Famed as Marco Polo’s favourite island, Sri Lanka is home to beautiful scenery, fascinating ancient architecture and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The palm-fringed beaches are breathtaking and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to admire them working near to the city of Kosgoda. This tropical paradise offers the chance to get away from it all and relax, take a wander around the city, try the local seaside delicacies and test the locals on their newly learnt English!
LOCATION: NATIONALRESERVE KOSGODA
Your time in Kosgoda will be split between two projects – volunteering at the community work project and a sea turtle conservation centre. Kosgoda is a beautiful area with stunning beaches and several turtle hatcheries which used to attract a lot of tourists. However, it was badly affected by the tsunami in 2004 and is now much quieter. Some local families are still living in partially damaged houses, while others are rebuilding their homes with the limited funds they have received from the government.
The sea turtle conservation project has been operating for twenty three years. Its purpose is to monitor and conserve the turtle numbers in the Kosgoda area. The project has been operating well with a mix of volunteers and local staff, however when the tsunami hit, much of the infrastructure was destroyed and an important source of funding – the tourists – were lost. In the years since the tsunami, the project coordinator has been maintaining a database of turtle activity to allow definitive measurement of turtle behaviour in this area.
If eggs are likely to be in danger or they have been gathered from further away then they are brought to the project’s hatchery. Once the baby turtles emerge they are then transported to the sea but any weak turtles, usually 10%, are taken care of for up to three days in holding tanks and then released when they are strong enough.
Tourist and local education is offered through the project’s visitors’ area where weak hatchlings and some more mature turtles are kept for monitoring and gathering statistics.
English teachers are scarce in Kosgoda and your skills will be greatly valued by locals who are keen to learn! You will spend your afternoons interacting with the community teaching conversational English. There may also be the opportunity to work with local school children teaching English and a range of other subjects such as drawing, music, painting, singing and dancing.
You will have at least two days off a week depending on your workload, giving you ample opportunity to explore Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage.
While on the project you’ll volunteer Monday to Friday, with a half day on Friday. Your shifts will vary as cover is needed at the turtle project 24 hours a day. You will be assigned 8 hour shifts with the rest of the team to manage this (don’t worry, you’ll get a lunch break!), and when at the turtle project should expect shifts at night as well as through the day, particularly during egg laying season.
Please be aware that the work pattern is different in Sri Lanka to most Western countries: the pace of work is often slower and more sporadic. You should not expect to work the same number of hours every day. Also, there may be some unscheduled breaks from your work due to the frequency of public holidays in Sri Lanka so you’ll need to ‘go with the flow” if this happens during your stay!
You’ll be getting involved in a wide variety of activities, which will include:
Helping with awareness and education programmes
Statistic and data gathering, entry and analysis
Building holding tanks
Cleaning tanks, beaches and the general project area
Providing tours for tourists
Developing the information resources for tourists•
Helping to run educational programmes for children in the community centre
Helping with informal conversational English teaching to community members
Organising sports and games
Singing and dancing
Drawing and painting
Weaving with the women of the local community
If you’ve got a special skill or interest you’d like to introduce to the children and community members, or if you’d like to give any additional time to either project then it will be very welcome!
Additional Information & FAQs
Minimum age 18, maximum decided on the potential participants health.
Please note: you may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
For the first night of your arrival in Sri Lanka you will stay in a simple guesthouse on the outskirts of Colombo – in the Mount Lavinia area. Rooms are basic with fans and you will usually share with another volunteer. There is also a swimming pool that you can use when it is open.
Once at the project in Kosgoda, you will be staying in a basic but clean volunteer house in a room shared with at least one other volunteer. The house is just across the road from the project which is handy! It has running water, bathrooms attached to the shared rooms, a shower and a western style toilet. There is also a communal area inside and outside the house.
Breakfast and dinner are included and will be cooked for you at the volunteer house. Breakfast generally consists of bread, butter, jam, milk, fruits as well as typical Sri Lankan rice and curries. Dinner is usually rice and various types of curry.
IS THIS TRIP FOR YOU?
The most important skill you must bring to this project is flexibility, as the work will vary depending on the needs of the projects and will develop over time. This project would suit a volunteer with a lot of initiative, who can work and communicate with people from all walks of life. Team-work skills will be needed, as well as an appreciation of cultural differences.
You will be working in hot, basic conditions with few resources, and is important that you are reasonably fit and don’t mind getting your hands dirty. This project is ideal for hands-on people who love animals and the outdoors. You should be prepared for some hard physical work, and IT skills, research skills and communication skills may also be utilised during your time at the project.
Some outdoor activities may be affected during the rainy season as the wet weather means that time spent outside can be limited. In the event of heavy rainfall, a variety of indoor activities will be organised. Remember, the more flexible you are, the more you will get out of the project!
You may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. However, you will still have the full support of your in-country team and those at the project. If you are looking for a group volunteering experience we have plenty of options for you to consider.
ARRIVAL AND ORIENTATION
On your arrival day you will be met at the airport and taken directly to the hotel which will be your home for the first night in Sri Lanka. You will have the rest of the day to rest and recover from your journey or go out and explore! If you arrive in early enough one of in-country team will be able to give an informal orientation at the hotel from 6:30pm until 8:30pm, with dinner included.
The next day is orientation day. Orientation will take place at 8:30am in the hotel where you’re staying in Colombo. All new arrivals will have their orientation together, and this will cover important information such as what it’s going to be like at your project, dos and don’ts, fun things to do in Sri Lanka, a language lesson and how to stay safe on your trip. This is your prime opportunity to ask any burning questions that you haven’t yet had answered and to meet your fellow volunteers!
In the afternoon the team will arrange for you to leave Colombo and head to your accommodation in Kosgoda for the rest of your trip. The journey will take around 2 to 3 hours and you’ll have the rest of the day to relax and settle into your new home.
ADVICE & SAFETY
Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.
In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number.
1. When is turtle season?
October – April is the main laying season. Babies are generally released when they are 2-4 days old.
2. Where in Sri Lanka will I will be based?
You will be based in Kosgoada. Kosgoada located 40km south of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
3. How much spending money will I need?
We recommend that you take between £50 – £70 per week.
4. What type of clothing do you recommend I take with me?
Whilst volunteering you will need clothes that cover your shoulders, mid-rif and length should be to at least your knees.
5. Why type of food should I expect?
Breakfast and dinner are provided in the restaurant. This will generally be local Sri Lankan dishes such as rice and curry, bread, milk, fruit and vegetables.
6. Can I swim in the sea at the project?
There are very strong currents in the area around the project so while the sea may look very inviting for a dip, please do not go swimming for your own safety.
This trip requires a Police Check to be carried out – please contact us for further information on how to do this.