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 29 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 16 - 29 of 29
Sierra
10/10

Volunteering overseas is...

Volunteering overseas is spending a day with someone new and feeling like you've known them your whole life by the end of it. It's crazy what you learn about someone while you both wander through a foreign city, navigating the uncharted waters together and swapping stories of what led you to this place in life. I was so blessed to live in a house with not only 1 other volunteer, but 40 from all over the world. When I left, I parted with dozens of new lifelong friends, visits to make, and couches to sleep on around the globe.

I came to Sri Lanka alone, on my first overseas trip! IVHQ was a great choice for a first time, anxious traveler and Sri Lanka was a great country to visit alone! The support I got prior to the trip and on the way over was great and I felt very prepared. The staff on site were helpful for the most part as well and I felt very safe the entire duration of the trip. By the time I had to leave, I even felt comfortable and confident enough to opt out of the taxi they’ll call for you, and find my way back on my own!
I had signed up to do the wild elephant conservation project but was pleasantly surprised when I got there to find out that you have the freedom to switch around and participate in other programs as well. I ended up skipping orientation week and spending some time at the disabled orphanage instead, before heading to the elephant project. Both projects were really incredible experiences!
The disabled orphanage really counts on its volunteers and so every day of work felt very important. The girls grabbed our hands and pulled us into hugs the minute we got there. The staff that run the place are so positive and kind. Working alongside them was very inspiring. We colored, sang, danced, helped at lunch time, did a bit of cleaning, and then a lot more playing!
The elephant conservation was beyond anything I’d imagined. The view from the house is like a photo out of a magazine and the house itself was a great environment with a really fun vibe to it. The work was different every day which was really cool and I learned a lot about elephants and wildlife conservation in general. We got to work on a few different projects in the jungle but also spent a lot of time working with the affected villagers as well, who are very appreciative of the help in minimizing human-elephant conflict. Each evening, the group heads out in the safari jeep to a clearing and you wait for the elephants to come! We saw a ton the week I was there!

The country is really beautiful between the tea fields, jungles, mountains, and beaches and there was plenty of down time for exploring. But to sum up, I really recommend volunteering with IVHQ in Sri Lanka. The work and the accommodation and the beauty of the place are all great, but what’s really irreplaceable is the community IVHQ makes you a part of. The world has become a lot bigger and a lot smaller at the same time. Bigger, because I've learned of about 100 more places that I'd like to go. And smaller, because it's all a lot more accessible now and I have friends in all kinds of places that can help me along the way. I can’t wait for the next trip!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sierra, Thanks for sharing! It is so true that you are able to get to know people on such a deeper level while living, exploring and volunteering together. Welcome to the IVHQ family – we love our volunteers! It sounds like you really made the most of your time in Sri Lanka by joining two very different and extremely worthwhile volunteer projects. We are pleased to hear that you were well supported during the planning and duration of your program and we agree that volunteering in Sri Lanka is a great choice for first time and solo travellers. Thanks for your recommendation and for being an awesome IVHQ volunteer!
Sarah – IVHQ Sri Lanka Program Manager

Yes, I recommend this program
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Maggi
10/10

A volunteer experience where you actually feel like you have done something!

I have done four volunteer experiences with IVHQ - Guatemala, Nepal, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka. Although each program had its own highlights, this program is the one where I felt like each day you showed up for work, you made a difference. The highlight of the experience was work at a orphanage for disabled people. I would not have considered this project before I arrived, but the volunteer coordinator said that if you believe in karma, this is karma. It was tough but wonderful!
The best part about the program was that you could change your project every week. This gave you the opportunity to see much of the country and try out many difference types of work. And the staff at Green Lion goes out of their way to make you feel safe and to ensure that the work you are doing is worthwhile.

How can this program be improved?
I am older than most of the volunteers so I was grateful that I could opt out of a volunteer house for a home stay.
The only complaint is that the volunteer house needs better wifi - definitely a first world problem.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Maggi, Thanks so much for joining four IVHQ programs and being an awesome volunteer! It is great to receive feedback on how the programs differ from each other and it is interesting to hear of how rewarding you found the volunteer work in Sri Lanka. We can’t wait to see where you will volunteer next!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shirley
8/10

Great experience

It was an eye opening experience, to say the least. It made me appreciate everything I have in life and realize what little is necessary in order to be happy. At my volunteer placement, a disabled home for girls and women, there were very little resources, but everyone seemed happy with what they've got. 2x a week we would have a dance hour, which would be the highlight of the day and everyone participated! It's a wonderful way to get out of your own comfort zone and it forces you to see the things that are hard to see at times. You can't turn a blind eye this time! However, I also think you need to have a certain maturity level to partake in this and to fully emerge yourself in the experience, which unfortunately many of the teenage volunteers were lacking. It was still an important chapter in my life and I'm planning to return next year, if possible. Everyone should be able to do at least one of those kind of volunteer journeys in their life and it is worth every minute of it.

