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

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About

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

Reviews

94%
based on 91 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.6
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 31 - 45 of 91
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martha
10/10

Volunteer and Adventure

PMGY's 'Volunteer and Adventure' trip was AMAZING!

The pre-departure support was very good and responses were always fast and helpful.

The first week of the programme was very well structured and we were always kept busy. It was great to be able to try out all of the different projects. There was really fun evening entertainment which was a great way to experience Sri Lankan culture (dancing on the roof was a particular highlight!) The volunteer accommodation was also so nice and we were very well fed and looked after by the sisters.

The second week was all very well organised and all the accommodation was great. Again, we were very busy but it was great to see so many different aspects of Sri Lanka.

All of the in country coordinators were absolutely amazing and so so friendly and helpful. Anthony and Steph were available 24/7, always smiling and are genuinely such amazing people. Steph had done the trip twice before and had lots of great info about all the places we visited which was nice. Our drivers, Jaga and Babbi, were amazing as well.

Everything about this trip was perfect. Seeing as it was only two weeks it was more an opportunity for us to get a feel for what the volunteer projects that PMGY run are like, instead of actually creating lasting change and so that is why the impact rating is slightly lower (however im sure in the long term we have all been inspired to go on and volunteer so it definitely had an impact in that sense!)

How can this program be improved?
Only improvement that could have been made would have been to have had something to do on the first Saturday when we all arrived to help us get to know each other but I can see why that would be difficult with different arrival times and it wasn't a huge problem.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lewis
10/10

Orphanage project - July 2017

This is my second adventure with PMGY and I can honestly say I've had another fantastic summer, and would definitely travel again with PMGY!
In the weeks leading up to my departure everything I needed to know was covered in the volunteer handbook. This included information about the project, the accommodation, the weekend trips and Sri Lanka itself.
Alongside this, the U.K. Office were also very helpful with answering further questions and giving advice on the journey. Extra bookings and payments that needed to be made were easy (but safe) to make via the links sent by email.
When embarking on the journey itself, after a long and tiring flight, I was greeted with friendly faces from which we started our drive to the accommodation which was The River house.
The River house is surrounded by beautiful views and interesting wildlife such as crocs, monkeys and Komodo dragons. It has a large common which is a great place to play games and watch movies on an evening, along with relaxing after a long day at project. Generally its full of laughter and good vibes created both by the volunteers and the local staff. It also includes a pool, western toilets, showers and wifi which is bought for a few hundred rupees (few pounds). All the coordinators are always extremely helpful and a lot of fun to have around which makes the experience a lot better.
The project I was involved in was the government orphanage which ran in the afternoon; a normal day at the orphanage would include about an hour of basic teaching followed by playing games outside, including sports and singing songs etc. The children are lovely to teach and every day you'll return to the house feeling like you've accomplished something- most days you'll return having learnt something from them too!!
There are also opportunities to do a day at the turtle or elephant conservation project if they have extra passes, however these are first come first serve so you have to be quick about it.
Although there's plenty of time to independently travel, I would 100% recommend the weekend trips. They're honestly a great way to make lasting memories, new friends and are a good value for money.
I felt a bit aprehensive about the Dubai stopover as its more independent, however Teena, our main point of contact over there couldn't have been more helpful and welcoming, any questions we had were answered.
PMGY are a great company to travel with, what makes it great is the staff and co-ordinators who are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure they have the best time possible.
Also big shout out to Josh and Colby who were excellent in helping me with my flight problem, and putting a few minds to ease. ;)
General tips:
-Plenty of sun cream and mosquito repellent.
- Make sure you have clothes to cover shoulders, knees and in my case tattoos.
-Baby wipes are your friend
Orphanage tips:
- the children are very tactile, and like to be involved in games and songs.
-Preparation is key; pens, Paper, worksheets.
-Ideally cover tattoos or hide necklaces, rings etc.
Although they're harmless the kids will get distracted but these things.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful place full of beautiful people filled with amazing experiences and opportunities. Once again thank you PMGY!

