Your Medical History
Your safety is the most important thing to us. Therefore it’s important that you are in good physical and mental health before you depart for Sri Lanka. If, during your placement, your health deteriorates we will do our best to support you. However, we may feel it necessary, for your own safety, to remove you from the program.
Before your placement, we’ll ask you to fill in a form on your Portal in which we ask you to list any previous, or ongoing, medical issues we should know about. This information will be kept confidential and shared only with project managers and your designated Peer Mentor in Sri Lanka.
If you have any long-term, pre-existing health conditions we will need a letter from your doctor clearing you to participate in the placement. We are an equal opportunities organisation, but due to in-country infrastructure limitations, and operational constraints, there are limits on the amount of specialised support we can provide.
If you are taking any medication, please ensure you have enough with you for the entirety of your stay. For any prescription medication we advise you bring it with you in your carry-on bag, in the original packaging along with a copy of the prescription. We can not guarantee that you will be able to get any required prescriptions abroad.
We hope you don’t feel unwell whilst on placement, but sometimes that happens and we’ll do all we can to make sure you’re well looked after. Tell your Peer Mentor as soon as you feel unwell so we can get you the right treatment. If you are hospitalised, please call your family. We won’t do this unless you’re unconscious or unless it’s a major emergency.
Dehydration is the number one cause of illness and hospitalisation for volunteers in Sri Lanka and it is not fun. To avoid this happening to you, please drink lots of water, at least 4 litres a day, and supplement your diet with hydration sachets. Rehydration salts are available in Sri Lanka for 5p a sachet and is a real lifesaver.
Please note we may take you to a private, Western hospital for treatment if it’s required, so make sure your travel insurance covers that.
Your Mental Health
Going abroad for an extended period of time is really exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially if you've experienced mental health concerns in the past. It may be helpful to reach out to your mental health professional pre-departure to work out a coping strategy should things get too intense.
You can follow this link for some advice and some resources you may find useful during your time on placement with us to help ensure your prioritising your mental health while abroad. Again, please don't be shy in telling us if you need some help while on placement with us, but please be aware that we are limited in the amount of support we are able to provide as an organisation.
The more prepared you are, the less pressure you feel. Get a good guidebook or read up on Sri Lankan customs and local laws to avoid any cultural faux pas or unfortunate police encounters. The Rough Guide or the Lonely Planet guidebooks cost roughly £15 but a lot of information is also available via their websites.
SLV.Global put the safety of volunteers as our highest priority. Our in-country team are there to ensure that our team remain safe and are working in appropriate areas in Sri Lanka. Please read this blog post on safety whilst volunteering abroad.
All volunteers are required to ensure their phone is unlocked before they join us and purchase a local SIM card upon arrival at the airport. You can find out more about unlocked phones here. It is important to purchase a local SIM card in order for the team to get in touch with you about updates, but also for you to get in touch with the team should you need to.
We recommend photocopying your passport, visa and medical insurance policy and keeping it in your carry-on case.
SLV.Global follows the advice from the Foreign Office to ensure the safety of our volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to check FCO Travel before they depart for the most up-to-date information about travel in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, as with any other country, has its risks. Being a responsible and conscientious traveler will stand you in good stead and help you keep safe whilst in country.
Unwanted attention from the opposite sex can be an issue, especially if travelling alone on public transportation. As a result we recommend that all volunteers always travel in groups or at least in pairs. When travelling after dark it’s always best not to walk and to get motorized transport instead. Please read the Gov.UK advice about travelling to Sri Lanka here.
Accommodation will be provided for during the week but the weekends are free for you to travel. At the weekends make sure you check any accommodation on Trip Advisor as they will have the most recent reviews about accommodation.
Drugs & Alcohol
Upon entering Sri Lanka you’ll be greeted with a huge sign that says ‘possession of narcotics is punishable by death.’ So just don’t risk it. If you get in trouble for drugs you are on your own, there’s nothing we can do for you.
