Overview

Spend your summer working to save elephants and villagers’ livelihoods by helping to resolve human-elephant conflicts in Wasgamuwa National Park, a vast and diverse wilderness area in North Central Sri Lanka. Established in Sri Lanka with the sole purpose to conserve the dwindling biodiversity of Sri Lanka, you will work alongside the scientists and conservationists to save Sri Lanka’s unique biodiversity while helping local communities to benefit from these efforts.

Learn about the human elephant conflict and how your volunteer work will help!

 

What are past participants saying about the program?

“Volunteering in Sri Lanka was in every way an amazing experience. The location is beautiful and you really have the opportunity to be immersed in the culture. The staff on the project was incredible. They were friendly, caring and they had a great sense of humor. There’s not a single bad thing I have to say about my time in Sri Lanka. It was a total life changing experience and a lot of what I learned I will always carry with me. All I can say is how grateful I am that I could have this experience.” — Shannon Elder, Greenheart Travel Sri Lanka Volunteer Alumna

 

Project Details

During the volunteer program, you will make a direct impact in the lives of people and wildlife by performing such duties as:

  • Participate in daily ecological research on elephants
  • Observe and assess human-elephant interactions and conflicts
  • Conduct local biodiversity surveys
  • Work with local communities to teach environmental awareness & sustainability
  • Help to monitor and evaluate innovative landscape management systems
  • Identify rural livelihoods that adversely impact the environment

Here’s an example of what your schedule might look like while volunteering in Sri Lanka:

Dates & Costs

This is our only start date at this time, but if we receive extensive applications, we may add an earlier start date. Volunteer with other teenagers in Sri Lanka from:

  • July 23rd- August 6th, 2017

All teen volunteer applications are due by May 15th, 2017

Program Fees

  • 2 weeks: $2,200

Costs included in the program fee:

  • Full accommodation in gender-based shared room
  • 3 prepared meals a day for duration of the program
  • Daily onsite transportation in Land Rover 4WD vehicles
  • Transport to airport at the end of program
  • Transport from airport
  • One weekend excursion to nearby cultural site
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • On-site orientation on the first day
  • 24/7 on-site staff support and training
  • Culture & Etiquette guide book
  • Medical/Accident insurance

Costs Not Included:

  • Flight to Sri Lanka
  • Visa to Sri Lanka
  • Spending money for personal purchases or activities

Excursion

To help you immerse in the culture and history of Sri Lanka, your program fee will include a day long excursion. Students will participant in educational visits to the nearby cultural sites of Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dambulla Caves. You will depart the field house early morning via private vehicle. You will stop at both sites for a few hours to learn about their significance and history. Lunch and snacks will also be included. After the visit, you will return to the volunteer accommodations. The entire excursion is operated and supervised by on-site staff so the students will have a local chaperone throughout the day.

During your weekend, you will have free time to relax, rest and enjoy the natural surroundings of the field house under the supervision of staff.

 

Accommodation

inside the field house

Volunteers stay at a rustic volunteer field house which can accommodate up to 18 volunteers. It is only 15 minutes from the entrance to the program work site. You may share a room with other participants, but you will be separated by gender. At the field house, there are

  • Four modern bathrooms
  • Four basic bedrooms
  • Electric fans
  • Mosquito bets
  • Pillows
  • Clean bed sheets

There is only cold water and you should plan to bring their own towel. Want to know what the day-to-day life is like while volunteering on this program? Read Shannon Schroeder’s blog about her experience in Sri Lanka.

Why Greenheart Travel

Greenheart Travel is a non-profit, mission based organization committed to making a positive, long-lasting impact in the communities where we work. We partner with local, grassroots non-profit organizations in Sri Lanka to not only to create the most impactful program, but also to guarantee your volunteer work will make a difference.