Yes, I recommend this program
Katy
10/10

Medical Experience - Summer 2017

PMGY Sri Lanka is a fantastic organisation and I would recommend it to anyone interested in volunteering abroad.
Prior to departure the staff at the UK office (Josh, Colby and Phillip) were really helpful in answering any questions that I had and are easily contactable via email, phone or on the Facebook page. They are all very friendly in their replies, even if the answer has already been covered in the handbook that you receive when booking definitely worth a read to find out about the projects and especially with regard to sorting your visa).
I had also read reviews and seen feedback posts on Facebook from previous volunteers that were extremely positive. This made me really excited for my upcoming trip but also wonder if it could actually be as good as people were making out. I was wrong to question it because it was amazing!
Despite arriving at the volunteer house at around 2am due to our late evening airport transfer, we were greeted with a smile and a homemade flower garland. The following day was orientation - a proper welcome to PMGY, overview of the projects and opportunity know one another. We were also taken to a moonstone mine, beautiful Buddhist temple and the town centre for money exchange/ATM and the supermarket.
I spent some of the time with PMGY at London House which can accommodate around 40 volunteer in single sex dorms and the second half of the stay at River House, the company's summer facility for when there are more volunteers. Both properties have similar bedrooms, shared bathrooms and some communal space. Meals are organised on a two weekly menu, mostly traditional Sri Lankan food (but probably less spicy!) with a few westernised dishes. I thought it was all delicious and there was always plenty to go round! The location is great and staff are always happy to suggest places to visit outside of project time such as the beach, tsunami museum and local towns. The atmosphere in the house was great, with a range of different ages, nationalities and project interests. Some volunteers arrive together, as myself and my friend from university did, but most arrive alone and leave with a whole new group of friends!
In terms of the project itself, I was doing the medical experience in the government hospital. As the handbook states, this was largely observational. I would recommend spreading your time between a variety of departments, unless you have a very specific interest, to gain the widest experience possible. The opportunity to do a turtle or elephant day pass is amazing too (although not guaranteed).
The only PMGY organised trip that I went on was the Maldives experience. It was an incredible weekend in a lovely hotel on the island of Maafushi. PMGY had done a great job of arranging flights, boat transfers and accommodation for the 15 of us. But we were left with the freedom to spend our time however we wanted once there. Recommended spending money of £200 was plenty, including snorkelling trip, tubing, day at a five star resort (amazing!) and food.
The other weekend trips also sounded fab and are good value for money. Both trips are a great way to see some beautiful parts of the country and pack in a lot more activities/sights than you could in a weekend of independent travel. The reason that I didn't sign up for these is that my friend and I covered most of the things they included in the extra week we had booked to travel Sri Lanka. Either way, I would recommend seeing country however you decide because it is beautiful, varied and unspoiled.
Finally, what I believe really makes PMGY fantastic are the people: the coordinators and local staff who go above and beyond their roles to make sure everyone is having the best time they can and the other volunteers who share amazing experiences and become great friends together.
To visit this country, have so many opportunities and experiences within and outside the project, and meet such beautiful people was an honour. Enjoy it!

Top tips:
General
- Bring some outfits that cover your shoulders and knees. The local area is very Buddhist so it isn't appropriate to be exposed, nor on public buses.
- You might want to pack/buy a sheet or sleeping bag liner as the beds have a bottom sheet but no cover (or you could sleep with the sheet over you, straight onto the mattress but I don't know how often they're washed).
- Buy a Fantastick ice cream. Just do it. You won't regret it.

Medical
- Ask questions! Some doctors and nurses speak better English than others and some are just generally friendlier but most will get you more involved if you seem keen.
- Experience a variety of departments if you can.
- Probably best to get a Sri Lankan sim card so that you can organise earlier or later transport back to the house depending on how busy the hospital is.
- Take water and tissues (some wards don't have air con or loo roll)!

No, I don't recommend this program
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Ben
10/10

Amazing volunteering experience

I was in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks doing volunteering teaching English. The teaching was really stasifying and the kids were well behaved and eager to learn. I thought both at after school English classes and also at a Buddhist temple in the morning teaching monks. I highly recommend the teaching programme as once you get to know the kids you feel like you are adding real value. The whole programme was very well organised with transport provided both to and from project each day. Yet all of the projects only ran for half of the day giving you lots of time to explore the local area and visit the nearest town Ambalongoda. I also spent both weekends travelling indepentely with people I met at the volunteer house which I highly recommend. Before the trip I was apprehensive as I had never traveled alone before yet that didn't matter and it was one of the best experiences of my life and I highly recommend going you wont regret it!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Anna
10/10

Teaching Projects

I spent 2 months (8 weeks) doing the teaching project. In the morning I taught young Buddhist monks at a local temple and in the afternoon I taught at Old Tsunami school. I felt I was really able to make an impact on the lives of the children and monks and I became very close with them. Now I'm back in the UK I miss them all a lot! Teaching English was really fulfilling and I really enjoyed it. The other volunteers that I worked with were also great!

