Affordable Volunteer Programs in Sri Lanka from $285

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About

Volunteer with IVHQ in Sri Lanka! Highly affordable volunteer projects are available for anywhere from 1 week to 12 weeks. The Sri Lanka volunteer program is based in the sacred city of Kandy, with placements located in and around the city and further afield. The Rural Community Development project is based in both Hanguranketha in Nuwara Eliya and in the surrounding areas of Sigiriya, in the Central Matale District. The Wild Elephant Conservation project is based in the Wasgamuwa National Park. Volunteers can assist on a range of community-driven projects and will be accommodated in volunteer houses and homestays.

IVHQ Volunteer Programs available in Sri Lanka:

  • Teaching
  • Medical
  • Elderly Care
  • Special Needs
  • Childcare
  • Rural Community Development
  • Temple Renovation
  • Wild Elephant Conservation

Highlights

  • Programs available year-round, starting on the first and third Monday of every month
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Highly affordable program fees from $285 for 1 week Community-driven projects focused on supporting local needs and delivering sustainable positive impacts
  • Superior support services both pre-departure and while volunteering
  • Free online volunteer training for all IVHQ volunteers
  • Between 10 and 40 volunteers start in Sri Lanka each month
  • Weekends are free to explore Sri Lanka with fellow volunteers - such as Colombo, Galle or Mirissa.

Questions & Answers

Hi, I stayed in a volunteer house during my 3 week stay in Sri Lanka. It was the best experience as you make new friends whereby you go out on the weekends, play board games and go on walks after work each day. It's truly amazing meeting and being together with so many people from different countries. The girls who did home stay tended to come to the volunteer house after volunteer work as they...

Reviews

94%
based on 31 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 31
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Emma
8/10

Would recommend

I think the program was good value for money, the accommodation was basic but clean and there were fans in all the rooms. The food was good and the cooks were always very keen to hear feedback to cater specifically to us. The co-ordinators were lovely and very accommodating, and it was very easy to swap between programs- which isn't something I've found with other programs I've been on. I volunteered on the temple renovation project and enjoyed getting to see some of the local temples and preschools. Everywhere we went the local people were very friendly and fed us lots! Kandy is a really nice town too- very busy and full of nice cafes. The orientation week was also a nice bonus and gave us an insight into the local area/country, it also helped us all get to know one another and find our way around. I would definitely recommend IVHQ

How can this program be improved?
Wifi at the accommodation would be a nice, i think that's all though!
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Emma, thanks for taking the time to write a review about your time on the program! We would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future! Samantha - IVHQ Program Manager.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Siaw Fong
9/10

2-week volunteer in Sri Lanka

I signed up for a 2-week project with IVHQ doing rural community development work in Sri Lanka.

It was truly a rewarding experience where I got to:
1) learn about the local culture (via the comprehensive orientation week) and
2) give back to the local community (via volunteering at the local pre-school)

From the get go, the volunteers were treated very well. Transportation was arranged accordingly to get me to Kandy from Colombo Airport. Accommodation and meals were provided and a Project Liaison Officer was assigned to each volunteer to ensure our utmost safety.

Depending on the duration of your volunteer, you may find yourself wanting to achieve more but unable to due to limited time. And this may cause you to feel dissatisfied. My urge to volunteers is to ensure you go through the programme guide thoroughly and to take the recommended online courses as it will help you better manage your expectations to avoid any dissatisfaction or disappointments.

Lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to IVHQ, Green Lion & the people of Sri Lanka for making my experience such a rewarding one!

How can this program be improved?
One suggestion for improvement that I do have for IVHQ's partner Green Lion in Sri Lanka is to offer transportation options. I noticed that the long travelling time via public buses (cheaper option) may not be conducive to older volunteers (one of the volunteers in my group was in her 70s) and it can be rather exhausting spending approx. 3 hrs per day on travelling. There should be an option for volunteer to select direct transport (instead of via multiple buses) to travel from Point A to Point B with additional costs of transport choices incorporated. Some volunteers would pay for the additional costs for the convenience rather than spend endless hours travelling. As long as the transport costs & charges are made transparent, volunteers should be given that opportunity to decide on their own behalf how much costs they are willing to bear.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thank you for your review, sounds like you had a great time in Sri Lanka! Thank you for your thoughts about where the program can be improved, we are constantly working with our local team to improve the program and volunteer feedback is very valuable. Your advice will also be very valuable for other volunteers and we would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future! Samantha - IVHQ Program Manager.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rahima
10/10

Great

I loved it so much. If you want some friends for life and make a difference, go here. I ended up getting a few new best friends (volunteers ánd coordinators) while doing my projects. They gave the option to do more then one project once you arrive so I did the thing I wanted to do anyway, which was temple renovation, and taught some village kids some english. The teaching was quite a challenge since you have to prepare your own lessons, but it was fun as well.

