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Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Sri Lanka

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 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.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from CA$542 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

Key information

Provide care & connection for disabled people
Based in special needs facilities
Stay in a volunteer house
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from CA$542 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 12 weeks
Introduction Week orientation available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

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.
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 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.

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 16-18 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.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

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

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Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in Kandy

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

Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in Kandy

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.

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
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 CA$542 Equivalent to CA$78/day
2 weeks CA$760 Equivalent to CA$54/day
3 weeks CA$1034 Equivalent to CA$49/day
4 weeks CA$1280 Equivalent to CA$46/day
5 weeks CA$1525 Equivalent to CA$44/day
6 weeks CA$1771 Equivalent to CA$42/day
8 weeks CA$2263 Equivalent to CA$40/day
10 weeks CA$2754 Equivalent to CA$39/day
12 weeks CA$3245 Equivalent to CA$39/day
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • 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 Volunteer Service

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

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$470) 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 CAD.
  • 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$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.

Check what's required to visit Sri Lanka

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

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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How to get started

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