For the 2nd year we are offering the chance for volunteers to join us in Sri Lanka. It is a fantastic opportunity to join our team in their third and final year of vaccinating dogs in the Negombo region, north of Colombo. You will be going door to door in Negombo identifying dogs and can get involved in drawing up vaccines, giving out proof of vaccination certificates to owners, marking dogs to identify them as vaccinated, conducting mark resight surveys and distributing educational material.
You will be trained in state of the art epidemiological methods using our Mission Rabies mobile application to record all vaccines that have been given. We will be monitoring the progress of the teams to ensure we are vaccinating 70% of dogs in this area and eliminating rabies as a result. You will be working together with local vets and volunteers who share our passion for rabies elimination and protecting the local communities.
You don’t have to be a vet to participate in this project as it is suitable for all volunteers, but you should be comfortable around dogs and other animals.
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|
Negombo, Sri Lanka
£525 participation fee for 2 weeks campaign participation + £350 project contribution
~$250 for optional overnight Sri Lanka Experience trips*
*please note the trips are paid directly to the in-county operator and include transport, accommodation, food and some activities.
The campaign participation fee covers the cost of accommodation, soft drinks and meals, project related travel and your airport transfers. On application you will be asked for a deposit of £250 to secure your place, this is deducted from the overall campaign participation fee. We also kindly ask you to raise a minimum of £350 to support the education component of the project.
Please read our fundraising guidelines and Terms & Conditions to get more information about fundraising for Mission Rabies. You will be responsible to book your own flights to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka, but we will gladly assist you with this process. A portion of your contribution is used to support the running of the day-to-day operations of this programme, including the in-country Volunteer Coordinator. You will also be responsible for covering the costs of your visa, insurance and travel vaccinations. Please read through our Volunteer Information in the Resources section of the homepage to get more information about the structure of our volunteer programmes.
Select the project block you wish to apply for
Working in the field is always rewarding and no day is the same. Planning and coordinating ahead of time is essential to try and avoid any unexpected surprises but given the type of work we do they are inevitable. Being able to ‘go with the flow’ is vital! We work systematically through each area of Negombo ensuring we reach our 70% vaccination coverage before moving onto the next area. Below we hope to give you an idea of a “typical” day. We endeavour to give you all the necessary training so that you can be involved in as many aspects of the work as possible.
We start work early, with the sun rise, so that we can get as much work done before the heat of the day. Once you have met up with your teams and made sure you have all the necessary equipment for the day you will set off to your designated area of Negombo to start vaccinating dogs. You will work through your area methodically going door to door asking people if they have any pet dogs, if they have been vaccinated and giving vaccines to any dogs that have not been. We will be collecting lots of data during this project that will give us a much better idea about ownership practices. There are many street dogs in this area also meaning that our dog catchers will have their skills put to use.
You will have breakfast in the field with your team, you may have a packed breakfast or you may have the opportunity to sample some local "short eats" at recommended restaurants or food stalls. This is the perfect opportunity to refuel before heading back into the field to continue vaccinating stray and owned dogs.
As it does get very hot and sweaty wearing loose cotton clothing is preferable and you will be provided with water during the day so you can keep hydrated. You will work until about 2pm when we will finish for the day. Everyone will head back to have lunch where you can enjoy a selection of delicious vegetarian curries and rice. As a largely vegetarian country the incredible array of delicious meals means this is no hardship for meat eaters! The teams will put supplies away and get everything ready for the following day. This is the perfect time to find out what the other teams have been doing during the day and to share and compare stories. There will be an opportunity to discuss any successes or issues of the day with the project and volunteer coordinator before you head back to your room to refresh.
Whilst you relax we will analyse all the data from the day to check how many dogs we have vaccinated. We will look at the data from our post-vaccination surveyors and plan the vaccination areas for the next day.
In the evening you will have dinner as a group. Water, tea and soft drinks will be paid for by Mission Rabies. Alcoholic beverages may be available in some hotels, whilst you are welcome to purchase them, their costs will not be covered by Mission Rabies.
There is free time after dinner though we suspect you’ll probably want to rest and sleep in preparation for the next day!
We hope that this gives you a bit of a taste of what you'll experience during the vaccination drive, but we do want you to be as prepared as possible, so we'd like to highlight some of the more challenging parts of volunteering!
Sri Lanka sits in the Indian Ocean and is separated from India by the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait. The south boasts a mountainous region whilst the rest of the country is more flat. The country is divided into 9 administrative provinces and 25 districts. The country has two official languages, Sinhalese and Tamil, though English is spoken in many educational and commercial settings.
