Adriana Puiggros has been volunteering with children in one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, and she fell in love with Brazil:
Risking my life, investing my time, working to help the children of this favela in Rio de Janeiro was undoubtedly an indescribable experience that changed my way of seeing things and life forever. It saddens me to think that I will not see these children again, at least in a long time, but I am happy for everything that has taken me. Now it’s time to close a stage in Rio, but it’s not the time to leave. Soon I will open a new stage in Brazil full of new experiences, people and places to know. I’ve fallen madly in love with this country. ❤😍
Original – Portuguese:
Arriscar minha vida, investir meu tempo, trabalhar para ajudar as crianças desta favela do Rio de Janeiro, foi sem dúvida alguma uma experiência indescritível que me mudou a minha forma de ver as coisas e a vida para sempre. Entristece-me pensar que já não vou voltar a ver estas crianças, pelo menos em um tempo longo, mas estou feliz por tudo o que me levou. Agora é hora de fechar uma etapa no Rio, mas não é hora de ir embora. Em breve vou abrir uma nova etapa no Brasil cheia de novas experiências, pessoas e lugares por conhecer. Este país me tem loucamente apaixonada. ❤😍
Find here the programs to volunteer in Brazil.
I was volunteering in Rio de Janeiro for only two weeks. My plan was to travel afterwards, so that’s why I only stayed in Rio for such a long time.
I had a great time! It started by getting picked up by Felipe at the airport, while we were driving to the hostel he explained me a little bit how the program works and what’s there to do in Lapa and Santa Teresia. I was volunteering with an Irish Couple and I thought it was really nice so I didn’t have to go somewhere by myself.
The volunteering itself was absolutely amazing, we were playing ball games with the children, rope skipping, drawing, we did some painting as well and they loved it! There were around 10 to 20 children each day, I don’t know on what it depended if they were coming or not, but mostly it was school I think. The children were between 2 and 14 years old, they could get a bit wild at times, but they were all very sweet and always really excited to see us.
I would definitely recommend this program, but in my opinion, two weeks is way too short! If you can stay longer, do it! It’s definitely worth it. Also, try to get some basics in Portuguese, I could already understand and speak a little bit, but sometimes it was very hard because not everyone speaks English and they really do appreciate it if you try.
Rio is an amazing city, I totally fell in love with it! At first I was a little bit scared because everyone told me it’s such a dangerous city, but in my opinion it’s just like every big city and you should listen to people living there on where you can and where you can not go. I never went out by myself when it was dark and I never felt unsafe, but I think that’s mainly because I listened to what Felipe said, like don’t behave too much like a tourist, don’t take any valuables, etc.
If you’re still not convinced, trust me: just go!
Volunteer in Peru working in a special needs school in Cusco.
This project locates volunteers in a special needs school in Cusco. This school is for children and youth with different learning difficulties, as well as children with physical incapacities or visual/ hearing problems. The students are aged from three to twenty five years and their needs and capabilities are varied.
The school is divided into the following classes, according to age and needs: kindergarten, primary, division multiple complex, deaf school and practical training. The number of children per classroom varies from 6 to 15 and teachers do not otherwise have assistants or helpers in the class. Your role will vary depending on the needs of the teachers and the children, but your presence will be truly appreciated by everyone here. There is also a room for physiotherapy and volunteers with any experience or training would be greatly appreciated.
Working and living in Cusco is an incredible life experience. You will see the real life of the cusquenians and will be part of their traditions, customs. Moreover you will taste the authentic Cusco cuisine at the home stay.
Find out everything about affordable volunteering in Peru…
Volunteer on child development in Peru working as a teaching assistant in a rural kindergarten.
In the teaching assistant projects you will be working as a part of PRONOEI. PRONOEI is a Peruvian government sponsored preschool initiative in the poorest areas of Peru, where mothers from within the community receive teacher training to work with a group of 30 children between 3 to 5 years old.
These community mothers, also called promotoras, have a huge challenge to keep their classes running, receiving very little support from the Peruvian state. They are nonetheless doing a formidable job, but that’s why receiving volunteers to assist in the classroom can be such a huge help.
You will be assisting them with classroom activities and playing with the children. The facilities in these PRONOEIs are limited to the most basic; they are often missing adequate restrooms, large enough classrooms, playground areas and teaching materials, but the children who attend them are so happy and thankful to be receiving an education that you will find the experience to be truly humbling. In your spare time you can explore the mysteries of this astounding place and get to know the real Peru.
You can choose between volutneer programs in Arequipa, Peru’s beautiful white-stone city shadowed by the famous El Misti Volcano; Cusco, the Inca capital and the archaeological capital of the Americas; and Iquitos, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon.
