About Sri Lanka
With a population of 20 million, the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka, formally known as Ceylon is a tear drop shaped island off the south eastern coast of India. Steeped in over 2000 years of history, the culture is unique to Sri Lanka and known for it’s export of tea, holistic medicines, cinnamon and gemstones including a unique blend of music, dance and visual arts.
Colinised by the British, Dutch and Portugese, there is a multi-culturalism with distinct Sri Lankan flair that feels similar to India, only a whole lot more chilled out! Sri Lanka, better known as the “nation of smiling people” is predominently buddhist (approx 80%) with some Hindu, Muslim and Christianity.
Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and given it’s size it’s easy to experience them all in a short period of time. From the world’s oldest living tree in Anuradhapura, to the colonial architecture of Colombo, to the white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, to lush natural forest, picturesque cities, thousand year old temples, and ancient civilation ruins there are really so many reasons to visit this amazing land.
Volunteer Needs in Sri Lanka
Since the end of he civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka’s economy has seen rapid growth with an unprecedented optimism among it’s people. Business has boomed along with a major up-tick in tourism fueling local jobs in various industry sectors.
Despite the changing times, Sri Lanka is still classed as a ‘third world’ country with a GDP per capita of approx US$2041. This makes it the 119th wealthiest out of a world total of 180. The UN estimates that 45% of Sri Lankans live on less than US$5 p/day. Poverty is concentrated in rural areas, as well as the North and East, which suffered for decades during the war. In addition, wealth distribution is highly unequal with 10% of the population holding nearly 40% of the wealth.
Widespread poverty can be witnessed all over Sri Lanka. Millions of people face malnourishment with a in various areas 38% of newborns are not the proper size. In short, the needs are many. We’ll put you in contact with areas that genuinly require support from overseas volunteers.
Location of Volunteer Programs
Kandy, is an amazing destination high up in the hills approx 3 hours drive from Colombo with incredible views, dense forests and a buzzy atmosphere with locals and tourists. Kandy is the last royal capital of Sri Lanka and is famous for it’s culture and temples such as Temple of the Tooth and plenty of others. The city has bustling markets with all kinds of interesting and diverse goods and services from unique handicrafts, exotic foods, arts, music and dance. Kandy has a really cool vibe and is somewhere you can happily explore for an extended period of time.
Hanguranketha, about 1 hour from Kandy and even deeper into hill country is the ancient city which was home to the kings of Sri Lanka, especially during the Kandyan period. This is a great location for those who want to experience rural parts of Sri Lanka away from the crowded cities. The area has significant historical importance with 119 temples and many historical sites. The village faces several challenges from a lack of clean drinking water, frequent power cuts, poorly staffed schools and run-down temples. Your presence in this village will be so incredible valued by the locals.
Ambalangoda, the beach town close to Galle in the southern province is a known as a Buddhist city and is a working class area not known for tourism despite having beautiful beaches! Plantations of low country tea, cocount, cinnamon and rubber are common. The area is also known for puppet shows, moonstone, antique furniture and devil dancing. This town is where you can participate in the turtle conservation project and beach week.
Accommodation is included for the duration of your volunteer program. The volunteer houses are all conveniently located no further than 2 km’s from the city or village center and about a 15 min walk to the nearest supermarket and ATM. You’ll share rooms with 4-6 other volunteers of the same gender with a shared toilet per room. A fridge, safety deposit boxes, lockable rooms, hot showers, bed linen and fan are included with volunteers expected to bring their own towel. Laundry facilities are available at a small fee. The centers do not have Wi-Fi. Most volunteers will purchase a local data plan and connect this to their personal devices. The house in Ambalongoda is located only a few meters from the ocean!
3 meals per day are provided during weekdays and 2 meals per day on weekends. Safe filtered drinking water is provided along with tea and coffee. Sri Lankan cuisine is amazing with influences mainly from southern india with lots of beautiful coconut based curries. The menus are on rotation so you will not keep having the same food over and over. You can expect meals with rice, coconut, spices, roti, lots of vegetables sparing amounts of meat. Sri Lankans eat with their right hands, which can be hard to adjust to at first. However, many restaurants will provide cuttery if requested.
