' I LOVE this experience in chitwan for though short period! 'Xue Ying Fiona Wang
Disclaimer: The information given in this FAQ's page is generic. You should verify critical information such as visa-related issues, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities prior to traveling. Please be aware that information given in FAQ's may change at any time. In effect, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. For the latest updates, please contact us or our in-country coordinator(s).
The founder of RCDP has been involved in volunteer abroad business for the last 10 years. During this time, he has worked with more than 2000 volunteers and more than 200 universities, colleges, and schools groups.
Working with inspiring college students and humanitarian volunteers was very motivating as well as very enjoyable and presented many exciting learning opportunities. This experience encouraged him to start his own volunteer abroad program where affordable prices, premium programs and meaningful contributions to deprived communities would become the key components of the programs.
With this in mind, while setting up volunteer and travel abroad organization, we have selected many safe and culturally rich destinations where volunteers can make meaningful contributions, immerse in local culture, and get enriched from volunteer abroad experience. In each destination, we have carefully selected projects, host families, travel coordinating staff, and placed local support staff. We have provided them with extensive training to manage the program with professional services that will be delivered with care and respect for all volunteers. We are now proud of our coordinators, host families, host projects, and staff as all of them have at least 4 years of working experience with international volunteers. To meet your expectation, they are committed to working hard to meet your expectations, delivering professional services, and turn your volunteer abroad experience into a memorable journey.
There are two options available to those applying for volunteer positions in the Sri Lanka programs:
Once RCDP receives your application, it will immediately be forwarded to Sri Lanka for processing. Our Sri Lanka In-Country coordinator will then carefully review your application to ensure you get placed in the project that matches your criteria and your qualifications.
Once the India In-Country coordinator finalizes and forwards us the detail, we will immediately send it to you. The whole process normally takes 1-2 weeks. However, this can sometimes take longer.
You will also find an invoice requesting you to pay the program fee along with the placement details.
Once you receive the placement details, you can even call our Sri Lanka office directly and speak to our In-Country coordinator and any questions that might you prepare for their trip.
Preparation for a Sri Lanka trip includes: reading about Sri Lanka, vaccination, visa arrangement, booking tickets. If you experience ANY problems, please call RCDP office.
Once you purchase air tickets, you should immediately submit the flight details to BOTH RCDP and Sri Lanka office so that we can arrange for a pickup when you arrive.
Volunteers should arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
One of our representatives will be waiting for you in the arrival lounge of the airport holding a placard with your name on it. This will happen without fail provided you have passed on your travel itinerary to our office. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can call your Sri Lanka office and talk to our In-Country coordinator.
If your flight gets delayed or if you miss your flight and book yourself on a later flight, please let us know immediately by either calling our office. You must try to call first and then email the details if possible. Look at your placement details for all the contact information.
If you can not make any contact and no one receives you at the airport, look at your placement details, hire a taxi and go to the hotels recommended on it. In the airport in Sri Lanka, take a pre-paid taxi.
Let the In-Country coordinator know your whereabouts after your arrive at the hotel or the next day. The coordinator will arrange for you to be picked up.
Volunteers are suggested to arrive one day before the start of program. If volunteers arrive more than a day earlier or remain after the close of their program, they will be responsible for their own for providing their own accommodation and meal.
During the entire program, RCDP will organize your accommodation, meal and supervision. Volunteers will initially stay at a hostel in Galle.
During the volunteer work for orphanage and teaching Buddhist Monks, volunteers will stay with a host family. You will be provided with a separate room for volunteers in the home stay and enjoy three meals a day. You can find the details of the room/food accommodations in the placement sheets for your project.
You can get a 30 days tourist visa upon arrival. But we strongly recommend you to get a tourist visa prior to your arrival. It saves time and hassle of filling out the form in the airport, making sure you have all the documents required, and queuing up to apply for the visa.
Please find the Sri Lanka Embassy Abroad
Visit the sites listed below and acquire as much information as possible. Remember there is no harm in knowing more when it comes to health and safety.