Consuming alcohol is also not seen the same in Sri Lanka as it is in Western cultures. It’s not a social lubricant, it’s viewed as being quite seedy and as the driving factor in local poverty and homelessness. You can’t just stroll into a store and purchase a beer and we ask that you do not purchase alcohol or cigarettes in your local area if you find either for sale.
During the week you are not permitted to drink or to store any alcohol at your homestay. If anyone is taking drugs or drinking in their local area, they will be removed from the placement immediately, as that behaviour will damage our reputation in the community. What you do at the weekend as far as drinking is your choice, but keep your wits about you. Please don’t get out of control; let your hair down, but be careful.
If you are traveling post trip we recommend you remain vigilant, especially if drinking, and follow this same advice.
We ask you to only smoke in the designated areas of your homestay and at weekends. In the rural areas of Sri Lanka, smoking on the street is illegal and often, for women, is seen to be a sign of working as a sex worker.
If people in the community see you smoking they are unlikely to let their children attend our classes because of the negative association attached to cigarettes. I know that this sounds extreme, but when you’re working in another country it’s important that you follow the rules to avoid offending anyone and to curtail any unpleasant encounters with the local authorities.
Your Homestay Family
You’ll be given the address and phone number of your homestay upon arrival in the country, please store this information in a phone or somewhere safe for future reference.
Although giving gifts at projects is inappropriate, bringing a gift to your homestay family is a really nice gesture. A popular choice is tins of biscuits or souvenirs with something representative of your country or hometown on them, like a mug or tea towel. They always go down well, especially if the family has children.
It’s important to remember that these individuals are hosting you in their family home. Please treat the homestay with respect and keep the common areas and bedrooms clean.
We strongly recommend bringing a padlock to lock up your suitcase. Wardrobes and dressers aren’t really a thing in Sri Lanka, so you’ll be using your suitcase as a closet and storage. We recommend not storing large sums of money in your room or taking valuables to Sri Lanka. SLV.Global cannot be held responsible for any lost or stolen possessions or money whilst on placement.
It is normal for your homestay to have pets, but they’re unlikely to be trained, so please don’t tease or feed the animals, as they may become over-excited and cause accidental injury. Please be careful with your belongings and shut your doors to avoid your possessions being damaged by the animals in residence - no one wants chewed up sandals! SLV.Global does not take responsibility for items damaged in homestays.
Relationships: In Sri Lanka it’s not common to see people holding hands and you’d never see people kissing in public, it’s just not done. So of course, It’s culturally inappropriate for volunteers to show affection in public as well.
This especially applies in your homestay and in your local area. If you find true love in Sri Lanka, well done! We’d never stand in your way, but your love and affection for each other needs to be kept on the downlow and to the weekend.
If you are travelling to Sri Lanka with your beloved, you won’t be able to stay in the same homestay for the aforementioned reasons. Physical displays of affection are totally taboo and we expect that you can control yourselves whilst on placement. It makes it all the more romantic if you have to wait until Friday evening for that cuddle.
Personal dynamics: We understand that sometimes living with people might be a new experience and adjusting may take time. It is challenging to be living with 5-14 other people at a time and we are sensitive to this. However, it is part of the placement and as adults we expect you to get along. You don’t like everyone, but you need to remain professional.
However, if you feel like your emotional well-being is at risk or you feel unsafe, please let someone know. Bullying is totally unacceptable on our placements and anyone found to be victimising another volunteer will be disciplined and subject to placement expulsion. Thankfully, this has never happened, because our volunteers tend to be compassionate and kind to each other.
Sri Lanka Address: No: 210, A2
Sri Lanka tel: +94 11 2 498500
Sri Lanka Address:
21 R G Senanayake Mawatha
Sri Lanka tel: +94 11 2 463200
SLV.Global Sri Lankan Office
231/1/1b, 2nd Floor
High Level Road
Sri Lanka tel: +940112199095
SLV.Global London Office
Unit 14, Old Post Office,
176 Shoreditch High Street,
London E1 6HP
UK tel: +44 2070961718
Toll free US/CAN: +18 552369339
Toll free AUS: +61 488801151
British High Commission, Sri Lanka
389 Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Sri Lanka tel: +94 11 5 390639