All the coordinators and everyone else with PMGY out in Sri Lanka were amazing and couldn't have been more dedicated and enthusiastic about their jobs! They were all funny, interesting and easy to get along with and were always there if you needed them. Also they were great at sorting out your problems from teaching ideas to keeping the local ice cream place open in the evening!

The accommodation was nice- with really beautiful views and socialable areas so it was easy to make friends with the other volunteers if you went alone (most people do). Also we had time to explore the local area (Ambalangoda) which was really nice. On the weekends we could go further and it was nice to explore more of Sri Lanka. I did both the Hill country/tea and Safari weekend trips organised by PMGY and they were both fab! The support and advice I recieved before I went was really good too.

Overall I had an incredible experience and would highly recommend it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Claire
10/10

PMGY Sri Lanka Volunteering

I would highly recommend Plan my Gap Year Sri Lanka to anyone who is interested in volunteering. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and is full of happy and friendly people. I volunteered with both the elephants and turtles during my time in Sri Lanka. I would highly recommend these two programmes to anyone who is interested in volunteering with animals.

The elephant programme allowed you to get very close with the most well natured animals. Nalaka, the cordinator for the elephants was extremely helpful when it came to communicating with the mahouts and was great fun to be around.
The turtle programme was also an amazing experience. Being able to get as close as you do to the turtles is a once in a lifetime experience and I'm so glad I was able to do it with Plan my Gap Year. The coordinator Saniru was fantastic, funny and extremely helpful.

The PMGY house was a great environment to live in. Everyone was so friendly and the staff were very kind. River House was a great place to socialise with everyone and the rooms were very spacious and clean.

Ambalangoda is a very nice town to live in. It is very traditional which I liked and has some good shops. If you want a change from the traditional town and want to go somewhere more touristy Hikkaduwa is the perfect place and is easy and cheap to get to. There are good shops and amazing places to eat.

The weekend trips that are arranged through Plan My Gap Year are definitely worth signing up for. They are the perfect way to explore Sri Lanka and see unique and beautiful places. The coordinators also make the trips a lot of fun.

Overall I would highly recommend volunteering through Plan My Gap Year Sri Lanka. All the programmes are so well organised and are a lot of fun. As well as this, all the staff are so kind and helpful. If you have any questions the coordinators were happy to help and were always interested in what you had been doing that day.
Sri Lanka is the most amazing country and I recommend to everyone to visit it. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
10/10

Amazing experience

I have recently returned home from an amazing 3 weeks doing the teaching project in Sri Lanka with PMGY.
The pre departure support was excellent, as staff were always on hand to answer any questions by email or on the Facebook group. The Facebook group also allowed me to contact people who would be travelling at the same time as me, making me feel more at ease and less nervous before travelling.
when in Sri Lanka staff were equally as helpful and supportive, they were always around to answer any questions or sort out any problems. Staff made everything really easy, such as transport to and from town and the surrounding area was organised on a transport group on Facebook using the PMGY tuk tuks and bus.
The tsunami summer camp teaching project took place for a few hours in the afternoon so my morning was free. During the morning there was the option to do a monk teaching project or explore the local area and do things in and around Ambalagoda. We went on a boat trip (which staff helped us organise), along with trips to local towns, the beach and a local tsunami museum. This allowed us to really gain an appreciation of the culture of Sri Lanka.
The project was really rewarding, as it allowed volunteers to build relationships with children and watch their English skills progress.
I have previously travelled with other volunteer organisations but I had the best experience with PMGY for the most reasonable cost. I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering the trip. I am already planning my next trip with PMGY!

