Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Sri Lanka from $300

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PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the lovely coastal town of Ambalangoda in Sri Lanka. Volunteers get involved in a wide-range of project work including English teaching, orphanage care, medical electives, psychology & mental health, turtle and elephant conservation and building projects.

Our programs in Ambalangoda run throughout the year. We have two start dates every month so you decide when you go and how long you go for.

Questions & Answers


based on 92 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 92
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PMGY- honestly what an experience!!

I have just finished my programme with Sri Lanka and now am currently traveling the country.

The company- could not fault them and their support. Before I left I was very nervous- my first time travelling to a less developed country but Philip was my point of contact and he was so responsive to all my questions. The volunteer hand book we got had EVERYTHING you could need and answered all my questions. They even did a live webinar where the coordinator in Sri Lanka -Meena, spoke to us live online and answered any questions I had- it was nice to see a face who is out in Sri Lanka as a form of comfort for my arrival!!

I did the renovation programme and helped to paint the pre-school that PMGY are building. The pre-school is for the orphan's who are too young to go to school and for children of the local village who's parents need to go away to work during the day and need looking after. It was incredible to see how much impact I made during my time there.

All the local staff were super helpful- Emma and Ash were always around when I needed help and advised me on my travels that I am doing now.

I will definitely volunteer with PMGY again, I felt supported, I felt safe, I felt looked after! Also the accommodation and food is sooo nice, the sisters are really lovely, so thats a bonus!

Would advise anyone to volunteer with PMGY, the fee's are so transparent and the UK staff were all previous volunteers as well so they really knew how we were feeling and what we wanted!!

How can this program be improved?
No improvements but I would lovee some photos of the pre-school when it's completely finished!!
Yes, I recommend this program

Sri Lanka Real Experience

The Sri Lanka Real Experience was amazing! The two weeks travelling was tightly planned, it felt like we saw as much of Sri Lanka as possible in the time we had. We were constantly supervised by our tour guide which made the whole experience feel really safe - I came as a solo traveller so it was reassuring staying as a group the entire time. The hotels we stayed in during the two weeks had everything you could need, we were all warmly welcomed. We mainly ate in hotels during the two weeks, however, I didn't feel like I missed out on the Sri Lankan culture. Most of the food we ate were traditional Sri Lankan curries, I am coeliac and all the curries are naturally gluten free - so there's no issue eating in Sri Lanka! A particular highlight of the trip was going on a jeep safari through Parakrama Samudra. We were able to give presents to the children in the village, and saw so much nature as we were driving through. Our tour guide kept on stopping the jeep to explain what we could see, it was just amazing! We finished the journey off by watching the sun set over the river, we were incredibly lucky to see an elephant basking in the water. It was truly magical and my favourite memory of the trip!
The two weeks volunteering was equally rewarding - but in different ways. I volunteered with the elephants in the morning and did teaching in the afternoon. I absolutely loved the elephant experience, however, I think you get the most out of it by understanding that in Sri Lanka, elephants are working animals. Once you understand the cultural difference, and therefore appreciate that the elephants you look after are working elephants that are almost having 'time off', you understand the impact your care has. I loved it, and felt like cleaning them and feeding them made their situation a lot better.
Teaching was one of the challenging, yet one of the most satisfying experiences ever. I taught the lowest ability class which ranged from 4-9 year olds. Once we found ways in which we could communicate to them (through drawing pictures and asking the teacher to translate) it was so much easier! They are so willing to learn, I learnt so much about myself just from the happiness they get from living such simple lives. You really realise how little you need to be content, and how precious these children are.
I stayed in the River House. The views are amazing, you see such beautiful sunsets at night! Make sure you bring a blanket with you, the beds only have pillows so many of us had to go and buy scarfs etc. from the nearby town! The whole team are really friendly and willing to make your experience the best it can be. I had the most amazing time and would recommend it to anyone!

How can this program be improved?
Some more free time during the travelling experience.
Make it more clear on the checklist to bring a blanket for the beds.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Teaching Program

I was lucky enough to stumble across PMGY while searching the internet for what I wanted to do on my gap year. I spent 6 weeks in Sri lanka with Ashika and all the other coordinators and its fiar to say that it's been the best 6 weeks I could ever have imagined. The house (london house) is lovdely and all the sisters work hard to cook your meals and keep everything tidy for you. Abalangoda itself is an amazing little town where you get to experience the real culture of Sri Lanka, but tourist towns such as Hikkadua arent to far away either. The people you meet inside the house will become your life long friends in a matter of days and you so quickly learn to go out and adventure together on weekends.

