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! ☺️