How can this program be improved?
Its difficult to think of anything but It may have been useful to learn a few words and phases from local language during orientation.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Elisha
10/10

Girls orphanage

I applied to go to Sri Lanka as a spur of the moment decision and it was by far the best experience i have ever had even though i set off alone the amazing people i met on the way will be friendships i will never be able to replace living with people so close for just 2 weeks builds bonds different to ones created at home this is with volunteers, coordinators and children in the orphange.
Even though it isnt the weathiest country everyone is so happy and it honestly rubs off on you, the living arrangments .. yes arent what you are used to believe me .. however you get past that because even with the mosquito net and air con all night you walk outside in the morning and look out onto the lake like wow this is real!
I have never been so happy as i was in sri lanka, the one little girl i was teaching in the orphanage had emotional difficulties and didnt bond with anyone because of her up bringing so i bought her some clothes and things for school and she was so grateful honestly the best feeling in the world and it was heart breaking to leave her.
The whole experience is a trip of a lifetime!

Yes, I recommend this program
Thomas
7/10

A brilliant experience

My trip to Sri Lanka with PMGY has been an unforgettable experience. From the moment I got to Colombo airport the In-country team already were waiting for us with transport to the accommodations. I stayed in only one of the the two accommodations, called London house. It is a very nice place to live and interact with the other volunteers when not at a project, with air conditioning, a swimming pool, hot meals cooked daily and many security measures made London house both safe to live in and enjoyable when not on project. I worked at the Turtle Hatchery for two weeks and it is very easy to get to know what you are doing. You will either feed or clean the Turtles, improve the quality of the hatchery's land, or paint on the compounds walls. Everyone there is friendly and more than willing to help out if you have any questions. When off project, there are plenty of other activities and places to visit in Amba or other nearby towns, which offer opportunities to go out to eat, buy souvenirs and engage in the local culture. Overall, I had a great experience when I was there, as all PMGY personnel were friendly and helpful to any queries and there was always something to do.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Sri Lanka

Before my journey began with Plan My Gap Year, I was fully informed with details about every aspect of my trip via the volunteers handbook. The team also provided details specifically about my project through a webinar, explaining vital information which would help us gain the most out of our experience when travelling with PMGY.

When in Sri Lanka, the support from the staff was excellent. There was always somebody on hand to answer our questions or provide general support when needed. Alongside the English speaking co-ordinators, the in-country staff were extremely helpful and allowed the volunteers to successfully immerse themselves into the culture of Sri Lanka.

The accommodation I stayed in was fabulous! We were situated right by a river which allowed us to wake up to incredible views and really feel like we were in the heart of Sri Lanka. It was very close to the town of Ambalangoda and only a short drive from the lively Hikkaduawa, meaning everything was accessible.

I was involved in the teaching project, working with a community that was devastated by the 2004 Tsunami. My group was the first to work with this particular project which meant the work we did with the children was invaluable for their community. The children were aged from 3-16 which meant we could situate ourselves in whichever age group we felt most comfortable, allowing both ourselves and the children to gain the most out of this experience. I also worked in the monk temple, where they taught us about their culture and in return we taught them English.

My only piece of advice for potential future volunteers is: just do it. You will not regret it.

How can this program be improved?
N/A
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carlotta
9/10

Sri Lanka 2017 July

I went to Sri Lanka open minded about the experience. When I arrived I was met by a local coordinator that brought us to a bus that would be taking us to the volunteer house. This all went very smoothly. Once at the volunteer house we were greeted by one of the English coordinators that showed us to our rooms. Throughout my month in Sri Lanka I was given support when needed but also freedom to travel alone during the weekends. The In-country support was great and they arranged everything they could from transport to ideas for weekend trips. I felt very welcomed and safe while I was there. River House where I stayed was very clean and the rooms can be compared with hostel rooms, comfortable and fit their purpose. Every room had its own AC unit which was nice. I signed up for two separate programs, the orphanage program and the elephant experience. With the orphanage program you gave an English lesson for an hour before playing with the kids for an hour and a half. I felt that at the orphanage program you bonded with the children and it helped me grow as a person. During the two weeks that I was doing the orphanage project I also signed up for monk teaching an optional program that was very interesting and fun to do. The elephant experience was truly amazing and had a good balance between different tasks with the elephants. Some advice to future volunteers keep your mind open about the programs and you will be amazed.

