What is Voluntourism?
Combine travel and tourism to get Voluntourism! Lots of people are using this term for ‘travel with purpose’ to describe their holiday abroad experiences. Voluntourism in Sri Lanka allows travelers to immerse in a new culture as well as give back to the local community.
Everyone has a different goal for their dream vacation, but most often, some of the objectives such as change of scenery, break from daily lives and seeing something new are same for all! Some determined travelers add an element of ‘helping others’ to vacationing – which results in voluntourism.
From retired baby boomers to those taking a holiday from college are showing an increased interest in mixing good deeds with travel – which gives rise to voluntourism opportunities for a variety of preferences and interests.
Why volunteer in Sri Lanka?
- Valuable work experience can be attained, which will in turn help students get through preferred colleges and help adults escalate their career.
- Interacting with locals and/or staying at their houses gives a real glimpse into rural and urban life in Sri Lanka.
- Even if you are travelling solo, you’ll have an opportunity to meet people from across the world and make a bunch of new friends, some of who will probably stick with you for the rest of your life.
- Explore Buddhism, visit temples, converse with monks, teach monks, and get up-close-and-personal with how Buddhist teachings impact people living in the region.
- With a multi-religious and multi-ethnic population, you can immerse yourself in various cultures during your volunteering project. Observe how the Dutch, Portuguese and British rule has influenced different cultures. But one thing you’ll find in common with all the people in Sri Lanka – they will greet you with a smiling face always.
- You will get to try a variety of seafood, tropical spices, authentic curries, kottu rotti, hoppers, and many other culinary delights.
- Whether you want to spend time in tea plantations, the beaches, the forests, or amidst the wildlife, opportunities are many.
Types of volunteer work in Sri Lanka
- Teaching in rural areas
Whether you are a fresh graduate, in the midst of your career, or a retired teacher, a volunteer teaching program is just the way to interact and experience with a new culture while also improving the education of the needy. English, computer literacy, sports, and music are just some of the subjects that you could teach.
- Child care
For those seeking a meaningful experience during their holiday, volunteering with children is a popular choice. Such projects will also enhance your resume and impress future employers. In addition to that, children will also benefit from the skills and knowledge you pass on to them, thereby helping them to build a confidence level.
By providing emotional, social and educational support to underprivileged children, you are positively impacting their lives and possibly shaping their future for the better. This rewarding experience helps you finetune your leadership and problem-solving skills while understanding new cultures and making new friends.
- Community development
This field is very challenging and diverse compared to the other volunteering opportunities. But it is indeed rewarding to immerse yourself into a new culture, empowering communities and educating them on how to have control over their environment. There are many sub categories when it comes to community development but the ultimate goal of each social group would be to build a stronger community.
- Forest and environmental conservation
If your heartstrings are touched by the fact that forests are being slashed, thereby destroying animal habitats and the existence of flora and fauna, then conservation volunteering is for you. Protect the environment by giving something back – making you feel a part of something bigger.
Conservation projects are all interlinked because ecosystems are linked.
This field of volunteering is most often an experience of places that are not accessible to tourists – so consider yourself one of the fortunate few!
- Sea turtle conservation
Sri Lanka is home to five of seven existing sea turtle species on the planet. The beaches along the southern coast are where these turtles nest, and there needs to be consistent supervision here to protect nests from poachers. In this project, you’d be protecting baby turtles, their nests and providing for their overall well-being in turtle hatcheries. Do your bit to save the marine environment while enjoying the beaches of the southern coast.
- Protect elephants in Sri Lanka
Working at one of the many elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka gives you the chance to work with elephants and care for this wonderful wildlife species.
Places to stay while you volunteer
In most of the voluntourism projects in Sri Lanka, you will stay at volunteer houses and homestays – which offer the experience of living with locals, eating local food, spending time with locals, and rewarding them with the knowledge you possess.
Sri Lanka is slowly picking up pace as a desired destination for volunteering travel and will soon be features on the bucket list for many. Every year, a number of volunteers choose Sri Lanka during their gap year as a voluntourism destination. Teaching, child care and animal conservation are amongst the popular ones, but every other preference can be catered to with the wide range of projects available as voluntourism in Sri Lanka.