Volunteer Suggestions/stories in Latin America

Wondering if there are surfable waves someplace you've never visited? Or have you had an injury and want to compare experiences? Do it here!

Moderators: Butts, Shari, collnarra, Forum Moderators

Post Reply
Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 2:16 pm

Volunteer Suggestions/stories in Latin America

Post by sydney » Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:11 pm

alright, been checking out the net via google in regards to all this and there just seems so many providers out there I'm flooded, and decided to check for first hand recomendations.

Basically I've been accepted for a 6 month student exchange to Mexico in second semester this year, and I'd really like to do 4+ weeks of volunteer work somewhere between Mexico and Argentina... So possibilities wide open. Think I'm preferring the northern end of Sth America though, or central.

Would like to use it as an excuse to get out and see more of the area. As far as I can tell, the volunteer work is basically broken up into helping disadvantaged kids/rural villages, or conservation work. I'm leaning towards teh prior, as I'd like to get Teaching English as a 2nd language qualifications so I could use em while at uni to earn some $'s.

Right, all that said, any suggestions? Don't really care if it's first hand or not. Still very much in planning stage.

emerald snake
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Emerald Beach/Ballina

central america

Post by emerald snake » Thu May 03, 2007 5:14 pm

ok, having read your post, its looks like you are a bit of a soul surfer.

basically, from my experience - last year I spent 10 months going from mex, thru central, then south america.

I think if you are studying in Mexico, you should probably do some volunteer work in Central, makes sense.

Volunteer work is a little more scarce in South believe it or not. Bolivia is the best bet, due to its more pronounced 3rd work status. Peru has some options but I believe they are a little harder to get to (I think in the north east). However, there are certainly opportunies especially keeping in mind the quality of the surf.

I would however, recommend doing Guatemala or Nica. Firstly, its not that far from Mex city or Guadalajara (not sure where u are studying, but all distances in Central are short cf South obviously). I wouldn't sign yourself up for anything over the net, and those options on the net are tended to be slanted to well off London types who want a rehearsed, safe entrance into a 3rd world volunteer placement. You spend a shitload and it sometimes defeats the purpose.

In Guatemala, you simply rock up, look around, ask people, check out the local spanish schools for information about helping and teaching. For starters, you dont need a certificate in teaching in Central. Simply grab their syllabus and go for it. In Asia it is definitely a requirement. However, there are lots of ad-hoc ways of helping in Guatemala. Quezaltenango (named chela) has some orphanages where you can help every arvo whilst teaching english in one of the many schools around. Everything there is cheap, so doing it yourself will save money and your experience will be better for it.

Ask the hostels for opportunities. In Nica and Guatemala, there is an organisation called Quetzaltreckers, which is a useful starting point.
Without boring you with more details, arrive and just go random, there is nothing better. By the end of your time in Mex, Spanish will be easy plus in those central american countries they speak with less idiomatic expressions. Jump on the chicken busses and you can scoot down to el salvador and check out the multitude of R point breaks. Don't let talk of danger put you off. Danger is everywhere you go, take precautions. Make friends with the locals but don't give too much away.

Especially in el salvador, there are more guns than you will ever see. But its pretty docile.

Have fun, if I had another 3 months free I would do the whole thing again.

User avatar
Posts: 209
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 11:27 am
Location: uncrowded

Post by cambo » Thu May 03, 2007 5:31 pm

I did 2 years through Central and South America.

If you are starting from Mexico, then I strongly suggest you go do your welfare work in Honduras. They really need it.

Honduras is so 3rd World it is really heartbreaking - closest to Africa I saw in Latin America (and I did a year in Africa, including putting in village water supplies in Botswana among other things, so I know what 3rd World looks like).

They have the US Peace Corps in Honduras, that'd be as good a place as any to start. Just personally I'd avoid all the religious based aid organisations, people in Honduras (and the rest of the world really) have more than enough religion already.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention: Honduras is a really nice country, excellent Caribbean coast (not a lot of surf but wonderful diving and pirate adventures) good mountains, friendly cheerful people in most parts. A bit scary in the more remote mountain areas, lots of guns ;-)
Last edited by cambo on Fri May 04, 2007 12:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 507
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 5:51 pm

Post by Jimi » Fri May 04, 2007 10:33 am

i did 2 months volunteering in Ecuador, there are heaps of options for doing conservation volunteering in Ecuador, especially through the organisation " Jatun Sacha". there are about 7 different locations to choose from. I worked on the coast, and i was close to a 400 metre long left hand point break.
U said u might prefer teaching work, which u can also do in Ecuador, and many surrounding areas.
Check out the website volunteer.org.nz. Its a Kiwi company that organises volunteer work all over the world, they do Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, and El Salvador.

you can also volunteer on the Golapogos Islands, which are part of Ecuador, but this option is expensive.
I know a lot of people who also just went to hospitals and universities and asked if they took volunteers at all. People were doing this in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
good luck

Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2005 2:16 pm

Post by sydney » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:56 pm

Thanks heaps for the replies guys. Sorry I've been lax in getting back.

Where I've signed up for exchange is Moneterrey in Nth East, which I'm sort of regretting now, but it's done, dusted and confirmed now.

Apparently one of the most Americanised (and hence expensive) places to live in mexico which I didn't know previously... Aw well, it's also apparently a music and nightlife hub (some interesting mixes of Latino music mixed with hip hop beats and what not coming out from there) so should be fun, i just wish I'd had more time to research and gone to Guadalajara or somewhere more south, but it was all rush rush rush.

As for the volunteering, due to the expensive living I'm not sure I'll be able to pay for a volunteer program, but I'll certainly suss out some of those suggestions you gave.


PS. 3 weeks to go and shitting myself... Still no accomodation sorted for mexico, under many guarentees that students just turn up and sort it out once they're there. :?

User avatar
Posts: 480
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 4:55 pm

Post by crooked » Thu Jun 21, 2007 2:13 pm

Good tips so far but do not go to the west coast of Colombia. Guerilla.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests