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Volunteer in Sri Lanka

Are you searching for a life-changing experience you'll remember forever? Would you like to go on the adventure of a lifetime while making an actual difference? Volunteering in Sri Lanka is a perfect way to travel to an exotic country while helping wonderful people in need!

Sri Lanka's tourist industry has been steadily expanding since 2009, when the country's civil war ended. This beautiful island country has something for every traveler. Sri Lanka is a surfing paradise, with warm-water surfing for

every ability level along the country's beautiful coast. Lovely produce and delicious food abound, and amazing wildlife like the endangered Sri Lankan elephant, unspoiled beaches, and a deep cultural heritage make Sri Lanka a top tourist destination.

In spite of its beauty, Sri Lanka is still a developing country beset by poverty. Torn by civil war from the early 1980s until 2009, portions of the country still struggle to recover. Development is unequal, with those living in rural areas disproportionately affected.

The government's spending on education infrastructure is sorely lacking, trapping poor children in a cycle of poverty. Extreme weather causes displacement, and poor communities also struggle with an increase in infectious diseases.

Today, Sri Lanka desperately needs volunteers more than ever, and this is where you come in.

When you join one of IFRE’s volunteer programs in Sri Lanka you will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of poor children, communities, and elephants helping to make this world a better place.

Want to change yourself and change others? Contact IFRE today to get more information about volunteering in Sri Lanka!

Take a minute to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Available Projects in Sri lanka:

In Sri Lanka, IFRE offers a wide variety of volunteer projects to match your skills and interests. Would you like to help care for elephants/wildlife, work in an orphanage, teach English, or help impoverished communities or gain medical volunteer experience? Whatever difference you are hoping to make, IFRE offers projects to help you make that dream come true!

When you join IFRE’s Sri Lanka orphanage volunteer program, you will help orphaned children by feeding, changing clothes, teaching English, singing songs, and organizing a variety of creative extracurricular activities. With your help and support, these children without families of their own will feel warmth, love and help which will bring smiles their faces and a positive impact on their lives.

Want to share your passion for orphans? Go to the project page to find complete information.

Do you want to immerse yourself in Buddhist culture while teaching English to young Buddhist monks? Do you want to help Sri Lankan monks improve their English language skills? Getting a good English education is not easy for everyone in Sri Lanka, especially for monks who stay and get religious education in a monastery. Therefore, monks in Sri Lanka need your help to improve their English communication skills so they can spread their spiritual message to a modern and changing world.

This is an amazing project if you love Buddhism and are interested to learn and practice it while helping local monks.

Do you want to immerse yourself in Buddhism and help monks spread their message? Go to the project page to find complete information.

With the growing tourist industry, there are good career opportunities for everyone with English communication skills in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, access to a good English education is not possible for the children of low-income families who mostly go to local public schools.

By joining IFRE’s volunteer project teaching English in Sri Lanka, you will be teaching English to elementary school students in a local public school, helping them improve their English conversational skills. You will also organize games and other creative educational activities, improving the English of the students and leaving a positive impact on their life.

Interested in teaching English to children from low income families? Go to the project page to find complete information.

Volunteering with elephants is a unique and rewarding experience. When you join the elephant volunteer project in Sri Lanka, you will have an amazing time caring for these amazing animals. You will get to walk with them, provide daily care and management, work with local people to improve education about elephants and promoting the conservation efforts of the organization. In this way not only do you protect the elephants in your care, but the entire elephant population of Sri Lanka!

Upon arrival you will be allocated an elephant to work with and will help with its daily care, and if necessary, medical treatment. Working under the direction of your elephant’s mahout and with other volunteers, you will assist with its feeding and bathing throughout your stay. This requires dedication and responsibility, and your days will be fun and exciting as you build a special relationship with your elephant.

Interested in a unique experience of working with elephants? Go to the project page to find complete information.

This amazing elephant orphanage center is a home for rescued, injured or abused wild elephants. The orphanage was originally started to take care of and protect orphaned elephants abandoned in the jungle and elsewhere. Later, an elephant breeding program was launched. With more than 90 baby and big elephants, this project is now the largest elephant orphanage and breeding sanctuary in all of Sri Lanka and is extremely popular with foreigners and locals alike.

When you join IFRE’s Sri Lanka elephant orphanage volunteer program, you will be involved in the day to day running of the orphanage. You will help with the cleaning of the elephant enclosures, participate in bathing elephants, interact with baby elephants, help prepare milk for bottle feeding, feed the elephants, harvest food and more.

Interested Interested in a unique volunteer experience of working with baby elephants? Go to the project page to find complete information.

When you join our medical volunteer program in Sri Lanka, you will gain exposure to the healthcare system of Sri Lanka in a local Teaching Hospital with ample opportunities for learning, sharing and getting involved in the medical sector of Sri Lanka.

Depending on your experience you will shadow the local doctors, learning from them or you will be directly involved in primary medical treatment of local patients. Volunteers will work and help in several departments, such as general medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ENT, pediatrics, neurology, rheumatology, the mortuary, clinics and many more.

If you are interested in medical volunteering in Sri Lanka go to the project page complete information.

Would you like to volunteer in beautiful Sri Lanka making a difference? Do you have a passion for environment conservation and love working on a beach and river cleaning project? Let IFRE plan your ultimate volunteer experience in Sri Lanka.

If you are interested in beach cleaning volunteering in Sri Lanka go to the project page complete information.

In addition to the above projects, IFRE also offers group programs for college and high school students, family volunteering, alternative spring breaks, and a variety of other unique programs. Contact us for further information.

Volunteer in Sri Lanka: Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Our Fees

Since 2006, IFRE Volunteer has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured; we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE Volunteer is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fee (US$)

Duration Orphanage/Teaching Medical Kegalle Elephant Pinnewala Elephant
  1 Week   $150   $380   $300   $275
  2 Weeks   $240   $560   $565   $550
  3 Weeks   $360   $740   $815   $825
  4 Weeks   $480   $920   $1,040   $1,100
  5 Weeks   $600   $1100        -  
  6 Weeks   $720   $1,280        -  
  7 Weeks   $840   $1,460        -  
  8 Weeks   $960   $1,640        -  
  9 Weeks   $1080   $1,820        -  
  10 Weeks   $1,200   $2,000        -  
  11 Weeks   $1,320   $2,180        -  
  12 Weeks   $1,440   $2,360        -  

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

Airport Pickup and Transfer to Galle (2 hours) $100/per person

Airport Pickup and Transfer to Kegalle (80 KM) $100/per person

Airport pick up & transfer to Pinnawala (80 km) $100/per person

Transfer from Galle to Kegalle & vice-versa (3 hours) $125

Language and Culture $250

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Accommodation (Host Family/Volunteer House)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

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You might be new to the volunteering world, but IFRE isn’t. When you travel with us, you get the benefit of our many years of experience, and the know-how and support of one of the most highly reputed volunteer organizations in the industry. You can have peace of mind knowing that we have carefully gone over every single detail of your trip, and hand selected the worthiest projects and safest, most comfortable accommodations possible.

When you volunteer in our orphanage, teaching, medical and elephant projects, you will have the amazing opportunity to stay with a well-respected host family, immersing you into the Sri Lankan culture and enriching your time in this beautiful country. In Kegalle, you will stay in a volunteer house located on the project site.

While in Sri Lanka, we’ll also make sure you’re eating three healthy local meals a day and that you have the guidance and support of our top-notch, professional, and passionate in-country field staff. From the moment your plane lands in Sri Lanka, IFRE has you covered every step of the way.

Find detailed information about our host families, accommodation and meals.

Free Time

Sri Lanka is quickly becoming one of the world’s most sought-after travel destinations, so you no doubt can’t wait to get out there and explore it. IFRE thinks you deserve plenty of downtime after all your hard work at your Sri Lanka volunteer project, so you you’ll have both your evenings and your weekends free to travel and go on excursions.

