Volunteer Maldives Terms & Conditions
ARRIVALUpon arrival, volunteers must not carry into the country alcohol, pork-based products, pornography and no religious material at all cost. Maldives is 100% Sunni Muslim country and does not allow other faiths. Personal religious practices are restricted to the privacy of the accommodation, and preaching religions is strictly forbidden.
Alcohol and pork will not be available in the inhabited islands and the capital, but can be consumed in resorts and the airport hotel. Drugs are forbidden and the Maldives authorities have very strict legislations combating drug abuse and the penalties are quite harsh to this end.
TRANSPORTATION TO THE ISLANDSThe transport to most placement islands is by local ferry which operates at night and can take 8 – 10 hrs. These boats do not operate every night and of course all transport in the Maldives is subject to weather conditions. As the schedules are not fixed, it could mean that you will need to stay in the Capital possibly for 1 or 2 nights on arrival/departure., the cost of which needs to be covered by our volunteers.
The local ferry is a great way to experience the Maldives as the locals do. The boats are fairly large and you have an area of space to sleep on the wooden deck and you can watch the sunrise! It is all part of the Maldivian experience. We recommend you pack a small travel pillow in your hand luggage and for extra comfort one of the roll up exercise mattresses will be handy.
Alternatively you can upgrade to a speed launch (speedboat) which can take anything from 3 – 5 hours at a supplement of 45USD one way per person or Seaplane transfer (subject to availability) at a special fare of between 120USD per person one way, which will be on standby basis according to whether a seat is available on that particular day.
ACCOMMODATIONAccommodation provided will vary depending on where your project is taking place. Where possible we will try to house you with a local family so that you have the opportunity to experience a little more of the culture, however we will request a private room for you where possible, although it may be necessary at times to share a room, particularly if there is more than one volunteer doing the same project. You may also be accommodated in a guest house or studio flat/apartment. Accommodation may be very simple, with no air conditioning, but ceiling fan and tepid rather than hot water as the Maldivian culture is to shower in cool water rather than having water heaters due to the warm climate. There may not be any TV so bring plenty of books.
You may also be accommodated in a volunteer house, sharing with other volunteers and this could include sharing a room. We ask you to respect each other at all times and ensure that accommodation is kept clean. Whilst also sharing the accommodation you must dress modestly as you may be sharing the house with volunteers of both sexes.
ALCOHOLWith the Maldives being a Muslim country you are strictly forbidden to bring any alcohol into the country, so do not waste money on buying duty free as it will be taken off you by customs on arrival! Whilst alcohol is freely available in the Tourist Resorts and Safari boats, again it is strictly forbidden on local islands, the Capital Male and uninhabited islands. If you are caught with alcohol you will be prosecuted and you will be deported, never to be allowed into the country again! As a responsible company Volunteer Maldives takes this very seriously, and we ask all our volunteers to respect the rules of the country you are volunteering in.
COMMUNICATIONYou will be given a local sim card and small amount of credit to get you started and you can purchase top up cards on the island. Double check your mobile phone is unlocked before coming out so that it can accept the new sim card.
Internet is available on the local islands, usually at the school, however you will find that the connection can be quite slow at times and you may not have access daily (especially when schools are closed) and priority will be for staff to use the computers for their daily work. If you are bringing your laptop with you, you may want to consider purchasing a dongle for around 70USD on arrival in Male to enable you to keep in touch more regular with friends and family.
DRUGSThe Maldives has a zero tolerance to drugs and the legislation pertaining to drug-related crimes is strict. Importation or possession of drugs in Maldives can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
DRESS CODEIt is important to respect the Muslim culture of the Maldives, especially when it comes to dress code, particularly if you are based on a local island. Whilst as a foreigner ladies are not expected to cover their head with a hijab (head scarf), modest clothing must be worn at all times. This means shoulders covered (no vest or sleeveless tops or strappy dresses). Short sleeves are fine provided your shoulders are covered. Knees also must be covered, so this means wearing dresses or skirts that come below the knees or cropped trousers. Men should also be respectful and keep shoulders covered and long shorts or cropped trousers. Also when swimming in the lagoon, ladies must be dressed. You cannot swim in a bikini or swimming costume. We recommend you bring some long shorts and old t-shirts to swim in.
TEACHING POSITIONSAll teaching positions will require volunteers to wear smarter attire. Cool cottons and linens are still recommended – for men, they will be required to wear long trousers and shirts, and ladies can wear trousers, or skirts/dresses of conservative length, and sleeved tops (covering shoulders). Appropriate footwear should be worn when teaching (not flip flops or trainers!)
ISLAND LIFEMost volunteers would be placed in island communities. Island life is very different from the capital Male’. Each island has its own culture and everyone knows each other. Hence volunteers will need to adapt to living in a small community where western standards of privacy can be compromised. Some islands would have a population not exceeding 300 people. The accommodation can be quite basic either with a family or in a government building.
Due to the reduced size of the population, volunteer work would have a considerable long term impact on the island community. During the month of Ramazan, volunteers are not expected to fast. However, out of respect for the local population, they will have to eat and drink in the privacy of your accommodation until sunset. Ramazan is a festive in the Maldives. During that period of time, Maldivians gather in the evenings and stay up until late at night. Most probably, volunteers would be invited to the different evening meals.
BEHAVIOURWhilst you are taking part in one of our volunteer programs you are representing not only yourself, but Volunteer Maldives as well as your home country, therefore we ask that you behave appropriately and respect the Culture of this country you are visiting. It is best to keep away from in depth conversations about religion or politics! Whilst the islanders are friendly and hospital people, they are devout in their Muslim faith, which is a complete way of life, and they will be sensitive to discriminatory or negative talk about their religion or way of life, so in order not to cause any offense, it is best to avoid the subjects altogether!