We use the Center for Disease Control Traveler's health recommendations (www.cdc.gov). Your travel doctor will know about current epidemics and should be consulted.
Before entering Sri Lanka, vaccination against the Yellow Fever is legally required. The requirement is only enforced on people from the infected areas like Central Africa and parts of South America.
Other immunizations before traveling in Sri Lanka are also recommended for any longer trip in the Island , including Diphtheria & Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese B Encephalitis, Polio, Rabies, Tuberculosis, and Typhoid . Malaria medication should be brought with you in case of travel to the high-risk area of the disease. Basic equipments for first-aid such as bandage, band-aids, and other wound dressing should be prepared as well.
Sri Lankan currency is "Sri Lank Rupee (INR)".
Your currency can be exchanged in Rupee at the airport. About 10 banks have counters in the airport. Use them to exchange into rupees. Change initially about USD 200 dollars. You can exchange more later.
ATM machines are available at various regions throughout Sri Lanka, especially in Colombo and Galle. Using Debit and Credit Cards in Sri Lanka is not a problem. Most cards are accepted in the country. You have to be little cautious when using cards and try to use them only in big supermarkets and places you feel genuine.
You can get by with $15 a day provided you are careful in taking your money out. Accommodation and meal during your project is free but if you want to explore Sri Lanka and shop, budget accordingly.
We keep in touch with our volunteers. Our staffs visit volunteers every 2 weeks. You are encouraged to contact us if you want to speak with us on anything. You can also visit us. You will be provided with all the contact information.
There are internet cafes around Galle and Colombo and costs about $1 to surf the net.
You can also use international phone cards to call home. You will also be provided with full contact details of our office in Sri Lanka. You are encouraged to call us should you want to do so. In addition, our program staff will visit you regularly to check upon you.
If you bring your mobile phone with you, buy a local sim card and use the phone to stay in touch with people back home.
Sri Lanka experiences two seasons, wet and dry.
It will be a nice gesture if you bring items like books, pencils, color pens, toys and games, especially if you are volunteering in schools and orphanages.
You can also bring things like chocolates, CD, T-Shirts to the host family.
Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean, located to the south of Indian Subcontinent. Sprawling over the area of 65, 610 square kilometers, Sri Lanka with its tear-dropped shape is dominated by the astonishingly varied features of topography, making it one of the most scenic places in the world. Three zones can be divided by its distinguished elevation: the Central Highland, the plains, and the coastal belt.
At the core of the island is dominated by a high plateau in which several highest mountains of Sri Lanka are situated. Among them, the highest pinnacle is Pidurutalagala Mountain levitating at 2,524 meters of its height; Sri Lankan people consider this mountain as the sacred site of pilgrimage. The Adam's Peak lying to the west, at the southern end of the plateau is better known for its spectacular scenery and sacred pilgrimage site with its elevation of 2224 meters.
Then the land descends from the Central Highlands to a series of flat plains between 30 and 200 meters above sea level, dominating the east and the north of the island. Extensive erosion in this area has worn down and deposited the rich soil good for agriculture.
A coastal belt surrounds the island, consisting of scenic sandy beaches and lagoons. Best beaches line along the southern coast, southwestern coast and eastern coast. In the northeast and the southwest, the coasts cut across the stratification of crystalline rocks, cliffs, bays, and offshore islands, creating one of the world's best natural harbors at Trincomalee on the northeastern coast and a smaller rock harbor at Galle on the southwestern coast. In the northwest, Mannar Island which is joined with the mainland by a bridge is almost connected to the southern India by a long chain of sandbanks and islets called Adam's Bridge.
Rivers in Sri Lanka originates in the Central Highlands, near Adam's Peak and flow through the gorges, broad valley and plains and finally empty in the sea near Trincomalee, creating the different landscapes of escarpments, waterfalls and deep gorges. Most of the rivers are short and frequently interrupted by the discontinuities of terrain. The longest river of Sri Lanka is the Mahaweli Ganga River with it length of 335 kilometers. The upper reach of the river is wild and non-navigable while the lower reaches are prone to the seasonal flooding. The river is the most important water necessity for the irrigation system in the northeast region in which natural rainfalls are deficient.
