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

Video and Photos

Climbing up Lion's Rock
Climbing up Lion's Rock
Views from River House
Views from River House
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Sunset after the safari through Parakrama Samudra
Old Tsunami School
Old Tsunami School
Sri Lankan Elephant
Sri Lankan Elephant
Train to Galle
Train to Galle
River house sunset
River house sunset
Ambalangoda
Ambalangoda

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 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 61 - 75 of 92
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Lilla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Nadia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

review of elephant experience

i took part in the elephant experience program in late Jan, which is non-peak volunteer season for PMGY, and i think this made my experience more enjoyable as it meant there were fewer volunteers and so i was able to get to know everyone well. i was surprised when i arrived that i was one of the only non UK participants and at first i was worried about this, but it really didn't matter at all as everyone was so easygoing. i was amazed at how closely we were able to interact with the elephants at the project, being able to hand wash them for almost an hour each day was really incredible. i also learnt some pretty interesting things about the elephants, as well as the Sri Lankan culture, which i really enjoyed. it was really a once in a life time experience.

Default avatar
Hakim
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sri Lanka volunteer experience

Its certainly something id recommend to everyone and its especially cheap as a location to stay
Over that the staff is extremely freindly and are essentially the nicest people ive come across abroad. I would generally strongly recommend this sort of trip to anyone as the experience is definetly one of a kind. Its especially good for students as it looks good on a CV as it helps with regards to personal statements helping with college applications.

Overall its something I personally would recommend to anyone and everyone to do atlest once i. Their life

Bram
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Don't be allarmed by the price tag

Sri Lanka was a wonderfull experience in my opinion.
At first I was a bit worried that my total budget of €2000 would not be worth it, but luckily I was wrong te be worried.
I now know what the Money is used for and next tot that PMGY takes amazing care of all the volunteers. They will invest part of that budget into your own experience and it's worth it. This was my first time with PMGY and it definitely won't be my last.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't mind if everyone could pick us up at the right time for once, although this is a very small note for the crew in Sri Lanka. I am glad tot say thay the handled the rest above what we could ever expect from them.
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Ruby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sri Lanka: Orphanage Program 2016

My 4 weeks in Sri Lanka was the greatest, most mind-opening experience I have ever had. Along with the colourful vibrancy of Sri Lanka itself, the variety of programs available and the welcoming nature of all Sri Lankan people I met, my first Gap Year trip was one I will never forget. The coordinators were not only so friendly and easy to get along with, but ensured our safety throughout the time we spent there. Travelling alone can be something daunting, yet from the minute I arrived at New House in Sri Lanka, the organisation (despite the typical Sri Lankan lateness of course!) of the whole scheme made me feel confident that the trip would be a success. I cannot stress enough how influential this trip has been for me. The projects are so rewarding and you are able to not only have an impact on the life of others, yet also change yours for the better. For me, teaching children from the orphanage, made me realise how we take our Western education system for granted. Their flare for learning and their desire to succeed and aspire to greatness, was one of the most wonderful and inspiring things I have ever witnessed.
Looking back on my time in Sri Lanka now, I wish I had better savoured my time there: the affectionate thanks from the children at the orphanage; the constant laughter, and of course the time I spent with the other volunteers, who I now talk to and see regularly! Thank you PMGY and of course the Sri Lanka coordinators.

What would you improve about this program?
I couldn't even begin to say how this program could be improved. It was the best experience I've ever had, and I truly believe that everyone involved does their best to make sure we have a brilliant experience! That is all anyone could ask for!
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Molly
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2 months stay in Sri Lanka.

