Opportunities include the following:
All Women's Action Society Malaysia (www.awam.org.my) Aims to improve the lives of women in Malaysia by lobbying for a just, democratic and equitable society with respect and equality for both genders.
Eden Handicap Service Centre (www.edenhandicap.org) Christian-run organisation caring for the handicapped of Penang – volunteers are needed to help with a variety of activities.
Great Orangutan Project (www.orangutanproject.com) Places paying volunteers at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak.
LASSie (www.langkawilassie.org.my) Dog and cat lovers can help out at the Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation, next to Bon Ton Resort.
Malaysian AIDS Council (www.mac.org.my) Seeks volunteers and interns to assist in their campaigning work.
Malaysian Nature Society (www.mns.org.my) Check their website or drop them a line to find out ways you can get involved in helping preserve Malaysia's natural environment.
Miso Walai Homestay Program (www.misowalaihomestay.com) Gets travellers involved with local wetlands restoration projects.
Nur Salaam (www.rumahnursalam.blogspot.com) This charity works with street kids in the Chow Kit area of KL.
PAWS (www.paws.org.my) Animal rescue shelter in Subang, about 30 minutes from central KL.
Real Gap (www.realgap.co.uk) Arranges trips that involve environmental project and community work in Sabah, or work as an assistant at Zoo Negara near KL.
Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (www.reach.org.my) Take part in reforestation and recycling programs in the Cameron Highlands.
Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre Has one of the best established volunteer programs for animal lovers.
Trekforce (www.trekforce.org.uk) Offers a 10-week course working with the Kelabit people on community projects in Sarawak's Kelabit Highlands.
Wild Asia (www.wildasia.org) A variety of volunteer options generally connected with the environment and sustainable tourism in the region.
World Challenge (www.world-challenge.co.uk) Brings a lot of (mainly UK) volunteers to Malaysia for conservation and other projects.
Zoo Negara Help the zookeepers feed and care for their charges.
There are possibilities for those who seek them out, from professional-level jobs in finance, journalism and the oil industry to temporary jobs at some guesthouses and dive centres in popular resort areas. Those with teaching credentials can find English-teaching jobs in Malaysia, though pickings are slim compared to Japan and Korea. Teachers can check some of the many TEFL sites, including Edufind Jobs (www.jobs.edufind.com).
Depending on the nature of your job, you'll need either an Expatriate Personnel Visa or a Temporary Employment Visa. For details and requirements, check the website of the Immigration Department of Malaysia (www.imi.gov.my/index.php/ms).
If you’ve ever thought about living and working in Malaysia, then why not teach English as a foreign language (TEFL)? It could be the key to funding your travels and experiencing new cultures in a totally new way. You don’t need teaching experience or even the ability to speak the local language – although you might learn it while you’re out there.