IFRE does not organize activities during this time off, but our local staff members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance in making appropriate arrangements for travel around Sri Lanka, which is a natural paradise of Asia. Those staying with a host family can partake in a variety of rituals and religious activities Sri Lankan people perform in their homes.

You can stroll through the streets and market areas, go hiking or cycling and meet up with local residents to learn more about their culture and traditions. Some of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka are Bentota, Nuwara Eliya and Tea Plantations, Colombo, Mirissa, Polonnaruwa Sigiriya rock fortress, Great Adam's Peak, Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth, Galle and its Dutch Fort, Whale safari, and Yala national park (home of the Asian Elephant and Leopard).

Learn more about some exciting ways to spend your free time in Sri Lanka.

Safety and In-country Support

Your safety is IFRE’s number one priority at all times, and you can rest easy knowing we will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe and secure experience volunteering in Sri Lanka. We offer pre-trip support, reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, airport pick-up, and availability of guidance and support by an experienced in-country staff that is right there on the ground to help you every step of the way.

In-Country Support

As soon as you arrive in Sri Lanka, you will have the support of an experienced team of in-country field staff. The team is comprised of mature, educated, socially respected individuals who are dedicated humanitarians highly experienced in working with international volunteers.

Your main point of contact will be the in-country coordinator. They will select your Sri Lanka volunteering project placement, make all the arrangements for your airport transfer, accommodations, and food, give you an orientation which covers culture, safety, and your service work, introduce you to your host family and project staff, and make periodic visits and calls to check up on your progress. You can reach out to the coordinator at any time with any questions, issues, or to ask for advice and they will be happy to assist you.

If you’d like to learn more about the safety features and field support offered by IFRE, click here.

Volunteer in Sri Lanka- FAQs

IFRE applauds your courage and noble spirit to travel so far from your home to help others in need. We know it takes a special kind of person to do that, so we want to do everything we can to help support you on this incredible journey. We know there are probably a lot of questions you are looking for answers to, so we’ve taken the liberty of making things simple for you. We’ve put together a helpful list of questions you may or may not have thought of, and the answers will help put you well on your way to volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka.

To which airport do I need to arrive?

You should fly to Bandaranaike International Airport.

Do you organize airport pick-up?

Yes, we do organize airport pick-up. You just need to provide our staff with your flight details and then meet up with our representative at the airport upon your arrival. If you arrive very early in the morning our host family will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to the host house, let you relax for a few hours before our ground coordinator will come to pick you up and transfer to Gale at around 9:30 am.

What happens if I miss my flight or arrive late?

If you miss your flight or will arrive late due to certain circumstances, you should get in touch with the in-country coordinator as soon as possible so that they can arrange your airport pick-up at a later time.

It is crucial for you to contact us, as it will help us to better prepare and make proper arrangements for you. You will be provided with all of the contact information you need prior to your travel. In case if you are not able to contact our ground staff, book a nearby hotel and call our ground coordinator and he/she will come to pick you up from the hotel.

How can I get to my accommodations from the airport if I cannot contact IFRE’s local representative at the airport?

We always provide the address details of our accommodations to volunteers who have been accepted to participate in any of our volunteering program in Sri Lanka. If you are not able to contact our local representative at the airport for your pick-up, you can hire a taxi driver to take you to the address given by us. Otherwise, if you have booked a room at a hotel of your choice, you should tell the taxi driver to take you to that specific hotel.

Who will come to pick me up? How do I recognize the person at the airport?

A local staff member will come to pick you up at the airport. The local staff member will be carrying a signboard with your name, so you should have no trouble recognizing them at the airport.

If my assignment begins on Monday, when should I arrive? If I want to arrive earlier than the day my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Will it cost me extra?

If your Sri Lanka volunteer program begins on Monday, we highly advise you to arrive on Sunday. If you plan to arrive earlier, you should get in touch with our country coordinator and let them organize the accommodations for your stay. It will cost you an extra $20 to $30 per day. You can also look for hotels online and make reservations for your stay yourself but be sure to let our coordinator know your plans.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

IFRE does not provide airport drop-off services after the completion of your volunteering project. You will have to arrange for a taxi to take you to the airport for your departure, so budget accordingly. If you need help booking a taxi, the local project staff can offer assistance.