How can this program be improved?
Better organization of the in-country staff! It was quite unorganized and confusing at times.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Shirley, Thank you for being a great volunteer! It is so important to be willing to totally immerse yourself in the experience, especially within the more challenging volunteer placements. We look forward to seeing you back in Sri Lanka.

Yes, I recommend this program
Yasmin
10/10

My experience in Sri Lanka

Being a first time solo traveller, I didn't know what to expect from my experience; in fact, I made a conscious effort to minimise any expectations in fear of disappointment. I can pleasantly say volunteering in Sri Lanka was one of the best experiences I've ever had!

After an anxious flight, I was picked up by a member of the Green Lion team and driven to the Green Lion volunteer house. I must say, I felt like an excited child during that 3 hour (ish) bus journey. Getting to know the other volunteers, looking out of the window to witness the hustle and bustle of Sri Lanka's streets. Everything I saw was new to me, and to be honest everyone was really excited to get to the volunteer house.

The volunteer house has a really fun atmosphere, everyone I met was travelling on their own, so everyone made friends really quickly. The orientation week is spent doing most of the touristic things people do in Kandy. Green Lion coordinators accompanied us on trips to visit spice garden, tea factory, Temple of Tooth etc. The orientation was a great way for us to get used to modes of transport and how to get around the city.

My work placement was called 'the disabled orphanage', it was a home for abandoned women and children with a range of physical and mental disabilities. Let me say, your first day will either terrify you or motivate you (or maybe both). The conditions are something that we all found disturbing. Vulnerable women and children are left to their own devices, one rocking in a corner, another who had wet themselves, others getting up to no good. There is very little supervision, as the few staff they have are busy carrying out tasks to keep the home running. It's a complete shock to the system.

Shortly after arriving, one of the nuns who works at the home lead a guided meditation session for the volunteers (there were volunteers from other organisations). She reminded us why we were here, how important our work here is, and gave us the motivation to go out there and interact with the women and children. We did the mediation every morning, and to be honest, it was something we all really looked forward to.

After the initial shock, we all began to fall in love with these women and children, and I really looked forward to going there every morning. You do morning classes with them (singing songs, reading, writing etc), and spend the rest of the afternoon helping out with feeding and interacting with all of the women and children who call you 'ANTI!!' (yes, being called aunty all day was pretty cute).

I won't try to explain the bonds I made, some things just can't be put into words. I just want to advise anyone thinking about doing this project to do it! Lets just say, I came home and began my career working with young people with disabilities. You don't get more life changing than that right?

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Yasmin, Thanks for your beautiful review. We think you are an amazing volunteer and it has been a pleasure to have you join us in Sri Lanka. It is really inspiring to hear about how initial shock turned into a deep appreciation and connection for the women and children at your placement. Guided meditation at these difficult placements is a really interesting idea and one we could take onboard elsewhere. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we wish you all the best with your new career.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shuna
10/10

It is really satisfied!

I was one of the international volunteer in Sri lanka on August this year. I was a little nervous before leaving because it was my first going aboard alone. I didn't know what is waiting for me, I didn't sure whether it is safe or not. But things went so well, someone was waiting for us when we arrived at the airport and took us to the apartment. I met many Chinese here and got acquaintance with them. We went to a charity to join the Disabled program. All the volunteers here were warm-hearted. During the program, I met my friend Shirley. She is really a nice girl who had already been there for four weeks. She showed me around and told me where to work, where to drink, where to eat. We took care of the disabled kid in the morning and fed them in the afternoon. After that we could go for lunch and have a rest. Doing the laundry in the afternoon was kind of tired but we enjoyed. After finished the voluntary work, we stepped around to see the beautiful views. The bright sunshine and the blue sky were really fancinating. I will never regret to have such a meaningful experience!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Shuna, We are so glad that you were able to overcome your initial nerves and had a meaningful experience in Sri Lanka. It is great that you made close friends with other warm-hearted volunteers on the program. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend this program
Paloma
10/10

