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 46 - 60 of 91
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Paige
8/10

Volunteer and adventure

I par took in to the under 18's volunteer and adventure trip in Sri Lanka and have to say its one of the best experiences of my life everything about the trip was amazing from the staff to volunteering to the actual traveling part itself. The staff are extremely helpful and truly amazing people. The volunteering is so rewardful and the way this trip is set up let's you experience a bit of all the projects, goals are set for each team to achieve in their project and complete by the end of your time on the project allowing you to see just how much you've achieved. Then there is the traveling part which is just incredible the amount you get for your money still amazes me you go to some outstanding places and see amazing things. I fall in with Sri Lanka thanks to pmgy and can't wait to go back

How can this program be improved?
I would have like a bit more of a chance to explore the town/city's that we went to and not just have dont the touristi things
Yes, I recommend
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Claire
10/10

Elephant Experience (from a Mum's perspective)

As a mother of a 17 year old daughter, I was unsure and very worried about letting my daughter jet off half way across the world without me there. However, now she has returned home I must admit I had no need to worry at all. Colby and her team were amazing all the way through the experience, from the planning stage, to the keeping them safe whilst in Sri Lanka. She was on hand to answer both my worries and my daughters questions, no matter how trivial they were. The team over in Sri Lanka were also amazing. My daughter has food allergies, they met her needs, my daughter lost her phone, the elephant man returned it to her the next day after a passer by had found it, she also went off on her own with her new friends for the weekend to the beach, the team recommended safe accomodation for them. I let a very young 17 year old (her birthday was just a month before the trip) go off on her first adventure without me and I can honestly say, she left as a child and returned a very mature young lady who spoke very highly of all in the team. She spends many evenings with us sharing her experiences and memories. She had a life changing experience which she loved and made many new friends from the trip. Thank you Colby and team for keeping her safe, for answering my trivial questions and for giving my daughter a once in a life time oportunity. She had the best time ever and will definitely be returning. Keep up the good work!

How can this program be improved?
Just keep doing what you do, you are all amazing people!
No, I don't recommend
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Heidi
10/10

An amazing 4/5 weeks in Sri Lanka

Thank you to all the PMGY team both within Sri Lanka and England for making the last 4 weeks an unforgettable experience and allowing me to make friends for life!

I don't even know where to start, being greeted every day with a smiley friendly face when you came down for breakfast meant each day started positively!
Emma and Colby were very approachable, friendly and bubbly Western contacts and felt like they did above and beyond what was expected of them. Whenever we had a query they would answer or find the answer straight away.
All the local coordinators were also very approachable and smiley despite any language barrier. I felt like they always wanted to make sure you were having a great time and again, would do above and beyond what was needed! I asked Nalaka on the spot about the pillow cases Auntie made and without having to remind him he had put in my request and brought them to the new house which I was not expecting, so thanks again!
When we approached Ashika on two occasions about planning solo travelling he was extremely helpful and helped book all of it for us - even paying for a spare train ticket to Ella in case we missed the first train (which we massively appreciated despite not needing to use it fortunately)!
This also applies to all the other staff that work to make the experience a success - the positive friendly tuk tuk drivers, auntie and all the sisters and the workers at madu ganga villa!

Furthermore, I thought it was great to have the opportunity to get involved with elephant day passes, turtle release and monk meditation - I felt this really added to my overall experience on the trip and whilst it's possible I think it's a great idea! This is also true for the flood relief day which we were allowed to be involved with, it was great to see where our money was going and was lovely to see how passionate the coordinators are about giving back to the local community as well - I had an unforgettable day!

I was lucky enough to stay in both London House and River House and felt the accommodation at both was perfect for this style of trip - it meant it was easy to get to know people, was clean and comfortable! One recommendation would be to provide a sheet for the mattress and a sheet for over the top of you when sleeping or warning people pre departure that it may be useful to bring a sleeping bag liner or equivalent.

My volunteer "shadowing" project at Balapitiya Base Hospital was much better than it had been sold to me pre-departure. Manoj made sure things went smoothly from the beginning and checked up on us regularly. Being able to spend a few days on different specialties was very beneficial and meant I got exposure to lots of different areas. Despite only being a "shadowing" placement I found that if you were proactive and asked questions and seemed interested many doctors would teach and allow you to examine patients. It was a very good placement for seeing a variety of conditions which don't present in the UK and learn how to manage them and also seeing some common UK presentations and being able to compare the difference in management. It was also lovely to come home from a morning of placement and feel like all the coordinators were interested in what you had seen or got up to that day! On a side note, a tip for future volunteers would be to take toilet paper as none of the toilets have toilet paper and not all have "bum guns".

