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Volunteering in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known for a very diverse culture, high mountains, golden beaches, a varied wildlife and colorful coral reefs.

Volunteering in Sri Lanka

EXIS organizes voluntary work in Sri Lanka for minimum 3 and maximum 12 weeks. The stay begins with one week of language and culture lessons in Galle.

Voluntary work is a unique way of getting to know a country, its culture and people, whilst doing a meaningful job that benefits the local population. In order to participate, you must be at least 18 years old, independent and outgoing. A sense of adventure and the will to work as a volunteer are musts.

The Projects in Sri Lanka

The following descriptions are examples of workplaces. We cannot guarantee that all projects are available all the time. Tasks depend on the participant’s skills, wishes and qualifications.

All projects are in the southern part of Sri Lanka.

It is not allowed to drink alcohol during the program period, and it is forbidden to smoke during lessons. We cannot guarantee that you can change your voluntary work placement after arrival in Sri Lanka.

Working hours on the different projects vary. Some changes may occur. Days of full moon mean days off in Sri Lanka.

Lanuage and Culture Program

All volunteers follow a one-week language and culture program, as preparation for the work stay. Programs start every 2nd and 4th Monday with arrival to the capital city Colombo the day before. The drive to Galle from the airport takes 4 to 5 hours.

Volunteers who arrive after 5pm will spend the first night in a hotel close to the airport and be picked up the next day. It all starts with briefing and sightseeing in Galle and surroundings, followed by language, religion, history, culture, politics, Buddhism, geography and health lessons, your first introduction to the local area and culture. Galle was once the chief port of Ceylon. You will visit the colorful local market and shops

There are language lessons 3 to 4 hours a day. The rest of the day is free time. The last day is preparation for the trip to the work project you have chosen. This is an international program with participants from many countries.

The main purpose of the language and culture program is to introduce participants to the Sinhalese language that is spoken by 75 % of the population, as well as a briefing about Sri Lankan culture and religion. You should show respect for local customs, especially in the way you dress.

Board and accommodation

During the first week participants are accommodated in double rooms by the coordinator or in a house about 20 minutes away. During the work period, accommodation will be with a host family or at your working place.

Usually participants stay with a host family, where they have their own room.

During you entire stay you will get 3 meals per day. Please note that breakfast is a light meal, a cup of tea and some bread. Most accommodations have electricity. The majority of the host families are educated and have experience hosting international volunteers.

Usually at least one member of the family speaks English.

Teaching English

In the village of Embilipitiya and other villages in the area, 180 miles southeast of the capital, children between 3 and 6 can learn English. You will either assist a teacher or be given full responsibility for a class, depending on your skills and experience. If you are an experienced teacher you may be asked to teach maths or sports.

You must expect to play and draw with the children as well as help organize other activities.

Accommodation is in a hostel, a temple or with a host family, with full board.

You will work 25 to 35 hours per week. You should have good English skills.

Orphanage and Dissanayaka school

This home for physically and mentally handicapped was hit by the tsunami in 2004. 38 children drowned in their beds or were swept away in the waves. The orphanage was seriously damaged and is still not entirely renovated.

The home also functions as a school for about 200 handicapped or orphaned children from 5 to 15 years old, as well as a day centre for physically and mentally handicapped adults. Some of the teachers are also physically handicapped.

Examples of tasks:

  • Teach children English, music, handicrafts, etc.
  • Organize activities with the school employees.
  • Care for the children
  • Teach and help at the centre, where they also distribute food to poor families.
  • In the afternoon assist the children and the handicapped adults

Working hours are from 8.30 to 16.00/4.00 pm.

The schools holiday periods are during the first two weeks in April, from Mid August to the first week in September, during the first week og December to the first week in January.

    Home for elderly

    This home for elder people has about 80 to residents and just 10 persons staff. It was established in 1927 by the Catholic Church and is run by two nuns, who also are qualified nurses.

    Volunteers are very welcome to help entertaining the lonely elderly residents, help with physiotherapy, caring for the sick, creative activities, games etc. according to your abilities.

    You are expected to work during 6 to 8 hours per day.

    Probation Home for teenage girls

    In this governmental home has rehabilitation facilities for 20 to 50 teenage girls. Most girls have been sentenced for crimes like taking drugs, robbery, prostitution etc.

    Volunteers help with different activities like teaching English, sports and creative activities. The home is in a two-story building. Downstairs is a common room where the girls sit around tables to study. Upstairs is a dormitory where they are paired off in cubicles with bunk beds.

    Eighteen of the 31 girls, aged 10 to 18, attend one of two government schools nearby. The rest are considered too old or too slow academically to go to class and receive some vocational training.

    Training school for Nurses

    There are about 130 young women and very few young men following 3 years training to become nurses at this school. Most of the girls live in small dormitories. The boys travel each day.

    Volunteers are very welcome to help them improve their language skills. But also fun and sport activities are interesting and can be combined with English lessons. The students appreciate the volunteers and their work.

    Volunteers who are qualified nurses and doctors may also be involved in helping with training the students, if the school principal approves and the lessons fit with their curriculum.

    Teaching English to Buddhist monks

    “Pirivenaere” are traditional temple schools where young monks study. Most volunteers teach English to the 8-21 year-olds.

    Accommodation is with a local host family near the temple. You will experience life in a village, and during your free time you can observe and talk with the monks. You will gain unique insight into Buddhist culture, Buddha’s teachings and philosophy.

    Your homeland will seem ages away from this traditional culture that has caught the west’s attention once again.