RANDOM THOUGHT – VOLUNTEERING IN SRI LANKA (TEMPLE RENIOVATION) BY XINRUI ZHANG

In Srilanka, the most significant skill I learnt is making friends. From the first day I arrived at Colombo Tharaka(my coordinator in Srilanka), let me know how to help others. He let me practice, feeling the process of making friends. At that moment I suddenly felt, knowing a person originally is such easy. Listening to the passers-by share stories with each other along the way, whether still separate or become friends, such can be seemed as the real meaning of travel.

How can this program be improved?
We painted for the temple and clean the walls around temple. Joss house provied a plenty of tea time and lunch. The food is delectable and local. Coordinator is a friendly resresponsible guy, everyone from different countries worked together, konwing each others. But it's pity that tools used as cleaning or painting is rare, that means lower efficence.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Xinrui, Thanks so much for sharing! We are so glad that you made meaningful friendships while volunteering on the program in Sri Lanka. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Courtney
9/10

Experience Of A Lifetime

July 3rd, I wait patiently in the airport. Overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts. I'm surrounded by new people and a new environment. 21 and it's my first time traveling abroad alone and my first time overseas. 9,500 miles from hom and at first I was completely unsure of how to feel. This is where I'd spend the next four weeks living and volunteering with IVHQ. After a bus ride filled with friendly jet lagged strangers and anticipation, we arrive at the green-lion volunteer house. This very moment I couldn't tell if I had made the best or worst decision of my life; soon enough I'd realize it was the best. Volunteering abroad was the best decision I could have made for myself. What seemed to have been a lifetime in the beginning went by in the blink of an eye. Completely out of my comfort zone and home sick, I learned to adapt to my surroundings. I think we begin to grow when we are uncomfortable; being uncomfortable means learning new things. Learning new things about yourself and your surroundings. Volunteering abroad taught me more than any textbook or professor ever has. There are some lessons we must learn on our own; the ones they don't teach you in school. I learned to appreciate every little thing life has given me, I learned to embrace each moment as if it might be the last, I learned to laugh through the hard times, and most importantly I learned a lot about unconditional love. In those very moments, those moments of volunteering, it becomes overwhelming. Everyday is a lesson on its own, and at first it's a lot to take in. After you're done though, that's when it all sinks in. It sinks in how much of an impact you made on at least one persons life. It sinks in how much love you and the people you were surrounded by have to give. You realize you're far greater than you give yourself credit for. You become aware that there's a whole other world out there than what you're use to. You become stronger; mentally and emotionally. I developed friendships with people that will last a lifetime. I have memories that I'll never forget. I have stories that I'll never get tired of telling. I had an experience of a lifetime. Volunteering abroad was the hardest, yet most amazing experience of my life. IVHQ is the most affordable volunteer abroad program, but I promise you can't put a price tag on what you'll gain from volunteering abroad. I can't put a price tag on the laughter, tears, and memories I now share with the lovely people I met along my journey. I will never forget my time spent in Sri Lanka. Even though there were days I missed my family and my own bed, I wouldn't trade my experience for anything. I will forever cherish my time spent abroad and Sri Lanka and the people I met will always hold a special place in my heart. I encourage every person to challenge themselves to go and work in a foreign land. It won't be easy, it won't always be fun and exciting, but I can tell you one thing for sure it will always be worth it in the end.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Courtney, What an awesome review! Thanks so much for taking the time to write an in-depth review from your time on the program in Sri Lanka - we really appreciate it. We are so glad that the volunteer program, although challenging at times, was an experience of a lifetime. It sounds like you had a really special time and we are glad that we were able to help facilitate this for you. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we would love to have you back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Natalie
8/10

Volunteering with the turtles

I really enjoyed my time volunteering on the Turtle Conservation with Sri Lanka. I felt very safe during my entire stay which was very important as it was my first time travelling alone. Really enjoyed the project and felt like I was doing my bit helping the community and especially the turtles as they wouldn't be able to survive without the help of volunteers on the project and the few locals who work on the project (only 2/3 people).

