Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka
Inspired to be a Special Needs Care volunteer in Sri Lanka? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project empowers volunteers to assist in specialist schools, care centres and homes for people with disabilities. In Sri Lanka there is often a lack of knowledge and cultural acceptance about physical and mental disabilities so these facilities and the volunteers who help at them play an important part in making sure disabled people have access to quality care, education and social interaction.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from AU$530 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Support and care for people with disabilities
Explore, adventure and relax in tropical Sri Lanka
Stay in Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Children and adults with physical and mental disabilities are often not well cared for in Sri Lanka due to a lack of information and acceptance within their communities. As a result, many are taken to special care facilities where they are able to receive appropriate treatment, care and education during the day.
As a Special Needs Care volunteer, you’ll help to entertain and educate people with a range of mental and physical disabilities. You’ll be placed in special needs schools, homes and care centres throughout Kandy, many of which are under-resourced and can really benefit from your time and involvement. Volunteers assist local staff with:
- Classroom activities
- General care
- Play time for children
- Meal breaks
Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Kandy with IVHQ?
When you volunteer with people with disabilities in Sri Lanka you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Improving access to care and education for disabled people
- Helping students develop life skills in a safe place
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining experience working with people with disabilities
- Immersing yourself in Sri Lankan culture
- Discover Sri Lanka’s rich history
- Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation 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
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Sri Lanka photo gallery
”I volunteered for 2 weeks in the Special Needs project in Sri Lanka organized by IVHQ. At the end of the first day, I felt very sad for the students and the isolation they live in. Moreover, I felt satisfied and that if I was flying back home tomorrow, even the one-day experience was worth it (for me). At the end of the project, it was clear to me that the v...olunteers make a small positive impact on the day-to-day lives of the students with special needs, but this impact accumulates. You can understand this by students' developmental status progress since 6 years ago. This is very satisfying and rewarding to be part of such a project! The local team was extremely helpful and flexible! They responded quickly to every question and demand and did their best to make the volunteers feel safe, confident and comfortable in the foreign country. I'm very grateful for this experience!” read more
Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in KandySee more reviews
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 beasts 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 are 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.
Most of IVHQ’s Sri Lanka volunteer projects are based in the small, sacred city of Kandy.
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.
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, a boat ride on Kandy Lake, a Batik lesson and get a relaxing Ayurveda massage.
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.
Volunteer schedule example
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.|
|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.
Our local team also offers some great travel packages for volunteers over the weekend and after their volunteer program finishes. They can help you arrange trips and have some special packages available for volunteers, including Trekking Week (a week of hiking some of Sri Lanka’s most famous treks and mountains), Beach Week (a week of activities on Sri Lanka’s coast) and Body and Mind Week (a week of yoga and Ayurvedic massage at a retreat in Sri Lanka). All of the above can be enquired about directly with our program staff after registering on the IVHQ Sri Lanka program. These packages cost approximately AU$643 for the week (including meals and accommodation) and can be paid for in Sri Lanka to our program staff.
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers in Kandy are accommodated in a volunteer house. Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with four to 12 other volunteers.
Homestay accommodation is also available in Kandy and is a popular option for couples or older volunteers. This option can be arranged with our local team according to availability and volunteers may either have their own room or share with one or two others of the same gender, depending on how many other volunteers have requested homestay accommodation. Alternatively, private rooms and matrimonial rooms can be arranged for an additional $35 per person, per week, subject to availability at the time.
Living is comfortable and all accommodation has electricity and running water. Bathrooms in the volunteer houses and homestays are all western style with a toilet, basin and a warm shower. Bedding is provided and includes a pillow with pillow case and top and bottom sheets. You will need to bring a towel, toiletries including hand soap and toilet paper, and a mosquito net if you wish to sleep with one.
Families who wish to volunteer in Sri Lanka are required to stay in a homestay at an additional cost of US$35 per person, per week. If your family has more than four members, two rooms may be required to accommodate all family members.
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. Authentic Sri Lankan meals are cooked by a local chef and most are prepared with an array of spices and coconut milk.
Bottled water is readily available in Sri Lanka and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for 2 litres per day. There are also water filters in the volunteer houses and homestays. 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.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||AU$530 Equivalent to AU$76/day|
|2 weeks||AU$758 Equivalent to AU$55/day|
|3 weeks||AU$1045 Equivalent to AU$50/day|
|4 weeks||AU$1302 Equivalent to AU$47/day|
|5 weeks||AU$1560 Equivalent to AU$45/day|
|6 weeks||AU$1817 Equivalent to AU$44/day|
|8 weeks||AU$2331 Equivalent to AU$42/day|
|10 weeks||AU$2846 Equivalent to AU$41/day|
|12 weeks||AU$3360 Equivalent to AU$40/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of AU$447 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Sri Lanka generally find US$30-50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
Check what's required to visit Sri Lanka
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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.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Capital||Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte|
|Languages||Sinhala and Tamil|
|Currency||Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)|
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.