If you're looking at doing the teaching program, get ready for a whole lot of love. These kids will enrich your life with love and gratitude like you never knew possible. Depending on how many volunteers on the project at the time, you may get a class to yourself or be teaching with someone. It only really takes a couple of days to get used to them and then you know exactly how to work with them. The house has many helpful books to help you plan lessons, and the coordinators are gret for advice too. The kids I worked with for 6 weeks changed my life in a way I never expected!!

Yes, I recommend this program

Pmgy summer

This summer I spent 5 weeks in India and 4 in Sri Lanka with Pmgy. In India I’ve participated on the orphanage program, but was also lucky enough to participate on disable children program in slums and special needs center. I absolutely loved programs there. Usually half of the time we studied with the kids (math, alphabet, vocabulary), the second part spent playing their favourite games and learning Indian dances.

Tuk Tuks what were arranged to bring us to the orphanage and back home again, so there was no problem with a transport. Also drivers were so lovely.
The food in the accommodation was basic - rice, vegetable curry, bread, some days samosas and another traditional things. The accommodation was basic as well, but exactly there we could feel the real voluntary work (but I wish they could change matresses🙏🏻). I’ve did 2 weekend trips, what were nicely organised as well. Very glad to know Vishy and Kranti. They helped a lot, even in some personal issues (like shopping😋). Also another coordinator Jon helped a lot in our work, cheered us up with country conditions! Definitely I would like to repeat my voluntary experience in India!

In Sri Lanka I was involved in the renovation program - we worked in the monastery (painted the walls). I loved this place and this program! Very quiet and peaceful.
The accommodation where I lived was called River House - a big and nice place near the water. The food was nice, we had the timetable with a menu for every day.
The transport also had a timetable, so we could go to the town easily. I had one weekend trip with Pmgy. It was organised very well. I would like to say thanks to coordinators there, because they helped me a lot in some personal and professional issues.

Thank you, Philip, for all this profesional organization.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Orphanage Project

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for two weeks during April 2017. It was an invaluable experience and one that I’d recommend to anyone. Ash and the PMGY team work so hard to ensure that everyone is safe, comfortable and is having the best possible experience. London House is fabulous! Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with an incredible culture which you can fully immerse yourself into by staying in Ambalangoda with Ash and his lovely family. Two weeks really wasn’t long enough, I wish I could’ve stayed longer and I was so sad to say goodbye. I would recommend staying at least 4-6 weeks, it won’t be regretted. I volunteered for the Orphanage Project where I practiced English with two girls aged 7 and 8, this one-to-one experience meant that you could build a bond with the children. They spoke very good English which is a direct result of the efforts put in by PMGY. I also bought a day pass for the elephants and turtle conservation, this is highly recommended! If you have no plans for the weekend, I went on the adventure, hill country and safari weekend trip. This was a brilliant way to travel to places which would otherwise be difficult to get to. The views were incredible when we were driving through the hill country and Yala Safari is so much fun! As a trainee Primary School teacher I would strongly recommend volunteering with PMGY, I gained so much more than teaching practice from this experience!

Thank you Ash, your family and PMGY for offering the experience of a life time! I wish I could’ve stayed longer! I will definitely return to Sri Lanka in the future and use PMGY again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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An amazing experience

I had an amazing experience in Sri Lanka, the pre-departure information was really useful, the handbook was really informative and helped me feel prepared for starting the volunteer programs and for what it would be like living in Sri Lanka. I worked at the elephant project for 2 weeks which was an incredible experience to be so up close to the elephants every day. On the project we would clean out the elephants areas, walk the elephants to the river, bathe the elephants and then give them some fruit. It could get a bit repetitive which is why I think 2 weeks was a good amount of time to spend on the project. They also take you on an elephant safari which is really exciting and a great way to break up the week. I also spent a week on the turtle project, It was a lot of cutting up fish and feeding them to the turtles but the baby turtles are adorable and it was amazing to get to release them into the sea. The weekend trips are worth going on, they can seem quite expensive but they are well organised and you get to see a lot more of Sri Lanka. I would definitely recommend volunteering with PMGY.

How can this program be improved?
The elephant program could be improved by changing up what the volunteers are doing each day and making them feel like they're having a bigger impact. I think its also important to be more clear about where the elephants have come from and their backgrounds.
Yes, I recommend this program
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An incredible 4 weeks!

