If you are thinking about volunteering abroad in South America, know that there are a few clear-cut benefits from this experience: numerous organizations, spectacular nature, incredible cultures, and considerably low travel and living expenses. Throughout your research, you’ll come across countless non-for-profits, NGO’s, and social initiatives operating across South America -from Rio De Janeiro’s favelas to small villages in rural Peru. This means that the setting of your volunteer work will be just as diverse as the causes and operations you’ll come across. This also means that with the right preparations, you can find exactly the volunteer opportunity that you’re looking for.
Ever thought you’d be assisting research at Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, teaching children just a step away from Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, or building a greenhouse around Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni? Unless you are a very specific dreamer, you’re volunteering fantasy probably never went that far - and that’s fine! That’s exactly what we’re here for. When choosing a travel and volunteering destination in South America, start by thinking about the settings you’re drawn to the most - urban or rural, mountain or valley, snowy or sunny. Checking the answers to these questions will set you off in the right direction. Each country and each area have their own characteristics: Peru, Argentina, Chile and Brazil draw immediate attention but don’t hesitate to look further and find the right place for you.
Now it’s time to focus on a cause you care about. If causes in the education field as a whole, or English language education, in particular, is sought after - you can easily find an organization to work with. This extends to the field of community development, in which there are many initiatives fastly growing that can use enthusiastic volunteers. Nature related volunteer opportunities are as diverse as they are popular, so focus on an area or specific cause you care about. Until you find the RIGHT organization for you ask yourself questions, and don’t hesitate to learn and research about all three components (area, organization, cause) of this experience, to make sure you’ve picked the right place for you. Now, off you go!