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WORTHWHILE VOLUNTEERING ABROAD
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas since 1994.

SUMMARY OVERVIEW

Volunteer to work on this turtle conservation project in Sri Lanka whose aims are to help prevent the extinction of sea turtles. Daily tasks involve cleaning the turtle tanks, feeding and cleaning the turtles, cleaning the beach and general area and identifying different kinds of turtles.

You'll help in the rehabilitation and release back into the sea of turtles that are usually victims of commercial fishing. Apart from treating injured and sick sea turtles, You'll also be involved in protecting nests and rescuing eggs so that they can be hatched without incident in the safety of our hatchery.

Price:
Please see the Prices Page. Prices for all projects are listed and you can choose which currency you'd like to see them in. Prices exclude flights.
Duration:
From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates:
All year round - you choose your start and finish dates. Programmes start on Sundays.
Requirements:
Minimum age 18. You don't need any qualifications or experience to do this project, just lots of enthusiasm and love of animals.
What's included:
  • Arranging your Programme
  • Payment Protection insurance
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance
  • Personalised online project portal where you'll access all information your programme, health & safety and country advice.
  • Your own dedicated Project Co-ordinator to help you throughout the pre-departure process
  • Meeting you at the nearest Airport
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Daily transport to and from your project
  • Full safety, support and back up from our local in-country team.
  • Project orientation & induction on your arrival.
  • 24-hr emergency support.
What's not included: Flights, Travel Insurance, Cost of Visas, Return to the airport (but we can arrange this for you).
Who can do this Programme?
All projects are open to all nationalities. Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in animal welfare, animal care, wildlife, conservation.

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PROJECT CONTENT

Preventing the extinction of turtles, which are now classed as a critically endangered species, there are many challenges. Many turtles fall victim to the practices of commercial fishing and are in need of veterinary care. Protecting nests and rescuing eggs to bring to the safety of our hatchery, are daily activities where our volunteers make a substantial difference.

Your work here will be exceptionally varied, but also immensely interesting and rewarding, especially when you witness the release of a turtle back to the sea, often after many months of care.

However, before we reach that stage there is much work to be done, work that is often far from glamorous, but it does have its plus side, in that you are doing it in what must be one of the most beautiful spots in Sri Lanka, if not the world. In addition to those mentioned already, day-to-day activities include:

  • Cleaning the beach and general area
  • Cleaning the turtle tanks
  • Cleaning the turtles' shells
  • Feeding
  • And for the artistically inclined there may well be various painting projects
  • We often run ‘Awareness Camps’ for groups of tourists who make a special trip to this area to see our work. While you are with us, you'll gain the expertise to enable you to assist in some of the instruction.
  • We also work closely with many local and international conservation partners and regularly collect data to ensure our efforts are having the results we desire, and you will also be part of this data collection process.

If you volunteer for longer than one month, you'll also learn about the tree plantation, another area where your work can have a big long term impact.

EXAMPLE SCHEDULE:
The schedule is subject to change according to the needs of the turtles, weather conditions, holidays, the time of year, etc. Basically, you'll work with the Coordinator at the project where you can learn about, and take part in, the following:

  • The collection of eggs
  • Identifying different kinds of turtles
  • Hatching of the eggs
  • Treatment for injured and sick turtles
  • Feeding the turtles
  • Cleaning of the turtle tanks
  • Cleaning the turtles
  • Releasing turtles into the sea
  • Explaining about the turtles to visitors
  • You'll also get the chance to learn about sea plants.

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ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation is included during your stay on our program within the schedules/itineraries provided. Living is comfortable and all volunteer houses and home stayshave electricity and running water.

Wi-Fi / Internet: Wi-Fi / Internet is not availale, however there are internet cafés available closer to the volunteer house and in the city.