There’s no denying it, Sri Lanka has had a troubled past. Couple a long civil war that ended only in 2009 with the devastation of a tsunami in 2004 and you start to get an idea. The country is still recovering but is boosted by a growing tourist trade. Unfortunately tourism brings with it environmental issues, such as deforestation which puts its wealth of biodiversity under stress. Sri Lanka has the highest biodiversity of any country in Asia, despite its relatively small size, including Asian elephants, langurs, loris and turtles. Fortunately there are a number of National parks and protected zones that should help safe guard their future. It is a truly beautiful country.
Sri Lankan life used to centre on villages and there is still a strong community spirit. Buddhism is the main religion of Sri Lanka but religions openly mix with, for example, Christians praying at a Buddhist temple. Each full moon, or Poya day, is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Poya days were traditionally used by Buddhists to strengthen their practice and each different Poya day is celebrated in a different way.
Finally a point of interest: Despite cricket being the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, volley ball is actually the national sport.
General Health Considerations
Sri Lanka is generally a safe place to travel and the majority of tourist visits are trouble-free. Just as you would do when traveling anywhere, following certain rules will help to ensure your safety. It is recommended that you always travel in groups and that you let your team leader or volunteer coordinator know if you plan to go anywhere without them. We are staying in a tourist area however when working with the vaccination teams, you will be traveling to areas where people may not be as used to seeing westerners so you will probably attract a lot of interest from local people. Make sure that you keep an eye out for the rest of your team and stay together – the bright yellow Mission Rabies t-shirts are helpful for spotting your team mates in busy streets! Safety of our volunteers is our primary priority at Missions Rabies and your team leaders have been chosen to look after you while working; if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to speak to them.
Whilst there will there will always be crimes and problems that make the headlines, these are extremely rare. The Sri Lankan team are very proud to have you visiting and working with them, so they will really look after you!
Food and Water Safety
When travelling to another country you certainly have a greater chance of catching various “bugs” from the water and from certain foods. As a rule, we recommend that you stay away from tap water and rely instead on bottled and/or purified water (which will be provided). With regard to food, we will provide clean, safe food for each of your meals but there is always the chance even with precautions in place, you could develop gastroenteritis of some sort. We recommend consulting your physician to discuss treatments that you can bring along and signs to look out for when traveling. Steering clear of eating meat will go a long way in preventing illness; anecdotally this does appear to have been true for many of our Mission Rabies volunteers so far.
Vaccine Requirements and Recommendations
In order to participate with Mission Rabies, we require proof of rabies vaccination within the past two years or proof of adequate titre within the last three months. Proof of current tetanus vaccination is required as well. Regarding other vaccines, such as typhoid and hepatitis, we strongly recommend that you consult with your physician or a travel medicine clinic prior to coming to Sri Lanka and decide whether additional vaccinations or preventatives are indicated.
There is no risk of yellow fever transmission in Sri Lanka though proof of vaccination will be required for entry into the country if you have transited for more than 12hours in or visited a country with a risk of yellow fever.
Malaria and Dengue Fever
Malaria is not a serious risk in Sri Lanka, however we do recommend you take precautions against mosquito bites. This is especially important as there have been reports of Dengue Fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitos for which there is no vaccine and prevention is through avoiding mosquito bites. We also advise you pack a mosquito net, repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers to reduce the chance of insect bites, especially at dusk and dawn.
Dog Bite Protocols
Mission Rabies takes dog bites and potential rabies exposure very seriously. We follow strict protocol in line with the latest WHO recommendations in the case of dog bites. Post-exposure prophylaxis is readily available in Sri Lanka, and injections are easy to obtain in the event they are required. You will be briefed before you travel and in-country on these procedures for your own protection, and you will always be in contact and supported by a member of the Mission Rabies staff.
The nature of field work means that each day can be difficult to predict, and being able to ‘go with the flow’ is essential! That said, by coordinating ahead of time and building contingency plans we strive to make the potentially chaotic job of vaccinating owner dogs and catching and vaccinating street dogs as smooth as possible.
Reading through our volunteer blog posts and the FAQ section of the homepage will help you to get an idea about what it is like to volunteer with us. We can also get you in touch with former volunteers in case you have more detailed questions and of course our staff is more than happy to answer all the questions you might have.
Personal Safety - Wherever you go in the world the best advice is to take your common sense with you. Just like at home most people you come in to contact with are friendly and no danger. Keep your belongings safe, out of sight and locked away. Stick together, don’t wander off alone or leave anyone behind. Following staff advice from our briefing, listening to your volunteer coordinator and local team you'll find you'll have a safe and happy experience.
Physical aspects and Dog Handling – Overall, the days are long but rewarding and each dog vaccinated is one more protected against rabies, which in turn saves the lives of local people. Be prepared to walk on average 15Km a day. You don’t have to be as fit as a marathon runner to do this work but a basic level of fitness is desired. There will be an aspect of dog handling for which we have local dog handlers trained and on hand for restraining dogs. Volunteers of all ages have all done very well with this in the past, but it is definitely worth mentioning!