If you want to read more in-depth about what we had to do on the project and what my experience was you can read about it here on my blog: https://roamingtheorbis.wordpress.com/

How can this program be improved?
Only downside I came across was the curfew that was inflicted on us. 8pm in Kandy and 9pm in Ambalangoda. Didn't have too much of a problem considering it was for our safety but would have been nice to have extended night or two for special occasions and to have knowledge of this before getting to the country.

And would like to have more communication with management in Ambalangoda as rarely saw the person in charge of us all (Only spoke to him once during a 2 week stay)
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Natalie, It's nice to hear from you! Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations. We are glad that you enjoyed your time volunteering in Sri Lanka with IVHQ. We hope to have you back on another program again soon.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Christina
9/10

Breaking the Barrier

I love kids. Always have and always will. I also love summer and the heat. I study a degree that will allow me to one day work with children and has provided me with numerous pracs in childcare and clinics. It was this passion and my love of endless summer that led me to choosing to volunteer at a childcare in Sri Lanka.

On the 18th of December I embarked on my 3 week journey with my brother whom was also going to volunteer. The first week was spent taking part in all the cultural and touristic sights of Sri Lanka with the other volunteers. This was by far one of the best weeks of my life. Due to the Christmas period there was only a total of 11 of us as opposed to their norm of 60. We went to Sigiriya (natural wonder of the world), climbed the Rose Quartz Mountain, went to numerous Hindu and Buddhist Temples and as well as this received a beautiful ayurvedic massage on Christmas Day. The coordinators were fantastic and they catered and listened to all our needs and wants and even cooked us a fantastic traditional western Christmas Dinner. Most of the week we of course lived off rice and curry. Can you believe after eating this for breakfast, lunch and dinner for three weeks straight I am craving it each day at home? All in all the first week was a massive hit, I made life long friends and truly experienced Sri Lankan custom. However, the holiday week was needing to finish as we were all here of course for volunteering!

I chose the new program of working in the Daycare in the heart of Kandy City. Due to the small number of us I was alone on this program. I was nervous of course, I did not know how to speak Sinhala and these were just children... what if they do not like me? Day one was a hard one for me emotionally and mentally. After just helping at a clean, planned-to-the-minute childcare back home I was shocked. I mean I knew what I would be coming into but seeing everything in real life really puts a new perspective into everything. That day I held back my tears and ended up forming a close bond with the children, we played chase, I fed them and I let them do my hair. Other than that there were no toys, books and the day was not planned out for them. The three teachers however, could not speak a word of english and I sensed they saw me as an outsider. They did not offer me the tea they all drank nor attempted to speak to me. I trudged on home on the local bus that afternoon with the coordinator, feeling sorry for myself.

That night the manager came to my friend who chose the babies orphanage and loudly exclaimed a large donation of toys and diapers had been given to them. My emotions from that day got the best of me and I blurted out to him that the children at the daycare would benefit just as much with these toys as the babies. He agreed and handed me some to take tomorrow.

So day two I excitedly caught the local bus with bags of toys under both arms. I do not think I will ever forget the joy on the children and the teachers faces when I walked in with two bags of colourful building blocks. In Australia the blocks are hardly ever touched at the childcare and if they are then only for around 10 minutes. We spent a good three hours playing and making castles with the blocks and the children even learnt some numbers and colours in english. However, the biggest change that day was the teachers attitude, they stopped seeing me as this outsider and shared their first cup of sugary tea with me!

The next few days were a blur as I grew so used to seeing the smiley children's faces each morning as I walked through the gate as well as the teachers. My days were spent cleaning, painting the chairs and tables, changing and feeding the children, playing with them and teaching them simple english words. On my last day the children and teachers all stood up and loud and proudly counted from 1-10 as well as naming the simple five colours. That was the most moving and touching moment in my entire 21 years of existence. As well as this I received at least 3 cups of tea a day as well as biscuits and marshmallows.

Would I recommend this program to others? Definitely. However, you need to be aware that english will hardly be spoken and this may cause some frustration with both the children and the teachers. Also, you are not just there to 'play' with the children but need to help out with all the duties including toileting.