I only did one weekend trip to the Maldives which was extremely good value for money - it was great to have tips from Colby beforehand giving suggestions of possible activities whilst still having the flexibility to choose what we wanted to do. The trip is definitely under sold by the description - specifically the accommodation which was much nicer than expected! In regard to the other hill top and cultural weekend trips, we decided pre arrival not to opt for these and travel to the sites included separately to save money (as many of these trips with other volunteer companies can be done much cheaper on your own), however, having spoken to other volunteers about the trips they sounded like great value for money and having paid for the activities ourselves realised they are not that much more expensive - it might be useful when advertising these trips to include reviews from previous volunteers or an overview of the breakdown of costs for the trips to entice more people.

I will definitely be recommending PMGY in Sri Lanka to friends and people in the future and will hopefully come back to Sri Lanka in the future!
Thanks again team! ☺️

Yes, I recommend
Meghan
10/10

My life changing experience

After spending 6 weeks in Ambalangoda, Sri lanka I must start by saying thank you to PMGY for making that possible. I spent my time mostly teaching english at a buddhist temple and at an after school class. The smiles on those children's faces are in my heart forever. The projects are so well organised with local coordinators that speak english to make sure everything runs smoothly ( and it does !!). I was lucky to go to the turtle project and elephant project as well. In Sri Lanka during my time there were two wonderful women in the office ( Emma & Colby) who truly looked after me like family. Whiteout forget about Phillip who spent time explaining all of the different aspects to the trip before i booked it and made me fall in love with Sri Lanka before I even got there. My sri lankan family is real and I will love them forever. Ashika will welcome you into his home as family, such a big hearted person I hope you get the chance to meet him. And also, sri lankan people are the kindest people I have ever met, the cultural shock is to be embraced as it will change your life, well it did change mine. I could go on for pages and pages saying how amazing plan my gap year Sri Lanka truly is, but i will resume it to : life changing, a family and friends for life. From the bottom of my heart thank you to plan my gap year ( UK + Sri lanka Office ) for doing what you do.

ps : everyone should go to Sri Lanka and take me in their suitcase as I miss it everyday. I will be back! I 1000% recommend it.

Yes, I recommend
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Abbey
10/10

My Trip in Sri Lanka

Travelling alone for the first time, I was very sceptic of what was in store for me. Upon arrival the PMGY team had been nothing but supportive towards me, even down to the little things like Ashika sitting up with me at 1.30am trying to connect my wifi whilst i sat their having a break down. Its these little things that make you believe that the team really do care about how you are doing in the program.

My program was the Elephant Experience, this could not have been anymore ideal for me if it tried. I really enjoyed the work we were doing and even know it was not the most ideal situation we what we could to make the best out of a bad situation. At the end of the day it was so rewarding to know the work we had done was appreciated so much.

The team a PMGY are incredible. They have this amazing ability to feel like your best friend even after the second day of you meeting them. This was very comforting to know they could be there whenever we needed to talk. The work that happens behind the scenes is truly amazing, the amount of times I would come down fr a drink and Emma would still be working away a 10pm. It is really obvious that they really do love the job they have, and its nice for us to see that.

To everyone that was apart of my little adventure, thank you. I would highly recommend this to anyone who hasn't travelled alone before, or even if you have. This experience was once in a life time!

How can this program be improved?
Honestly there is very little within the program that I could fault.
Yes, I recommend
Jamie
10/10

Best experience with the best people

Came to Sri Lanka expecting to have a good time and got my expectations completely blown out the water. The month I've spent here has probably been one of the best times I've had so far. Can't think of a single bad thing to say about any of the coordinators, they're some of the hardest working, helpful people I've ever met. Them and the rest of the volunteers create such a welcoming chilled out atmosphere.