I've had the most amazing 4 weeks in Sri Lanka with PMGY! I've met some incredible people, worked with some lovely kids and made the best memories! All the pre departure information is great, helping you feel more prepared for when you arrive. I volunteered on the teaching project, working with children aged 9-14 and I loved it! It was so much fun as the kids are so willing to learn and everyday is different! Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and there's so many places to explore at the weekends including beaches, national parks and temples.

A big thank you to Ash and all the coordinators in Sri Lanka. They really are fantastic and always willing to help you out with anything you need. They are also great at making you feel welcome from the moment you first arrive in the country. This was my second brilliant trip with PMGY, so also thank you to the UK team 😊 I can definitely recommend PMGY and Sri Lanka to anyone wanting to volunteer abroad and my biggest tip would be to just book it! I would love to do another trip in the future, to another PMGY destination and also back to Sri Lanka! I've never felt so at home in a country as I did in Sri Lanka and I miss it so much, even after being home for a month!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Mental Health and Psychology

I was initially sceptical about what the placement would be like with being introduced this year, but I found it a once in a lifetime experience. By producing a two-week timetable meant that no two days would be the same. Each placement varied, meaning that you could experience the cultural differences. The people I met there were incredible, both the other volunteers and the staff. I’d definitely want to visit the beautiful country again.

How can this program be improved?
The only improvement with this project would be organisation between both PMGY and the placements. At times we were unaware of what was happening, and sometimes had to do something/go somewhere different then planned.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Turtle project volunteering

Sri Lanka was the first stop on my gap year and I spent 3 weeks doing the turtle project. I met some truely amazing people while volunteering with PMGY, both staff and other volunteers. The experience at the turtle hatchery was eye opening and very humbling. The accommodation was basic but functional and the PMGY team is fantastic! I would fully recommend the experience to anyone! I had such an amazing time in Sri Lanka!

Yes, I recommend this program
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The real experience

Before coming to Sri Lanka I felt that the support given from the Pmgy team was great, anytime I had any questions they were answered very quickly. I also found the live videos very helpful.

From the moment I arrived in Sri Lanka I felt the team provided excellent service, jäger was waiting at the airport to pick us up and take us to the first place in the real experience. The team provided great support throughout my entire stay.

The accommodation throughout my first two weeks of the experience was great, I enjoyed it and would do it again. I then arrived at river house, which has beautiful scenery and common space for all volunteers.

I loved my projects, my first project was monk teaching, every morning for two weeks! I loved it, planning lessons and presenting them was amazing as you can see how much they appreciate it. In the afternoon I also done the teaching project at one of the summer camps, this was slightly more challenging as my group of children were pre-school and didn’t understand any English. This was very challenging and also very rewarding. I loved it! For my last two weeks I took part in the elephant project! It was amazing walking, cleaning and feeding these beautiful creatures. Such lovely animals, I’d definitely do it again.

Advice for potential volunteers
- bring bedding
- Teaching - be prepared to do lots of planning for lessons, also be prepared to see how people live and what they have compared to us.
- Elephants - be prepared for the elephants in chains as it’s the law. Also, the mahout will hit the elephant with its stick, they are trained through punishment not reward.
- bring a GoPro(I didn’t and I really felt I missed out on capturing a lot of memories)

Yes, I recommend this program
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I had no idea what to expect before I left, I hadn't done anything like this before and felt massively out of my comfort zone - but as soon as I arrived I felt relaxed and safe.
The accommodation was better than I expected - the food was good (obviously you get used to having the same sort of meals every day), I liked that you had the freedom to just go off and get a tuk tuk into Amba and have a wander and explore.
The induction day - I felt was really useful, the staff made me feel more comfortable and I knew from that day that they would help with anything (I ended up having to go to the doctors and they made sure that someone came with me, and they made sure I was okay after). It was really handy to be shown where to go and given a bit more of a background on Sri Lanka and the local area.
I did the orphanage project - and ended up also doing the Monk teaching in the morning too - something that I am so pleased I did! I expected to spend more time with the kids, but after joining the Monks too it was fine. You just have to make sure that you make the most of your free time! When I went to my first day of the projects I was terrified! I felt that the kids didn't listen and I wasn't going to get anywhere - but after a couple of days, you won't want to ever leave!
I would recommend getting day passes to some of the animal projects - I did the turtle one, and it was good to have a change and get to see what the other guys were doing!
I did the weekend trip to Kandy and climbed lions rock, I have heard that you could prob organise it yourself, but I felt a lot more safer going with the organised trip but I guess thats up to you!
I know I only did it for 2 weeks, and it was my first time, but I would recommend PMGY as they were so helpful before I left and during! The team over there were amazing and I am thinking of doing something next year with them too!
Thanks for the opportunity! :)

