Rural Community Development Volunteering in Sri Lanka
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.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from $355 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Volunteer in traditional, rural villages, helping locals wherever needed
Explore Sri Lanka’s untouched islands and tea plantations
Stay with other volunteers in remote parts of Sri Lanka
Who is this program suited to?
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.
As a Rural Community Development volunteer you’ll help with a range of activities based on what’s most important to locals during your time there. Duties often revolve around:
- Teaching and education
- Renovation in schools, monasteries and temples
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
- 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
”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.”
Read reviews from Rural Community Development volunteers in Sri LankaSee 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 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 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.
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 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, a boat ride on Kandy Lake, get a Ayurveda massage 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
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 $430 for the week (including meals and accommodation) and can be paid for in Sri Lanka to our program staff.
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 4-10 other volunteers of the same gender and all bedrooms have fans. The house has electricity and western style bathrooms. It is located within walking distance of the local shops.
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 western style bathrooms. The volunteer house is a ten-minute bike ride from the nearest shops. It is important to note that bicycles are the main mode of transport to and from placements on this project and are provided for volunteers to use.
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 liters 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||$355 Equivalent to $51/day|
|2 weeks||$507 Equivalent to $37/day|
|3 weeks||$699 Equivalent to $34/day|
|4 weeks||$871 Equivalent to $32/day|
|5 weeks||$1,043 Equivalent to $30/day|
|6 weeks||$1,215 Equivalent to $29/day|
|8 weeks||$1,559 Equivalent to $28/day|
|10 weeks||$1,903 Equivalent to $28/day|
|12 weeks||$2,247 Equivalent to $27/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 $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- 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.
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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.