How can this program be improved?
Making sure that the volunteers are aware of the minimal english that is spoken at this daycare and therefore learning a couple of handy words before the start date.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Christina, Thanks for taking the time to give a run down of your experience volunteering in Sri Lanka with IVHQ. The first day at a placement can be a shock for many of our volunteers and it is great to read you were able to move beyond this and do what you could to improve the children's learning experience and in doing so make your own experience more positive. Thanks for the recommendation and for being an IVHQer, we hope to see you on another program again in the future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Chandupa
10/10

Awesome Volunteer Trip

I spent 2 weeks in Kandy doing the Teaching project, in the preschool and the girls' orphanage, and I loved every minute I was there. In the mornings, I would work in the preschool. Here, I would help the teachers conduct their school activities, and made sure that the children were paying attention and taking part. They are only 3-4 years old and there's about 30 of them, so there are times when they become a little uncontrollable and you would have to help to make sure they behave. But they're very sweet and love asking questions. Then, in the afternoon, I would go to the girls' orphanage. Here, I worked on sewing projects with 4 of the girls. I don't know how to sew, but that wasn't really a problem, because the girls are very good at it. We made a lot of things together. The accommodation was way better than I was expecting. Every room had a bathroom (yes, there's hot water!), the house was neat, the food was excellent, and the staff and coordinators were always extremely helpful.

How can this program be improved?
The day I first arrived at the house, some other volunteers got into an incident after a night out. Because of this, the main coordinator moved up the curfew to 8PM to be safe. This caused some tensions for most of the volunteers, because we felt it was unfair. The curfew limited the time we had to go out. I think that when making decisions that affect everyone in the house, we all should've been allowed to help make the decision. I do know the curfew was lifted after I left.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Monique
10/10

Don't say good bye, say until next time!

My international volunteer experience was the trip of my life! I've travelled alot too! I felt like the staff were flexible and worked hard to make myself and the other volunteers happy, despite how extreme the requests. Two friends and myself decided to spend our first of two week volunteer experience doing interactive cultural activities in Kandy. This gave us a meaningful understanding of the culture and oppportunity to feel embedded within the community. Our second week was doing sea turtle conservation in Ambalangoda and this was a nice transition, ending on the beach. I felt like my work with the turtles really made a difference through feeding, cleaning, and caring for them. The staff continued to reiterate the importance of the fees paid to program sustaining the turtle farms and staff. What made the experience special was the relationships with the other volunteers and staff. I felt like a family member by the end. My favorite activity was releasing the baby turtles to their real home! Make sure to bring bug spray, pad locks for safes, and games to play in free time.

How can this program be improved?
While in Kandy, the communication with the program coordinator was minimal. We were told that he had an eye infection, but everything had to be approved through him so at times decisions were difficult. The staff still did a nice job of getting our questions answered.

The other thing that was a surprise was the sudden 8:00pm curfew that was imposed. Apparently this was due to the begavior of volunteer in a different volunteer house, but as full on adult in my 30s, I felt that this punitive for us all.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Monique, Thanks for sharing a little about your time in Sri Lanka. It sounds like you had a really positive experience. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kathy
10/10

Teaching Buddhist monks English

My experience teaching the Buddhist monks English was an unforgettable and inspiring experience. I taught them and I also learnt a lot from them. The young boys were so placid and sweet. One day they took us to the Temple and showed us how to meditate. It was so peaceful and I will always remember my time with the Monks. I also loved meeting other volunteers and made some lovely friends.

How can this program be improved?
There is nothing that I would change about the program.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Kathy, It’s great to hear that you had such an unforgettable time volunteering in Sri Lanka with IVHQ. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Letara
9/10

IVHQ Sri Lanka

The programs are very well organised, with staff always checking that things are running smoothly and ethically and the communication is great. The accommodation in Kandy and Ambalangoda are fantastic. There are a lot of programs to choose from and there was more being organised when I was there. Overall the volunteer organisations were fantastic. Would definitely go again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Marnie
9/10

Childcare Volunteering in Sri Lanka

As an 18 year old, I had no idea what to expect going to a third world country to volunteer. It was the most amazing experience, and the children show their appreciation for your help with the smiles on their faces. Language isn't a barrier. The most difficult experience in my opinion is getting used to the constant hustle and rush people always seem to be in, however after a few days you become accustomed to their ways and join in on the hustle and bustle yourself. I loved everything about working at the baby orphanage, playing with them, feeding them, changing their diapers, making them smile and laugh, drying their tears, but most of all just giving them the love they need. My journey is not one I will ever forget.

Yes, I recommend this program

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About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 40+ destinations around the world.

Over 80,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the...