Helping out with the turtle project has been such a fun experience made even better with sunny's banter. Definitely going to miss getting my arms smacked up by the grumpy loggerheads and hawksbills, and coming back stinking of rotting fish. Overall, I'd recommend this project to anyone looking for a unique and memorable experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Ellis
10/10

Home away from home

When we first signed up, a month seemed like it would be a long time away from home. After the first couple of days that was quickly changed, the time flew by. Meeting all the coordinators and all the other volunteers helped make things even easier as everyone is so friendly. The turtle project was really fun as well. The staff running it join in on the jokes and make the stuff that would normally be boring (like cleaning the tanks) fun and easier. Getting to feed the turtles and pick them up was a unique experience too. Emma and Steph made moving accommodation smooth despite multiple problems with a room. Even with all the pressure on them they were able to stay happy and motivated. Overall, it was really good.

How can this program be improved?
The only complaints we had was with the room, the fixes were slow to be made. That wasn't the fault of the PMGY staff however it was a little disheartening at the start even more so given that we had came from London house.
Yes, I recommend
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MEGAN
10/10

An amazing experience

Travelling to Sri Lanka with PMGY has been one of the best experiences of my life. The program was ideal for me as I was apprehensive about travelling alone, and I was given more support from the coordinators than I could ever have expected. When I booked my trip there was less than a month until departure so naturally the stress was on to get it organised. I was given such brilliant support that my trip was fully organised within a few days.

The people who are a part of PMGY made my experience unforgettable. By the end of my trip I really felt like I was around close friends and it was difficult to say goodbye. The coordinators are such hard working and positive characters, which I think creates a great atmosphere for the volunteers. Through working and living with the other volunteers you quickly become closer than you could have ever imagined and I have made some amazing friends.

The projects gave me an opportunity to get to know the Sri Lankan way of life, which I doubt I would have really found if I wasn't volunteering. The teaching projects In Sri Lanka are an incredible opportunity which I would recommend to anyone. Being around the children was energizing and it surprises me how much I miss them already. I hope to take the positivity I learnt from them with me. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country full of beautiful people, and that's how I'll remember it.

How can this program be improved?
No improvements necessary.
Yes, I recommend
Khai
10/10

Definitely Not What I Was Expecting, But It Was So Much More

Thinking back on my experience as I am writing this review is giving me nostalgia. I spent my time observing at a private clinic where I learned many functions that goes on in a hospital setting. I also received a certificate to show for my time there. I spent my time teaching kids English as well which was very fulfilling because I can tell that I will positively influence the children for a better future. Also the kids were all really awesome which made my experience more enjoyable as well. But I believe what made my trip so awesome was the people. The volunteers as well as the coordinators were all amazing people. The coordinators were always there when you needed them and you can tell that they really love their jobs which made it easy to talk to them and you can have fun with them as well. There were always things to do from finding other ways to volunteer or exploring more of the culture of Sri Lanka. Leaving this place was one of the hardest things I've ever done but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else.

How can this program be improved?
I believe everyone in this program did everything to the best of their abilities. If there were to be any improvements, it would be just the curfew at 10:30 which I wish was a bit later but for safety reasons I can totally understand.
Yes, I recommend
Kez
10/10

Best thing I have ever done. Can't wait to go back and do it all again!

No words can explain how much of an extraordinary time I’ve had in Sri Lanka with the PMGY team over the last 3 months. I cannot thank you guys enough for all of the pre-departure support, information at orientation, advise about transport and weekend activities, and for just being there for me everyday. I truly did feel like family and couldn’t have asked for anything more. The staff, people I met along the way, and children I taught at the teaching projects and at the temple, really did make it the experience of a life time and I urge anyone who is on the fence about applying to do it! It could quite possibly be the best and most rewarding thing you ever do. The kids at the schools are incredible and so social, and the young men at the temple are clever and very eager to learn. It was a pleasure to meet and teach them all. It felt as if we really bonded! I have fallen in love with Sri Lanka and a lot of that is down to how amazing the team is, I miss them everyday and am already planning my next visit to see them all. Bring on the reunion!

How can this program be improved?
No improvement needed, I loved this experience exactly how it was.
Yes, I recommend
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Sophie
10/10

I couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience

I really couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience. As my first time out of Europe I was nervous but PMGY were extremely helpful from beginning to end.
Before I travelled I was constantly ringing Josh with all sorts of questions and he always had time for a chat and to give me all the information I needed. The team within the house are amazing and make you feel at home straight away. They make sure they get to know all the volunteers personally meaning there is always someone to chat to. Cultural nights, weekend trips and the projects themselves give you plenty of ways to make new friends while in Sri Lanka.
While I was in Sri Lanka with PMGY I did the orphanage, elephant and a day pass on turtles. All of these projects are truly inspiring and so well organised. The orphanage has really opened my eyes to how other communities live around the world.

