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Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka

Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka

Purpose
Provide care & connection for disabled people
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Duration
Choose from 1-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Age
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Accommodation
Volunteer house
Program fees
From CA$550 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
'Who is going' users image
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.

This program is ideal for:

Compassionate and caring volunteers who have an interest in working with people with special needs. You’ll be supported by local staff so no experience is required.

Project details

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 centers 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.

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 disabled children and women with a range of mental and physical disabilities. You’ll be placed in special needs care centers in Kandy, many of which are under-resourced and can really benefit from your time and involvement.

Volunteers assist local staff with:

  • Teaching English
  • Playing games and exercise
  • General care
  • Play time for children
  • Meal breaks
  • Cleaning clothes and rooms

Volunteers with appropriate qualifications and experience may also be able to assist with hands-on physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Volunteers also with medical qualifications such as dermatologist or dentist are welcome, although they do not have any medical equipment at the project.

Please note, the project is not available on Thursdays and volunteers can either rest or help on the Construction and Renovation project. The project is open on the weekends if volunteers are wanting to do more hours.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Well-Being

Good mental and physical health is key to sustainable development and building healthy and happy communities. Now more than ever, we must increase access to free healthcare and health education across the globe to achieve an acceptable standard of living and wellbeing for all.

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

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' users image
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.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

LW
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 .

...
JV
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.

...
RS
Rathigka Subramaniam
23 May 2024

The place I volunteered was definitely such a heartwarming place with lots of lovely people. The kids and ladies were really adorable. I had a good time feeding them and of course cleaning the big home and doing laundry. The residents were all so helpful and engaging.

If you are intending to reach out for people in need, this is the best platform. Don’t hesitate, get started. It warms your heart knowing that you gave something valuable to someone in need.

...
SE
Sarah Eddy
06 May 2022

I loved the whole experience. The orientation week was great, as were our adventure weekends and my time at the placement.

...
MM
Maddie Morgan
11 Feb 2021

Overall, my trip in Sri Lanka was the best trip I have ever been on. It was unlike any other volunteer trip or vacation I have been on. Being able to be immersed in the Sri Lankan culture by staying at a homestay was an experience of a lifetime. Volunteering at the Special Needs project was very rewarding and I learned a lot about myself as an individual. The children and women were so loving and you were able to bond with them instantly. It was very rewarding and heartwarming at the same time. If you love working with children, interacting with people, or working with special needs I definitely would recommend this project! I recommend future volunteers be open to learning about the local culture and embrace it as much as possible! The food, religious beliefs, and lifestyle may be different from your own but you will have experiences and memories you will never forget by embracing it all while you are there!

...
JG
Joseph Gutin
11 Feb 2021

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 volunteers 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!

...

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

Location

Volunteer Abroad in Sri Lanka with IVHQ

Location

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 centers 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 Sunday. Your airport pick-up on this day 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 traveling 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 socializing. 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 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.

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.

Weekends

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 in Kandy are accommodated in a volunteer house. Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with four to nine other volunteers of the same gender.

Living is comfortable and the accommodation has electricity, fans, running water. Bathrooms in the volunteer houses 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.

The volunteer house has a safe member staying in the house at night and there is an 8:00pm curfew on weeknights and 12:00pm on weekends at the volunteer accommodation, please be considerate and reduce noise.

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.

Private rooms can be arranged for an additional $90 per person, per week, subject to availability at the time.

Please note that families with younger children are required to book a private room for their time on the program.

Meals

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 CA$7 per week for 2 liters 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.

Pricing

  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately CA$476) 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.

Duration
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 CA$476) 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
  • Personalized 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 Kandy

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

CA$738
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.

CA$1476

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.

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