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Matale, Sri Lanka

November 1, 2013 to November 16, 2013

We’ll travel by private bus / van to the tropical hill town of Matale (population: under 40,000; altitude: only 1,617 feet) after flying into the current capital, Colombo (airport: CMB), and staying in nearby Negombo.  The area is agricultural, known for growing tea, spices, and rubber, but Matale is less than twenty miles north of Sri Lanka’s ancient capital and popular touring destination, Kandy, so there will be many R&R opportunities.  Our focus, of course, will be on building / re-habbing homes, and the work will likely involve  most of the following: mixing cement, chain-ganging block, wheelbarrowing mortar, sifting sand, moving foundation stones, digging trenches, tying rebar, etc.  The work will often be hard, but deeply rewarding, because we’ll labor alongside some great people, local and “imported,” and learn (or re-learn – GV vets welcome!!) what it means to be part of a “Global Village.”

Kandy is said to be among the most scenic towns in Sri Lanka, as well as a Buddhist pilgrimage site, and thus a likely spot for post-build R&R.  The island also has some good beaches, at least one of them in Colombo. I’ll set up a Facebook page before the trip, for sharing information, post-trip “touring” ideas, and photos (after the trip).  No experience necessary, or even building skills, because this is “heart” work above all…and “catching,” because if you’re like me, you’ll end up contracting “Habititis” and doing Global Village trips for decades to come (I’m nearing 20 trips).

About Sri Lanka  

Sri Lanka, knows as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” has made steady progress since the opening of its economy in 1977. The island country, located southeast of India, is known worldwide for its tropical, natural beauty that brings in tourists. Unfortunately, poor families have seen few of the benefits.

Policies to alleviate poverty and development efforts by the government and international non-governmental organizations have been hampered by three decades of civil war. Rebuilding still continues from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. More than four million people are estimated to live below the poverty line, with about half a million of them residing in slums and shanties.

About Matale
Our Global Village team will be volunteering in Matale, based in central Sri Lanka’s hill country. The city features a diverse population, with a mix of ethnic and religious backgrounds represented. Outside the city, the nearby country includes a diverse mix of lush fields, rice paddies, jungles, green hills and rivers. Wild elephants roam the area.

Matale families in need of safe, decent housing are typically day laborers; many work in brick factories popular due to the red clay soil found in the area. The city’s worst housing conditions include shacks made of scrap materials and thatched roofs.

About Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka
Habitat for Humanity began operating in Sri Lanka in 1994, through affiliates. The model later evolved into a series of Habitat Resource Centers that support satellite centers and individual projects in four regions. Today, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka is probably the country’s largest homebuilder after the government. Learn more on Habitat’s Sri Lanka country profile page.

Types of construction for volunteers
In Matale, we will either help repair homes, or replace inadequate housing with new sturdy brick homes. Our team will provide volunteer labor alongside Sri Lankan partner families. We will help with construction that might include building brick walls, installing corrugated tin roofs and finishing plaster.

Standard itinerary
Day 1: Friday, November 1, 2013- Depart from home.
Day 2: Saturday, November 2, 2013 – Travel day
Day 3: Sunday, November 3, 2013 - Arrive in Sri-Lanka; Overnight stay in Negombo.
Day 4 Monday, November 4, 2013 – Travel to Matale by private A/C bus; welcome and orientation by HFH- Sri-Lanka staff; rest and relax.  
Day 5-8: Tuesday, November 5 – Friday, November 8, 2013 - Workdays with breakfast served before traveling to build site; construction and safety orientation; work from 8am-5 pm with lunch on site; free time after work to clean up; dinner; time for team activities.
Days 9-10: Saturday, November 9 – Sunday, November 10, 2013- Free days; cultural activities in the local community; could include temple visits, hikes and sightseeing and shopping opportunities.
Day 11- 14: Monday, November 11 – Thursday, November 14, 2013 - Workdays with breakfast served before traveling to build site; construction and safety orientation; work from 8am-5 pm with lunch on site; free time after work to clean up; dinner; time for team activities.  Thursday- House dedication and farewell
Day 15: Friday, November 15, 2013-Departure for Negombo (Departure accommodation); final team dinner
Day 16: Saturday, November 16, 2013 – Depart for home

This team will be staying in hotels throughout the build. Modest hotels will be used – double occupancy, Western-style bathroom, and electricity. Breakfast and dinner is provided where team members are lodged, and lunch is provided on site.

Program cost
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)

Build a better world: Take the Global Village Challenge
Habitat for Humanity International is challenging Global Village volunteers to make an even greater impact on the global issue of poverty housing. We are asking all GV teams to help us raise an additional $1.1 million in the coming year to support Habitat’s building projects worldwide. Take up the challenge! Join us in sharing our story and building a better world!

Team leader
Chris Goodrich has led or co-led Global Village teams to El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mexico, Kenya, Bolivia, Vietnam, Ghana, and the Dominican Republic, and has “passenged” on GV trips to Guatemala and Paraguay.  Chris has also participated in two Jimmy Carter Work Projects, including Durban, South Africa, in 2002.  He is the author of four books, including one on Habitat entitled “Faith is a Verb,” and lives in Connecticut.  When not traveling, he teaches, writes, volunteers, and gives his three children (17, 19, and 22) a hard time for not catching, yet, the GV Spirit. 

Interested participants should contact Chris at or leave a phone message at 805-203-8183.

To apply for a GV trip, please follow the Application Instructions.

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