Food, Lodging, and Travel
Volunteers on this project stay together in our shared volunteer guest house. The guest house comes with a living room with comfortable furniture, laundry facilities, TV, a large bookshelf and a fridge. All rooms in the house come equipped with aircon, fans and wi-fi internet. The standard room is a two to three person shared (single sex) room with its own Western-style bathroom.
We provide 3 meals per day for all volunteers. We will also organize for volunteers to eat together at local restaurants with the staff from time to time as a social event and order the food in advance if needed, but volunteers will need to pay either in dollars or local currency during their stay for any extra food expenses on top of this e.g. snacks.
There are many small stores on the island selling basic goods, for volunteers who wish to do some shopping. The main street of the island also has a number of clothes shops and tailors, and there are several cafés and restaurants, mainly serving south Asian cuisine. Transportation in Naifaru is usually done by foot or bike, as the island can be traversed in 10 minutes. There is a branch of the Bank of Maldives on the island, equipped with an ATM, as well as a post office branch. The Island has one hospital, which is is a short walk from the volunteer house, and also includes a pharmacy.
Volunteers should be aged 18+, physically fit, speak English, and have a strong motivation to volunteer and experience a new culture. Volunteers coming for less than 30 days on the marine conservation or environmental community development projects can join with a regular tourist visa obtained on arrival at the airport. However due to government restrictions, all volunteers wanting to join the Medical projects, or coming for a stay of over 30 days should have completed a University Degree or equivalent qualification as we will need to obtain a business visa for you in advance of your arrival. Volunteers should be self-motivated, adaptable and flexible and willing to live and work in a tropical environment. Tetanus, Diptheria and Hepatitis A & B vaccinations are recommended. Volunteers who are working on our medical projects will be required to send us a police background check or similar document.
Please note that the Maldives is an Islamic society. This culture plays a big role for volunteers on Naifaru island, and there are certain courtesies volunteers must observe. Women must cover their arms and knees when in public (though not required in the accommodation). However, you are not expected to wear a scarf and there are several excursions away from the island where volunteers can use normal swimwear. There is no access to alcohol or pork. Alcohol is prohibited in the Maldives and is only available at the resorts. For Marine projects, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins), and some previous experience of marine projects or snorkelling is benefical.
Cats at Volunteer Centre
Naifaru island, is home to a lot of stray cats and unfortunately, the general consciousness there is that cats are dirty and a nuisance. This means that cats here are often met with violence and neglect. Recently, the Volunteer Centre has rescued 11 stray cats and rehomed them at the centre. They plan to set up a veterinary clinic and begin the process of spay and neutering our rescues and also the rest of the strays to help the local people gradually view cats as the cute little bundles of fluff that they are. Due to the amount of cats in care it is very important that volunteers are comfortable with cats and are not allergic.
Flights and Travel
Volunteers should aim to fly into Malé, the capital of the Maldives on a Wednesday evening prior to their start date (always on a Thursday). Volunteers may then wish to spend the night in Malé to acclimatise. Discount accommodation in Malé can be organised on your behalf, 1 night in a hotel typically costs about $50. On Thursday morning you will then be collected from the hotel by project staff and travel by speedboat to Naifaru island, ready to start your placement. We recommend you plan your departing flight for any given Friday or Sunday. You can then depart from Naifaru by speedboat either Thursday or Saturday. Alternatively, if possible, you can book your departing flight late Thursday or Saturday night (no earlier than 9:00 PM) so that you will not have to spend a night in Male.
If required (I.E. if you are staying for over 30 days or coming as a medical volunteer), a business visa will be organised on your behalf prior to your arrival, once your place on the programme has been confirmed, and the cost of doing this is included in the project fee. Volunteers will need to provide us with scanned copies of certain documents after acceptance to the project at least 5 weeks before your arrival date, as well as a criminal record check for medical projects.