How can this program be improved?
No improvement needed.
Yes, I recommend
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Liesbeth
8/10

A compilation of different experiences

The volunteering in Sri-Lanka gave me the chance to have different experiences in a relatively short time. Everything was negotiable, in that sence that you could put together your own program beside the fixed hours of the volunteering program. The staff was always ready to help with that. Thus during the programme you get to see Sri-Lanka in many ways. I loved working with the turtles and the elephants. You can get quite close to them and that makes the work more meaningful. Sometimes I felt like there was not enough work for all the volunteers, which resulted in moments of hanging around. But overall the vibe was good.
Regard to housing, for me it was more difficult to adapt to the setting. The house was sometimes to full in my experience (must be different if you are a student ;)). And this could be an age thing but why is there a TV in the middle of the space? Doesn't volunteering in such a beautiful country is an opportunity to have a time off from television? A cozy space outdoor, to sit in the evening is more binding for a group, in my opinion.
Anyway, I loved the way everything else was organised and I want to thank Ash and the staff for
the good care and the great food!

Yes, I recommend
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Anna
10/10

More than I hoped !

I had the best time out in Sri Lanka for the month of February! I volunteered on the orphanaged project which was such an amazing experience and I feel so privileged to have been a small part of the lives of the girls I met. Not only was the programme incredible but pmgy offers so many more unexpected opportunities, some of which were life changing! The weekend trips are great for seeing lots of things in one weekend but having the opportunity to do travelling with other volunteers alone is great fun too.

How can this program be improved?
No improvements needed!!!
Yes, I recommend
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Jeannie
9/10

Amazing

I have had an amazing time in Sri Lanka the support staff are so helpful and are more than willing to help you with anything you need. The programmes are great, the animal projects are great definitely worth doing. The orphanage project was amazing, such a great experience, you really get to know the girls and see the difference you make with them over your time there. I would highly recommend PMGY Sri Lanka!

How can this program be improved?
n/a
Yes, I recommend
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Lilla
10/10

Most incredible two months of my life!

For a lot of people, the thought of going to a place you've never been before on you own can be really scary, and for me that was exactly how i felt. Myself along with four others were lucky enough to be the first volunteers to step into London House, the new beautiful volunteer house in Ambalangoda and we were welcomed by Ashika, the most amazing coordinator you could ask for and instantly i felt at home!
I did 7 weeks volunteering at the girls orphanage and my final week at the turtle conservation. One thing i wasn't that aware of before i came to Sri Lanka was that i would be teaching english at the orphanage for the first 1h30minutes so i came with no resources and occasionally struggled to think of lesson plans, however it was so rewarding seeing the children develop, and their love for english grow. I am so happy i spent my final week volunteering with the turtles. Even though the routine each day is very similar, somehow every day got better and better! There's something so special and heartwarming about caring for turtles! I was lucky enough to take part in several turtle releases and witness a hatching.
Every weekend we would go off travelling and I definitely saw more of Sri Lanka that i expected! I went on both the Yala and Culture Triangle weekend trips which i fully recommend. Busses and trains especially are ridiculously cheap (Amba->Kandy which took over 6 hours by train cost 290rs/£1.50!) and you'll usually find hostels for around £5 a night. Whether i was walking through Ambalangoda or staying away in another backpacker town, i always felt safe and was so nice to know that if we ran into any problems we had in-country support so there was always someone to call/message.
The accommodation was so amazing and as mentioned above, I was staying in the brand new volunteer house. The sisters cooked the most amazing food for us and there was not one meal that i didn't enjoy. They even tried to make us feel at home with fish and chips once a week!
Before booking my 8 weeks with PMGY, i was unsure how long to go for and was worried 8 weeks would be too long but i was so wrong! It went way to quickly and didn't want to leave at the end of my time there! You get so attached to the country, along with the relaxed way of life there!

I could not have wished for a better two months in Sri Lanka with Plan My Gap Year and i'd like to thank Ashika and the coordinators Manoj Sani Ishan Kasun Jagard and NC for the amazing support!

How can this program be improved?
I fully respected the rules in London House, one of which was the 10:30pm curfew, however it would've been nice to have had a little more freedom.
There were many occasions where the tuktuk's would be around 20-30minutes late picking us up.
Yes, I recommend

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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. Our programmes start...