Volunteering in Sri Lanka
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Mar 11, 2013 7:27 PM Last Post By: Pirate_at_50
Oct 29, 2012 1:53 AM
Volunteering in Sri LankaFor any travellers out there who like to volunteer, I've just returned from a volunteer program in Sri Lanka which I can highly recommend. The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society - www.slwcs.org - is an awarding winning conservation society who has done great work in dealing with elephant/human conflict. As a volunteer you are involved in a variety of different conservation activities and get to stay in a beautiful location in the central hill country. We spent early mornings bird watching, recording each species we saw and I was amazed at the variety and beautiful colours. We also tracked the routes and movements of wild elephant herds, went searching for signs of leopards and sloth bears, as well as other mammals, always recording our findings so the Society could add the information to its database. But the best part were the afternoons up a tree house waiting for the elephants to come out of the forest and watching them head to their favourite lake. The Society also does great community work with some of the local schools.The organisers were great and very knowledgeable, the food delicious and everyone in the village was so lovely and friendly. You can arrange to do day trips to some of the UNESCO sites in the area as well, such as Sigiriya and Dambulla, which were both stunning. Sri Lanka in general was such an incredible country to travel in but the volunteering work made it even greater. It was so wonderful to see a group like SLWCS making real change and helping to preserve Sri Lanka's rich biodiversity.
Oct 29, 2012 2:11 AM
Oct 29, 2012 3:24 AM
2Yeah, they`re slick. Obviously won`t tell you the cost until the hook is firmly set. NGOs in SL haven`t been doing well since most of the volunteers left during the war, and few are returning. Even the good ones have charges just to fill out an application.
Wonder how much this one charges "for the privilege of helping others"?
Oct 29, 2012 5:45 PM
Oct 30, 2012 3:03 AM
Nov 18, 2012 1:12 AM
5Gosh, I'm so surprised at these responses. Never in a million years would I have expected such negativity from the traveller community. I'm a independent traveller who does a lot of volunteering with elephant projects and had an amazing time at this project and thought that I would share this with fellow travellers. They are a legitimate conservation society who do incredible work with local communities as well as helping to preserve the biodiversity of this part of Sri Lanka. I booked directly with them and it was by no means expensive, about A$420 a week, which included all meals, accommodation and pick up from Colombo. There were no other fees. Tourism has indeed taken a hit since civil war and this project which has been in operation since the mid 90's has taken a hit as well. This is part of the reason I posted about them because I wanted to help out and hopefully attract more volunteers for them so they can continue their work. They used to have offices in the US and here in Australia when they had thriving volunteer numbers many years ago but because of war they have lost all their funding and now need all the support they can get. Personally I would say that it was indeed a privilege to help this organistion preserve the Asian elephant who at the moment is facing extiction. Elephant populations in both Asia and Africa need people who care or we will lose them forever.
Nov 18, 2012 1:26 AM
Nov 19, 2012 12:19 AM
Nov 19, 2012 12:19 AM
8Itchy,if you are for real,I think your heart is there,just not your judgement.I have seen natives stuff some street orphans in a room,give them some paper and pencils;and call it a school,asking passing westerners for donations.Complete with tours.
$450 A WEEK!.!.!...Hey,I have a special school where we teach blind children painting,and we try to save the tiger,with walking tours and gazing at a tiger skull (we bought from poachers.)Can you help us,only $2500 per week.Save the Tiger extra.
Nov 25, 2012 7:41 PM
9Wow, still surprised at these responses. I'm writing from my own personal experiences and sorry that there are so many jaded travellers out there. I've done lots of volunteering around the world and if you're smart you don't get ripped off. So far, it has never happened to me. $420 week is actually pretty reasonable for a volunteer program especially when the money goes to such a good cause. I thought the whole point of this forum was to help and give recommendations to fellow travellers. I cetainly wouldn't be recommending a place where I thought another person would be ripped off.
Ickel, I would never book volunteering through an agency, they charge way to much. Often double what a project will advertise on their own websites. When you book directly at least you know the project, and I will stress again, LEGITIMATE project, receives the money directly. If you write to the email address on the website they will send out all the information. At the moment they are working on the website to make it clearer for volunteers.
My last comment is to say that before you pass judgement that you do a little research. From all the imformation available about this Society you can see the many conservation awards that they have won as well as their many other conservation achievements.
Nov 25, 2012 7:43 PM
Nov 25, 2012 9:27 PM
11wonder how many people in Sri Lanka even earn $420 a month-never mind per week!!
$60 per day is extortionate.
always am extremely sceptical about any organisation that quotes in $$. (unless they're in America).
Nov 30, 2012 8:20 PM
12Of course this would not be the average wage for someone living in rural Sri Lanka. What a ridiculous thing to write. The point is being missed entirely. This is a VOLUNTEER program where people who are fortunate enough to earn a decent wage choose to spend their money to help others or whatever the cause may be. That is why it is called VOLUNTEERING. With this particular project the money helps to build and maintain fences which keep elephants out of crops and villages. This prevents human deaths as well as elephant deaths and thanks to this project the number of fatalities on both sides has been reduced dramatically. The cost per week is a small price to pay for a project that prevents people and elephants from dying. The project actually employs local villagers as well, providing an income that would otherwise not be available to them.
For those who are genuinely interested in conservation volunteering please don't be put off by all these negative and uninformed responses. I found this to be a fantastic project and can highly recommend it. That's the whole reason why I wrote about it in the first place.
Nov 30, 2012 9:37 PM
13That is why it is called VOLUNTEERING
Well, congrats. The first true definition of bullshit this week. For your prize, you get to send 420 pounds to anyone too damn lazy to do their own fundraising. Oh I know, how about The Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. Make sure you send it every week.. For life.
Mar 11, 2013 1:08 PM
14If anyone is following this thread, I'd appreciate your input. I was considering visiting Sri Lanka and until I saw this thread. I wanted to volunteer in elephant conservation for three weeks or so. I'm willing to do anything and really want to work; I don't want to go on safari.
I've lived, worked in and vacationed in several developing countries including countries in Africa and Asia, and I know that volunteer tourism can be problematic and has the potential to be nothing more than a way for people from rich countries to feel good without accomplishing much.
I also know that economic development and change of any sort is an incremental process, and often hard to measure so I'm not necessarily put off by the prospect of making a small contribution while having an experience that I personally enjoy.
Still, I don't want to waste time and money or give my money to sleazy middlemen. Fundraising can be arduous and frustrating but I know from my professional experience as a grant writer that it enables organizations to refine and clarify their mission, develop technical competence, and strategize. Which is all to say that forking over $400 a week in a country like Sri Lanka for a volunteer experience sounds suspicious. But I could be wrong.
Pirate_at_50: do you have any suggestions from what I've said above how I could identify a legitimate volunteer opportunity in Sri Lanka? Thanks much.
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