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GROUP VOLUNTEERING PROJECTS
Organising Voluntary Projects Overseas for GROUPS since 1994.

SRI LANKA

COACH SPORTS TO COMMUNITY CHILDREN, PLUS
ELEPHANT CONSERVATION IN WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK

This programme was especially developed to give you and your group a wide experience in Sri Lanka, and yet still enabling you to contribute valuable and appreciated efforts to the local communities.

  • You'll start by helping to coach sports to children in the local school. This activity is extremely satisfying because you're helping disadvantaged children who have very little exposure to sports learning as they are in a rural location.
  • You'll also participate in exciting conservation with elephants. This adrenalin high activity will shoot your trip experience sky-high!

You’ll be based in a village close to the Wasgamuwa National Park. This Park spans over 36,000 hectares and is bordered by the Mahaweli River and the Amban River. The National Park is well known for its abundant wildlife population, wilderness and is also home to temple ruins. At the heart of Wasgamuwa are the herds of elephants (which can be up to 150 or more) which roam freely amongst the vegetation.

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

  • Price: £895 per person. Excludes flights.
    Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
  • Duration: 8 days (7 nights).
  • Start Dates: All year round – you choose your start and finish dates
  • Requirements: Minimum age 17, unless accompanied by teacher, parent or guardian.
  • What's included:
    Arranging your Programme
    Full pre-departure support and assistance
    Payment Protection insurance
    Meeting you at the nearest Airport
    Accommodation
    Food
    Daily transport to and from your project
    Local in-country team support and backup
    24-hr emergency support
    Return transfer to the airport
    Certificate of Completion
  • What's Not Included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, personal spending.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten overseas volunteering holiday into Asia and the wonderful Sri Lankan culture!
  • The enormous satisfaction of helping the local children develop some sports skiils and, at the same time, contributing to some valuable and exciting elephant conservation measures --- and knowing that you made a difference to them.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
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PROGRAMME CONTENT:

This project offers the unique opportunity to coach and play sports with the children in the local community whilst helping to conserve the elephants and other wildlife that live in the surrounding areas outside Wasgamuwa National Park. It is these wild animal populations that live outside the national park that are most vulnerable to poaching, habitat loss and various human induced impacts. The main aim of the elephant work and the sports combined is to help save the elephants, other biodiversity and their habitats by helping people.

Your group will go back to basics in a stunningly beautiful part of the world. You’ll get stuck in helping the local people and the wildlife. This project is diverse: one moment you could be observing elephants overnight in a tree-house, and the next you could be helping to reduce human-elephant conflict in the villages through sport.

Our project partners in Wasgamuwa have selected a number of schools/youth centres in the local area who will welcome your group in coaching children of all ages. The local schools and centres are poorly funded, and in turn have basic sports facilities. However, this does not stop their enthusiasm and passion for sports (or resourcefulness!). They love to take part and practise their skills, whether they have the proper facilities or not.

The elephant project work covers a broad range of elements and activities which can involve a lot of physical activity. From tank monitoring (where elephants feed and bathe), trail transects (a hike to identify if elephants have been in the area); to Biodiversity mapping, the project is filled with interesting aspects.

You’ll also get involved with the identification of trails which predators / prey species use; Analysis of GIS data from all other research projects; identification of elephants; and finally fence monitoring which helps to keep the wild elephants away from the local communities and farmlands helping to reduce human-elephant conflict and observations of elephants from tree huts. Other work will include the cleaning and maintenance of equipment.

Please bear in mind that this project is working with wild elephant,s not elephants living in captivity, and is suitable for those people who want to experience a rural environment. If you want to gain an excellent cultural experience that is worthwhile and gives you much, much more than you'd get as a mere tourist, then this is the placement for you.

Please note that project descriptions are a guideline and can normally be tailored to your group’s requirements.

SAMPLE ITINERARY:

Note: The schedule is merely an example and the order of the above activities will change depending on local conditions. If you're a small group, you'll do all the activities together. If you're a large group, you'll be divided into two or more teams for some of the elements.

