Bridging Lanka Volunteer Program

Would you like an exceptional experience as a volunteer supporting local people and projects in northern Sri Lanka?

About

What do I get out of volunteering?

Volunteering brings mutual benefit. For the volunteer it can mean a life-changing experience while contributing one's knowledge, skills and person to assist people in exceptional circumstances. For the community it registers as a mark of solidarity, that others care for them and their plight. This often leads to life-long friendships.

What am I expected to do?

Volunteers hit the ground running. A discreet piece of work is negotiated ahead of time for volunteers to do and helpful local people guide them through the initial stages. Volunteers work hard during the day, connect deeply with locals at all times, relax in the evenings and explore Sri Lanka's many attractive tourist destinations on weekends.

Where do I stay?

Accommodation and food is provided in either affordable guesthouses or in village stay options. Personal support is provided by Bridging Lanka staff to address any issues which may arise. All volunteers are expected to pay for their travel, accommodation and food expenses.

When is the next trip?

Trips are organised usually twice a year although there is room for flexibility. Generally they fall within May to July and September to November. Expressions of interest can be sent at any time - see form at bottom of page.

We are seeking volunteers in the following sectors:

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Women + Community

Women's issues, community development, community engagement, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, primary health care, aged and disability services, youth work, family services, doctors, nurses, peace and conflict, international development.

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Business Development

Social entrepreneurship, business planning, IT, website design, business administration, graphics & design, workplace health & safety, agriculturalists, marketing, workplace training and assessment.

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Urban Improvement

Town planning, urban design, landscape architecture, architecture, engineers, building & construction, solid waste management, disaster mitigation.

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Eco Tourism

Sustainable tourism, tourist guide training, food & beverage, hospitality, archaeology, heritage development, oral history, publication.

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Education for All

Teaching and learning, English as a second language, curriculum development, online learning.

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Care for Environment

Environmentalists, advocacy, animal welfare, veterinary care, landscape design, horticulture.

Positions

Regular volunteer programs.

Experienced Finance Bods

Experienced bookkeepers, accountants and finance persons with or without formal qualifications to assist local staff broaden their professional skills by setting up simple financial reporting systems and ensure financial accountability. Read more…

Civil Engineers

Bridging Lanka is seeking qualified and community-minded Civil Engineers able to integrate human development ideals with engineering expertise. Tasks include planning, developing and managing projects across a range of sectors including urban development, the environment, women’s livelihood and social welfare. Protection and rehabilitation of Mannar’s kulams Urban improvements in materially poor villages - housing, drainage, recreational facilities Construction of donkey-related infrastructure – a Donkey Clinic & Community Education Centre and a Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre A café and commercial kitchen as part of a widows’ livelihood initiative, working toward social, economic and health outcomes. Read more…

Comms Professionals

Bridging Lanka and its work are growing significantly and we are looking for Comms Professionals who will assist us to improve our communications and marketing. Tasks include graphic and layout for reports, community awareness fliers, website updates, newsletters, FaceBook uploads, video scripting and production, marketing... . We also need professionals to develop an effective comms strategy for us. Volunteers can be based anywhere in the worldbut we would also be delighted to host you in Mannar, north-west Sri Lanka. Read more…

Testimonies

Click to read the stories of our volunteers.

Apply

Fill out our expression of interest form and we'll get in touch with you. We look forward to working with you.

Resources

FAQ

Before Sri Lanka

The weather does not change much throughout the year, mostly remaining hot and humid. The monsoon season runs from December to February. 

Nighttime temperatures do not drop significantly from those during the day. 

It is useful to have an umbrella for both sun and rain protection. These can easily be purchased in Mannar at a cheap price. 

It wiil be appreciated if you email us with an offer to bring items. We regularly require restocking of small items such as peanut paste, and also larger items. In addition, volunteers can sometimes bring in laptops that are no longer in use, or other electronic items, to donate. 

An offer to bring/transport needed items is always appreciated. 

Ensure you have a laptop, a USB stick, a power adaptor, and stationary. Stationary can be purchased in Mannar - it is not supplied by Bridging Lanka.

Yes there are a number of ATMs and Banks. It is useful to get small denominations when withdrawing money - E.g. 20 Rupee notes. 

Below is a link to find the AUD to LKR exchange rate. 
http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=AUD&to=LKR 

It is a hot and humid climate. The temperature does not change much between day and night. Bring clothes suitable for such a climate.It is useful to bring clothes that are fast drying.

