a walk around the local area, explanations of where everything is, ATMs, how to get local sim cards, etc, and lessons on cultural norms and what to expect. 

Programs begin every Monday, and volunteers are required to arrive the day prior, for orientation before the project. Your accommodation on the Sunday is included in the program fees.

A free airport pickup is included when arriving to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KLIA and KLIA2). You must arrive between the hours 08:00 to 18:00 on Sunday. You will meet your transfer coordinator at KKIA.

If arriving outside the pickup times on Sunday, you can book a private transfer for US$50.

If arriving during the week, or on Saturday, we charge US$50 for any extra night’s accommodation before your program, and another US$50 fee for a private transfer.

Alternatively, if arriving early you could wait at the arrival’s terminal for the pickup time, book accommodation at the airport and meet us during the pickup times or make your own way to the project (we will advise on how to do this).

You will volunteer from 8am to 5pm.

08.30 am : Depart from the accommodation

09.00 am : Arrive at project (Kitchen / Class Room / Public Area)

09.00 am – 12.00 pm : Special Education /Activities

12.00 pm – 12.30 pm : Lunch

12.30 pm – 01.00 pm : Cleaning

01.00 pm – 03.30 pm : Afternoon Nap

03.03 pm – 03.45 pm : Afternoon Tea

03.45 pm – 05.00 pm : Recreational Activities

05.00 pm : Depart

Things to do in West Malaysia…

  • Visit the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur: These iconic towers are the tallest twin towers in the world, and offer stunning views of the city.
  • Explore the Batu Caves: These caves are a popular Hindu shrine, featuring a massive golden statue and many colourful temples.
  • Visit the historic city of Malacca: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many historic buildings and museums, showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Go island-hopping: West Malaysia is home to many beautiful islands, such as Langkawi, Penang, and Tioman, which are perfect for snorkelling, swimming, and sunbathing.
  • Try the local food: Malaysia is famous for its delicious cuisine, and trying local dishes such as nasi lemak, char kway teow, and laksa is a must-do activity.

Things to do in East Malaysia (Borneo):

  • Climb Mount Kinabalu: This majestic mountain is the highest peak in Southeast Asia and attracts thousands of climbers every year.
  • Explore the Borneo Rainforest: East Malaysia is home to some of the oldest rainforests in the world, teeming with diverse wildlife and fascinating plant life.
  • See the Orangutan: East Malaysia is one of the few places in the world where you can see these fascinating primates up close in their natural habitat.
  • Relax on the beaches of Sabah: Sabah is home to many beautiful beaches, such as Sipadan and Layang-Layang, which are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing.
  • Experience the cultural diversity: East Malaysia is home to many indigenous tribes, such as the Iban, Kadazan-Dusun, and Murut, each with their own unique customs and traditions. Exploring their cultures can be a truly enriching experience.

Due to the length and active nature of this program, a decent level of fitness is required.

Optional: Suitable for physiotherapist students.

Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia formerly known as British Malaya and later as the Federation of Malaya. It is comprised of two regions separated by the South China Sea.

Peninsular Malaysia, also known as West Malaysia, is located on the Malay Peninsula and shares borders with Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south. Malaysian Borneo, also known as East Malaysia, is situated on the northern part of the island of Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world and part of the Malay Archipelago (Greater Sunda Islands). East Malaysia shares borders with Indonesia and surrounds the Sultanate of Brunei. Malaysia also has maritime borders with the Philippines and Vietnam.

The country’s total area covers 329,847 km², making it slightly larger than Norway or somewhat larger than the U.S. state of New Mexico. The highest peak is Mount Kinabalu (4,095 m) located in Sabah state on the island of Borneo. This mountain and the surrounding Kinabalu Park are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As of 2021, Malaysia’s population is approximately 33 million people. Kuala Lumpur is the largest city and the national capital. The official languages spoken are Malay, English, Tamil, and Chinese (Cantonese). The official religion in Malaysia is Islam, with approximately 60% of the population practicing the Muslim faith and 20% practicing Buddhism.

Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia are situated in the same tropical latitudes, thus experiencing a similar climate. Expect high temperatures, high humidity, and frequent heavy rainfall throughout the year, with a climatic pattern that revolves around the northeast and southwest monsoons. There are typically four seasons, the northeast monsoon (which occurs from November or December until March), the first inter-monsoon (from March to April or May), the southwest monsoon (which takes place from May or June to September or early October), and the second inter-monsoon (from October to November). The start and end of these two monsoons are not clearly defined. The best time to visit Malaysia is commonly between December to April.

Across the whole of Sabah, the ethnic groups and indigenous tribes (such as Dusun, Murut Rungus, Bajau, Kadazan) account for over half of the population. There are also immigrant communities such as the Chinese, Indian, Filipinos and Indonesians – Sabah is a real multicultural society. The official language is Bahasa Malaysia, but due to the fusion of religious and ethnic groups, English is widely spoken.

In Malaysia, extended families commonly reside together, and elderly members are held in high esteem. Parents prefer to be involved in their children’s decision-making process. In Malaysian households, cooperation and loyalty are highly valued. Young married couples typically reside near their parents, while unmarried adults remain with their parents until marriage.

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