24/7 Program Support
Local in country support is provided for the duration of your program which includes an operational guide upon arrival and emergency procedures which are advised upon arrival for all volunteers. You will have a 24 hour emergency telephone number so that you can always reach a member of our ground operator team in the event of an emergency.
On your first day of the program (Monday), you’ll be provided a country orientation with introduction to Sri Lankan customs, culture, expectations, safety procedures, weekend travel options etc etc. You’ll also get a city tour of incredible Kandy! (Amazing place). Additionally, a cultural show and basic language lesson of Sinhala are also provided to help build your confidence in communicating with the locals.
For those desiring a longer orientation, the optional 1 week cultural orientation is available for a small fee and provides you a more in-depth orientation and various other fun things.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kandy. Your Program Fee includes accommodation on the Sunday night before your program orientation. An arrival airport transfer is included from Bandaranayake International Airport on Saturday or Sunday free of charge. If arriving on Saturday, you can book an additional nights accommodation for US$50 including meals.
The transfer coordinator will meet you at the designated point which will be clearly described in your welcome pack which is provided after final payment is made pre-departure.
Requirements & Expectations
The volunteer working week is generally Monday to Friday from 9:00am – 3:00 pm with weekends free to relax and enjoy at your leisure. Generally, volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and are welcome to come alone, in groups or with travel companions. If you are single, don’t worry you’ll meet heaps of new friends!
Volunteer in Sri Lanka projects are designed for those who truly want to help make a difference in the lives of the local people. Customs will likely be very different to your home country and so a high amount of patience an open mindeness is likely required to get the most out of the experience.
Weekends & Extra Tours
Weekends are always free for relaxing or exploring Sri Lanka with your new international volunteer friends! Some places to visit during your weekends or on your project holidays are the Royal Botanical Gardens, Knuckles mountain range, Udawatta kele sanctuary, Hortons plan national park and the railway museum. Your hosts will provide plenty of further options and even assist with bookings as needed….
Sri Lanka Holidays
- January: Duruthu
Celebrates the Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka. During Duruthu, thousands of people attend colorful parades, which consist of three processions on the nights before the full moon. The processions consist of fireball performers, drummers, dances, decorated elephants and the most important – a gigantic tusker treading a white carpet.
- April 13th or 14th: Avurudda (New Year)
Avurudda celebrates the Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka. According to Sinhalese astrology, the new year begins when the sun changes from Meena Rashi (Pisces) to Mesha Rashi (Aries).
- June: Poson Festival
Poson Festival takes place on the full moon day of June and celebrates the arrival of Buddhism, which occurred when Arahat Mahinda, the son of the emperor of India, converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism.
- October or November: Diwali (Festival of Lights)
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival that signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, hope over despair, and good over evil. It is celebrated with millions of lights shining over houses, temples, and buildings.
GoGetFunding is a Crowd funding site which offers a simple and professional online fundraising solution to help fund a portion of your trip or even a donation toward your chosen project. Simply create a fundraising page to share your story via social media platforms such as facebook & twitter.
Some of our past volunteers have raised over $2000+! Why not give it a try? If you use the above link, our logo will be displayed in your profile to help us share our message through your social network community.
Volunteer in Sri Lanka Program Fees
- Arrival Airport Transfer from Colombo (Bandaranayake International Airport)
- 3 good meals p/day weekdays & 2 meals p/day weekends
- Accommodation (Volunteer Centre – shared single gender rooms)
- Training & Supervision as required
- Use of necessary equipment incl project materials
- 24/7 emergency assistance, volunteer support, local guiding and advice
- Certificate of Completion
- Discounted travel deals & flight layby options!
What’s Not Included
- Travel Insurance (Mandatory)
- Airfares & Visa fees
- Tours, Souvenirs, Spending Money
- Some daily local transport (depending on program eg. $2 p/day)