5 Free Volunteer Opportunities in South America
If you’ve always dreamed of travelling and volunteering in South America and would love to volunteer while you’re there, here are 5 free volunteering opportunities!
- Intiwawa, Peru
- Save the Wild Chinchillas, Chile
- Caras Alegres, Guatemala
- Biblioworks, Bolivia
- Education Plus Nicaragua, Nicaragua
Where: Arequipa, Peru
Volunteer activities: Childcare, education, healthcare
Intiwawa is a Peruvian non-profit on a mission to alleviate poverty in Arequipa, particularly in the small settlement of San Isidro where the living standards are among the poorest in the city.
The community of San Isidro faces many challenges, including education, the lack of access to sanitation combined with poor hygiene, domestic violence, and child labor.
Intiwawa is always looking for volunteers willing to join them in their efforts to improve the living conditions of the people in San Isidro. Volunteers will help take care of the children and take part in the organization’s active projects, or even other projects and ideas that volunteers may come up with.
The non-profit requires that participants speak good Spanish and are willing to commit at least 3 months in order for the kids to adjust to their presence.
“Volunteering with Intiwawa in Peru was a great opportunity for me to help others. Intiwawa has the main project in the slum of San Isidro and a project in Coporaque in the Colca region. As a volunteer you will be involved in a lot of projects like health and education projects. You will work with an international team of other volunteers. You begin to think outside the box challenging your own skills as well as your point of view.”
— Felix from Germany
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Where: Illapel, Chile
Volunteer activities: Animal care, conservation work, construction
Chinchillas are cute furry rodents found in the Andes Mountains in South American countries. They are now listed as an endangered species, and non-profit organizations like Save the Wild Chinchillas in Chile work hard to preserve these animals’ natural habitats.
Save the Wild Chinchillas‘ office is located in Illapel, next to the Chinchillas National Reserve. There are many ways for volunteers to actively engage in the organization’s wildlife projects to help chinchillas populations, such as collecting seeds, planting seedlings, working in the plant nursery, and fixing fences.
Participants will be housed at one of the non-profit’s rural barns, perfect for those seeking a volunteer experience in the peaceful and quiet countryside.
Where: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Volunteer activities: Childcare, administration, community development
Caras Alegres was founded in 2004 with the purpose of improving the well-being of vulnerable families living in the poor neighbourhood of Las Rosas in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. The organization empowers the community, especially the children and the women, by giving them access to education and basic needs.
Caras Alegres runs an after-school program to give the opportunity to children aged 5-14 years old to learn in a fun and dynamic way. The activities range from sports and dance to arts and crafts. Volunteer are always welcome to help, and are encouraged to share their own ideas!
There are also plenty of tasks volunteers can help with in the office, such as assisting the development director with fundraising, updating the organization’s website and social media platforms, design brochures, etc.
Only a one-time fee of $20 is requested from volunteers to support the after-school activities. A commitment of minimum 3 weeks is expected as well.
“For 5 months I worked in the office and with the kids during the afternoon activities and it was simply amazing! I learnt so much and saw myself grow. I got to know the children very well. It’s a great place to help out, have fun and see the kids smile and be happy as well. It’s a safe environment which you help create for kids that have a tough time at their homes. You definitely won’t regret your stay at Caras Alegres, I sure didn’t!”
— Lara from Belgium
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Where: Sucre, Bolivia
Volunteer activities: Education, childcare, women empowerment
Biblioworks is a non-profit that empowers impoverished communities in Bolivia with education and sustainable literacy which, the organization believes, are critical tools to fight poverty on the long term.
To this end, the team at Biblioworks has built 16 libraries in rural Bolivia, and has equipped the communities with resources to help develop and reach sustainable literacy.
Volunteer work at Biblioworks is all about love! The organization needs book club coordinators to spread the love for books, and English teachers to promote the love for languages.
Intermediate proficiency in Spanish is useful because the volunteer projects take place in areas where Quechua is predominantly spoken and Spanish comes as a second language. Volunteers with relevant experience and advanced language skills can teach local women to write and read Spanish.
“The Biblioworks staff is caring, helpful, interested, and committed to their mission to bring libraries and literacy to Bolivia. It is so cool to be a part of that drive and enthusiasm. Volunteering gave us the opportunity to get to know Bolivian people outside of just the tourist industry. We got to understand and explore the country in a much different way than just organized tours. If you love literacy, kids, and [want to help to] make the world a better place, I highly recommend volunteering in Bolivia with Biblioworks.”
— Deirdre from Chile
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Where: Granada, Nicaragua
Volunteer activities: Education, childcare, social work
Education Plus Nicaragua is a non-profit based in one of Granada’s poorest neighborhoods. Its community center, Casa de los Sueños, provides an after-school program for children in the area. It’s a safe haven for kids to gather, enrich their educations, participate in fun activities, and just enjoy themselves.
Volunteers at this wonderful non-profit do real work, and make a real impact. Volunteering activities can include teaching a class, leading recreation activities, tutoring individual students, or supervising and serving meals.
Written by Alyssa Abel, an experiential education writer who talks about study abroad, student opportunities and life experiences. Follow her work on her blog, Syllabusy. The current pandemic might have you even more motivated to volunteer, but stuck inside, you’re probably concerned you won’t be able to keep making a difference. Luckily, there’s an online solution — […]
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