How can this program be improved?
Shorter orientation week
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Rahima, it is awesome to hear that you had a great time on the project and were well looked after by the local team. Thanks for being a great volunteer! Samantha - IVHQ Program Manager.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Imaad
9/10

Beautiful Experience

Through volunteering with IVHQ, I was able to understand Sri Lanka as a country, rather than just a tourist attraction. From playing volleyball with locals, to leading a class of English to young monks; these were experiences I would never have come across as a traditional tourist. Travelling in general helps a person change their outlook on life but volunteering while travelling does so much more. More than just gaining new experiences for yourself, the impact you have on the locals through sharing knowledge and goodwill really does come through and the love they give back is what volunteering is all about. Beyond the project itself, the friendly and like-minded volunteers I came across made the whole experience worthwhile. After arriving in Sri Lanka on my own, I left having made friends with some of the nicest people around from all over the world. It’s amazing how far a little kindness and love can go, because after all everyone smiles in the same language :)

How can this program be improved?
Volunteering hours could be extended - this is because we often ended the day with the sun still out and it would be nice to stay busy with something else after our project
Yes, I recommend this program
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MENGFEI
10/10

feedback

The volunteer experience in Sir Lanka is really a precious treasure in life. The program i attend is called "Teaching", including different forms. What I have tried is Special Needs, we came to a place which is similar to church, managed by nun. we offered the help to these disabled children and adults, including teaching and nursing. every morning, all volunteers will stay together to pray, we learned the sentences from Bible with the background of soft music, it is really amazing. We have learned a lot, such as the right attitude towards our own life and these people who in trouble. I have attended the 'hope' and 'peace' group and I really gain a lot of meaningful things. These people rely on me and I am so pleasured to be with them. Also, all volunteers here are good, we worked like a group. help each other. i am so appreciate to have a such a wonderful volunteer opportunity.

How can this program be improved?
it is very nice
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for sharing your experience and favorite moments on the program, it sounds like you had an incredible time in Sri Lanka! We would love to have you back in the future to volunteer with IVHQ! Samantha - IVHQ Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
Victoria
10/10

Rural Community Development

I had absolutely no idea what to expect as I was stepping off the airplane Sri Lanka. I had done a lot of research as it was my first time traveling alone and I am really happy that I choose to go via IVHQ. From the airport pickup to my taxi ride back to the airport three weeks later I feel like I was constantly supported by the local staff. Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful, always willing to answer any questions I had.

There were a number of projects available in Sri Lanka, but I chose to spend my three weeks in Dambulla and loved every second. Despite feeling very nervous at first, the project coordinators helped me feel very comfortable and at home. The accommodation was very clean, the food was delicious, and the coordinators were some of the nicest people I’ve met. Auntie (who prepared our food) was also very sweet, she was always willing to teach us how to cook and plant. We were also able to partake in yoga lessons every morning.

Volunteering in the temple and in the pre-school was a very rewarding and I feel like I learned a lot. I was able to paint a classroom and parts of a temple, clean, teach some English, and lay bricks. I feel like I learned a lot about the role of religion in daily life and about different cultural traditions. Living with locals allowed me to try very authentic food and being in a non-touristy area allowed me to really immerse in local culture. IVHQ offers a great project for a very affordable price. It was a very humbling experience. I made very meaningful connections with both the locals and other volunteers and was able to challenge myself both physically and mentally in ways that I had never expected.

How can this program be improved?
I think volunteers need to be given more information about the reasons behind their work so they understand what they are doing and why it is meaningful. I wish more specifics were given about the projects before arriving to the location so I could have brought donations or supplies that would have been useful to the particular project I was a part of.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for your review Victoria! It was awesome to read about your incredible experience and it sounds like you really made the most of your time in Sri Lanka immersing yourself into the culture. Your work on the Rural Community Development was invaluable and we would love to have you volunteer with us again! ^Samantha - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Moto
9/10

Place you will miss

Through IVHQ I was able to meet awesome volunteers from all over the world. Great support from IVHQ staffs since the enrollment and during the project period. IVHQ is a big volunteer organiztion so it is well organized and many interesting projects are available. I am intested in visiting another destination through IVHQ.

