Volunteers with a local environmental group dedicated to local reforestation and environmental education.
As Merida’s population has grown alongside its booming tourism sector, the environment has come under serious pressure. There is widespread deforestation throughout the Yucatan, and poor infrastructure has meant every year tons of commercial and residential waste is never treated or recycled. Pollution has seeped into the soils and ground water, which affects everything from the local wildlife to public health.
Volunteers provide labor to sustain local conservation efforts, as well as energy and new perspectives to help educate locals about environmentally sustainable practices. Volunteers live and Merida and work in the surrounding areas.
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work four to six hours a day with a local environmental group dedicated to local reforestation and environmental education. Depending on the planting season, volunteers work across the reforestation process, from helping in the seed bank and nursery to planting trees when the seedlings have sufficiently sprouted. There is physical work, like preparing the land for planting, as well as office work like seed inventory control and recording. Depending on the season and local need, volunteers may also have the opportunity to participate in outreach initiatives with the local community, ecotourism projects and bird monitoring.
There is no typical day :-)
Volunteering abroad is all about finding your role in local communities. Unlike a tourist, volunteers travel to serve instead of to be served.
Also, remember that you’re working in the developing world in very poor contexts—conditions are constantly changing. There is no script to follow and being adaptable is crucial. This is what makes international volunteering challenging and rewarding.
In general though, you’ll be working Monday through Friday. Weekends are off. Every project is different, so you want to read the detailed project descriptions.
Connecting with the locals and other volunteers is also a big part of the experience. You’ll have plenty of time after your work and on the weekends. Volunteers often check out tourist sites together, hang out in the evening, travel on the weekends, etc. It’s up to you, don’t worry you’ll have a lot of fun too :-)
Merida is becoming recognized as one of Mexico’s most welcoming destinations. It is a great and safe place to explore and experience Yucatan culture. The Plaza Grande, which is lined by pretty colonial buildings, is bustling with activity and makes for a great place to stroll or just sit back and relax. Beautiful beaches off the Gulf of Mexico are easily reachable in 40 minutes by bus from downtown Merida, and there are watering holes and caves that are well worth a visit. The Celestun Mangroves, where pink flamingoes can be seen, is nearby, as well as Cancun, which is four hours away by bus. There are cultural activities across the area. Some of Mexico’s most impressive Mayan archaeological sites are close, including the famous Uxmal and Chichen Itza, which is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Finally, if you would would like to improve your Spanish while volunteering in Mexico with UBELONG, we can connect you with affordable and excellent Spanish classes once you arrive in Merida.
When you arrive at the Merida airport, a driver meets you and brings you to your accommodations.
You live in a comfortable, fun and welcoming Volunteer House, which is part of a hostel in the center of Merida. It is only five blocks from the Plaza Grande, the bustling center of Merida. You share a room with other volunteers. Most bathrooms are communal. All rooms and bathrooms are cleaned regularly. Wireless internet is available free of charge. There is a great common area where you can cook, socialize or just relax in. There is also a pool that volunteers can enjoy.
Mexico, and the Yucatan in particular, is famous for its diverse and flavorful dishes that bring together Mexican, Mayan, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and European cuisines. Every day, you receive breakfast and lunch. A cook prepares a range of local dishes exclusively for the volunteers.
Volunteers work with local teachers to help plan and lead classes for students ages 12 to 15, although there may be students who are older.
Volunteers work in local schools or community centers teaching English to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Volunteers can contribute to a variety of medical areas, mainly treatment of tropical infectious diseases.
Volunteers work in either a living center, a boarding school or a local NGO for children and youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Volunteers work under the direction of the local medical professionals who determine the level of responsibility delegated to volunteers.
Volunteers work with a local organization that supports poor girls in rural communities.