Greenheart Travel has been operating volunteer abroad programs for many years. We are proud of our authentic, hands-on opportunities on 4 different continents, which allow you to provide service hours to communities around the world! There are lots of advantages to traveling with us:

Personalized & Consistent Support

  • Our staff is in Chicago – we are available to answer questions during US business hours
  • Friendly, responsive, and professional communication from staff who have actually volunteered abroad themselves
  • Hands on support and personal attention every step of the way
  • An experienced program manager will personally review your application to make sure this is the right program for you

Global Community of Volunteers

  • Access to a community of alumni and current volunteerson the program, before you even leave!
  • Automatic enrollment in the Greenheart Club
  • Offer an online platform to log your service hours, qualifying you for a Greenheart Grant
  • Exclusive access to Greenheart Travel Alumni Program

Top-Notch Materials & Preparation

  • Extensive orientation handbook to prepare you for life abroad
  • Webinar pre-departure orientation with focus on cultural training
  • “Travel For A Change” T-shirt
  • Sri Lanka Culture Smart! Guide Book

Don’t just take our word for it! Check out independent reviews from past participants of Greenheart Travel programs here.

For Parents

The decision to send your teenager abroad can be difficult and there are a lot of questions to consider. We understand your concerns and the Greenheart Travel staff is there for you every step of the way! We want to make the process of traveling and volunteering abroad as fun and painless as possible for you and your child. Here are some of the common questions we get from parents as they consider the program:

What does it mean to be in good mental health in the program eligibility requirements?

Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to the most well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of (High School Abroad/Teen summer Language Camp) candidates.

We cannot accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Debilitating anxiety
  • Eating disorders

If the student’s mental health issue has been resolved (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner(psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

What is Sri Lanka like?

Lots of people are not familiar with this tiny Southeast Asian country, but don’t worry! We’ve answered a bunch of your frequently asked questions below, as well as a blog post about Sri Lanka to help you learn more about this amazing country. Sri Lanka is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of India. Known as Ceylon until 1972, Sri Lanka has a very rich and interesting history spanning over 3,000 years. Sri Lanka is a diverse country, home to over 20 million people from many religions, ethnicities and languages. Approximately 70% of people are Buddhist, but there are also many Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Sri Lankan culture is very family orientated and people often live in large households. The most popular sport in Sri Lanka is cricket.

Is Sri Lanka safe?

Yes, Sri Lanka is safe. As with many destinations, tourists are magnets for pick pocketers, so be sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Streets are often narrow and filled with people, vehicles, and sometimes animals which can be distracting. Also, know how much money is on you and when buying items at souvenir shops, make sure you get correct change back.

Will there be a language barrier?

There are many unique dialects and languages that vary by region in Sri Lanka. Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of the Sri Lanka, but English is commonly known and will get you by in many situations.

What is the climate like?

The island consists mostly of flat to rolling coastal plains, with mountains rising only in the south-central part. The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Temperatures range from 60 °F in the central highlands to a maximum of 95 °F in low-altitude areas. Rainfall is common throughout the year in the central highlands.

Can my child apply with a friend?

Absolutely! We are happy to accept friends and couples.

Is my program fee tax deductible?

Greenheart Travel is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, so a portion of your Volunteer Abroad program fee may be tax deductible. Contact us for more information. We recommend that you also consult with your tax professional to discuss your particular case, as application of tax laws can vary based on individual circumstances.

What vaccinations will I need?

When traveling to any destination, make sure your routine vaccines are up to date. Try to schedule an appointment with your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) also highly recommends the Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and up to date polio vaccinations due to potentially contaminated food or water.

 

Is the water safe to drink?

The onsite accommodation will provide you with safe and filtered drinking water. If you leave the site, most of Sri Lanka’s water is not safe to drink, and we recommend that travelers should stick to bottled water. Restaurants may sometimes offer treated drinking water, but it’s safer to stick with bottled.

What if I have an allergy/specific dietary requirement?

We can cater to vegetarian or vegan needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed with us to see if we can arrange to have your needs met. In some cases you may need to provide your own food.