    You will work 23-35 hours per week.

    Elephant home

    Captive elephants, rescued from harsh working living conditions are taken care of at this centre. There are also elephants that have either been mistreated or who have retired from the “work force”.

    Volunteers assist ”mahouts” – professional elephant trainers- in cleaning elephant enclosures and feeding the animals, bringing them to the river to bathe, maintaining the area etc.
    Other tasks are participating in eco farming and teaching English.

    Accommodation is with a host family or onsite in shared facilities with full board. Working hours are 25-35 hours per week.

    Minimum participation is 4 weeks. Volunteers cannot work during the Christmas holiday week.

    Ruhunu State Orphanage

    An orphanage that receives some support from the government and house about 50 children from 4 weeks to 6 years old. Many of them lost their parents in the tsunami. There is also a small nursery school with about 36 children.

    Examples of tasks

    Feed the babies, change their diapers and dress them
    Play with the older children and teach them
    Laundry and other practical work
    Care and attention
    Volunteers can also help the employees in the nursery school. Accommodation is with a local host family living near the orphanage. Transport is by ”tuk tuk”.


    There are no special qualifications necessary to participate in the volunteer work program.

    Social Work Projects

    Weeks Fees
    3 €1.270
    4 €1.456
    5 €1.642
    6 €1.827
    7 €2.013
    8 €2.199
    9 €2.385
    10 €2.571
    11 €2.757
    12 €2.943

    Elephant Home

    Weeks Fees
    3 €1.536
    4 €1.722
    5 €2.008
    6 €2.245
    7 €2.481
    8 €2.717
    9 €2.953
    10 €3.189
    11 €3.425
    12 €3.662

    Kontakt venligst [email protected] for oplysninger om priser på længerevarige ophold.

    Inkluderet i prisen

    Voluntary Work in Sri Lanka

    Accommodation and board during your entire stay with three meals per day – during the second part of the program accommodation is with a local host family or at your working place

    Help and guidance from our local coordinator during your entire stay

    1 week’s language and culture program

    Orientation and sightseeing in Galle

    Transport to your working placement

    T-shirt og work permit when working at elephant home

    Sponsor amount to work place

    Handbook about Sri Lanka

    Certificate of participation

    The following is not included in the fee:

    • Visa fees
    • Insurance
    • Roundtrip to Sri Lanka
    • Pocket money
    • Transport to and from accommodation to your working place (costs 3-4 USD per day)
    • If you arrive prior to normal start dates, a fee of 35 USD/per day will be charged for food and accommodation
    • International airport tax (25 USD)

    The Country

    Sri Lanka is famous for its varied culture, high mountains, golden beaches, rich wildlife and colourful coral reefs.

    The island lies in the Indian Ocean, 30 miles south of India. In 1948, Ceylon obtained independence, and in 1979 it was renamed Sri Lanka. Almost 20 million people live in Sri Lanka, of whom 74% are Sinhalese, 18 % Tamil, originally from South India, while the last 8% are smaller ethnic groups.

    Most Sinhalese are Buddhists, Tamils are usually Hindu. Map over Sri Lanka: Click
    On the 26th of December 2004, Sri Lanka was hit by a tsunami. Many people were injured or died, many more went missing. The tsunami caused great damage to the infrastructure in coastal areas. Clean-up and reconstruction continues in these areas.

    Map of Sri Lanka


    Galle is the capital of the southern province, and has a rich past. The natural harbour has attracted Portuguese, English and Dutch. The city was a centre of administration during the colonial period for more than 4 centuries.

    It is a UNESCO heritage site, and the Dutch fortress is one of the most popular landmarks. The Unawatuna beach lies just 4 miles southeast of the city centre. Many visitors are drawn to its exotic culture and beautiful nature.


    The official lanuages are Sinhala, Tamil and English.


    The climate is tropical with an average temperature around 25 degrees Celsius. The mountains divide the country into two distinct parts, and are a natural barrier for the monsoon winds that affect the climate. It rains quite a lot in the south-western part of the country, whereas the rest is fairly dry.

    EXIS in Sri Lanka

    You will find most of our projects in Galle.

    Before you go

    Living and working in Sri Lanka is a huge challenge and you will need to adapt. It may seem overwhelming at first to adapt to a completely different way of living and another language. Things are not what you are used to, people react differently. The climate, food, the atmosphere – everything is different. As for work, you will confront a harsh social reality and experience things that most tourists can’t even imagine.

    In order to work as a volunteer you need to be mature, flexible, and independent and want to do social work. It is emotionally very demanding to work with poor people, but it is also meaningful work and unique experiences you will never forget.

    Do not expect to find a finished program all prepared when you start working. If you have decided to work with children, whether it is in an orphanage or in a nursery home, it is a good idea that you already know how to occupy children – manual work, sports, games etc. Use your imagination and be creative.

    We cannot guarantee that you can change your voluntary work placement after arrival in Sri Lanka.
    Working hours on the different projects vary. Some changes may occur.

    General information

    Alcohol and smoking
    It is not allowed to drink alcohol during the program period, and it is forbidden to smoke during lessons.

    Full moon
    Days of full moon mean days off in Sri Lanka.

    Upon arrival in Colombo airport, you can obtain a 1 month visa. As a visa for voluntary work does not exist, you must apply for a TOURIST visa. (Remember to bring two ID photos). More information will be sent in the pre-departure handbook after enrolment.

    Ready to go?

    Reserve a spot for one of the projects  in Sri Lanka