Under no circumstances must you discuss your religious beliefs with anyone including children. Be respectful to other volunteers and the island community.meals.
PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH ISLANDERSWhilst we hesitate to even mention personal relationships, from past experience, it really is a matter we think we should bring to the attention of our volunteers! Being a Muslim society, it is frowned upon to have sexual relationships outside of marriage.
As volunteers will be integrating into a community, it is important that behavior is appropriate. Although some of the beliefs and ideas of the Maldivian people may seem strict, ‘old- fashioned’, unfair, perhaps even to many, ‘unrealistic’ it is imperative that volunteers adhere to these protocols. Their way of life is part of your experience, and every aspect of that needs to be respected. The young Maldivian women are very conservative on the islands, and their families are very protective of them. You may find that your host family, or other senior members of the island community (such as a school Principle) will often request that young female volunteers are back home by a certain time in the evening, and may request you let them know where you are going. Please understand, they are not trying to control you, they are just being protective, and to avoid any offense, it is recommended you co-operate with this. The Maldivian lads can be very charming, and although perhaps unfair, if a young woman volunteer from outside their community comes in and behaves in a manner unacceptable to them, they may very well ask you to leave the island.
If this happens we can try finding you an alternative island placement, but if this is not possible we will have no choice but to terminate your placement altogether, so it is perhaps better not to get yourselves into a potentially difficult situation in the first place!
LOCALS LAWSLocal laws reflect the fact that Maldives is a Muslim country and serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Same sex relations are illegal and convicted offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines.
SAFETYAlthough the crime rate is relatively low in the islands, volunteers will have to remain responsible and careful as in any other country. They will be responsible for their own possessions during their stay in the Maldives.
RELIGIONIslam is the religion of the Maldives and those who practice it are known as Muslims. Most Maldivians are Muslims of the Sunni Sect, as opposed to the Shi’ite Sect. There are no other religions practiced or permitted here in the country. IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN FOR YOU TO PRACTICE IN PUBLIC ANY OTHER RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS NON MUSLIM LITERATURE AND ICONS ARE BANNED FROM THE MALDIVES.
It is important whilst you are volunteering in the Maldives to respect their culture and whilst we do not expect you to practice their beliefs (this is entirely down to your own decision) we do expect that you respect their culture.
RAMAZANPlease note that if you are volunteering during the month of Ramazan it is important that you respect this festival. This means that you will not be able to drink, eat or smoke between sunrise and sunset in public. Whilst we do not enforce you to take part in this festival (you may if you wish, this is entirely down to you as an individual) we do ask you to be discreet, and if you wish to have something to drink or eat, you do it in the confines of your own room, away from others. Under no circumstances should you eat, drink or smoke in public between the hours of sun rise and sun set! Note that Restaurants will not open until sunset.
CONSERVATIONIt is becoming ever more important to conserve the world’s natural resources, its landscapes, flora and fauna. Someone coined the phrase ‘Take only photographs; leave only footprints’ and a number of countries now use this to promote conservation. It would be hard to improve on this statement.
TERMINATION OF PLACEMENTWe reserve the right to terminate (without refund) anyone who is behaving in appropriately towards other volunteers, the island community, anyone who is causing offense or disregarding laws and regulations of the country and those set out in our Terms & Conditions.
CHANGE TO PROGRAM/PROJECT OUT OF OUR CONTROLWhilst at Volunteer Maldives we work with all areas of the community, we are non-political, and try not to get involved with projects managed directly by government offices, because much of the time administrative procedures can be slow and communication not good. However, sometimes we have no choice, and the link between programs and government departments are linked. Very rarely, in can be that one such program could be delayed or stopped with no prior notice. Whilst we do everything we can to rectify any admin or communicative errors, occasionally it is not possible, and through Volunteer Maldives’ vast links across the county, we are normally able to offer you an alternative placement.
In such an event, we’ll do our best to ensure you are happy with the change, but cannot offer financial compensation if this happens, as usually we will bear many other additional expenses to switch programs for you.
CANCELLATIONPrior to 61 days deposit forfeited;
60 – 42: 30% of total cost
41 – 28: 60% of total cost
27 – 7: 90% of total cost
Less than 7 days: 100% of total cost
CURTAILMENTShould for any reason you wish to curtail your placement at any time, we reserve the right to charge 100% cancellation fees.
Should you curtail your placement, your visa will be cancelled immediately and as such, you will need to leave the Maldives as soon as the visa is cancelled. If is not possible to remain in the Maldives even as a tourist once the visa has been Cancelled and once cancelled it is not possible to return to the Maldives for 2 months.
DEPOSITAt the time of confirming you placement you will be required to pay 250USD non-refundable deposit, payable within 14 days to secure your placement.
FINAL PAYMENTThe balance of your payment for your volunteer program is due 60 days prior to your arrival.
ADDITIONAL COSTS REGARDING MISSED DEPARTURESStandard transfers are included in your payment. For some islands it is possible to upgrade to seaplane transfers at an additional cost.
We will not be liable to cover any additional costs for additional transfers or accommodation needed as a result of unusual or unforeseeable situations outside our control. These include unavoidable technical problems with transport, changes imposed by rescheduling or cancellation of transfers or natural bad weather.
INSURANCEAll volunteers must have adequate travel insurance prior to arriving and details of which must be submitted prior to arriving. Please remember if you plan to do any water sports, including diving, ensure your insurance policy covers you.
As a participant of the volunteer program for Volunteer Maldives I confirm that I have read, and agree to the Terms & Conditions stipulated. I understand that any breach of this may result in the termination of my placement and I will be asked to leave the country.