As Sri Lankan population is composed with multi-ethnic group, the religion in Sri Lanka is inevitably diverse. Various communities in Sri Lanka recognize four of the world's major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The majority people of the country, the Sinhalese are adherent to Buddhism while other ethnic groups like Tamils, Moors, Burghers, and others practice Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, respectively.
Experts say that religion in Sri Lanka is syncretism bending elements of Buddhism, Hinduism and spiritual beliefs of indigenous people, creating then the uniqueness of religious character of Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly, religion became an inseparably integral part of Sri Lankan society; it is the basis of social management, politics, as well as the spiritual guidance represented as the caste system, laws, and other traditional rituals. The flourishing culture of the country throughout its history is a result of religion
Buddhism among other religions in Sri Lanka seems to be the most important as it was claimed to be the religion of the majority Sinhalese who hold sway the country's power. In Sri Lankan history, Buddhism has played the significant role in the establishment of Sinhalese kingdoms since the early times, dating back to over two thousands years.
The first confrontation of the Sinhalese king named Devanampiyatissa and Arhat Mahinda , the celebrated missionary of Buddhism in 306 B.C. (237 years after the death of the Buddha) paved way for the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka . The Arhat Mahinda was an own son of Emperor Asoka of India . The Emperor had completely converted to Buddhism and consecrated himself as patronage of religion. He intended to establish Buddhism in the island of Sri Lanka, Arhat Mahinda was then sent for this mission.
When Arhat Mahinda came to Sri Lanka, he brought with him the The Ravada canon or orthodox Buddhism, regarded as the most ancient sect of Buddhism using the Pali language unlike the Mahayana Buddhism which embraces Sanskrit. Arhat Mahinda preached the Buddha's teaching not only to rulers but also directly to common people, making Buddhist education spread out rapidly. Together, constant patronage of the succeeding kings allowed Buddhism to flourish throughout the island while the numerous religious edifices soon spotted the island. Among those monasteries, the most outstanding one is the Mahavihara monastery which became the historic center of The Ravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Mahinda' s arrival in Sri Lanka marked the significant development of Sri Lankan culture; he brought about not only a new religion, but also the whole civilization of Buddhist India, be it arts, architecture, and literature. Not only culture which was graced by Buddhism, political ideology based on Buddhism had, through the course of times, embedded in the island so profoundly as well. Since the time of King Devanampiyatissa , the political state and Buddhism has been merged together according to the adoption of Asoka' s strategy. The religious and the temporal institutions were closely related to one another that the support of Buddhist monks was as indispensable as that of kings had to offer to the religion. The constitutional position of Buddhism became so strong that the act against the religious institution was treated as a high treason; meanwhile, kings conduct well to gain the monk's favor for the sake of peaceful and successful government.
Buddhism was regarded the highest ethical and philosophical expression of Sinhalese culture and civilization, becoming later the significant influence on national identity among the Sinhalese Buddhists. The consciousness of Buddhist identity of the Sinhalese was so strong that they claimed Sri Lanka belonged to the Buddha, and the Sinhalese people themselves were then designated to be the "protector of Buddhism" according to the most important chronicle of the early Sinhalese-Buddhist in Sri Lanka, Mahavamsa . Particularly, for the kings, they were the "head" as well as the "defender of Buddhism". The suitable king to assert the throne must be Buddhist, and he was responsible for supporting religious institutions while constructing and restoring monasteries and other Buddhist shrines.
In times gone by, the flourishing Buddhism encountered the great change from the foreign occupation which resulted in the savagely persecuted Buddhism and introduction of Christianity into the island. Despite that, the faith in Buddhism steadily grew at the same time of nationalism against the invaders among the Sinhalese-Buddhists.
