Education and Community Volunteering
Give A Fig are education and development partners of the Sri lankan government, based in the beautiful rural area of Anuradhapura, we offer you amazing, 360 degrees fully supported Volunteering, Gap Year, professional development, and internship opportunities. We are located on the fringe of the Sacred City - the weather is typically sunny all year - and where monkeys visit the grounds of our HQ and accommodation each day. We work in government schools for children aged 5-18, supporting teachers of English, and students, both in the classroom and through outdoor activities to support of their learning of English. We also teach English in colleges to unemployed youth, at the schools for child monks in the Scared City, in 2 orphanges (one being the SOS Children's Village), in villages, and at 2 universities. We are also involved in development work, which includes building infrastructure (toilets, village halls for meetings, pre-schools, and community support), as well as supporting conservation (elephants roam the area in which we live). We work to grow incomes through encouraging tourism that interacts with the locals, who teach crafts (basket weaving, pottery, wood carving), and lead nature cycles through the beautiful countryside. You'll be carrying out vital professionally planned and fully supported volunteering projects that make a vital difference to our Sri Lankan communities, as well as to yourself, on this amazing island that encapsulates a continent. Its rich cultural heritage and staggering bio-diversity make it one of the world’s most spectacular locations in which to satisfy your sense of adventure and work for positive social and ecological change. The projects offer short and long term opportunities for volunteers, interns and gap year opportunities, for individuals as well as groups. In order to maximise your contribution to the projects we provide excellent accommodation, good quality locally sourced food, and all the materials required for your work. We also offer professional life style and craft courses, TEFL courses, island tours and trips, all of which will enable you to experience the beauty of Sri Lanka in ways few tourists ever will.
Rural Villages Project: This project places you at the heart of the local community. Empower the villagers, community leaders and children through teaching English, building local infrastructure, taking part in conservation projects, and supporting the development of their rural businesses for the modern economy and to work with tourists.
Village Orphanage: This is a fantastic opportunity to work within one of the worlds leading orphanage charities and be a part of their inspirational work. We teach the children and staff English, support their vocational programmes as well as their outreach work to strengthen communities so that families can stay together.
Church Orphanage: work with the orphans and staff of a 120 year old Anglican church run orphanage, improving the older children and young people’s futures, whilst working with the younger children to enable them to better benefit from the education they receive in school and build a long term foundation for their success. Support the maintenance and development of the infrastructure at the orphanages and the work of the staff.
Fishing Village and Turtle Sanctuary: This unique project has ecology and the community at its core. Set up by local fishermen, 10 years ago, the sanctuary allows you to directly contribute to the survival of 5 species of sea turtle that nest on local beaches. Guided by experts you can get hands on with the turtles in the hatchery and help develop the site's facilities.
Schools and Spoken English Projects: English is the language of business in Sri Lanka, many government and tourist jobs require it. Improve the prospects of your students and gain valuable teaching experience in a broad range of subjects, take your TEFL with us or teach subjects ranging from IT, Science, Sports and the Arts.
Pre-School Projects: we are working with two pre-schools in the area, training teachers and assistants in best practice, as well as teaching English to them.
Construction Projects: Join us in villages, hospitals and schools building toilets, as well as agro-wells, and water filtration plants.
Teaching Monks: the monks are the leaders of their communities, and teaching them English can support their work with the people. Teach child monks in their school in Anuradhapura, as well as adult monks and nuns in their temples. They are fantatsic people and really enjoy working with us as much as we enjoy working with them.
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Rural Villages Project
Make a real difference in the lives of the rural poor, whose average wage is £55 / $68 pcm month (a pint of beer a day, for comparison, is £40/$50 pcm). We work with rural villagers to grow incomes through offering tourists the opportunities to learn crafts such as basket weaving, pottery, cooking, and to go on cycle rides through the countryside, all with the local people. We also build toilets (cost £500 / $630 each - almost a year’s wages). One community we work with consists of 4 villages of 400 households, with a village temple at its heart housing 13 child monks and the chief priest who looks after them, a herd of local elephants that wander through at will, and crocodiles in the local lakes.
Your work with these communities can give these people real choices in their lives; teaching English and coaching sports, arts and drama to improve their English, will help them to find work, and you can work with them to develop rural tourism, which will increase their chances of the families staying together as parents don’t have to go to Colombo or overseas for work. And you’ll recieve a genuine and rich welcome.
