From my initial inquiry about to volunteer in Rio with Iko Poran, the local Coordinator was prompt and helpful. Upon my arrival in Rio and meeting the team, I always felt that I could call on them for assistance. They gave us these great tips and tour of our local area but then basically just let us get on with things.
The most wonderful part of my time in Rio was working with the Jocum Mission in Borel. I was lucky to be able to participate in two projects; one being working with a women’s artisan group, where I taught basic English and helped to make artisan products with them. The other was working at a local creche in the room that cared for the 2 to 3 year olds providing stability, food and nurturing. The overall program director for Jocum is truly one of the kindest and most inspiring people I have ever met. She ensured that I was happy and safe at all times.
The community (favela) itself was pretty much as I imagined, although I did initially feel a bit confronted by the poverty and lifestyle there, but you don’t go to volunteer in Rio in a community that is rich or with no issues. I knew that we (at Jocum) really made a difference in a community that really needed us. It made the experience truly worthwhile. To say that I was engaged with the community is an understatement. From elders to the little kids, they seemed to embrace me and treat me like I was part of the community. There were many tears on my final day with them, I miss them every day
You will be living in Santa Teresa a gorgeous old suburb of Rio with a bohemian vibe and amazing views and awesome little bars and restaurants it was just a joy to spend time there every day. With my follow volunteers, we explored the city and made it our home. Rio de Janeiro one of THE most amazing cities in the world. It is all that you expect, fun, buzzy, beautiful, dangerous, exciting all rolled into one.
Definitely one of the best things about the whole volunteering experience was the fact that I met so many amazing, funny, compassion and adventurous people whilst living at the volunteer accommodation. We came from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, yet we all had a special something in common. We all chose to volunteer in Rio and engage with a community, therefore we all seemed to bond so quickly. We helped and supported each other through our many adventures (including fab weekend trips to other parts of Rio De Janeiro like Paraty and Ilha Grande) and in the end I know I have made so many friends for life.
Overall this experience was even better than I could have imagined. It was fun, challenging, confronting at times and spectacular at others. If I could give anyone a few tips about getting the most out of this experience is firstly try to have some basic knowledge of Portuguese (the more you know the quicker you will engage with the community and Cariocas), have an open mind and an open heart and, most of all, make the most of everyday and all the experiences that come along. This is one of the best experiences of my life.
Find out more about volunteer work in Rio de Janeiro