The movement of nationalism made efforts to assert the Sinhala Buddhist identity and to legitimize Sinhala control over the country's polity by reviving many elements of the "origin mythology" to reconstruct an image of the Sinhala past. The chronicle of Mahavamsa was thus served as the testament of Sinhala rights to reestablish Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony of the island over non-Sinhala and non-Buddhist groups. With the ideology that the Sinhalese were the protector of Buddhism and that Sri Lanka was belong to the Buddha, the animosity towards the foreigners and other minorities was reinforced, leading to a discrimination against non-Sinhalese and non-Buddhist.
The Ravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka itself can be divided into three different sects.
Along side Buddhism, Hinduism is an important element in embodiment of Sri Lankan society. It is practiced by the Tamils in Sri Lanka whose origins trace to south India where Hinduism was predominantly practiced. Around the fifth and the sixth century A.D., the Tamil king from the south Indian kingdom named Chola usurped the throne of the Sinhalese Kingdom and conquered the island, leading to the considerable number of immigrants from south India into the northern Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly, these immigrants brought with them Hinduism to the island. During the reign of Tamil kings, Hindu shrines were widely constructed.
Unlike any other religion in the world which mostly holds monotheism, Hinduism endows a complex pantheon of gods and goddesses. A decentralized religion Hinduism is, it has no hierarchy of clergy and no supreme authority. Hinduism beliefs seem very complicated due to its countless gods and goddesses. However, the core of Hinduism is just simple; it believes in the only one "Supreme God", called Brahman. It is the "Supreme" in which every being in the universe originated; it is one unchanging and everlasting spirit. The soul or the "atman" of every being is part of the "Supreme". Gods and goddesses in Hinduism are also come from the same origin; they were only the attributes of the "Supreme". After death, every soul will reunite with this ultimate soul of the universe that means the ultimate goal of salvation.
Hinduism with the vision of gods and worship regained its popularity in 1000 A.D. after Buddhism has been in its prevalence since the third century B.C. Tamil Nadu State in south India was a major center of Brahmanical culture at that time, leading to the subsequent transmission to the Tamils immigrants in Sri Lanka Island. This type of culture strongly attaches to rituals and worship to the gods, also known as "puja ".
In Sri Lanka, there are several popular gods predominating in many myths, legends, and styles of worships. The major ones are:-
Comprising 7 % of total population of Sri Lanka, Muslims and their Islamic culture have been the integral part of Sri Lankan society for over hundred years. History records that Arab traders from the Middle East visited the southern part of Sri Lanka for their business and later settled in the island. The Muslim community in Sri Lanka came to its dominant growth by the 10th century A.D. Muslims in Sri Lanka has preserved the Islam doctrines derived from Arabia while adapting some social conditions of South Asia.
The religion of Islam was founded in the seventh century A.D. by the Prophet Muhammad who experienced a series of messages from God in Mecca, a trading and religious center of Arabia. The word Islam in Arabic means "submission" or "surrender"; that means people who are adherent to Islam summit to the law and the will of the only one God, Allah.
According to Islam, the God is eternal, and he endowed both men and women with immortal souls. All human beings have only one life, and at death, their souls go to either heaven or hell depending on their behavior on earth. The decent behaviors for ascending heaven were determined by the God and were sent through his messengers (Prophet) who in turn revealed the divine will for people to follow. The religious text of Qur'an is believed to be the revelations of the God transmitted through Prophet Muhammad. The Qur'an is then not only religious text rich of theology and moral system, but at the same time includes a body of laws and customs for Muslims to follow.
All Muslims share a belief in the five pillars of Islam which are the basic duties: the recitation and acceptance of the Creed (Shahada) (by saying "there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His Prophet"; daily prayer (five times a day ideally); paying ritual alms (Zakat or Zakah) ; observing the fast of Ramadan ; and making the pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj).
