There is growing interest amongst Canadians, and especially members of the Canadian Tamil diaspora, in contributing their time and professional expertise in a meaningful manner to develop and empower vulnerable communities in war-affected, under-developed, rural, and remote regions of Sri Lanka. However, it is often difficult for these individuals to identify and connect with credible local non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations in Sri Lanka.

comdu.it is a Canadian network of diaspora changemakers interested in sustainable development of vulnerable communities in war-affected, under-developed, rural, and remote regions of Sri Lanka, with an emphasis on the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Its mission is to help shift diaspora engagement from charity to sustainability, from aid to economic development, and from remittance to knowledge-based economy.

The Right of Return program stream provides post-secondary students and recent graduates with the opportunity to discover, connect, and explore their heritage and history in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Applicants will be placed in children’s homes, vocational schools, and other appropriate institutions to volunteer their skills and time to help build capacity of local communities in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Partner Description

Bridging Lanka bridges ethnic, religious and geographic divides through people-inspired action. It connects diaspora participants and locals in Sri Lanka. It harnesses the expertise and resources of one for the benefit of the other – through livelihood support, business development, community advocacy, urban planning, education and social cohesion projects. Bridging Lanka commenced its work in the Mannar District in 2010. The district needs help to recover from the devastation of conflict with genuine efforts to rebuild its economy and to uplift people’s living conditions. Specifically, one of Bridging Lanka’s projects is to work with villagers to rehabilitate traditional waterways and ponds (known as kulams), transforming these encroached and rubbish infested water bodies into beautiful and productive public spaces that can deliver social, health, economic and environmental benefits to local communities. For more information, please visit www.bridginglanka.org.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Demonstrate advanced understanding and application of analyses, mapping, and reports related to sustainable urban design and community planning.
  • Develop and prepare design documents including design guidelines, maps, reports, comprehensive and local plan packages, and presentation materials.
  • Conduct field observations, gather data and research and produce comprehensive, critical analyses from them.
  • Review, prepare and implement zoning ordinances and requirements to support projects.

Qualifications

  • Currently in or recent completed post-secondary degree or diploma in Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, or related disciplines.
  • Proficiency in hand sketching and rendering, AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Suite, ESRI ArcGIS, and Microsoft Office.
  • Desire to work in a creative, collaborative, and entrepreneurial environment resulting in sustainable solutions built upon design excellence.
  • Excellent presentation, interpersonal, analytical, and oral and written communication skills.
  • Full fluency in English and conversational proficiency in Tamil.
  • Strong personal initiative, resourcefulness and capacity to be self-motivated and also work as part of a team.
  • Must be driven to improve the lives of marginalized people, and work with them to do so, in a way that is led by them, for them, and is sustainable and achieves their objectives.
  • Must be committed to equality, and by extension, open to learning about resilience, diversity and solidarity from the vulnerable communities they are working with.
  • Must be able to lead by example by being open minded, humble and embrace opportunities to grow personally.

Preferred but not mandatory qualifications

  • Currently in or recently completed graduate degree or postgraduate diploma in Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, or related disciplines.
  • Experience and/or interest in urban design or planning for sustainable development in an international context.
  • Work experience in vocational institutions, post-secondary institutions, or international organizations.

Volunteer Benefits and Support

  • Fifty percent (50%) of all placement costs covered by comdu.it (travel, meals, health insurance, accommodation).
  • Guidance with booking flights, obtaining visa, accommodations, etc.
  • Participation in pre-departure training where you will have the opportunity to learn about comdu.it’s work, gain practical skills for living and working in a lower middle-income country, and meet other volunteers.
  • In-country orientation and briefing upon arrival.
  • One-week tour and briefing of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
  • Support and guidance prior to departure and while on assignment in Sri Lanka.
  • Return debriefing in Canada after completion of assignment.
  • The opportunity of a lifetime to provide meaningful assistance to war-impacted communities in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents between the ages of 18 – 30.
  • Departure date is contingent upon the timely completion of all administrative requirements (e.g. visa process, medical clearance, police checks, travel documentation).
  • Successful applicants must raise fifty percent (50%) of their placement costs (travel, meals, health insurance, accommodations) – approximately $1,750.