What do I need prior to departure from my home country?

Prior to your departure from your home country, you have a number of steps you will need to take. You will need to purchase your flight tickets, then provide your itinerary to our in-country coordinator. You will need to meet with your doctor and obtain your necessary vaccinations, as well as filling any prescription medication you will need while traveling abroad.

You will need a visa to volunteer in Sri Lanka, so you will need to do the research ahead of time to determine the requirements for travelers for your home country and then apply for the visa. IFRE requires you have travel insurance before leaving on your trip, so you will need to acquire this, which IFRE can help with. We also suggest you researching Sri Lanka and its customs to prepare you for your time abroad.

Where are the projects located?

Your project location depends on your placement. You will go to Galle for our projects focused on orphanages, teaching English and Teaching Buddhist monks. Gale is 189 KM from Colombo airport. Alternatively, you will be placed in Kegalle or Pinnawalla for our elephant projects, which is 110 KM from Colombo airport.

Is there any minimum and maximum stay?

Our programs are designed for periods ranging from one to twelve weeks.

Can I extend my stay if I choose to?

Yes, if you want to stay for a longer period of time and continue your volunteer project in Sri Lanka, you can extend your stay without any issues. A visitor wishing to stay more than 30 days in Sri Lanka may apply for an extension on their visa for another 90 days. You will have to go to the immigration office in Colombo for this process.

Will I have enough time to travel after work and on weekends?

All of IFRE’s programs are designed to be flexible so that our volunteers can have some free time to themselves for traveling and exploration. It is true that your time in Sri Lanka is limited but that does not mean that you won’t be able to explore and travel to some beautiful places. You can explore Colombo and Galle to their fullest in the evenings and on the weekends you can go on longer tours throughout the country.

Who will guide or support me in the project?

When you work as a volunteer in Sri Lanka, there will be an in-country coordinator who is an expert in volunteering abroad. This person will guide you throughout your program. If there’s anything you want to ask or need help with, you should not hesitate to get in touch with your country coordinator for some insightful suggestions and assistance.

Can I switch projects if I do not like the one that I chose?

Yes, if you find you are dissatisfied for some reason with your initial project selection, you should get in touch with the in-country coordinator and they will select a new project for you based on availability. However, our volunteers have a 99% satisfaction rate thanks to our impactful and well-managed programs, so this is a rare occurrence for IFRE.

Can I work in more than one volunteer project at a time?

Yes, you can work in more than one project at a time if you wish. IFRE offers tons of exciting and meaningful volunteer opportunities in Sri Lanka; so, get in touch with our office staff to begin the application process for two programs in Sri Lanka.

But you should know that each of our programs requires you to work for at least four hours every day. Therefore, prepare yourself to be challenged, and not have much free time if you choose to work at two projects simultaneously.

How old should I be to take part?

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old in order to be eligible. If you are under the recommended age of 18 but still wish to go on a volunteer trip in Sri Lanka, you must obtain consent from your parents/guardians and in some cases, we can make an exception. Minors can also volunteer alongside their parents.

Will I receive any training before my Sri Lanka volunteer project?

Yes, our in-country coordinator will give you an orientation after your arrival in Sri Lanka and before you start volunteering. You will go over your service work and project schedule, the customs of Sri Lanka, and be briefed on any necessary safety measures you need to keep in mind. We also offer a week long course on the language and culture of Sri Lanka.

Is there a dress code?

No, there is no dress code. Nonetheless, you have to understand that Sri Lanka is a very conservative country with high cultural sentiments. Therefore, you should wear modest and decent clothing, and do some research ahead of time to familiarize yourself with what is considered acceptable there. Always respect the culture you are visiting.

You should also know that participating in our medical project will require you to wear a white apron.

Why should I pay to volunteer abroad in Sri Lanka?