Make a real difference through supporting the work of 2 orphanages and help give the children a chance in life that a lack of family support network when adults denies them. You could also work in their pre-schools. The SOS Children’s Village, has a community of around 140 children aged from 3-19 and a further 20 staff to whom we also teach English. The orphanage is well run and the children and staff are both well provided for. The children have a fantastic experience and continue to be supported past age 19. You can also teach on projects they run in local villages which are designed to strengthen family and community bonds. The 2nd orphanage houses 20 girls from 3 -21, and is run by the Anglican church. Again, you could teach English and support the girls in a variety of other ways, teaching crafts, skills, conversation, and just giving them the opportunity to meet people form countries they never would otherwise to broaden their horizons.
Fishing Village and Turtle Sanctuary
Our turtles are under extreme pressure, and this sanctuary plays a vital role protecting the turtles on Colombo’s urban beaches. Play your part in saving sea turtles on our amazing turtle project. On Colombo’s southern shore lies a small fishing village which is home to one of our projects, a turtle hatchery and sanctuary. For millennia, 5 species of turtle have laid their eggs on the beaches that form the city’s western boundary, and when they do the local hoteliers, police and navy alert the hatchery. The newly laid eggs are taken to the hatchery for reburial. This process is essential to protect the eggs, not only from their natural animal and avian predators but sadly from human predators too – who sell the legally protected eggs for as little as 10 rupees (£0.05) each. The sanctuary was set up 10 years ago by local fishermen to look after the many injured turtles they found on fishing trips. The Hatchery supports its work through seasonal tourist visits, which coincide with the egg-laying season, when the NE monsoon is on the opposite coast. The fishermen can only fish during this calm period and have few alternative incomes to carry them through the remainder of the year when their small boats cannot risk the sea when the SW monsoon comes in.
Join us in providing daily care for the turtles, you’ll be guided by local experts, best practice and current research. Oct/Nov -March/ Apr you’ll be involved in egg collection, and reburial and hatchling release. You may like to take the opportunity to teach English to the fishermen and their children through games, sports, crafts and structured lessons. Join us on beach clean-ups to remove the plastic that’s washed ashore, and help to promote the hatchery work and increase visitor numbers - painting murals, and designing signs to guide tourists to the sanctuary. Work with the tourists and their children when they visit and raise awareness of the hatchery in local schools. May - September you could work at the sanctuary for a few days of your time off, looking after the turtles that remain, as well as the place itself.
There are also opportunities to engage with the broader community, the local village requires infrastructure to be built, we will be installing toilets, showers as well as piping water to villager homes.
Government Partnered School English Projects
Use your conversational English skills, and / or your TEFL training in a wide range of speaking, coaching and teaching roles in our government schools and colleges project. Improve your CV by gaining international school experience, or discover whether teaching is for you, and gain experience with our educational partners before teacher training or teaching interviews for jobs at home and abroad. The staff and pupils are friendly, welcoming, and love to have volunteers in their schools to bring the language alive for them.
English is considered to be the path to success in Sri Lanka, being widely used in the civil service, in health, hospitality and tourism, and in private business. Without English, people are certainly disadvantaged and in the province we work in, this contributes to the cycle of rural poverty.
Study and complete your TEFL in a fully supported educational environment whilst contributing to our positive educational and community work. You will need to have at least a 20 hour TEFL certificate (see our website for details) to raise your awareness of the grammar the children are taught in schools. If you do not have a TEFL certificate you can study and complete a range of other length TEFL courses - up to 250 hours - should you be thinking of working overseas. To be considered to work with us after your volunteering placement, you will need at some point at least a ‘Level 3’ course, similar to or the one offered on our website
Join us in villages, hospitals and schools building toilets, as well as agro-wells and water filtration plants. Neither the local hospital nor the local school has adequate toilet facilities and 50/400 households in one village area have no toilet. Water treatment plants also need to be installed in the villages, schools and hospitals, and the villages need 20 agro-wells to support the development of agriculture.
We encourage groups that wish to come out to raise money to fund these building projects; full details of costs are on our website.
Teaching monks, nuns and their Communities
The culture of Sri Lanka is incredible, and it’s respect for all faiths is demonstrated through its many public holidays. Of central imporatnce on the island are the Buddhist monks and nuns, who you could teach in a variety of settings: in their villages, at their temples, at the school for child monks, and at their university. Unlike monks of other Asian countries, Sri Lankan monks take a vow for life, not just for a chosen period of time, often becoming monks and nuns as children. Teaching the monks and nuns English will support them to become better teachers, spiritual guides, community leaders, and ‘supporters.