Originally I was going to do 4 weeks in the elephant project and then 4 weeks on the turtle programme. I really enjoyed the elephant project, you're able to get up close and personal with the elephants and create a bond with them. I would definitely recommend this to any animal lover. Although this project is really fun its quite repetitive as in you do exactly the same thing every day and that's why I decided to change my project after just 2 weeks. It was very easy to do this through the local coordinators and was not a problem at all. I feel like 2 weeks was the perfect amount of time to spend with the elephants, long enough to bond with them and enjoy your time but not too long that you get bored. I loved the turtle project as soon as I started, 6 weeks there flew by! I enjoyed everything from feeding to cleaning the turtles and it was the highlight of my trip, it was very well organised and varied day to day. Ash and all of the coordinators were such brilliant people. They were very professional but also very friendly. they would go out of their way to make you feel comfortable or help you in any way that they could. I couldn't have asked for better people to spend time with over my 2 months there. The whole trip was very organised and I would recommend it to everyone!!

What would you improve about this program?
From my expirience there was honestly nothing that could be improved about either of the projects i took part in.
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Koko
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome trip

The PMGY trip was nothing like I've ever done, it was my first time travelling alone and my first time in Sri Lanka and being with the program definitely was a memorable experience. Departure support and preparation for the trip was convenient and informative with the web seminars and sharing profiles on facebook so we could easily socialise. When I arrived the PMGY coordinators were very welcoming and helpful. The accommodation was well maintained by Sister and a very friendly environment. I would've liked more freedom with exercise activities as being in the house in between projects and at night and especially those just doing one project can get quite boring just sitting around. There were activities such as watching movies and playing card games available as well although which were great. Another useful recommendation would be to have just one computer or laptop lying around for volunteer use as many of us needed to check emails or skype family or send through university applications or like me, pay for the extra weekend trip which was difficult to do through the phone. I loved meeting new people, it was difficult to mix with those already there though I made some great bonds and made two very close friends! I worked on the elephant project, teaching kids English and did a day pass of turtle conservation. It was great that they allowed me to do the afternoon project on top of the initially booked elephant project as I would rather fulfil the experience and be busy all day. The projects were shorter than expected and to be truthful, the elephant project was a little beneath what I had expected. We cleaned the resting area, walked with the elephant and scrubbed the elephant clean in the lake. I was looking forward to the veterinary check up but that wasn't included and the project can get quite mundane for two weeks, although I understand with such great creatures it is difficult for young volunteers to contribute and interact too much. The teaching project was my favourite, it definitely felt like I was making an impact on the children and their education. I love that it was driven and dependent on the volunteers to organise and teach the class. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to the children and I miss them all very much! The turtle experience was also amazing. We cut up fish, fed them, washed them and cleaned their water tanks. It was more hands on than elephants, more participation and chores to do which was great! The drive there was short and you could easily see the benefit the conservation program was doing for turtle populations and species. I did two weeks of the program and then did two weeks of travelling Sri Lanka which I think was a really good mix of volunteering and being able to see Sri Lanka. My advice to new volunteers would to definitely get in touch with ex-volunteers or even set up a list where ex-volunteers could put down their name to help out others on facebook as this is the most valuable source of advice you could get. Although the handbook was very detailed and helpful, there were a few tips, opinions and advice I would have liked to have known before I started for example what each project was like on a personal level, things to pack, things you don't need etc. The program is perfect for first-time travellers especially younger people in their 17, 18 and 19s. Overall, the experience was an incredible and unforgettable experience that I will treasure for life. The result of volunteering for worthwhile causes broadened my understanding of a different culture and lifestyle to my own and gives you a new perspective and appreciation of different worlds. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

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Nima
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in the teaching projects and the medical project in Sri Lanka

The medical project was very insightful as it gave me an insight to the healthcare in Sri Lanka and taught me the key differences between UK and Sri Lankan healthcare. My medical project took place in a private hospital, however if you have a medical background you can volunteer in the government hospital. The medical project gave me an understanding of how a private hospital in Sri Lanka operates, I visited many different departments from laboratory to the out patient department and I also learnt about basic medical procedures such as nebulisation. I also had the opportunity to meet an ayurvedic doctor, which improved my understanding of traditional medicine in Sri lanka. I also originally had planned to just do the medical project but once I got there, the teaching project fascinated me and gave me an opportunity to make a difference to children's lives as I believe education is the most important key in life. The satisfaction you get from children learning and understanding something you taught is unreal. The children were so eager to learn that it made my job much easier than I thought it would be. Volunteering in the teaching project was one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences of my life and I would strongly recommend in taking part in the teaching project. In the evening there are many activities you can do with your fellow volunteers from placing baby turtles in the sea for the first time to playing badminton, there is always something you can do.