Volunteers in Iquitos will be located inside an Amazonian ethnic group located 15 minutes by boat from Iquitos city.
Volunteers must love children and have a positive and creative attitude to make the most of the limited resources available. You will gain valuable teaching experience, while helping to keep these educational projects going.
Learn to surf in South Africa and volunteer to help underprivileged children at Muizenberg, close to Cape Town.
The volunteer program takes place in Muizenberg, Cape Town. The place is renowned for its gentle rolling waves just calling out to be ridden, you will be learning to surf in one of the best places in the world. The surf is free from rips and currents, giving you the safest & best opportunity to hone your skills – it’s not as easy as it looks!
You will first learn the art of surfing, along with the addictive and electrifying feeling that comes with riding a wave all the way into the shore; then you will be working will kids from the disadvantaged areas surrounding Muizenburg, teaching them how to surf.
These are bright, enthusiastic children who have been unfortunate to grow up in underprivileged communities. Their upbringing will often have been marred by violence and tragedy, as well as limited access to money. This is why this work is so important, as it gives them the chance to get away from all of that; to spend a few carefree, laughter-filled hours in the water, where they can have fun and make friends. It provides them with a freedom that really is priceless and makes a huge impact on their lives.
This is only made possible through the help of volunteers like you. You will get to spend sun-soaked days on the beautiful beaches of South Africa, while giving new experiences and skills to these wonderful kids, letting them escape the difficulties of their lives and helping to broaden their horizons.
In your free time you will also be able to explore all the amazing places in Cape Town with the city right at your feet.
Find the complete information about volunteering in South Africa.
Delphine loved her program last year so much that she came back this year. Volunteer in Brazil, teaching children.
Savannah Peiser gives an interview about her experience volunteering on child development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I chose to go international because there was the dual opportunity to help those who are disadvantaged and to travel and explore Brazil. It was also a journey of discovery for me and to open up more career opportunities for my future.
I stumbled across their working abroad website, and when I spoke their colleagues in London, they made me feel relaxed and comfortable about their partnership with Iko Poran. The program also appealed to what kind of change I wanted to make, even if it was only a small change.
Little steps, along with patience, reach bigger goals.
The location of the project and the hostel I was staying in were within walking distance of each other, or a 10 minute bus ride. To walk was about 40 minutes, but it was worth it to meet people and to see the beautiful surroundings. Sometimes when I finished late, I caught some beautiful sunsets. Also, it was close to the main area for social life, so on the weekends, when I didn’t work on the project, I could enjoy with fellow volunteers and people staying in the hostel.
It was unique for many reasons; I was the only volunteer there, so because the children were inspiring the main reason for the uniqueness of the program was the ballet classes that gave the kids a peaceful retreat from their harsh day-to-day life. Their lives are not easy, the backgrounds of their families really do make you think. Also, it made me feel grateful, but sad, that there aren’t equal opportunities. Overall, it was unique because it was thought-provoking and inspiring.
Luis Felipe Murray gave a great introduction to the program and made sure I was happy with the project before I began participating. The only critique I have is that during the program there could have been a little more contact, just to check up.
Volunteer with children in Brazil
The smiley group of children from the morning half of the project at Ballet de Santa Teresa – my little cherubs!
I wish that I had brought more materials with me to engage the kids with a little more.
I would wake up around 7 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. at the hostel, get ready and have some breakfast, and leave by 8:30 a.m. I would arrive at the project by 8:45 a.m. or sometimes 9 a.m. because the bus would be late; in the mornings, I always took the bus. Upon my arrival at the project, I would check the rota for that particular day. Always in the morning was the activities with the younger kids aged three to nine. We would have some reading and writing classes, and then painting and puzzles. At 10:30 a.m. there would be a break for juice and biscuits, then back to classes. During the writing/readings/arts classes, there would be music classes happening, with various music teachers and ballet lessons (the main class of the school). Then at 12 p.m. we would begin lunch, which would go until 2 p.m.
During lunch, once the little kids had finished eating, they would change their uniform and go off to proper school. Then the older kids aged 10 to 15 would arrive, eat their lunch, and when the afternoon teachers arrived they would begin their lessons at 2 p.m. After 2 p.m the lessons consisted of making things for the production they were performing at the end of the month. The school would close at 6 p.m. Sometimes I’d stay until the end, but most days I left after lunch. That was a nice thing about the program, there was some flexibility.
I really enjoyed socialising with the people at the Rio Hostel Santa Teresa, the staff there were very friendly and became like my family for the month I was there. We would eat and drink together and go out on the weekends.