FOOD:

Meals are provided three times a day during the week and twice during the weekend (breakfast and lunch combine to become brunch during the weekend). Breakfast is self-service with toast, fruits, tea and coffee. Sri Lankan foods include roti bread, dal (Lentil Soup) and curries, vegetables, salads, milk and yogurt. Meat is rarely eaten, except on festive occasions.

Weekends are free to relax, and to explore the local area.

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REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK

Wendy Frankcom (British):
"I spent 2 months in beautiful Sri Lanka, working as a volunteer with 3 different placements. Having recently retired gave me the opportunity to do something exciting. Last year, my granddaughter had a gap year and went travelling. I loved following her adventures; when I was young, few people were able to have that kind of experience. This year she looked after my house and cat while I had my turn.

Among my memorable moments was running into the sea in our clothes after cleaning turtle tanks, getting to know the turtles (yes they have individual personalities!) Laughing and joking with the 'turtle guys ‘who led our work experience. My biggest achievements included finding my feet in a new country, finding how much I enjoyed meeting and chatting with such a range of people (other volunteers, local people, other travellers) and becoming confident in travelling around independently to explore Sri Lanka.

My Most Positive Impact On The Project: This little project relies on volunteer funding, so we're crucial to its continuation. Local people value our interest in their country and the turtles plight, telling me 'it's a good thing you are doing, coming to help here'.

I learnt to identify the different kinds of turtles and learnt about their life cycles. Gained insight into threats to their well-being and need for protection .Also witnessed the kinds of injuries these creatures have sustained: many of the turtles in the 'turtle farm' will never be able to return to live free in the sea.

It's very 'hands on' care and you get to know the turtles- yes, turtles have different personalities like any creatures! Work involves preparing fish and feeding turtles- they have individual needs due to type of injuries sustained-, cleaning turtles shells, and lots of turtle tanks to scrub clean so they can be refilled with clean water. Also keeping the environment clean and tidy and clearing rubbish from the beach. You get very wet and smelly- but the best way to clean up afterwards is to run straight into the sea, which feels great. Just don't wear your best clothes.

A Typical Day

Normally, work is 9.30-12.0 then home for lunch. The volunteer house is just across the road from the turtle home and walking home dripping wet is no problem. After lunch, free time until 2pm, then work til around 3.30.pm so lots of free time to go to the beach or explore the neighbourhood.

The beach is absolutely beautiful, golden sand, palm trees and few people.

When baby turtles have hatched, these will be released into the sea at dusk, so we would return to the beach at 6.30 for this. A lovely sight to see, though we do feel anxious as we send these tiny creatures out into the big wide world. Often local people come and join us and there's a bit of a beach party atmosphere as we cheer the little turtles on their way down to the sea.

Generally, this project is a lot of fun and would suit anyone with an interest in animals and who is prepared to join in with the hard work of scrubbing tanks and getting messy with good humour.

Other aspects I think worth mentioning are the volunteer house and the town of Ambalangoda: we were well looked after by lovely staff at the house. They offered suggestions for places to visit and helped with making arrangements for trips and knew where to buy anything anyone wanted. Volunteers staying at this house are working on a range of projects, so we get to know about what they are doing too. I was able to meet the young monks at the temple school where another volunteer was teaching them English. Volunteers from the projects in Kandy can also come to Ambalangoda for a 'beach week' holiday break, so we found out about their experiences working at temple restoration, orphanages or with disabled and elderly people. A variety of excursions are organised for these beach weeks, and I was invited to join in with these.

The volunteer house is only a short walk from the town of Ambalangoda. It's a fishing port and a working town, so I felt I was seeing 'real' Sri Lankan life, not a tourist spot. The volunteer project is well known locally and residents are used to meeting us around, are welcoming and many people said that we are doing good work. A small town, it's easy to find the way around. There are shops, banks etc for anything needed, also bus and rail stations. It was a good place to start my Sri Lanka adventure, getting comfortable finding my way around, managing currency and communications, and gradually branching out to explore other towns and beaches within easy reach."

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