The city Kandy was cool place to stay where authentic Sri Lankan lifestyle and strong buddism culture remains. I did the teaching for pre school kids and monks. There were texts available but every lesson kids were different in terms of age and English level so it was challenging to decide what to teach while the class in going on. But I really enjoyed it and it was what I was expecting!!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for sharing your experience of the program! It was great to read all about your time in Sri Lanka, sounds like you had an amazing experience and I'm glad to hear that you felt supported by the team! Your insight about your time on the project is very valuable for future IVHQ volunteers. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ and we would love to have you join us again! ^Samantha - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Elaine
9/10

Volunteer in Sri Lanka

I recently got back from a volunteer trip to Sri Lanka through IVHQ. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. As an older (than the average volunteer) person I was slightly anxious about safety, but I admit that from the moment I was met at the airport I felt well supported. The program was extensive and I was able to mix and match my projects. The people were great and I had an amazing experience while feeling that I had contributed to helping some vulnerable children.

How can this program be improved?
perhaps there could be more information about the projects before deciding which one is right for you.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ! That is great to hear that you felt well looked after and supported while on the program, volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ. Your time on the Teaching project was invaluable and we would love to have you volunteer with us again! ^Samantha - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
Ryan
10/10

Phenomenal Sri Lanka Trip

My time in Sri Lanka was second to none! Getting to help conserve wild elephants while seeing many other species of mammals, birds, and reptiles was incredible! The staff become good friends if you stay long enough and the food alone is worth staying for! Some of the best I’ve ever eaten! Weekend trips to Trincomalee and Dambulla are a must! I highly recommend this program to anyone who loves conservation or nature!

How can this program be improved?
The orientation week was a bit boring. Too many temples and I hated seeing elephants in chains.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thank you for your review, sounds like you had an incredible experience in Sri Lanka! Thanks for your thoughts about where the program can be improved, we are constantly working with our local team to improve the experience for volunteers and have passed this feedback on. We completely understand your comment about elephants and know that this can be distressing. Please know this is not something IVHQ supports. I am glad to hear that you were well looked after by the team, we would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again! ^Samantha - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Paul
10/10

IVHQ - Sri Lanka

IVHQ facilitated the single one of the most exciting and educational trips I have ever been on. They took care of me from the time I landed in Colombo Airport until it was time for me to leave. I recommend using IVHQ if you are looking to travel to Sri Lanka. I especially recommend staying in Ambalangoda beacuse the Green Lion workers there are so sweet and caring! IVHQ conects you with top-notch in-country organizations that will be sure to take care of you while you are abroad.

How can this program be improved?
I would allow for more exploration and less 'temple tours' during orientation week
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for your review, it sounds like you had an incredible experience in Sri Lanka and I am glad to hear that the local team took great care of you! We would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again. ^Samantha - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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NAN
7/10

I will truly never forget the unique and meaningful memories and stories in Sri Lanka

Before left for Sri Lanka starting my volunteer programs "childcare in preschool in the morning and girls home in the afternoon", I really harboured fear, helplessness, hesitage and even an assumption about whether I would be threaten to be raped or stolen my belongings in volunteer home because IVHQ is totally new for me and no one around me has shared experiences as an international volunteer in a completely unfamiliar country. But the reality is I really enjoyed my one week voluneteer in Sri Lanka and if possible I might come back again to stay longer with those girls in girls home and friendship was there with more understanding and trust established already in my short stay. So here is safe, valuable and impressive.
In the midnight of Oct 1st in Colombo airport, IVHQ staff picked me up and arranged a nearest hotel to give me a nice rest. On the next day together with other new members were transfered to Kandy where all volunteers live in a volunteer home and work on our programs. Living condition and food are so nice and I can feel stay at home.
After Monday oritation, I started my responsibility and especially appreciated my IVHQ coordinator Ms Samadi who always accompanied with me like a bodyguard to assure my safety and a private translator during my transportation and work so I have more chance to be familiar with local culture and better devoted myself to give love and care to those preshcool children and young girls with efficient communications. So if you have questions, just ask.
Almost every evening, volunteers would share each one's feeling and what they saw and heard, in order to protect ourselves and meanwhie better regulate volunteers' perspective and teaching plan to improve our work and help those Sri Lankan. PS it is also a good opportunity to make new friends and enjoyed various culture here with more and more commnication.
Personally setting up trust with strangers in the beginning is challenging, but keep smiling and patience, give love and care from heart, buy some candy and colorful pencils and drawing paper for them, they really want to come to me and started to play and comminicate with me. Once they accepts me, it is helpful to make them feel cared and loved by outside and give them confidence to face bright reality and prospective future. Everyone has past, good or bad, what matters is to cherish current days and be happy every day from now on. Those are very smart and hard working, they can feel loved and give love in return. Please hug them, talk to them, buy candy and colorful drawings for them, sing and paly with them, but dont speak too much English in private(most girls can only speak a little English) and always let coordinators translate what you talk about to them in public, to make them feel comfortable and reduce their negative curiosity because most of them are sesitive about their personal histories, so please dont ask them their personal stories even though trust is there. To satisfy our own curiosity is not the intention to be a volunteer, but rather bring happniess and new knowledge and share with them, pass love and care to them is what we take care and give. So in return I also feel satisfied and happy to know them when they started to call me sister and defined me as their one friend from China and believe they would have a wonderful future with smile all the time.
A really amazingly unforgettable and touching heard experience in my life. Thank you, everyone for making me receive a nice memory and unique personal experience in Sri Lanka.
I like Sri Lankan, who are truly pure and friendly.
Best regards.

