While Lanka exudes a glow of tropical relaxation, the friendly local smiles have been hard won. Lanka endured 26 years of civil war with the conflict over racial tensions ending in 2009. Though the country is on the up-and-up with a now fast growing economy, there are still displaced peoples, scarred by the bloody finale which ended a lifetime of conflict. Though politics in Lanka is still dangerously fraught with complications, as a residual effect of the conflict.
Now that things have settled down, Sri Lanka is the perfect place for new adventures. Tourism is a major industry now in Sri Lanka, with a myriad of experiences on offer. You can head to the biggest city in Lanka—Colombo—for private beaches, cool cocktails on warm nights and a chance to see the layers of Sri Lankan history from Sinhalese to portugese. But, most visitors head to the renowned ‘cultural triangle’. Here’s where you’ll meet elephants bathing, watch the famous tea being roasted and catch a glimpse of the Buddha’s tooth.
Why Volunteer in Sri Lanka
Poverty is still a poignant issue in Sri Lanka with many living in rural areas below the poverty line. However, education is deeply valued by the local people and the literacy rate in Sri Lanka is one of the best in Asia. Helping with education programs could be some of the most rewarding work you do in Sri Lanka. There are opportunities to teach under privileged kids in semi rural areas, working on their English or help older youths with vocational training that could greatly increase their chances of getting a job later in life.
If you’d rather work with wildlife Sri Lanka is bursting at the seems with animal conservation opportunities. There are elephant orphanages around the country and the coast is home to sea turtles under attack. Stop poachers by burying sea turtle eggs and help the baby turtles as they emerge to make it the ocean.
Though the war has ended security forces are still out and about keeping the peace and the Australian Government’s website Smart Traveller recommends a high degree of caution. Keep a particular eye out if you’re intending to travel to sites of previous unrest such as Jaffna and other northern areas. These areas could still be involved in civil unrest and non-main roads may still contain landmines.
Before departing make sure to apply for a Sri Lankan ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation). Forgetting to apply for this visa before arrival can make entry into the country very time consuming.
Make sure to visit your doctor (around three weeks before departure) and get a combined Hepatitis A and Typhoid inoculation top up. Also stock up on mosquito repellent and citronella oil to keep the mozzies away as dengue fever occurs commonly in Sri Lanka.
The Australian Consulate is located in Colombo.