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 placement. 

Before your placement, we’ll ask you to fill in a form on your Participant Portal in which we will 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 coordinator 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 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.

During the working week, outside of weekends, your homestay will provide you with breakfast and dinner. If you have any food allergies, please let your homestay family know, but unfortunately they can’t cater to specific dietary requirements. You will need to be responsible for monitoring your own diet.

Research

The more prepared you are, the less pressure you feel. Get a good guidebook and 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

Safety

SLV.Global put the safety of volunteers as our highest priority. Please read this blog post on safety whilst volunteering abroad.

SLV.Global follows the advice from the Foreign Office to ensure the safety of our volunteers. Sri Lanka is still recovering from the effects of a tsunami and a recent recent civil war. In 2009 the Sri Lankan government announced that it had achieved victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist militant organization, after more than 25 years of civil conflict. Despite the official end of the war, Tamil civilians in the north of the country are still coping with the effects of the conflict. 

Volunteers are encouraged to check FCO Travel before they depart.

 


Safety Risks

Sri Lanka, as with any other country, has its risks. As mentioned in the above blog, it’s important that you are aware of your surroundings and that you travel in groups or minimally pairs. When travelling after dark it’s always best not to walk and to get motorised transport instead. 

At the weekends make sure you check any accommodation on Trip Advisor as they will have the most recent reviews. At times, the information in guidebooks about accommodation can be out of date. Please make sure you have all Project Managers’ phone numbers stored in your phone in case of emergency.

Drugs

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. 

Alcohol is 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.


Smoking

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.

Illness

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. Eno is available in Sri Lanka for 5p a sachet and is a real life saver. 

We may take you to a western hospital for treatment if it’s required, so make sure your travel insurance covers that.

Your Passport

If your placement is longer than 4 weeks, we will be requesting your passport on your first day so that we can extend your visas. Once extended; we will photocopy your passport and your visa and provide you with these duplicates. SLV.Global will keep your passport until the end of your placement for safekeeping. 

Getting a new passport in Sri Lanka is incredibly difficult and we want to make sure your documents are safe. All passports are kept together under lock and key in the SLV.Global office. If you need to leave your placement early we will request a copy of your itinerary and you will need to sign yourself out of the placement before we can return your documents. 

Failure to follow this procedure will result in us cancelling your visa and potential deportation from the country.


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 overexcited 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.

Your Homestay

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. 

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 5-19 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 wellbeing is at risk or you feel unsafe, please let someone know. Bullying is totally unacceptable on our placements and anyone found to be victimizing another volunteer will be removed from the placement, but this has never happened, because our volunteers are lovely.

 


Foreign Embassies

American Embassy

Sri Lanka Address: No: 210, A2
Colombo 00300
Sri Lanka tel: +94 11 2 498500 

Australian Embassy

Sri Lanka Address: 21 R G Senanayake Mawatha
Colombo
Sri Lanka tel:: +94 11 2 463200

SLV.Global Sri Lankan Office

231/1/1b, 2nd Floor
Laksiri Building
High Level Road
Maharagama
Colombo
Sri Lanka tel: +940112199095

SLV.Global London Office

122, Minories,
London, UK EC3N 1NT
tel: 02070961718

British High Commission, Sri Lanka

389 Bauddhaloka Mawatha
Sri Lanka
tel: +94 11 5 390639