How can this program be improved?
please try to think about how to help volunteers play their roles as soon as possible in advance of starting their programs.
In the morning oritation, do you think it is possible to tell some meaningful and valuable stories/experiences from "successufl volunteers" and "failed volunteers" and improve new volunteer work to make it more sense specially for those who just stay in a program for a week only.
Example, prepare some candy or colorful drawings for children and girls..
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Nan Li, thanks for sharing this excellent review and I am sure future volunteers will find this very useful! It is great to hear you were able to bring happiness and new knowledge to children you volunteered with, and that the local team were always assuring your safety. Thanks again for this review and will look forward to you returning to volunteer in IVHQ Sri Lanka.
Sean - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Paula
9/10

Great people, safe experience, and incredible culture

I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer in Sri Lanka with IVHQ. From the moment I began my application, I felt incredibly supported by the IVHQ staff and knew I would be in good hands once arriving in a foreign country. As a solo volunteer traveling from the U.S., I was nervous and had many questions before the trip. The IVHQ staff were more than helpful in answering my questions and easing my worries. The program itself was wonderful. I stayed in a home with a lovely Sri Lankan family and 6 other volunteers. The home was basic but comfortable and clean. I felt as I was getting the authentic experience, which is exactly what I wanted. My program was teaching English in a local pre-school. This experience was also positive, and I really enjoyed the children and the teachers of the school. It was not always easy as the language barrier did make it difficult to communicate with the kids, but overall I felt like I was applying my teaching skills in a meaningful way. I still keep in touch with the teachers, the other volunteers, and the family I lived with. Sri Lanka will always have a special place in my heart, and I look back on this experience fondly. I highly recommend IVHQ for those considering volunteer projects abroad.

How can this program be improved?
I don't have much to recommend in terms of improving the program. Overall I thought the entire experience was positive for me.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Paula, What a great review! Thank you for your kind words – it has been our pleasure to help you prepare for your trip to Sri Lanka and we are so glad that you had a wonderful time. Thanks for recommending IVHQ and we would love to welcome you onto another program in the future!
Sean – IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
Chefchaouen
Lauren
10/10

A Journey of Self-Discovery

I spent 4 weeks over in Sri Lanka this Summer and had the time of my life volunteering on various programs and exploring what this beautiful country has to offer - it's left me with a longing urge and passion to go back!

I initially went out there to do 4 weeks of Temple Renovation but during orientation week you are informed of the expansive list of project options available, allowing you to change on a weekly basis if you wish to do so. I took full advantage of this and mixed up my upcoming weeks so that I could experience a variety of different programs, something which I am thrilled to have done!

I undertook the:
- Elephant Experience = 100% recommend! This program allows you to get up close and personal with a gorgeous elephant who needs your help both feeding and washing them, and of course taking part in some cute selfies as well! I found this experience very rewarding as you can evidently see that your fee money is going towards a good cause, caring for these lovely animals who have been mistreated in the past. A huge bonus in regards to choosing this project as well is that you get to stay with the local family who run this project. Living in their home was an extremely humbling experience and they made us feel right at home within an hour of arriving there. The food is absolutely incredible and it is a fantastic bonding experience for yourself and the group of people you are volunteering there with.
- Trekking Week = I chose to break up my volunteering weeks with the chance to personally explore more of the country, thanks to this program that the co-ordinators arrange for you in order to enhance your experience. These 5 days of trekking gave me such a unique insight into more of Sri Lanka and gave us the opportunity to discover parts of the country that we wouldn't have found on our own.
- Temple Renovation = I really enjoyed my week spent at this project as you are able to see how your help is making a difference due to the progress that you and the other volunteers can make in a matter of days to these beautiful temples! What makes this program so special is that in between renovating and painting the temple, you get to have tea and lunch breaks with the chief Monk which is an experience in itself! They are always providing positive feedback and he also gifted me with a pen and a handmade blessing bracelet on my departure which I found really touching! This is a great program if you are willing and active.

