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Volunteer in Central America

Volunteer in Central America and discover this small sub-continent in its magnificent cultural and natural diversity...

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Volunteer work in Central America

Volunteer work in Central America

To help you decide which of the many volunteer projects in Central America is the right one for you, we will show you in more detail what areas of work there are and which tasks you would have. Teaching children, helping to protect the wildlife or getting involved in conservation efforts and community support, all these volunteer opportunities in Central America require different skills and will challenge you in different ways. Wherever your interest lies and what your skills are, we can definitely help you to find the perfect program for you!

Animal and wildlife conservation

Whether you help taking care of wildlife rescued animals from illegal traffickers, assisting with general maintenance tasks and preparing food for animals at a jungle sanctuary or whether you volunteer at a horse facility or protect the most emblematic animal of Costa Rica, the sloth, your helping hand is appreciated wherever you go.

Volunteering with wildlife includes but is not limited to:

  • feeding, cleaning, caring for animals
  • monitoring and documenting feeding behavioral habits
  • construction: maintaining the facilities and building additional ones
  • working on enrichment projects for animals
  • working at an animal refugee center
  • helping nurture sick animals back to health

Some animals you might work with when volunteering, either in the wild or at a sanctuary, will be:

  • sloths
  • monkeys such as capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys
  • jaguars
  • ocelots
  • birds such as macaws, owls
  • lemurs
  • street animals

Diving and marine conservation

Of course, not only animals on land need protection and help from volunteers, but also those who live in the water. There is a great variety of marine life, including different species, but the most common marine animal that needs your helping hand is the sea turtle. As a volunteer in Central America, animals you might be working with include but are not limited to:

  • sea turtles
  • whale sharks
  • eagle rays
  • different kinds of fish

Of course, volunteers will work alongside trained professionals that will tell them exactly what to do so that they can learn and help as much as possible. Definitely, consider this unique volunteer work in Central America if you simply love the ocean and want to do your part to protect its diverse marine species!

Biodiversity and its conservation

There are many volunteer opportunities in Central America that help and protect its thriving countryside. As a volunteer in Central America, you can contribute to the conservation of the environment by supporting one of the many environmental programs As a volunteer in the field of biodiversity and its conservation, your tasks might include but are not limited to:

  • cleaning and maintaining forest paths and trails
  • observing and documenting flora and fauna
  • observing exotic mammals and birds in their natural habitat
  • taking part in the local reforestation
  • assisting as a guide or translator for tourists

To counteract deforestation due to unsustainable farming efforts, some volunteer programs in Central America promote eco-farming and also educate locals about more eco-friendly and sustainable ways to grow their crops. Your tasks as a volunteer on an eco-farm, will entail planting and watering crops, harvesting fruit and vegetables and caring for the animals that live on the farm.

Medical and healthcare

A country is only as healthy as its people. If you want to make sure that sick people are receiving the care that they need, then volunteering in this field of interest might be just right for you. You will likely not just be a healthcare volunteer in Central America, but take on the role of a volunteer social worker as well.

From large hospitals that have to meet the needs of hundreds of patients every day to small healthcare centers, you will get a say as to where you will be volunteering. If you are either studying medicine or you are training to be a nurse, becoming a healthcare volunteer in Central America will be the perfect fit. As a volunteer in Central America, you can choose from the following healthcare projects

  • supporting elderly persons
  • assisting in hospitals
  • supporting local clinics
  • joining a medical internship
  • working at facilities for disabled children
  • supporting indigenous people and provide them with urgent healthcare

Support community services

In addition to being a teaching volunteer in Central America, there are many other ways for you to be of service to the local communities Get your hands dirty, for example, and help to build the infrastructure that is lacking in many rural areas as a construction volunteer. Other community volunteer opportunities in Central America are:

Before deciding to do voluntary work at an orphanage you need to make sure that you understand what your tasks are going to be and what you need to expect. The children you are going to work with have not necessarily lost their parents to death. Many of these children have experienced violence or abuse and are traumatized. For this reason, it is essential that volunteers MUST have appropriate skills. If not you could be putting yourself and the children at risk.

