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 91 - 91 of 91
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Sarah
6/10

Good on paper, flawed in reality

PMGY looked very appealing based on Internet and Facebook reviews, the email
Communication was prompt and email communication good. However upon arrival, it was chaos. Their in no planning and preparation, our group size (34) was too big, therefore lots of hanging around waiting and divided choices on what to do, eat etc. PMGYs greed outweighs the experience. As I departed Sri Lanka, a group of 46 arrived. The projects are oversubscribed so therefore less time volunteering and less to do, however I have heard that the orphanage is very rewarding, but I would not recommitment the elephant EXPERIENCE it's just glofied exploitation, they are not retired and disabled as advertised but going back to work. We actually witnessed
Animal cruelty of unnecessary force whilst we were there which they tried to hide from us.
Moving on, the dietary requirements are appalling, you fill in your form months in advance yet they have no clue when you arrive and have not catered for you you just have to avoid certain things and hope for the best, resulted in one girl having a reaction to peanuts and one guy consuming gluten. When they book the Maldives trip they don't ask about meal requirements regardless if you tell them and when you make them
Aware the response is, so it's only a short flight. The U.K. Side is not good but the Sri Lanka is really passionate and thank god they actually cares about their country and the programme unlike the contact who runs it in the uk who wants to line their pockets and remain on their high horse, telephone communications with the U.K. Boss are unpleasant serval of us found and they are incredibly defensive about prices, to cover up their vast profit margins. The trip was good, two weeks travelling two weeks "volunterring" but I would not go with PMGY again, nor recommend it.

Response from Plan My Gap Year

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for taking the time to outline feedback on your recent trip to Sri Lanka.

You joined the University of Leeds trip which was a specific experience put on for the University. I can assure you that with a group this large there is a lot of preparation put into the whole trip. I joined the trip for the first 2 days and everything appeared to go according to plan. The transport operated smoothly, the hotels were all prepared, the buffets at the restaurants were all prepared. This is the first feedback I have been made aware of that there was ‘no planning and preparation’. We did not receive any feedback from you to suggest that you were unhappy and other participants have described the trip as ‘a life changing experience’. Naturally with a group size of 34 participants there are going to be logistical challenges but I feel like we manage the process very well and we always have UK and local staff on-hand to resolve any issues you may face.

Your point regarding dietary requirements is valid and is something we can certainly look to improve. Any participant requirements are sent over to our local team at the time of booking but may be this should be re-inforced a few days before arrival. We will certainly take this on board and implement a new information management system around this to help improve this aspect of the in-country experience and continue to encourage participants to actively stay close with our local teams around their dietary requirements being catered for.

There was an unfortunate incident with the elephant on the experience programme. This was essentially down to one mahout in Sri Lanka but ultimately we have taken responsibility for his actions and our in-country team have addressed this issue directly with the mahout. I believe we reacted to the situation well and our team in-country tried to resolve the issues and communicate these to you and the group accordingly. Our elephant experience is a unique programme and has received some amazing feedback over the past couple of years. The programme is approved by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department and is regularly audited by the government. We do not exploit the elephant(s) on this programme nor do we allow any commercial activities such as elephant riding to take place and our core aim of the experience is to provide them with daily care and attention.

It does surprise me that you suggest our ‘greed outweighs the experience’. The feedback we get from Sri Lanka is overwhelmingly positive and we are very confident in saying the price of the whole experience is significantly cheaper than any other organisation for the inclusiveness we offer. I do disagree when you comment that ‘we try to line our pockets and remain on our high horse’ and ‘boss are unpleasant several of us found and they are incredibly defensive about prices’. This may correlate with the conversation regarding a private room for the Maldives trip? Private options across our accommodations are never guaranteed and I believe Ashika made every effort to provide you with a private room where they could (there was no additional fee) and so did myself when I emailed you to confirm I had put in the request with our local team in the Maldives and then I email you to confirm that we have secured you a private room (no additional fee). I think this is a situation where we have gone ‘above and beyond’ to ensure you get the most from the experience – other participants could have raised issues that you were provided a private room and they were not in this instance. There was then no further correspondence back from you to me on this and instead I feel that you have decided to single me out in this review.

At no point did you email me back to thank me for arranging this and instead you have decided to single me out on this review. Judging from the Facebook activity I have seen you and the group generally had a very positive experience that we provide the platform for with pictures of the Maldives trip and elephant experience as part of this. We do appreciate the feedback you have provided and will work constructively with this and we would like to wish you all the best for the future.

Best regards

Philip Russell

No, I don't 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...