In terms of the in-country staff I could not fault them - they make you feel comfortable and aware of everything from the get go which helps to put you at ease and enjoy your experience to the fullest! This journey has allowed me to learn so many new things about myself by pushing my boundaries and has also led me to have made some friends for life! The environment you are in gives you no choice but to connect and bond with your fellow volunteers in a whole other way to what you do at home - these friendships are unique and ones that you will cherish forever.

I recommend doing the week-long orientation as this is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow volunteers and also explore the city of Kandy that you shall be living in - all included in the price as well!

Places you must visit when in Sri Lanka are: Ella, Trincomalee, Sigiriya Rock, Pidurangala Rock, Dambulla, Loolecondera Tea Plantations, Ambuluwawa & Adam's Peak.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Lauren, Thanks for your awesome review. We are stoked to hear that you the time of your life volunteering and exploring in Sri Lanka and would love to have you back one day!
Sean - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manger

Yes, I recommend this program
Sandy
9/10

Gratification

I am 57 and spent 5 weeks volunteering on the outskirts of Kandy,Sri Lanka. I took part in 2 projects. The first in the Hill Country where I was lucky enough to spend a week in a pre- school. The school was small and had a slide and swings in the yard and I initially thought, " Oh they don't seem too badly off" but after the first day I reallized the classroom was very over crowded, they had no electricity to the building and the teacher had to shine a torch so the children could see the posters on the walls that had stories, numbers and letters on them.
The teacher was wonderful and had been there quite a long time.
She had very limited resources to use and was very grateful for the books, crayons and paper we brought in for them to use.
The children came to school so tidily dressed each day that I also assumed they didn't seem too badly off but on exploring the outskirts of town we saw some of the families were still having to draw water from a well and the children walked several kilometres to reach school.
I realised I should not have made such quick assumptions as these were proud people making the best from the resources they were given and they were doing a wonderful job.
They were so grateful for the time we gave them which was reward in itself.
I would definitely recommend any volunteering experience as my next 4 weeks were spent in the children's home with children's from 3 days old to 4 years old who had no parents other than the kind women who worked on very limited funding to care for them. I worked hard whilst there to try and help as much as possible and make the smallest of difference in both staff and children's lives and its reward was gratitude both from the staff and the children. I was so very happy to have helped, as small as my contribution was.
I will say go, be proactive and try and make positive change as they do not know what you can do for them unless you offer.
You will also have a wonderful cultural experience and form new friendships with the other volunteers.

How can this program be improved?
The organisation could be more proactive in letting the volunteers know on arrival that they are always looking for new ideas, help and suggests to improve upon projects the volunteers may be working on.
The volunteers are predominantly well educated university graduates or students who could assist the organization more, if allowed.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sandy, Thanks so much for sharing a review of your time on the program in Sri Lanka! It was a pleasure to have you volunteer with us and we are really appreciative of the commitment and initiative you showed at your placements. Thanks for your great advice and we would love to have you join us again in the future.
Sean - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Renee
10/10

A month in Sri Lanka

I recently spent a month in Sri Lanka, 3 of these weeks ad part of the green lion sri lanka program and the last 2 volunteering in Hanguranketa (hill country about an hour from kandy). The 2 weeks that i spent here were an absolute blast! My mornings were filled with preschool teaching and afternoons filled with temple renovations - now this wasnt something i'd previously sgnwd myself up for but im so glad i got to do it because it was so much fun, even though it was sometimes hard work and we got dirty i dont regret it one single bit and i would recommend it to anyone!! The coordinators here were AMAZING! Along with our host at the vilunteer house, i felt like i was at home and now have some beautiful new sri lankan friends who made saying goodbye harder. Honestly i cant explain briefly my time but if you considering a trip and youre not sure, book it! You wont regret it!! Aside from the wonderful weeks volunteering there are some wonders that you can reach by local bus which is part of the adventure itself - Sigiriya Rock, Ella, Arugam Bay, the list goes on.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Renee, Thanks for sharing this great review! We are so glad that you had amazing support from our local coordinators and filled your mornings and afternoons with volunteer work and travel - it sounds like you really made the most of your every moment in Sri Lanka. Thanks for recommending IVHQ and for being a great volunteer!
Sean - IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program

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