Despite all the terrible news spread out by the mainstream media about Brazil, Nathab from USA participated in the capoeira class of a blind teacher in Rio de Janeiro. It turned out to be a life changing experience. As he puts it: “Don’t let the news fool you – Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries we have ever been to.” Read here his full statement:
Would highly recommend this. The people, culture, activities, and experiences will last a lifetime. I talk about them every day to this day. Felipe and his family are such amazing people. We participated in a capoeira class with a blind teacher who changed my life forever, played soccer with amazing children from the favelas to keep them away from drugs and violence, and of course enjoyed everything the beautiful country has to offer. Don’t let the news fool you – Brazil is one of the most beautiful countries we have ever been to. Of course you need to be smart and safe but that applies everywhere you are in the world! The culture and people are one of a kind and so much fun. – Nathab, Washington DC, USA
Find out more about our volunteer opportunities in Rio de Janeiro!
Paulina has sent us this beautiful testimony about her volunteer work in Rio de Janeiro. During her time in Salgueiro, a pacified community in Zona Norte of Rio, she has been working in the ecological garden of the community. At the same time she was caring for children at the local school, and enjoyed playing and drawing with them. She even taught some English to them. As she says, things move at a different pace in Brazil, you have to be patient. But after a while things start to work out greatly, and you get the support of the nice and welcoming people in the favela.
I had the opportunity to volunteer in Brazil with Iko Poran for three weeks in August 2013. My project was located in Salgueiro, a pacified community very well known for having one of the most famous samba schools in Rio de Janeiro.
In the mornings I worked in an ecological garden that provided food to the poorest families in the community and to the local school, and in the afternoons I helped in what they call “the library”, which is a space where children from the neighborhood come to hang around playing, drawing, painting or learning English.
My volunteer time in Rio was a very nice experience that I’ll never forget. One of the most important things I learnt is that you have to try to not to give up if at any time you have the feeling that the project is not fulfilling your expectations, or that you are not helping enough. You have to always keep in mind that things in Brazil move at a different pace… The best approach to this situation is to face each day with renewed illusion and to always show a positive and proactive attitude.
The best part of the gardening project was meeting the people who work there: nice, friendly and welcoming people, who quickly opened the door of their home to me and their hearts.
In the project with children I learnt that just with our presence, we prevent these kids from being in the streets exposed to dangers and possible negative influences. I also learnt that what really matters is the love you give and that you receive from them in huge amounts. It’s almost amazing to see how their smiles can light up your day and also motivate you to keep going and value the work you are doing there.
This experience also allowed me to meet amazing people. I’m talking about the other volunteers from different nationalities that lived in the same house as me, and also the Iko Poran team. They’re all lovely people that I hope to see again someday!– Paulina Dañino
Ephrat Fisseha, from Ethiopia, bought training jackets and a new ball for the football school at her Child Development project.
Thank you very much Ephrat!! Our world is a better place, because of people like you❤
Find out more about volunteer work in Brazil.
If you are into sports, you may also visit our page about football coaching abroad, where you can find projects in Argentina, Uganda and Ghana.
My fiancé and I had an incredible experience volunteering in Argentina and now in Brazil. Our project in Buenos Aires was in a very special community of which we were welcomed with open arms. The family we worked alongside we now consider our own family!! Here in Rio doing sports development has been extremely rewarding and we are learning so much about this beautiful culture and even learning capoeira with the locals!! Felipe and his family have been SO accommodating & we are having a blast living with him and his beautiful fam! HIGHLY recommend all IKP programs :)!! – Lindsey Willis, USA
As a volunteer, you can participate in different campaigns during the year, according to the need of the community at that time.
Volunteers must be willing to participate in various activities that will arise – for example: sorting clothes, food, books, toys, etc, that come as a donation and distribute them. Moreover you can participate in children, youths and families inclusion projects or help to plan events for schools and communities, etc.
Visit our page with all the volunteer projects in Argentina
I had a great time in Rio learning about the culture and building relationships with the people in the Engenho de Rainha community. I worked with talented, passionate and hardworking health professionals who were willing to help and answer questions at all times. I really enjoyed being immersed in the community and learning about all aspects of the healthcare system in Rio de Janeiro in particular including the many challenges. This was an unforgettable experience I would highly recommend. – Jefrin
You can go to our page with all the medical internship programs in more countries like Peru, India and Uganda as well.
You may also enjoy reading the review of Ana Norleyne from Texas
New Year volunteers in Rio de Janeiro.
Happy 😃 2018 and Welcome to Brazil.
Felipe Murray with his volunteers on Escadaria Selarón in Lapa, Rio. A promising New Year 2018 has just arrived and the volunteers enjoyed the New Year’s Party in Rio. It is summer in the cosmopolitan city and the beaches are beautiful.
Open-hearted people will welcome you. The Carioca way of life is beyond comparison! People thrive with hapiness and spontaneity. May be this year you try out the Carnival preparation project? You can help creating the decoration for the floats and dive into sambe rhythm.
In Rio you can teach English, work with Urban Environmentalism at the Tijuca Rainforest. The Arts and Design programs are sought after as well, you can even work with ballet classes. Or you choose to give your love and joy to the children of a day care centre or orphanage.
There a plenty of options, check it out on our homepage, the Brazil volunteer programs in full detail!
If you want to listen to the words of alumni first, check out the volunteer experiences in Rio here on our blog.
Be welcome to Rio!
Last Sunday Iko Poran’s Founder and Director went with his family to volunteer in a community effort cleaning a riverbed at Rio de Janeiro’s National Park.