 

WOMEN

Women need to dress according to local standards. If in doubt go for the more modest option. 

Ofice wear

insude the office and when outside representing Bridging Lanka women should wear short sleeved shirts or loose fitting T shirts. Pants or skirts should cover the knee. 

Outside of the office

it is recommended that women wear shirts that cover the shoulder. Shorts that go to the knee. 

MALES

Office wear

Men need to wear long pants to work in the office.  Men should wear collared shirts or collared T shirts  in the office. 

Outside of the office

Shorts and T shirts are acceptable outside of the office and work times.

FOOTWEAR

Both at the office and outside the office males and females wear thongs/flip flops. It is sensible to wear shoes, sandals or thongs that are easy to remove as shoes are not worn inside. You will remove shoes at the door. 

Volunteers are required to provide their own equipment such as laptops, cameras, mobile phones and materials needed to carry out their volunteer work while in Sri Lanka.

Volunteers are required to cover their own travel and living costs throughout the project. This includes the cost of return air travel to Sri Lanka, travel insurance, any necessary medical vaccines, the cost of domestic travel in Sri Lanka, and accommodation food and living expenses.

Just Arrived in Sri Lanka

Yes. No matter what time your plane arrives, there will be several bank counters open and staff on hand to change your currency. A number of local banks are represented here. Just show the counter staff your passport and hand over your currency. They will give you rupees and a receipt.

Trains and buses are the most common travel option from Colombo to Mannar and run regularly. There are also taxis and hire vans available.

Tuk-tuks are easily available. Ensure you get one that has a meter (ask the driver, or look for it at the top left of the windscreen). 

Chocolates, and small items from your own country. 

Sri Lanka primarily uses old and new UK power sockets. The old variety (Type D) has three round pins, and the new variety (Type G) has three square pins. There is a mix of these sockets in Mannar. The power voltage in Sri Lanka is 230V.

http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeD.htm

http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/typeG.htm

In Mannar

There is a wifi network available at the Bridging Lanka office. Additionally, some guesthouses have their own network available to guests. We recommend you get your own data plan on a Sri Lankan sim card. This way you can still have access to the internet if there is no wifi at your guesthouse, or if the power goes out at the office. 

When you are working in Bridging Lanka you will be working in a culture that is foreign to your own. It is important to remain open and flexible in approach. Do not expect things to work in Sri Lanka the way they work in your own country or try to impose those ideas in a coutnry where they will not (yet) work.

Many guesthouses are located within an easy walk from Bridging Lanka. Some guesthouses will have pushbikes and scooters available for hire. Pushbikes, scooters and motorbikes are used by local people more commonly than cars. Local buses and tuk-tuks are available. Tuk-tuks in Mannar do not have meters - you will have to ask the driver for price before you travel or simply pay on arrival. Bargain? 

People do not bargain, but be aware that you may be charged more than local people. Mostly the price is written on a pre-packed item. If you feel you are being overcharged you can simply go to another shop.

Guesthouses can provie meals and there are cafes and street stalls. Food is inexpensive; a meal of curry, rice and accompanyments will around $3AUD.

Guesthouses provide a range of accommodation from basic to rooms with facilities such as a fan, or air-conditioning, and ensuite. Room rates range from -- to --.

The guesthouse will provide a towel and soap. A laundry service is provided at a very reasonable rate. Most guesthouses do not have coathangers and provide some hooks on the wall for clothes. 

The quality of water in Mannar is good, but most non-locals drink bottled water. Most guesthouses and the office in Bridging Lanka provide filtered water for you to use. 

Most peope eat curry for three meals a day. Tropical fruit, bread, butter, jam, curd and ice-cream are easily available. Fast food is not available. If you have a food you enjoy such as museli, chocolate, a particular sandwich bread, you should bring it with you.

People eat with their hands - one hand only - therefore it is useful to carry hand santizer.  

Western toilets are available in guesthouses and at Bridging Lanka, and they are supplied with toilet paper. Squat toilets are also used, with a hose. There are no public toilets. 

If you take regular medication, ensure you have an adequate supply for your needs. There is a pharmacy in Mannar where you can buy a range of the usual pharmacy items. 

Town area: When you arrive you'll be given a map of the town. After you explore the town you may wish to do the 4km walk along the causeway between Mannar Island and the mainland. 

Outside Mannar: There are a variety of tourist attractions within easy reach of Mannar. A day trip in an air-conditioned van can be arranged for you at a cost of approximately $90AUD. The van can be shared by up to 7 people. 

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