Emotional Trauma - This sounds dramatic, but, in being a part of this amazing work, you will come face to face with suffering - be it human or animal. No-one is truly prepared for how seeing a dog injured in a road traffic accident will feel, the feeling of seemingly prioritising animals with direct action when so many people are in need or in finding a personal bond that is shattered by illness. The only thing we can do is let you know that it is ok and normal to feel this range of emotions, support you and ensure the effort you put in truly does make a long lasting change to the issues you see.
Food —As an animal welfare project we do not provide meat at meals but offer safe, clean, and delicious vegetarian food at every meal. Rice and coconut are the staple foods for most of Sri Lanka, which in combination with aromatic herbs and spices makes the most appetising of meals. Just dip in and try something new!
Climate — Sri Lanka enjoys a tropical climate, meaning that it is hot and humid. Temperatures rarely drop below 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and humidity is usually in excess of 70%. There is a chance of rain during the trip as we may experience the end of the monsoon season, though most of the time the downpours are short in length. However, it might be a good idea to bring some light weight waterproof clothing.
We'll make sure that plenty of fresh, clean, safe water is available and you can always opt to take a day or a portion of the day off if things just get too hot. Remember to pack high factor sun cream and a hat.
Sharing Rooms- To ensure we can get as many volunteers out in the field, we try to keep the in-country costs low for you. This may mean you would be sharing a room with other volunteers of the same gender.
To reward you for your hard work, we make sure you get two rest days during the project and we will have suggestions for how you can spend your time off to see some of this fascinating country!
You are not alone!
Mission Rabies is well aware of the fact that travelling to Asia can be an overwhelming experience even for seasoned travellers and we want your volunteer experience here to be as rewarding and comfortable as possible. Integral to that idea is the Volunteer Coordinator (VC). The VC will be a Mission Rabies employee or former volunteer with field experience in India or Malawi. The VC will be your primary point of communication in Sri Lanka and will be identified to you upon your arrival so that you can ask him or her questions and have a point of contact for any problems.
The VC will be on the ground working with your team, they'll help you get to grips with the tasks and activities of the project and will be available if you have any questions, concerns, or particular needs throughout your time in Sri Lanka. The VC will ensure that International Guests have a positive experience. Importantly, the VC will have emergency contact information for each volunteer as well as contact information for local hospitals and protocols for helping volunteers in the event of a medical emergency or natural disaster. Lastly, the VC will have all the information about the optional visits during your group’s days off and will be able to help you navigate planning trips of your own if time allows.
We welcome all types of volunteers to join our vaccination teams – vets, vet nurses, students and novices can all contribute to make a difference! Some roles are reserved to experienced veterinary volunteers but we have opportunities for all levels of experience to really benefit the project. You don’t need to have volunteered on a veterinary project before or even had any specific travelling experience – our experienced teams will make sure that you receive a full briefing on the work you will take part in. The main prerequisite is a sense of adventure, flexibility in the face of sometimes changing schedules and a willingness to work hard in the knowledge that you will have personally saved many lives. For a taste of what it’s like to take part in one of our vaccination campaigns, please check out our project videos and photo gallery showing the teams hard at work or some of our volunteer stories on our blog.
Volunteers are integral to the vaccination campaigns’ success and there are several roles that you might fill while on the team depending on your skill set and interest. The work will mostly involve vaccinating and marking street and owner dogs, working with a local team to engage people with our work. The work will take you on an adventure to parts of Sri Lanka few tourists see. The work can be physical, sometimes involving lifting, safely holding dogs, working in heat, and sometimes difficult conditions. Unpredictable weather, power outages, and other challenges can lead to unexpected needs and if you’re able to improvise, this is one of the greatest skills to bring to the table.
We aim to vaccinate over 5,000 dogs in two weeks and we are looking for teams of motivated, hard-working volunteers who are interested in getting a real taste of Sri Lankan life and making this project a success. We couldn’t do it without you!
Be a part of an amazing 10,000 dog vaccination drive to aid in the elimination of rabies in the whole state of Goa!
Join us in delivering life-saving vaccines, heading through the back-streets of beautiful Goa to help us protect generations from rabies!
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|
Negombo, Sri Lanka
For the 2nd time we are offering the chance for volunteers to join us in Sri Lanka. It is a fantastic opportunity to join our team in their third and final year of vaccinating dogs in the Negombo region, north of Colombo.
You will be going door to door in Negombo identifying dogs, getting involved in drawing up vaccines, giving out proof of vaccination certificates to owners, marking dogs to identify them as vaccinated, conducting mark re-sight surveys and distributing educational material.
|Suitability:||Vets, Vet Nurses, Vet Students, Vet Nurse Students, Non-Vets|