  • Day 1:
    • Travel to Sri Lanka
    • Day 2:
      • Airport pick up and transfer to project site
      • Arrival at Wasgamuwa - transfer to SLWCS Land Rovers - leave for Field Camp
      • Check in, refresh & lunch
      • Ice Breaker and Orientation, introduction to all team members and staff.
      • Team A will go Tank Monitoring. Learn how to take photos and data to identify elephants by recording their physical features and other markings on their bodies. Collect elephant behavioral data to develop an elephant ethogram.
      • Team B will go to the Tree Hut. Observe human-elephant conflict and interactions in an ancient elephant corridor.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax.
      • Dinner
      • Data inputting, Project Documentary Film/Discussion/Social Time
      • Lights off
    • Day 3:
      • Birding and observing nature around camp site after bed tea/coffee – entire group
      • Refresh, Breakfast/discussions on the day’s activities
      • Teams will leave on separate assignments to conduct elephant foraging transects, dung transects and trail mapping. During this time observe other wildlife, birds, look for leopard and sloth bear signs, and observe various habitats.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax around camp, catch up on personal activities: wash clothes, etc.
      • Team A will go to a local school to coach, teach and play sports: football, rugby, cricket, volleyball
      • Team B will go to a local school to coach, teach and play sports: football, rugby, cricket, volleyball
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • Dinner
      • Discussion, watch a documentary on the Project/socialize.
    • Day 4:
      • Birding and observing nature around camp site – entire group
      • Refresh, Breakfast/discussions on the day’s activities
      • Both teams will leave on separate assignments to conduct elephant foraging transects, dung transects and trail mapping. During this time observe other wildlife, birds, look for leopard and sloth bear signs, and observe various habitats.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax around camp, catch up on personal activities: wash clothes, etc.
      • Team A will go to a local school to coach, teach and play sports: football, rugby, cricket, volleyball
      • Team B will go to a local school to coach, teach and play sports: football, rugby, cricket, volleyball
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • Dinner
      • Discussion, watch a documentary on the Project/socialize.
    • Day 5:
      • Birding and observing nature around camp site – entire group
      • Refresh, Breakfast/discussions on the day’s activities
      • The entire group will go to a local school to work with the students to work on their organic and butterfly gardens. Clean the school premises and learn about environmental issues and concerns.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax around camp, catch up on personal activities: wash clothes, etc.
      • Team A will go to the Tree Hut. Observe human-elephant conflict in an ancient elephant corridor.
      • Team B will go Tank Monitoring. Learn how to take photos and data to identify elephants by recording their physical features and other markings on their bodies. Collect elephant behavioral data to develop an elephant ethogram.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • Dinner
      • Go on a Road Cruise to spot reptiles, amphibians and other nocturnal wildlife. There’ll be some elephant encounters
    • Day 6:
      • Both teams will leave to go on a Sunrise Hike along the lakeshore - observe local wildlife and birds
      • Refresh, Breakfast/discussions on the day’s activities
      • The teams will go to several villages to observe beehive fences and citrus groves that have been set up to act as elephant deterrents while providing the villagers with a supplementary income. Gather data on these projects including assessing the growth, vigor and status of citrus groves.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax, catch up on personal activities
      • The group will coach/play various sports with local kids: volley ball, cricket, rugby, and football with village kids. Each team will comprise of group members and local kids. This will ensure greater interaction among everybody.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • Dinner
      • Discussion/Social Time
    • Day 7:
      • Birding and observing nature around camp site after bed tea/coffee - both teams.
      • Breakfast/discussions on day’s activities.
      • Visit the village temple to experience the local Buddhist culture and traditions.
      • The entire group will work on the butterfly garden. Help to create a garden for butterflies. Collect and plant feeding and egg laying plants, landscaping, clean the pond, weeding, etc.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • The group will coach/play various sports with local kids: volley ball, cricket, rugby, and football with village kids. Each team will comprise of group members and local kids. This will ensure greater interaction among everybody.
      • Return to camp, clean, refresh and relax
      • Dinner
      • Night Safari to observe nocturnal animals in the Field House property.
    • Day 8:
      • Both teams will leave to go on a Sunrise Hike along the lakeshore - observe local wildlife and birds
      • Breakfast/discussions on day’s activities.
      • Visit the village temple to experience the local Buddhist culture and traditions.
      • The teams will go to several villages to observe beehive fences and citrus groves that have been set up to act as elephant deterrents while providing the villagers with a supplementary income. Gather data on these projects including assessing the growth, vigor and status of citrus groves.
      • Return to camp, clean and put away field equipment, refresh and relax
      • The group will coach/play various sports with local kids: volley ball, cricket, rugby, and football with village kids. Each team will comprise of group members and local kids. This will ensure greater interaction among everybody.
      • Return to camp, clean, refresh and relax
      • Dinner