How can this program be improved?
With the orphanage project, maybe a better system in place to see what the kids have been learning - I found that the folders weren't up to date, and for the first few lessons, went over the same subjects.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sri Lanka Medical experience

I must say I love Sri Lanka as a country from the rich culture and the amazing people I stayed with. The whole experience is life changing and make you appreciate what we have as a family. I only stayed for 2 week but it was an action filled adventurous and mind changing experience. The co-ordinators were down to earth and co operative and were my family for the two weeks I stayed there. The accommodation wasn't the best but I did get a good sleep every night and felt safe in the hands of Ashika and the rest of the Sri Lanka team.

How can this program be improved?
I would say one thing that would need improvement would be advice on how much spending money to bring with us on the trip as well as a longer program for the medical experience.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Elephant project

I volunteered with the Elephants in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. It wasn’t what I was initially expecting, but the experience of it all was so much fun and I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave! The two different accomodations allowed you to experience the lifestyle of sri lakans, as well as have some of the home comforts too! Be prepared for the beds though, they aren’t the most comfortable...The people that you meet whilst volunteering makes the experience 100% better and they’re definitely people you will stay in contact with! Cannot wait to go travel again!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sri Lanka-Mental Health Programme

I volunteered in Sri Lanka for a month in July doing the mental health programme, as the programme was new it was still had a few issues however the staff tried very hard to resolve the issues, the programme allowed an insight into how mental health is dealt with in a developing country which was very interesting. I would recommend the mental health programme however I would also suggest that people are patient with the project and that sometimes things don't go as planned. During my time in the project I visited two different hospitals where I was able to observe patients appointments, I also visited an outpatient clinic which was very insightful and I was allowed to observe the daily routine of the patients and ask many questions about the how the clinic worked, I also volunteered in a special needs school, where my presence was very appreciated and the staff were helpful at explaining what they did to try and improve the childrens education. The local staff were all helpful and very welcoming, especially Manoj and Nalaka.

How can this program be improved?
The mental health programme just needs a bit more time to make concrete connections due to being a new project, however Sri Lanka is still a developing country so problems are bound to occur.
Yes, I recommend this program

The Real Experience

Words can't explain how much i enjoyed my time in Sri Lanka doing the Real Experience. Not only have I made a tonne of amazing memories, I have also made life long friends!

In regards to the pre-departure support I felt like I was very prepared. The team provide you with a very in-depth handbook with all the information you need to know about how to get the right visa, what to bring etc. You can also join their page on facebook where you can ask questions to other volunteers and find anyone who may be doing the same project as you so you can make a group chat and get to know them before you go.

The support in Sri Lanka was brilliant. Not once did i feel unsure or unsafe. During the two weeks of travelling we always had Nisha and the bus drivers around if you needed any help and there were plenty of staff available at the volunteer house! The accommodation for the two weeks of travelling were very lovely hotels and the majority of them had a pool. You were catered for every breakfast and dinner there with a buffet - usually consisting of toast & fruit for breakfast and rice & different types of curry for dinner. Lunch was usually at a buffet place somewhere else. We stayed at the River House for the volunteering which was very different to the hotels but that was expected. The dorms were simple with bunk beds and a shared bathroom. The river house itself was lovely, you could go sit by the river and watch the gorgeous sunsets or sunbathe by the pool (although watch out for the ants as they're practically everywhere)

I did the Turtle project in the morning and Teaching in the afternoons. Turtles were great fun although sometimes there would be too many people so there wouldn't be enough things for everyone to do. Releasing the baby turtles was definitely my favourite part, such a good experience! Teaching in the afternoon was great as the kids love learning English. It's definitely more hard work though as their lessons are a lot longer so trying to come up with new games to help them concentrate is quite difficult but there are plenty of folders at the volunteer house with lesson plans that previous volunteers have done so you can come up with games and topics from there.

Please note that within the travelling, there are restrictions on leaving the hotels. The coordinators live in Sri Lanka, they know whether if its safe or not to be leaving the hotels late at night so if they say no then please respect that. You will get the weekends and evenings to do what you please when you get to the volunteer house.

Overall, my time in Sri Lanka is unforgettable and would definitely recommend the Real Experience as you get to travel all of Sri Lanka's main tourist areas as well as volunteering.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About Plan My Gap Year

Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) is an award-winning international volunteer placement organisation based in the UK. We provide the worlds most affordable, need-driven and supportive short-term volunteer programmes across Africa, Asia & Latin America. Our...