What would you improve about this program?
For the medical project, the volunteers in the private hospital could observe surgeries other than dental such as appendix etc.
Gabbie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

PMGY Sri Lanka Trip

Sri Lanka was AMAZING everyone I met there was friendly and kind! The sisters in the house were so kind and welcoming! I instantly fell in LOVE with Sri Lanka as you can probably tell! travelling with PMGY was the best decision I made - I felt safe and secure and able to travel knowing we had excellent support in country and out :) both before and during my trip the co-ordinators and the PMGY staff at home were always on hand to help if I had any questions which was amazing as I was a lone female traveller !! I made some great life-long friends that were in my volunteer house- when we returned we signed up to become alumni because we knew we would all be travelling with PMGY again:) we are all very much looking forward to our 2017 India trip!

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Palak
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Worth It.

Everything about this program was amazing. I went for 4 weeks to teach English. Even before I signed up, there were people willing to help with any question I could possibly have. The airport transfer was there on time and the warm welcome we got when we arrived at our house was refreshing. The accommodation was how they described it in the handbook. It was very basic but comfortable. The sisters who cleaned and cooked the house were friendly and so were the pmgy tuk tuk drivers. The weekend trips were everything I had hoped for. We did everything on the itineraries and the accommodations were very nice. I recommend signing up for as many as you can. To me, I was already spending a lot of money flying from the U.S., so I wanted to make sure it was worth it. The couple hundred extra I spent for a few weekend trips was so, so, so worth it. The teaching program itself was awesome. It was such a good experience and the kids I taught were energetic and very sweet. (And even though the program warns you to not get too attached to the kids, I couldn't help it. They were so amazing and kind and adorable). I could praise this program endlessly, but I'll end this by saying that, by the end of my trip, I wished I didn't have to go back home.

What would you improve about this program?
I understand that they are on a budget, that's why this recommendation is actually just something I thought of to fill out this section. Maybe the houses could be upgraded a little bit, like an extra fridge or a few more fans. I remember having to take turns putting water bottles in the fridge because there was only one for all of the people in the house, but no one really minded.
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Amie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Srilanka medical placement 2015

Just returned having spent 4 fantastic weeks im Sri Lanka. From the moment I booked to the day I stepped foot in Colombo airport the support from the Pmgy team has been amazing. Ashika and his team were fantastic, going above and beyond to get me into other projects during the sinhalese new year as my project did not start until the following Friday. The accommodation is basic but liveable. I was at lion house, anti the lovely lady who made our meals and cleaned was fantastic particuarly if you have any food allergies. Its the perfect opportunity to meet new people from all over the world, and gain new friends.

I was on the medical project so spent 2 weeks at the Roseth private hospital and 2 weeks at the balapitiya hospital. I also did 2 health clinics each week. To do this you have to be on a medical or nursing degree programme. I learnt a lot here, although should warn the hospitals are purely observational. The closest to hands on I got was, with 1 lady passing out on the emergency treatment unit floor and me having to carry her with 2 others onto the bed.

There is the opportunity to go to other projects as medical runs during the mornings. I went to the orphanage, I also got to work at the turtle hatchery.

There is plenty of opportunities to travel whilst in Sri Lanka. Weekends are your freetime. I went to Hikkaduwa frequently after projects. I also went to Mirissa Beach, Unawattuna, Galle and our local Ambalangoda. I went to Kandy on the arranged Pmgy trip. This was a brilliant weekend and well worth the money.

