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Rural Community Development Volunteering in Sri Lanka

Rural Community Development Volunteering in Sri Lanka

Support disadvantaged communities
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 6 hours a day
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Rural house
Program fees
From AU$601 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who want an authentic experience of rural Sri Lanka, with its quieter pace of life and friendly locals, as well as the chance to make a meaningful difference to their community.

Project details

Curious about Rural Community Development volunteering in Sri Lanka? International Volunteer HQ’s Rural Community Development project is an exciting chance for volunteers to experience traditional village life in the remote countryside. These farming areas are often underdeveloped with a lack of resources, skilled people and economic development. Volunteers gain experience in community development while helping with a wide range of tasks that contribute to the long-term goals of the local people.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Rural communities in Sri Lanka are lagging behind big cities in development and often don’t have the infrastructure, skilled workforce, or resources they need to grow and provide their residents with a good quality of life. Volunteers can provide great help in assisting with the long-term development of these communities and the education of local villagers.

The Rural Community Development project is based in two locations: Hanguranketha, which is roughly 45 minutes from Kandy, and Dambulla, which is 2.5 hours from Kandy. As a volunteer, you will get to experience living in the local community, immersing yourself in an authentic Sri Lankan lifestyle. The local team will place volunteers together where the need is most need at the time.

As a Rural Community Development volunteer, you’ll assist with a range of activities based on what’s most important to the locals during your time there.

In Hanguranketha, the duties often revolve around:

  • Renovation in temples, monasteries, and preschools
  • Painting
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Teaching English to local monks and preschoolers
  • Setting up educational games and activities

In Dambulla, the duties often include:

  • Renovation in schools, monasteries, temples, and community spaces
  • Painting
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Teaching the village children (aged 8 to 15)
  • Setting up educational games and activities

During school holidays, there is no school for the children; however, volunteers can help run a full-day teaching camp for the local village children.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Covid-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting disadvantaged and minority communities the hardest. To reduce inequalities, we must provide better services and support to refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

Why do Rural Community Development volunteering in Sri Lanka with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in rural communities in Sri Lanka you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Supporting the development of village communities
  • Facilitating a cross-cultural exchange of ideas
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining community development experience
  • Immersing yourself in Sri Lankan culture
  • Exploring the Sri Lankan countryside

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • To respect the local culture and customs in Sri Lanka, volunteers should be aware that they’re unable to have anything obstructing their face while at their volunteer placement.
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Jessica O'Bryan
19 Jun 2024

I feel I have gained a deeper insight into Sri Lankan culture and made a valuable contribution to the volunteer project by working with and supporting the turtles and the team who care for them. I would tell anyone who is hesitant to join that there is no need to be hesitant at all! You will have so much fun and learn so much, I cannot recommend it enough.

Louise Walsh
04 Jun 2024

The pre-departure support and guidance was amazing, I felt well supported and all my questions were promptly answered.

The local team in Sri Lanka were absolutely wonderful. Warm, accommodating and they went above and beyond! I could not have hoped for a better experience.

The meals were healthy and they looked after me not being able to eat gluten. It is awful to have the need for dietary requirements and they didn’t make me feel bad about it. Overall, I am glad I took the leap of faith - it was the best way to experience the real culture and people of the country and to be able to give something back .

Josephine Vasanthan
04 Jun 2024

The Women's Education project in Sri Lanka needs volunteers. The organization & local people were very grateful to IVHQ. I gained knowledge about local Sri Lankan healthcare settings.

The program was rewarding and the local team were helpful to all volunteers when they needed support.

Sharon Elder
04 Jun 2024

I gained so much insight about Sri Lanka , and had a deep feeling I had made an impact. The experience will stay with me for a long time and I will certainly be seeking out other IVHQ experiences.

Holly Huckstadt
23 May 2024

Do not hesitate to join this program! Everyone in Sri Lanka was so nice, welcoming, and friendly. I always felt safe and comfortable there. Make sure to do the week long introduction if you are able. I got to experience a lot of the culture that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. It was amazing to volunteer on the sea turtle conservation project. They do a lot of good work for the sick and injured sea turtles. The locals also care for a lot of the stray dogs and cats as well. It was nice to be around so many people who cared for animals. I highly recommend the Sri Lanka program. I was there for 3 weeks and was not ready to leave!

Ethan Wilson
11 Feb 2021

My favourite moment on the program was by far the second week when I stayed in Sigiriya. Celebrating the New Year festival with the pre-school was really fun, and seeing a wild elephant from the roof on my second night was pretty amazing.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Sri Lanka with IVHQ


Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is an island nation set off the south-east coast of India. Famous for its tea plantations, cinnamon exports and cricket rivalries, it also boasts a vast array of beaches, Buddhas and big wildlife like elephants and whales.

While Sri Lanka is a well-developed country which has made great strides towards making sure its residents don’t live in extreme poverty, there is still many places outside of the main centres where people struggle to access good quality education, healthcare and earn a decent living to support themselves and their families. Volunteers can help in these areas by providing important support to local initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life for people in these disadvantaged areas.