How can this program be improved?
I feel that it could be improved by maybe giving volunteers a little bit more freedom at night as it is hard to always be back at 10:30 but that is only a minor issue.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Leanne
9/10

Great 3 weeks!

Visited Sri Lanka to take part in the Elephant project. If you're thinking about this project do it! It's pretty incredible, but you have to be willing to put in some hard work. You'll start the day with cleaning out where the elephants sleep. Yes this does mean moving their poo, but its actually pretty fun. You walk the elephants through the local town, the get in the river to scrub them with coconut shells. You finish the morning by feeding the elephants fruit and then spend some time getting amazing photos.

The volunteer house. Great place to meet new friends. Very weird but great how close you get so quickly. You genuinly feel like you've known these people for months. Different rooms had different amounts of people. I was in a room of 13. The room was fine, had air con which I don't think we could have lived without. Buckets are provided for washing which is great. The only bad thing about River house was that I was sharing a bathroom with 30 other girls. Not going to lie, this was a bit of a nightmare at times, especially when people get ill and need the bathroom at the same time, or you get back from the elephant/turtle project and you smell of elephant poo/fish.

The food was very limited. Each meal time there's one meal cooked and you either like it or not. If you don't it's kinda tough. I would recommend eating out every now and again and getting plenty of snacks.

The transport system is amazing. You get transport to project and back everyday, but when you wanted to go into the town, there was a pmgy bus, which costs the equivalent of 25p. Also, pmgy have their own tuk tuks, with drivers you know are safe and trustworthy. Which means you can get anywhere without worrying. Also great prices that you don't need to haggle.

The staff. Literally couldn't speak anymore highly of them. Any problem, anytime of the day and they will sort it. My friend was really ill during the night, and the pmgy staff took us straight to a hospital and we got seen within 10 minutes of arriving. The staff stayed with us all the time so we felt 100% safe and we didn't have any problem with translation.

When we left the project, I went to the Maldives and the staff even helped me once I had left the project with advice about the place, roughly how much money I would need etc.

On the whole I had an amazing 3 weeks in Sri Lanka. I would highly recommend anyone and everyone to come her, meet new people, and enjoy this beautiful country.

How can this program be improved?
Add more toilet's to villa house.

Have more than one option at meal times.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
9/10

Elephant experience

I am 19 years old and visited Sri Lanka for the elephant experience for 3 weeks alongside my friend and sister. The project was amazing. I enjoyed working with the elephants every day. Although the journey every day was around an hour long it was well worth it. The pmgy staff were more than helpful and went out of their way to help with any problems we had. They were especially helpful when I became ill with food poisoning, they took me straight to the hospital and stayed to translate. The transport system at river house is very good and the staff ensured that any transport that was needed was provided as quickly as possible, it was also very cheap.The only downside to my experience would have to be the accomodation. I was put in river house in the villa. The rooms themselves were nice enough, sharing with 13 people didn't cause many problems. However, the ratio of people to bathrooms was quite ridiculous. Having 30+ people sharing one bathroom caused a lot of problems, especially when lots of people fell ill with food poisoning at the same time. Another downside would have to be the food that was provided, we had to go out for food on many nights as we couldn't eat what was being provided. Overall my experience with pmgy Sri Lanka was very positive and I would recommend it to anybody considering to go.

How can this program be improved?
Having more bathrooms for villa house
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
9/10

Amazing experience

Visited Sri Lanka on the elephant experience for 3 weeks and it was amazing. From pick up from the airport by PMGY to the organised weekend trips, everything was taken care for. The PMGY staff were so helpful when I fell ill and needed to see a doctor they took me right away and helped translate. The weekend trips were good but could be improved by adding more fun into them instead of constantly travelling but the standard of accommodation was a bonus! The only downside of the volunteer accommodation was that sharing a bathroom between 30 girls proved quite difficult when illness hit the villa. Overall the elephant experience was amazing and would defiantly recommend!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Virginia
10/10

A life changing experience

I thought that 2-3 weeks may be a little short for volunteering, I decided to do a 4 weeks teaching programme , but its still not enough. My experience here is absolutely amazing, the supervisors were really nice, and I got to know a lot of new people from different country. And most importantly, I got to learn the culture in this place and actually bond with the local people.
Participating in this program is probably one of the best decision I've ever made.

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...