International volunteers play an important role contributing to the daily running and future development of the charity. We welcome volunteers from all over the world, with all kinds of skills and interests. Through the different elements of the project, volunteers have a unique experience, gaining grass root entry into the local community, working with the local people in improving education and promoting our important work in achieving improved elephant care and conservation, protecting not just our own herd but elephants all over Sri Lanka!
The primary focus of the foundation is the daily care and management of the elephants living with us. Upon arrival you will be allocated an elephant to work with and will help with its daily care and if necessary medical treatment. Working under the direction of your elephant’s mahout and with other volunteers, you will be required to assist with its feeding, and bathing throughout your stay; and hopefully build a special relationship with your elephant! This requires dedicated care and responsibility.
During your placement we need you to use your initiative to develop your own ideas or follow up those of previous volunteers. Our co-ordinators are here to help you work towards improving the foundation and promoting the projects both locally and internationally. The project is what it is today because of the hard work, drive and dedication of previous volunteers, so please do not take anything for granted- including the difference that you could make!
There are 4 main aspects to volunteer work that we ask all volunteers to get involved in, they are:
- Foundation: the daily care and treatment of your elephant as well as the administration, fundraising, research, campaigning and museum maintenance needed to support the foundation and our many conservation projects aimed at improving the lives of elephants and people all over Sri Lanka.
- Eco-farm: volunteers will work alongside our gardener growing many fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs that will be used in elephant care and enrichment, in the restaurant and sold by you in the fruit shop!
- Vets: volunteers will always be invited to assist the vets on visits to sick elephants and to the Peraheras (religious parades) the vets supervise. (Please note these visits cannot be guaranteed during your stay)
- Teaching: we have set up informal after school clubs attended by children and adults of all ages, for a few hours a week volunteers can help these children improve their English skills and to raise awareness of conservation issues. Teaching qualifications are not necessary.
Expected of volunteers
Volunteers must be able to work independently within the guidelines of the project rota. Patience and perseverance are essential, enthusiasm and a willingness to accept another culture will mean you get the most from your volunteering experience.
As a reward for all your hard work you will receive a commemorative certificate, printed on recycled elephant poo paper, the chance to receive an elephant shower and ride or elephant walk experience from your new best friend, along with memories to last a life time!
As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to experience and immerse yourself in a different culture. Undoubtedly you will face the day-to-day challenges that are Sri Lanka, but overall you'll be greeted by the warm Sri Lankan smile and hospitality, and struck by the sheer beauty of your surroundings. You will have two days off a week depending on your workload, giving you ample opportunity to explore Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage on your own, or with other volunteers.
Program for Vet Interns
The project runs and fund a mobile veterinary unit which would be ideal for vet interns to participate in:
- Prepare, administer and feed elephant medications and vitamin balls which they receive daily
- Assist the vet assistant with any treatments the elephants receive (where needed)
- Fund raise and raise awareness about the Mobile Veterinary Unit
- Do research on vet schools or vet practices worldwide who we could contact to raise awareness about the Mobile Veterinary Unit
- Update all the elephant medical record folders and elephant profiles, type up handwritten data
- Data analysis and reporting on the data collected from elephant dung counts and elephant behaviour studies and present them to the doctor and the founders of the foundation showing the project findings
- Spend a day with the local vets treating cats and dogs and other house pets
- Spend a day at Peradinya university with the trainee vets to see how they learn and practice here in Sri Lanka
- For the Pera hera we can arrange for interns to go with the doctor and do health checks on the elephants
Normal daily workload includes:
- Cleaning elephant beds and enclosures, removing of old dung and food and ensuring dry and comfortable for the elephants to sleep and rest in
- Bathing elephants in the river
- Feeding elephants their vitamins and medication
- Clearing drains at the back of elephant beds
- Eco gardening
- DIY and maintenance of the foundation
- Improvements to volunteer area
- Fundraising and awareness