On the Rural Community Development project you’ll be based in rural villages in Hanguranketha in the Nuwara Eliya district about 45 minutes drive from Kandy; or near Dambulla in the Central Matale District, depending on availability.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday and volunteers need to arrive in Colombo anytime on the Saturday or Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) on Saturday or Sunday. Your airport pick-up over the weekend is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.

After you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Kandy. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Sunday night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Sri Lanka prior to your volunteer program, you can meet the local team at the airport in Colombo on the Sunday before your program begins, or make your own way directly to the local team’s office in Kandy.

Orientation is run by the local team in Kandy, beginning on the Monday morning of your start date. Volunteers can choose to join a One-day Orientation or Introduction Week Orientation.

One-day Orientation: This provides you with all the key information you need, plus the chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising. It includes an introduction to Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan customs, rules and expectations, safety in Sri Lanka, travel opportunities in Sri Lanka, an introduction to your volunteer project and placement, Kandy city tour, cultural show and basic Sinhala language lessons.

Introduction Week Orientation: This is a fantastic way to start your volunteer experience in Sri Lanka and gives you the time to dive deeper into the culture and activities. It will include everything on the One-Day Orientation as well as visits to a Buddhist monastery, a spice garden and the famous Temple of the Tooth. You’ll also get to take a Sri Lankan cooking class, and take a Batik lesson.

If you wish to participate in the Introduction Week, you can indicate this on your application form when you apply for the program or let your Program Manager know at least two weeks before you begin the program.

If you are joining the Introduction Week before volunteering on the Rural Community Development project, you will be transferred to your project location on the Sunday prior to your second week.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays - A typical volunteer day is as follows:

6:00 - 7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
7:45 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.
12:00 PM Lunch
3:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.
9:00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.


During the weekends, volunteers are free to relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Kandy and Sri Lanka. Kandy itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has an exciting selection of things to see and do. You can visit a number of beautiful and ornate temples including the Temple of the Tooth - an important shrine housing a canine tooth said to belong to the Buddha; wander in the grand and impressive Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya; tour a tea plantation and factory; sample the tasty and widely-regarded local cuisine; or take a walk up to the biggest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka and be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the city. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to destinations, such as Colombo, Galle or even Southern India.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Rural Community Development project who are placed in Hanguranketha are accommodated in a large volunteer house within the village. Volunteers can expect to share a room with four other volunteers of the same gender and all bedrooms have fans with up to thirty volunteers in the house. The house has electricity and western style bathrooms. It is located within walking distance of the local shops, bank, police station, hospital and bus stop.

Volunteers on the Rural Community Development project who are placed in Dambulla are accommodated in a rural volunteer house in Dambulla, which is situated in an idyllic setting alongside a river and organic garden. Volunteers can expect to share a room with up to nine other volunteers of the same gender. Electricity and fans are provided at the volunteer house, which also has basic western style toilet with a shower room. The volunteer house is a 5 minute walk from the nearest local shop. It is important to note that the main city is roughly a 30 minute drive away which has shops, restaurants, and a hospital.

Please be aware that private room upgrades are not available in Sri Lanka.

To access the internet during your program, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Sri Lanka, as WiFi is not available in the volunteer accommodation.


Volunteers on the Sri Lanka program are provided with three meals a day during the week and brunch and dinner during the weekend. Breakfast includes toast, eggs, fruit, tea, coffee and milk. Sri Lankan foods served for lunch and dinner include roti bread, dhal, curries, vegetables and salads. Meat is rarely eaten except on festive occasions.

Bottled water is readily available in Sri Lanka and volunteers should budget approximately AU$7 per week for 2 litres per day. There are also water filters in the volunteer houses. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can discuss this with you. However, you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. The local team will do their best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible. If you wish to supplement some of your meals with home comforts, there are basic kitchen facilities available to use.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately AU$520) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $380 Equivalent to $54/day
2 weeks $532 Equivalent to $38/day
3 weeks $724 Equivalent to $34/day
4 weeks $896 Equivalent to $32/day
5 weeks $1,068 Equivalent to $31/day
6 weeks $1,240 Equivalent to $30/day
8 weeks $1,584 Equivalent to $28/day
10 weeks $1,928 Equivalent to $28/day
12 weeks $2,272 Equivalent to $27/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$520) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Sri Lanka generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Transport to and from your volunteer placement each day
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in Sri Lanka

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Sri Lanka! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Sri Lanka program.

Lion's Rock Fortress and Safari - 1 night/2days
Lion's Rock Fortress and Safari - 1 night/2days

Embark on an unforgettable weekend getaway to Sigiriya, where ancient history and breathtaking nature await.

Trekking Week
Trekking Week

Discover the best of Sri Lanka on this week-long tour. Enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, take in stunning hilltop views, and ride the world’s most scenic train. Climb Lion’s Rock to explore the ancient kingdom’s ruins from 500 AD.


Check what's required to visit Sri Lanka

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Population 21.8 million
Languages Sinhala and Tamil
Currency Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
Time zone UTC+05:30

Weather and climate

The climate is tropical and warm, due to the moderating effects of ocean winds. Mean temperature ranges from 17°C (62.6°F) in the central highlands, where frost may occur for several days in the winter, to a maximum of 33 °C (91.4°F) in other low-altitude areas.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

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