By the fifteenth century, Arab traders dominated the trade routes through the Indian Ocean and South East Asia. Many of them reached Sri Lanka, and decided to settle down in the Island, making them detaching from Islamic culture in the Middle East, their homeland. Although they still preserved the basic doctrines and Islamic law, they also adopted some local social customs, particularly language. Instead of speaking Arabic language, they adopted Tamil as their spoken language. Probably, Tamil was the language used widely in business and trade along the southern coast of India and northern coast of Sri Lanka during that time; they abandoned their own language for the matter of their trades. Hence, Muslims in Sri Lanka were not part of early Islamic society in the Arabian Peninsula, but developed in its own way under the different circumstances.
The community of Muslim traders was dramatically persecuted when the Portuguese took control over the Island in the sixteenth century. Many of them had to relocate from the southwest coast to the Central Highlands or the east coast, and still retained their religious identity separately from the other ethnic groups. The growing ethnic consciousness during the last two centuries resulted in the Islamic revivalism which appealed for their identity. The movement included an interest in the Arabic roots of the community as the basis of understanding the Qur'an and the separate schools for Muslim children. There emerged occasional agitation among Muslims against the government's attempts to regulate Muslim marriage and inheritance. So far, the conflict of Muslims and the other ethnic groups is still intractable.
Christianity firstly came to Sri Lanka upon the arrival of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Under their rule, Roman Catholicism was spread out in a mass scale of the Island with many Roman Catholic schools for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The missionary activities ran well, especially among communities on the western coast of the island.
With the attempts of the Portuguese to Christianize native people, Buddhism and Hinduism were severely affected. There were an increasing number of both Sinhalese and Tamils converting to Roman Catholicism, perhaps on one reason of social mobility.
When the Portuguese was driven out by the Dutch, Protestantism and the Dutch Reformed Church was introduced, coming to the prominence particularly in Colombo than elsewhere.
During the British Rule, more conversions could be seen among minor minorities as well. Christian churches were than the normal sight throughout Sri Lanka. However, due to the nationalism movement among the Sinhalese who held sway the political power, Christianity in Sri Lanka was somewhat restricted.
Sri Lanka is one of the countries that are never free form lively festival a whole year round. Visitors will have an exceptional experience for witness its bright and colorful tradition of Sri Lanka if they stumble on the festive period. Most festivals in Sri Lanka are related to religion and depend on the lunar calendar, encompassing Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian festivals. Apart from the religious holidays, Sri Lankan people also enjoy their national holidays, proving well the entertainment -lover-mind of people in this country. The followings are some major festivals of each religion in Sri Lanka.
Since Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist country, Buddhist festivals are more frequent. In fact, full moon day of every month is regarded as a religious observance for the Buddhists; it is called Poya Day. However, the main full moon days reminiscent to the religious important events are:-
Hindu festivals also fill the festive periods in Sri Lanka with its distinctly colorful ceremonies, making the Hindu shrines across the country full of emanating faith and happiness of people. Major Hindu festivals are:-
Muslim community is quite isolated from other ethnic group, their celebration are not displayed to public. Most of Muslim festivals are also closely connected to religion. The main Muslim festivals are the Milad-un-Nabi or the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in December, Id-ul-Fitr marking the end of the holy fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the Haj festival when Muslims make their pilgrimages to the holy Muslim shrine in Mecca.
When it comes to national festivals, the traditional New Year Festival is the most expecting, most colorful, and the most vibrant. The two major ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and the Tamils, jointly celebrate this happy time. But the manner of the celebration varies.
Although the conventional New Year is the 1st January, traditional New Year (Avurudu) of the Sinhalese and the Tamils occurs in the 13th or 14th April each year according to their lunar calendar. The precise days and times of celebration of the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year are determined by the astrologers. The auspicious time is marked by the entry of the Sun from the zodiac sign of Pisces (the last phase of the Sun cycle) to Aries (the first phase of the Sun cycle). The festive period continues for about a week. The festival also coincides with the end of the harvest season and the beginning of new season. People enjoy the brand new day of the New Year by cleaning their house, buying their new clothes, and eating special meal in a union of family members. Unlike the long, continual Sinhalese New Year celebration, Hindu Tamil New Year is confined to the first day of the Year and is over within hours