Important Information, and possible additional costs you need to think about
The whole of this document is essential reading!
- Flights and Insurance. (The earlier you book your flight the cheaper your ticket tends to be).
- Local transport costs to and from the sites where you'll be volunteering and weekend travel.
*** We would really appreciate it if you would use Siri, a poor man employed by Janaka to assist in the house and garden to help with the extra work caused by the project. Siri had to sell his house and land to pay for the treatment his daughter needed due to a brain and heart carcinoma she developed. The family of 4 now live in a dilapidated small house. The child is often ill which means that Siri incurs more expenses taking her to the specialist hospital in Colombo. We try to support the family by encouraging volunteers to use Siri and his tuk tuk as much as possible. You can even arrange a pickup time for him to collect you for your return. He will give you a better rate than other drivers, which means that you too benefit!
- Taxi from Colombo airport to Galle - costs approx $80 can be arranged through Janaka de Silva at the Project - once you have confirmed your flight.
- Please check with your Doctor regarding appropriate injections and malaria medication.
- Money for all meals, drinks & snacks, optional activities that you may wish to do etc.
What do I need to bring?
On arrival at the Volunteer Accommodation volunteers are required to show the Project Manager their Travel and Medical Insurance Certificate. Volunteers are not accepted if they do not have Travel and Medical Insurance that is in date to the end of their time at the project and in their name.
- 2 photocopies of your passport in case you lose the original – it helps sort the problem out faster.
- A guide book and map. The Rough Guide is excellent.
- Casual but respectable clothing for working at the project. T-shirts, shorts and trousers are fine, but please don't bring skimpy shorts, low cut tops or clothes that will offend the local culture. T-shirts are available in the Help Shop.
- A towel. If you forget, towels are available in the Help Shop.
- There is a social life in the village at Unawatuna and in Galle. You may want to bring clothes to go out for this, but wearing provocative clothing is not advisable.
- Your mobile phone is invaluable - bring a charger or lead and you'll just need to buy a Sri Lankan SIM card once there. Janaka will have one ready for your arrival if you ask him and you can pay him as soon as he gives it to you. You may need to have your phone unlocked. You need to get this done prior to leaving the UK. Carphone Warehouse will usually do it. Mobile reception is generally good.
- Torch/Head torch – a definite must bring and spare batteries
- It can get cool at night – bring a jumper or jacket. (Very cold if you travel to Nuwara Eliya area.)
- Mosquito repellent preferably containing at least 50% DEET or Pyrethrins
alarm clock, pen knife, books, sunglasses
- First Aid kit and all the medications you normally need. There are pharmacies in Galle.
- Plenty of camera film or memory cards – you will take a lot of photos!
- A waterproof. When it rains it rains hard!
- Swimsuit and SUNSCREEN. Sri Lanka is near the Equator where the sun’s rays are very strong.The sea is only safe at certain times of the year, in Sri Lanka. We have made an agreement with the community pool that our volunteers can use it everyday from 4.00pm to 5.30pm for a fee of Rs.100 per person. Its just 5km from home.
- Sandals and a sturdy pair of boots or trainers.
Will there be time for me to relax and travel around Sri Lanka?
When volunteering at the Volunteer Sri Lanka Project, your time is your own – but the more you do and the more involved you become, the more you will get out of it. So taking days out to add to a weekend to go Game viewing or sight-seeing is, of course, up to you, but the advice is that if you are only at the Project for a short time, it’s best not to do it too often.
Many people choose to work at the project and take their main Tour at the end before flying home. See Places to Visit for ideas on interesting things to see and do in Sri Lanka.
Obviously, the weekends are free for you to enjoy and we encourage you to see as much of Sri Lanka as you can. It is also possible to join the local community at their Sunday puja services which is always appreciated and provides valuable insight into Sri Lankan life and of course you can share in the life of the De Silva family as much as you wish.
Please note: Sea bathing in Sri Lanka, including Unawatuna, is dangerous at most times of the year. There are rip tides, large waves and powerful undertows making it difficult to regain the beach. This includes the beautiful beach at Unawatuna except at the far western (Dagoba) end where it is shielded by the reef.
Janaka de Silva, will help you arrange tours, if you wish that. He has many contacts and knows some excellent guide/drivers. There is also a website link to Upul, an excellent Government qualified guide.
We suggest you thoroughly research the tours and talk via email to tour companies to plan and cost possibilities before you come to Sri Lanka. It will be easier to do this from your home than when you get here. Many people research and book tours before leaving home, once they have arranged their volunteer placement at the Project.
Making a list and printing it out to bring with you is a good idea. It should include important addresses, phone numbers, email addresses of people at home and then the same for people and companies you have researched prior to coming to Sri Lanka, as possibly being useful to you.
The more research you do before you come the less time you will have to waste on it whilst you are here and the more time will be left for you to enjoy yourself!
Researching tours can take an age and is best done via websites and email prior to arrival. You may find that companies will be open to tailoring and negotiation – make sure you get it all in writing, set out properly and bring a couple of copies of it with you.
Whilst volunteering- if you experience any difficulties
If you encounter any problems during your placement, please do not leave it until the end of your time in Sri Lanka to tell Janaka. If you have problems with timetables, deployment or anything else at your place of ‘work’, please talk to the director of that institution and discuss your needs. Also make Janaka aware that you have done this. Don’t wait until you leave or you will not get the most from your time. Everyone wants to help you get the most from it so don’t be afraid to speak out, politely
Useful contacts in Sri Lanka:
British High Commission: http://ukinsrilanka.fco.gov.uk/en/our-office-in-sri-lanka/our-embassy-in-colombo/
When things go wrong: Occasionally things happen when you are away from home. Janaka de Silva the Project Manager will help you but you may also need the services of the High Commission and/or your Travel and Medical Insurance Company. You must bring your Travel and Medical Insurance documents and that companies emergency phone numbers.
Warning regarding Passports & Visas which would apply to visiting in any Country
- Do not allow your Passport into someone else’s hands and out of your sight
- Do not allow anyone to copy your Passport either by any media such as photocopying, photography or scanning or make any copy, even of the passport number, in writing. There is a big International trade in passports and passport details which may be used for illegal entry into other countries and committing International crime.
- Do not allow any of the above for your Visa either.
- Showing the Passport or Visa to the Director of the establishment at which you will be volunteering is acceptable provided it remains within your sight and nothing from these documents is copied in any way.
- Keep your Passport and Visa in a safe place at the volunteer accommodation.
- Letters of reference may be read by the Director in your presence and should then be returned to you.
- CVs may be read by the Director in your presence and then returned to you.