The Tijuca Rainforest is one of the natural gems of Rio de Janeiro. IKPVA volunteers have been working at the rainforest for many years now, in order to preserve the ecological so important area. What volunteers say about their experience:
So far I have had a wonderful experience volunteering in Rio de Janeiro with Iko Poran’s Urban Environmentalism program. I am half way through my two-month stay in Rio and I already know that it will be a very valuable experience for me. The project consists of work in Tijuca National Park and at a large community garden in a favela, where they grow almost every sort of common vegetable in Brazil. The people I work with in the communities are all incredibly kind and welcoming, not to mention they are doing work that makes a big difference for themselves and the environment. – Elisa
Volunteering with the environmental program gave me the opportunity to see first hand the ecological challenges that Rio faces and make a difference myself while also having the chance to witness the incredible beauty of the city and parks as I was doing it! I also loved the independence that Iko Poran gave me! – Destiny
So far I have had a wonderful experience volunteering in Rio de Janeiro with Iko Poran’s Urban Environmentalism program. I am half way through my two-month stay in Rio and I already know that it will be a very valuable experience for me. The project consists of work in Tijuca National Park and at a large community garden in a favela, where they grow almost every sort of common vegetable in Brazil. The people I work with in the communities are all incredibly kind and welcoming, not to mention they are doing work that makes a big difference for themselves and the environment.
Staying in a beautiful Home with the Host Family
Here in Rio, I have stayed in a beautiful home with the host family. The house is in an area within walking distance of some bars and restaurants and has a nice view, as well as a very comfortable living space. The family has been welcoming and make sure that I have everything I need to enjoy my time here. They also have two adorable kids and two cats, which has been great for me as well.
Wide Range of Volunteer Projects with Iko Poran
Overall, I recommend Iko Poran as a volunteering outlet. They offer a wide range of work that contributes to the local communities, while also assuring a fun and comfortable stay. – Elisa
Ute Heinzel from Germany goes to Brazil, she wants to teach English in Rio de Janeiro. On a visit to Belo Horizonte she learns to see the land of her childhood with new eyes, and spontaneously decides to leave her life as a marketing executive in chic London for a year to give something to the poorest of the poor in the favelas, to teach them English. At the beginning, her Portuguese is still basic and she has yet to get used to being considered a “Gringa” in her childhood country.
Every morning she has to get up just after six to get the bus in time, which then has to find it’s way through the morning traffic jam in the Avenida Brasil to the suburb Batan. But Ute quickly gets to know the people from de Favela, makes friends, and gets her English students on their toes. Also, the life in the hostel, where she is housed as a volunteer, she appreciates very much.
The shared chats with the other volunteers, excursions and barbecues, where she is invited by the project coordinator Felipe, quickly make her forget the simple conditions in the dorm of the hostel. After all, Rio de Janeiro lives more outside. In the end, contrary to her original intentions, she meets a love, begins on joint excursions to see Rio through the eyes of a Brazilian.
Brasil was the country of my childhood, as my Dad took me to Rio when I was eight years old. It took me 26 years to return to Brasil. In 2014 I went to Belo Horizonte, but my views on life changed with this visit. I’ve lived in Berlin and live in London now, so I’m used to homelessness and poverty, or so I thought. Seeing drug addicts and homeless people in Brasil made rough sleepers in London almost look cushty. That was when I felt that I had been extremely lucky in my life and that it was time to give something back, and so I decided to volunteer.
Once I had made the decision to volunteer, I did some research and was overwhelmed with the possibilities and organisations. I actually wanted to build houses in a favela, but the particular organisation that offered the program allowed volunteers only to stay for a maximum time of four weeks. As it was clear to me that I’d apply for a sabbatical at work and that I’d like to stay for at least three months, I decided against it. Instead I thought of how people at work always told me that I train them so well, so I thought “Why not teach English?”.
Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city, one of the best places in the world. Despite the fact that more than six million people live there, you can actually manage to meet the same people over and over: at the bus stop, at the many Botecos, at the beach. I loved the diversity in the city and how widespread it was. I was never really scared and felt pretty safe most of the time. That said, I think it does make a difference if you make sure to dress as simple as possible to not attract unnecessary attention. I will always be spotted as a
gringa, my skin will just not get dark enough and my Portuguese is still slow, but if you make the impression to have everything under control, I experienced that people are cool with you.
The program itself is surely not unique, teaching English to underprivileged people in favelas is something that every organisation offers. What made it unique for me was that Felipe, the manager of Iko Poran, was always hands-on with everything; from picking the volunteers up from the airport to driving them to the placements to going out for drinks and organising spontaneous BBQs, he was always up to get together and interact with us. His life experience makes a huge difference in how he handles things and I felt in really good hands during my three months stay in Rio.
Iko Poran was value for money and I received ongoing support from Felipe, the project co-ordinator. I took part in 3 programmes, 2 with children and 1 helping prepare for carnaval; it was great for me as I expressed my interests and skills and the programmes were then matched to my specification.
The cultural change and language difference, can at first be daunting, but if you are willing to take advantage of the language lessons you receive as part of the programme and you embrace the culture, I believe you will get so much more out of the projects.
The children and workers I worked alongside were amazing and I was humbled by the warmth and positivity they showed, despite having very little material possessions.
As you are not working every day, you have the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and learn about the cultures of others. For me, Brazil is an amazing country and I hope to return, to see more.
The accommodation provided is basic, but the staff were friendly and so helpful that after 5-months, they became like family.
If you go with an open mind, respect the cultural differences and put in what you get out, I can assure you, you will have the time of your life. I didn’t want to leave, but I have amazing memories and friends for life.
Go for it, I say!