IFRE is a non-profit organization dedicated to making the world a better place. Nonetheless, we still have operating costs we have to cover. We also need to pay for your housing, food, training, supervision, and donate to the project you are volunteering at. Without charging a fee to our volunteers, we couldn’t continue to operate our life-changing programs and we depend on your volunteer fees to do this important work.

Why are IFRE’s fees so much more affordable than other organizations?

IFRE is not motivated by money and does not make any profit from the running of its programs. We’ve also traveled the world seeking out the most affordable and worthy projects that need the help of our volunteers. This allows us to charge 50-75% less than most other organizations, and in fact, we have the lowest rates in the entire industry.

Can I get a tax deduction?

Yes, IFRE is a registered 501(c)3 in the United States, and your Sri Lanka volunteer fees are tax deductible.

Can I get help to raise funds?

Yes, contact IFRE for further information regarding this assistance.

For further readings:

Cost /money matter

Why to pay for volunteer abroad

How to reduce the cost of volunteer abroad

Pay fee directly to host family

Do I need a visa to volunteer and travel in Sri Lanka?

Yes, you do need a visa to volunteer and travel in Sri Lanka. You won’t be able to enter in Sri Lanka unless you get a visa from the government authorities. Depending on your nationality you can obtain a visa on arrival in Sri Lanka. Please visit this link for more information .

How do I apply for the visa?

The easiest and most direct way to apply for a tourist visa to volunteer in Sri Lanka is by visiting the Embassy of Sri Lanka at your home country prior to your departure. You can also apply for the visa after your arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport. You need to have a passport with a validity period of at least six months to obtain a tourist visa or you can apply for an e-visa online.

Can I extend my visa? Can you help with this?

Potentially, yes. Speak to our in-country coordinator to discuss this.

How do I contact IFRE’s local coordinator?

Prior to your departure you will be provided with full contact information, so you can simply call or email to get in touch.

How can I communicate with my family while volunteering in Sri Lanka?

The most convenient way to communicate with your family during your volunteer project is by chatting online on social media like Facebook and Skype. Internet facilities are available everywhere in Sri Lanka.

Can I use my phone?

Yes, you can use your phone. However, you will need to reach out to your current provider to ensure your phone is unlocked against international SIM card. Also bear in mind international roaming charges may apply without the use of a local SIM card.

Can I buy a SIM card in Sri Lanka?

Yes, you can buy a local SIM card to contact your loved ones back home or to get in touch with our local coordinator while volunteering in Sri Lanka. Buying a SIM card is cheap and easy way to stay in touch and access the internet. You can choose SIM cards manufactured and operated by Mobitel, Hutch, Airtel, Etisalat, and Dialog. Again, be sure to speak with your local provider before travel to ensure your phone will function with the Sri Lankan SIM card.

How can I get/purchase internet services?

To purchase internet services, you first have to buy a local SIM card. After landing at the international airport near Colombo, you will see a line of counters and vendors run by SIM card companies. If you are not in hurry, you can get any one of the SIM cards from the vendors by filling out a form with your passport. Once you insert the SIM Card and activate it, you can then ask the vendor to help you purchase internet data plans.

Is there internet available everywhere?

Yes, there are internet facilities available everywhere in Sri Lanka. So, you can always go online and browse the internet at all times during your volunteering trip in Sri Lanka. However, there are some places where you won’t have access to free Wi-Fi, so make sure to buy a SIM Card and an internet data plan to access the internet from your mobile phone affordably.

What do I need to bring?

Some of the things which you will need to bring to Sri Lanka are proof of travel insurance, earplugs, sunscreen, insect repellent, water bottle, towels, mobile phone charger, shoes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, masks, safety pins, pajama pants, extra memory cards and batteries, an umbrella, long sleeve shirts, multiple credit cards, sunglasses, books, a flashlight and a first aid kit.

We hope we have sufficiently answered all of your questions and you are feeling ready to start your noble work traveling abroad to help others! Contact IFRE today to learn more about volunteering in Sri Lanka.

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