The Sri Lanka Pmgy team are brilliant, I dont have a bad word to say. Ashika, Nalaka, Kasun, Manoj, Ranji and Thamari go above a beyond to make you feel part of the family
I also want thank Josh our fab geordie intern who made my month the best and most memorable month ever.

Matt
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sri Lanka

I've just returned from a 5 week trip in Sri Lanka, 4 of which were spent with PMGY. The 4 weeks comprised 2 weeks working in the New Tsunami school and 2 weeks intensely scrubbing Raja, the elephant.
The projects themselves are well-organised and highly involving. The tsunami school runs roughly from 3-6pm on weekdays and it is expected (and advised) that you spend a couple of hours planning the lesson beforehand. All projects run on the weekdays, but there is some differences in the timing of projects which is worth checking; you may be able to help at another project in the same day. The remaining two weeks were spent with PMGY's friendly elephant, Raja. The morning's structure involved first cleaning Raja's bed (I.e moving loads of branches), then cleaning Raja's faeces (I.e shovelling mounds of poo into a bag), then washing the elephant with a king coconut shell! The flexibility in the projects meant that I was also able to spend some time with the turtles at the turtle sanctuary based in Hikkaduwa, roughly 5km from Ambalangoda, which is where the volunteers stay. This was an absolutely incredible experience and one that id encourage anyone to do.
PMGY compromises wonderfully the exhausting projects with relaxation and opportunities to be a tourist. I spent a weekend in Mirissa, the honeymoon capital of Sri Lanka. It sounds unoriginal to say it was idyllic, but it really was. I made the journey by bus, which cost 100srp or 50p for a three hour journey. Next I went to Unawatuna, a slightly less clean and picturesque Mirissa, but still wonderful and worth visiting.
Overall, the experience was incredible and well worth doing. It facilitated a fruitful volunteering experience but also encouraged you to be a tourist. I look forward to working with PMGY again.

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Claire
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My amazing trip to Sri Lanka

I just finished volunteering for 6 weeks in Sri Lanka at the Tsunami school teaching English. I had an amazing experience and didn't want to leave! The children there are so wonderful. They are caring, loving, and so happy to learn English! The volunteer house I was staying in very quickly felt like home to me. The staff there are so welcoming and helpful. You really get to know the other volunteers and coordinators in your time there. I am from Canada but I now feel I have a second family in Sri Lanka. Whenever I had a problem or any stress the coordinators were always happy to help and would quickly improve any situation. Josh (coordinator) was always there whenever I needed help in the programme or when I was just stressed out. It was really nice to hear about his past experiences volunteering and being able to relate to him. Ashika and his family are so wonderful and welcoming into their home. It was very hard saying goodbye to everyone there but I am already planning my trip to come back again next year! I would strongly recommend this programme to anyone!

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Kieran
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I spent 4 weeks in august volunteering in Sri Lanka, I spent 2 weeks doing construction and the other 2 weeks teaching monks. It was the most rewarding and exciting 4 weeks of my life, ashika and his team were very accommodating and no problem was too big. The houses were clean and the sisters were very friendly and tried to help at every opportunity. I can't wait to hopefully go back and hopefully see them all again soon!

Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Elephant Experience - Sri Lanka

I spent three weeks in Sri Lanka on the elephant experience and could not have wished for a better time! Pre departure information, help and guidance was very accurate and in abundance and then once landing in Sri Lanka, we were supported with all issues both efficiently and professionally. I felt 100% safe in Sri Lanka and this was aided by the great tuk tuk transportation system set up, as well as the friendly and approachable staff. I've been involved in feeding, walking and washing elephants, growing very attached to them and understanding their way of life in Sri Lanka - a very rewarding experience. I stayed in a house with amazing people, the food was quite varied and tasty, the sisters were so lovely and I would do anything to do back! Would most definitely recommend to anyone who is looking to be involved in volunteering and learning about a completely new culture.
Thank you PMGY for an incredible set up!