Encourage and care for children, provide them with much needed confidence and to help maximise their potential.
It is important to note that many of the children in Sri Lanka orphanages are not orphans in the strict sense of the word. While some of the children may have lost both of their parents, others are rescued from broken homes and abusive families and many are given up by their families as they simply cannot afford to look after them.
In Sri Lanka today institutional care is the fate of many children who have been abandoned by their parents. According to UNICEF, out of over 21,000 children in orphanages in Sri Lanka, one or both parents of over 19,000 of them are still alive. Poverty is a root cause with families feeling they cannot afford to adequately provide for the child and give them the education and start in life they need and deserve.
Your role is to help encourage and care for these children, provide them with much needed confidence and to help maximise their potential. Volunteering with children is a highly rewarding experience and one that people from all backgrounds can get involved in The projects we work with provide a much needed safety net for these vulnerable children and the more help and encouragement they can get from volunteers, the better and brighter their future.
Presently, we support three orphanages. A girl’s orphanage funded by an international NGO. There are 18 girls at the home, aged between 5 to 14 years of age. Please note that only female volunteers are permitted to work at the girl’s orphanage. PMGY volunteers also support a government-funded orphanage, which cares for 80 boys and girls aged between 6 to 18 years of age. These are the main orphanages we support. However, we also place volunteers at a boy’s orphanage that is run by a Buddhist monk. There are 20 boys at the home aged from 5 to 18 years of age.
You should arrive into Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo (airport code CMB) on the selected Saturday start date. Programmes start on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
When you join PMGY we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.
While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.
Volunteers attend the orphanages in the afternoons from 15:00 to 18:00, as the children attend school in the morning. The first 1.5 hours are spent teaching the children English and undertaking educational activities. The second 1.5 hours is allocated for outdoor games and sports. The orphanages have a lot of outdoor space as part of the property. We follow the national syllabus so volunteers have a basis to formulate their lesson plans. Our local team will also explain how to lesson plan during the in-country orientation and show you what lessons/activities former volunteers have undertaken at your assigned project.
PMGY volunteers are based in Ambalangoda, which is a lively oceanside town situated on the South West Coast.
It is traditionally a fishing community but is famous for being the major production centre for demonic wooden masks. The traditional masks were originally designed to be worn by performers in kolam and other southern Sri Lankan dances, but are now mainly used as souvenirs. Many families hang a mask on their front door to ward off evil spirits.
The town has all the amenities you could require such as banks, hospitals and shops including a very popular ice cream shop. There is also a central bus and train station, which has good links to all the major destinations you are likely to go to. Plus, the beach is only a 5 minute tuk tuk ride from the Volunteer House.
Hikkaduwa has long been among the most popular of Sri Lanka’s beach spots. It has a lively and fun vibe – definitely a backpacker town. It is also your best bet for evening drinks and meals out during your time with us. Furthermore, the surfing in the Hikkaduwa region is quite well known and gets the best surf during its dry season, November to March.
Bentota is a good option for those looking for a relaxing weekend by the beach. It is one of the more established beach resorts on the west coast of Sri Lanka with a number of activities available to you. You can go on a river cruise, visit a turtle hatchery, check out Sri Lanka’s tallest Buddha statue or try out some of the many water sports available. There are also plenty of affordable guesthouses as well as beachside bars and restaurants to keep you entertained at night.
Galle is always a favourite of ours. The UNESCO World Heritage protected Galle Fort is an 18th-century Dutch walled town with chic shops, grand colonial houses and beautiful beaches. Unawatuna beach is the place to be for a lazy weekend by the sea. There are plenty of places to stay, of differing price and quality. Unawatuna has a good nightlife and a number of activities you can get up to – jet skiing, scuba diving, glass boat cruises and even surfing (although you may need to head a little further up the coast for this to the town of Habaraduwa or Ahangama).
Located in the centre of the island, surrounded by green hills and full of cultural significance – Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. The city hosts the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site. The picturesque central lake on the other side of town offers a more relaxed feel than the busy town centre.
Kandy has quite a lot to do. The cultural dance shows are worth seeing particularly combined with an evening view of the Temple of the Tooth Relic. There is also a huge botanic garden just 15 minutes out of town by bus.
YALA NATIONAL PARK
If you’re looking to witness some wildlife during your time in Sri Lanka then we recommend heading over to Yala National Park, on the southeast coast.
You will be met on-arrival by a member of the PMGY Sri Lanka team who will be wearing a PMGY T-shirt and holding a PMGY sign. We advise all volunteers to wear their PMGY t-shirt (if they’ve purchased one) as this helps us identify you at the airport.
Once you’ve met up with our local team you will be driven to our Volunteer House in Ambalangoda. The journey takes around 2.5 hours.
During your time with PMGY in Sri Lanka you will live in our Volunteer House/s. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. You’ll be living with other PMGY volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
The majority of our projects are NOT within walking distance of our Volunteer House. PMGY will take you to and from the project each day. This will either be by tuk tuk or minivan; in most cases it will be tuk tuk. The cost of this service is included in your Programme Fee.
The Volunteer House is located just outside of central Ambalangoda, in a peaceful part of town. Each room has bunk beds, up to 9 people per room (same-sex rooms only, unless a couple). Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bed linen. You will have cupboard space to store clothes and accessories; we encourage you to bring some small padlocks and/or store any valuables with Ashika in the safe located at his house.
Bathrooms are shared. Each bathroom has a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Sri Lanka is hot and humid all year round! The house has Wi-Fi (although intermittent) and a communal area for volunteers to hang out. There is also a kitchen with a refrigerator to store any items you need to keep chilled.
A member of our local team will also live at the house. This ensures you have round the clock support and security.
Please note that in the summer months we do use extra accommodation to cope with the extra number of volunteers when the main volunteer house reaches capacity. Such accommodation is again basic but comfortable with a western bathroom and located a short distance away from the main volunteer house. You will be sure to mix with volunteers as a whole at projects as well!
You will be served three meals per day at the Volunteer House. Most meals are traditional Sri Lankan dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Sri Lankan cuisine consists of a lot of rice and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available. A weekly menu has been introduced that blends Sri Lanka cuisine with Western cuisine so you will know in advance what is on the menu for that day! Below is an example of the meals we serve our volunteers:
Breakfast – Egg, toast, fruit with tea.
Lunch – Dhal and spinach curry, poppadums, paprika tofu and rice.
Dinner – Mixed vegetable noodles, tomato curry, omelette and poppadoms.
All meals are freshly prepared each day. If you fancy some western comforts, you will find plenty of restaurants serving western meals in the nearby town of Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is a 20 minute journey from Ambalangoda and the cost to get there by tuk tuk is around £3 per way. This is a popular place that volunteers go to in the evening, as it is a trendy backpackers town.
* Please inform us in your application if you have any dietary requirements. Couples, families and older volunteers will be accommodated to suit their needs.