Volunteer in Sri Lanka
Volunteer to help to resolve human-elephant conflicts in Sri Lanka.
Spend two weeks this summer gaining experience in environmental sustainability, animal conservation, and elephant human conflict issues. You’ll 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 alum
This program is open to groups of people who meet the following requirements:
- 15-18 years old, or Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or Senior*
- Beginner level of Spanish preferred
- Be in good physical shape due to manor labor nature of the work
- Be open minded and curious about the environment and culture of Sri Lanka
*We are also able to accommodate corporate volunteer groups, individual adults and families. Please inquire with a program manager.
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:
Group Start Dates:
We can accommodate teen groups starting Mondays throughout the year. Please apply at least 6 weeks prior to your desired start date.
Individual Teen Start Dates:
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 22st- August 5th, 2019*
All teen volunteer applications are due by May 12th, 2019
* Let us know if you can’t make this date. We can be flexible!
Arrival & Departure
Students need to:
- Arrive at the Colombo Airport the Sunday before their Monday start date before 5:00pm
- Students are picked up from the airport and spend one night in Colombo before being transferred to the project site the following day
- Depart from the Colombo Airport on the Monday at the end of their program after 5:00pm
- 2 weeks: $2,200
Please refer to the payment schedule here.
What’s Included in your program fee:
During your program:
- Accommodations in volunteer bunkhouses
- 3 meals per day and filtered water for duration of the program
- Airport pickup and drop off to/from Colombo Airport
- Daily onsite transportation in Land Rover 4WD vehicles
- Medical/accident insurance
- 24-hour long distance and local emergency support
- On-site arrival orientation and training
Pre-departure resources and training:
- Personal assistance from a Greenheart Travel program manager
- Comprehensive program handbook
- Online pre-departure orientation with Greenheart Travel
- Culture & etiquette guidebook
- The Greenheart Travel Atlas, an interactive guide to your cross-cultural experience
- Donation to support the Greenheart Odyssey, an award-winning youth leadership development program
- Certificate of Completion upon request for successful completion of the program
Costs Not Included:
- Flight to Sri Lanka
- Visa to Sri Lanka
- Spending money for personal purchases or activities
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.
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 nets
- 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
With so many volunteer options, why volunteer through 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 and 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 volunteers on the program, before you even leave!
- Automatic enrollment in the Greenheart Club, an online community for Greenheart alumni to find resources, log volunteer hours, and apply for alumni grants and scholarship
- 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 and Preparation
- The Greenheart Travel Atlas, an interactive guide to your cross-cultural experience
- Online pre-departure orientation with focus on cultural training
- Greenheart Travel 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.
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 a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on an 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 all applicants.
Therefore, we may not be able to 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:
- 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.
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.
How will I communicate with my child?
There is WiFi available at the project site, so if your child has a smart phone you can speak to them via Facebook Messanger, WhatsApp, iMessage, etc. You will receive more information upon acceptance onto the program.
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.
Committing to a volunteer abroad program is an exciting time, and we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible. Below are the 4 steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a Greenheart Travel program.
Once you start your application, to have two weeks to finish.
1. Start Your Application Here (Approximately 5 Minutes): Greenheart Travel Application.
2. Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 10 Minutes): After you complete Part 1 of your application, you (and your parent(s) if you’re under 18) will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program.
4. Submit your deposit (Approximately 5 minutes): You will need to submit your $250 deposit at this point in the process. A deposit is required in order to reserve your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.
5. Secondary Application Form (Approximately 30 Minutes): This is the most in-depth part of the application process as it helps us get to know you better. You will need to provide detailed information about yourself, why you want to volunteer abroad, and what you hope to gain from your experience.
6. Acceptance: Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 business days about your acceptance the next steps.
As for the payments, you will be required to pay a $250 deposit when you submit your application, and then a second $500 placement deposit will be due after your acceptance. This is due no later than 8 weeks prior to your departure date. The final balance of the program is due 35 days before departure. We do not deviate from this schedule and you can pay online via credit card.
After Applying, Now What?
Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 business days to confirm your acceptance. If we find something in your application that we have concerns about, we will let you know immediately. 95% of applicants are accepted on the program they apply for.
Your program manager will be in touch with you directly about your acceptance. You should expect to receive an orientation packet via email, which talks more about your program, as well as supplemental information about dealing with culture shock and our insurance program. We will also schedule a pre-departure orientation to answer any lingering questions you may have.
Schedule a Call
Have questions or want to talk to the program coordinator, Allison? Set up a time to have a phone call below.
Be sure to review the FAQs before your call!