The simple act of building a sustainable background by supporting one of these projects will make the lives of these people a lot better. As a community volunteer in Central America, you can be sure that your work will really be making a difference, while at the same time, you will be learning a lot about the local communities and their culture.

Teaching in Central America

This destination has a slightly lower literacy rate on average than the entire world. Literacy rates also vary within Central America, with countries closer to the South having higher literacy rates. Still, educational volunteer teachers are always needed especially in schools in low-income areas. Native and fluent English speakers can pass on their skills to children of all ages and spark their interest in foreign languages and cultures. Wherever your strengths and interests lie, as a volunteer in Central America you can utilize them and teach the children in mathematics, sports, science or arts. Some volunteer programs in Central America specialize in music teaching for example, so if you play an instrument or you are a passionate singer, why not make this your mission whilst you are a volunteer teacher?

Helping children out with their homework and providing one-on-one help for children with learning disabilities or special needs can also be part of the job of a volunteer teacher, and the children will definitely appreciate the extra help and attention they receive from you. Please note that volunteer work in Central America that deals with children, needs you to stay for at least four weeks to create stable surroundings and allow the children to get used to you.

Work as a childcare volunteer

If you like working with children but are not necessarily interested in teaching, you might like to do volunteer work in Central America that focuses on daycare projects. Those projects usually care for younger children that are not enrolled in school or kindergarten or care for them after their lessons are finished. Especially for low-income families and single parents, paying for daycare for their children is nearly impossible so they benefit hugely from these projects and the volunteers supporting them. Your tasks as a volunteer at a daycare project could include:

  • organizing games and activities
  • crafting with the children
  • helping to feed and wash younger children
  • assisting in the general supervision

As a volunteer in Central America, you might also decide to work at a local orphanage, where you can give the children new hope. Before deciding to do voluntary work at an orphanage in Central America though, you need to make sure that you understand what your tasks are going to be and what you need to expect. The children you are going to be working with have not necessarily lost their parents to death. Many of these children have experienced violence or abuse and are traumatized. For this reason, it is essential that volunteers MUST have appropriate skills. If not you could be putting yourself and the children at risk.

Cost of living

The suggested daily budget for living as a volunteer in Central America is between US$ 20 and US$ 50. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the services you might need and things you might want to buy. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can be prepared and save the money you will need.

Additional costs you should consider for volunteer work:

Things to know before you volunteer in Central America

Safety & Precautions

Before you leave on your volunteer trip to Central America, make sure to read up on the safety advice your government gives for tourists in the specific country you are planning on visiting. Most countries are safe, however, it is important to use common sense at all times and be aware of the current political situation.

Here are some universal tips you might want to follow during your volunteer work in Central America:

  • Keep your personal belongings and important travel documents with you at all times! It also makes sense to bring attested photocopies of these documents, in case you lose them!
  • If you are going out, do not take a lot of money, jewelry or other fancy possessions with you. Take only the money you will need and leave everything else back home!
  • Do not use unregistered taxis! Doing so increases the risk of becoming a victim of a crime.

Health advice

It is annoying to be sick when traveling and volunteering abroad, there are some basic precautions you can take to avoid it:

  • Get all proper vaccinations a few weeks before any volunteer trips to this destination. Find out which vaccinations you need in which South American country on the website of the US-based health protection agency CDC.
  • Plan for how you will get healthcare during your stay. Provide a travel insurance and bring medicine with you, especially if you need special medication.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes, as they can carry diseases such as dengue fever. If you suspect you have dengue fever, seek out medical advice. There is no vaccine. The cornerstone of prevention is protection against insect bites.

Who can volunteer in Central America?

How to volunteer in Central America

Insurance (Health & travel)

  • We recommend getting both health and travel insurance to all our volunteers. In fact, this is even a requirement for most programs abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.

Visa, passport, and documentation

  • Look into the visa requirements for the country you will volunteer in.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport considering the requirement of the host country.
  • Prepare the correct documents to fulfill the visa application.

And that’s it! You’re ready to volunteer in Central America and fall in love with the nature, the people and the incomparable mix of tradition and modernity.