ACCOMMODATION

You'll live in a remote village called Pussellayaya on the outskirts of the National Park, located around 7 hours north east of Colombo. The community is mostly dependant on paddy farming for its livelihood and as such the way of life here is very simple - you'll need to be prepared to 'get back to basics' and to live like the villagers.

"The open floor plan allows for air to flow freely throughout the house, and it made me feel like we were a part of nature."

The Wasgamuwa house is very basic. The makeup of the house is the first thing you notice. You really do feel like you are in the wilderness! The house is very open to the outdoors, but don’t worry - the makeup of the house is perfectly sufficient and the openness keeps the house cool during the hot spells of the day and dry during the storm.

The house has five bedrooms, you may have your own room but dependent on the number of volunteers, you are likely to share with at least one other volunteer. There are mosquito nets, four fully functional bathrooms with showers (cold water only), sinks and Western style toilets. The accommodation has recently been modernised and there is now electricity, fans and some limited Wi-Fi internet.

It's also possible that you may stay in another field facility to nearby to the main field house, depending on the number of volunteers on the project and your activities and research - this would usually only be for a limited time.

FOOD:
Your food will be freshly cooked by the house caretaker and his wife. Neither of them speak very much English but a smile goes a long way! They are both lovely and love looking after you! The food is basic but delicious. The food usually consists of vegetarian curries, which are made milder than they would for themselves – but there is still a kick to them!

There is also a shop about 5 minutes away from the field house, where you can stock up on snacks and cold drinks for your sugar fix! There is also a fridge in the house, which can be used to store all your food.

Climate:
Dry Season (December to April) where the temperature is between 22°C to 30°C.
Monsoon (May to August) with the temperature ranging between 25°C to 29°C.
Inter-monsoon (September to November) where the temperature lies between 24°C and 29°C.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
As well as protecting all our volunteers, Travellers Worldwide is committed to protecting all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. Read Travellers' Child Care and Vulnerable Adults Policy.

The Wasgamuwa Region spans both the Central and North Central Provinces of Sri Lanka and climatically overlaps both the Intermediate and the Dry climatic zones resulting in a large concentration of wildlife, in terms of both diversity of wild fauna and flora. The region is unusual in its virtual lack of contemporary human disturbance and infrastructure, and its importance as a centre of ancient Sri Lankan culture.

LOCATION:
The Wasgamuwa National Park is the major protected area in the region. The park was declared to protect and to make a refuge for the displaced wild animals during the Mahaweli Development Project in 1984 and is one of the four National Parks designated under the Project. The Wasgamuwa National Park is one of the protected areas where Sri Lankan Elephants can be seen in large herds. It is also one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka. The name “Wasgamuwa” is derived from "Walas Gamuwa" which means the home of the sloth bear.

Being isolated by large rivers on all but its southern side is also a reason for the rich biodiversity in the Wasgamuwa region. The faunal diversity comprises over 30 species of mammals, 143 species of birds of which eight are endemic, 35 species of reptiles of which seven are endemic, 15 species of amphibians, 17 species of fish and 52 species of butterflies. A population of around 350 - 500 elephants (Elephas maximus maximus) inhabit the entire Wasgamuwa Region.