I stayed in the Rio Hostel & Pousada Santa Teresa. The people who worked there were like family and the other volunteers and people staying there were very friendly. From my time there, I have definitely made some real friendships.
Nothing really surprised or shocked me about Brazil, as I already had knowledge of how life is there due to having Brazilian friends. Also, I’m from South Africa and the two countries are incredibly similar; they have the same socio-economic issues, same culture, really similar cuisine, equally beautiful beaches/wildlife/outdoor landscapes, quite similar mentalities, and the same political problems (i.e. corruption).
I think when it comes to packing, it’s all relative to the individual. Pack what you need.
I didn’t struggle to communicate with the locals as I already had quite an extensive knowledge and practice of Portuguese. Sometimes there would be a problem with the accents of the different people, especially those from the various states of Brazil, but it wasn’t a big hindrance.
For sure it will enhance my career opportunities, and it has opened my eyes a bit more.
Yes, I’d definitely recommend Iko Poran! They’re a great organisation with great projects.
When I volunteer again, I would either come back to Brazil or go to South Africa.
About Savannah Peiser
Savannah was born in South Africa, but her family moved to London early on in her life. She was fortunate enough to attend a good school, and then move on to attend Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology. Savannah loves traveling and has traveled to many places; she thinks traveling is an education in itself.
Want do volunteer in Rio de Janeiro?
Find the complete information about volunteering in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil here.
Child Development Volunteer in Kenya
The children in the orphanage range from a few months to teenagers. You will be able to offer your time via cooking, cleaning, bonding and offering a listening ear among others.
The children are eager to see you and will be looking forward to your visit every day. No experience required.
Our programs to volunteer in Kenya are based in Mombasa, which is the second largest city of the country.
Mombasa is a highly cosmopolitan city, which presents a range of attractions for visitors, including the white sandy beach which is world famous. Mombasa is only two hours drive away from Tsavo national park and three hours flight away from world famous Maasai Mara.
A safari can be arranged locally at cheaper rates and can be discussed with local team before arrival. Fort Jesus and Mombasa old town area is UNESCO heritage site which shows the influence of Portuguese, Indian and British influence to the town. The local Swahili language and English are spoken widely.
As a volunteer in Mombasa, you will stay in and hostel in the Nyali area.
The rooms are usually shared by up to four to ten people, and have shared bathroom. The hostel has free WiFi, lounge area, dining area and swimming pool.
Full breakfast is provided and other meals can be purchased here or in local restaurants nearby. A private room is available at an extra fee, depending on availability.
Nyali is an upscale, cosmopolitan and very vibrant area, full of life and Kenyan culture.
The area is five minutes from the beach and from and Nakumatt city mall. There are lots of local pubs and clubs walking distance from each other.
There is a local supermarket chain down the street with local cafes offering sumptuous meals at a fair price.
Projects in Kenya start on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month. You should arrive on Sundays. You can choose to volunteer from 2 to 12 weeks.
Orientation takes place on Monday after the arrival date.
You must be at least 18 years old at the start of your placement. Exceptions can be made for under 18’s accompanied by a guardian or with a parental consent.
All volunteers must have adequate volunteer travel insurance and are required to provide a criminal background check to local staff on arrival in Kenya or during orientation.
Knowledge of basic Swahili is desired but not a pre-requisite. You will already learn a lot practicing in your project where everyone is glad and willing to teach you. Professional coaching can be arranged locally if desired.
You will have a competent support and advices from the local team and project leaders. Someone will always be available in the case of any emergency. Please keep in mind that you are in a different country and should take some precautions to avoid exposing yourself to certain risks.
The local coordinators will give you all the information to have a safe and unforgettable experience.
As an 18 year old exploring the continent for the first time this was a great way to acclimatise to the friendly South American culture. With the city of Buenos Aires just a half an hour train away as well as other day trips such as Tigre and Temaiken close too, San Isidro offers not just a great support scheme for young affected children, through the Fundación Cor program, but also offers a great location to spend your time during the program.
With a range of children from about 4 months to 13 years it really felt like a family here – which is precisely what those kids need. That and a bit of love and attention of course. I felt a real connection with not just the kids but also the super caring staff.
This program really must be considered by anyone with an interest for volunteering or just putting a smile on the faces that need it most.
How can this program be improved?
More outdoor activities for the kids.
Volunteers in Buenos Aires have the opportunity to choose one of our five different programs, such as: Child Development; Childcare (Orphanage); Sports; Community Development; a Special Project: Community Feeding Program in which you help to prepare meals and serve to hundreds of needy families.
Find out more about Argentina Volunteer Programs