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                  Ideal for students, mid-career and over 50.

International Volunteering & Careers

 International Volunteer Programs
Central & South America


1: Costa Rica: Micro-finance
2: Peru, Caribbean & Honduras: Health
3: Costa Rica: Women
4: Peru, Ecuador & Honduras: Children & Youth
5: Peru: Community Development
6: AIDS in the Americas?!
7: Caribbean: Vocational Training
8: Bolivia: Appropriate Technology & Construction
9: Bolivia: Social Services, Health & Education
10: Ecuador: Rural Development
11: Costa Rica: Ecology

See Calendar of Group Volunteer Opportunities.
For more information about how Volunteer Programs work.
Check how and where your skills are needed.

Our opportunities in the Americas have a range of roles so most sites can fit for everyone.
Email answered Questionnaire & we can find one that is right for you.


Costa Rica & Ecuador: Microfinance: a Ticket out of Poverty  

The organization, Accion, will tell you that microfinance originated in South America.
What is new is how the idea has caught fire. Microfinance is not about infusing money.
More, it is about the skills gained, the pride & power when you see your enterprise fly.

We need people who can teach incremental skills:
Teach math, bookkeeping & accounting.
Experience in small business development.
Entrepreneurial skills.
Weaving, embroidery & village crafts.
Knowledge of banking & finance.
..of cooperatives & credit. 
Experience with eCommerce & Fair Trade.

Farming & rural livelihoods.
Learning to Lead by Laughing

This microfinance organization is directed by one of the funniest & warmest directors that I have ever met.
Needless to say, she has a strong & happy team. I believe there is much to be learned from this director.

Great for Public Administration, Business, International Development & Social Work internships!

c. David Zimmerly
Health Professionals & Students Needed

We have 4 medical sites: Caribbean, Central America(CA), the Sacred Valley & Bolivia
for: nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, midwives, Public Health, dentists

Who is needed?
--The CA clinic needs a wide gamut of nursing, medical, dental  & pharmacy personnel   
--The hosptial needs nurses, nurse practitioners, physicans assistants, doctors and residents.
--Most needed at the Caribbean hospital are midwives, family practice, dentists, orthopedics,
   eye, ENT,  cardio-vascular.
--After March 2013, the hospital will then have room for Social Workers who can do
   outreaches to address the poverty that is creating the medical problems. (~Paul Farmer)
--Experienced, licensed nurse midwives, labor & delivery nurses & ob/gyn doctors
  needed at another location in the Caribbean.    new!

c. David Zimmerly
Costa Rica: Mujer-a-Mujer

This organization is devoted to the needs of women. They work on gender-based violence;
run a day care center for women that work in the factory; teach and sell crafts so that women can generate income; prevent teen pregancy; offer support groups and do educationals.

Who is needed:

--You need not have fancy skills, just a desire to help women.
--Life experience if you want do educationals or vocational training.
--Counselors, psychologists & social workers to conduct individual & group sessions.
--Do you have a skill that would help generate income? sewing? baking? quilting? crafts?
--Spanish is essential if counseling, but don't need if you are working in the gift shop.

Peru, Ecuador & Honduras: Working with Children & Youth

--When families are poor, their kids must earn income...shining shoes.
--Peruvian org offers an alternative to life on the streets.
--Education is a ticket out of poverty.

Who is needed?
--Armies of tutors that can help kids succeed in school & in life.
--Patience & ability to explain home work are the most important qualifications.
--Social workers, counselors, psychologists, nutritionists, voational trainers.
--Honduras requests: teach English, hygiene & health; soccer, art, music.
  + now huge push to teach literacy & computers.
--Librarians to inspire a love of reading & people to read to kids
--Puppetry, clowning, theatre, mime, arts & crafts to instill a love of the arts
--Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, day care operators to teach skills.
--Spanish is helpful but if you don't have it, the kids will teach you!

Peru: Community Development

Comprehensive anti-poverty organization in coastal areas focuses on Education, Community Health,
Youth-at-risk, small business development/ income generationa, rebuilding homes after earthquake.

Skills needed:
--Social workers, psychologists & community organizers
--Teachers & people who can tutor kids
--Nurses, Public Health & Nutritionists
--Have your own small business? Teach the ropes!
--6 month commitment & Spanish a must.

AIDS in the Americas?!

All too often we associate the AIDs pandemic with Africa
and neglect those impacted in other parts of the world.

We have org that is dedicated to preventing the transmission of AIDS from mother to child and school for HIV+ kids (that got HIV from mom.)

Skills needed:
People who  love kids: Parents, grandparents, foster parents, nannies, students.
Teachers. Early childhood education. Tutors. Art Therapists.
Nutritionists. Nursing. Medical. Dental. Social work & psychology.

c. Thomas Muirhead

Caribbean: Vocational Training     in the making

Want more than tropical sunsets and snorkeling. Want to be of use?
This organization's ticket out of poverty is teaching people skills.

Skills needed:
--Carpenters, plumbers, wwod workers & electricians to teach their trade
--Teach English, Science, Math, Reading, Computers or Nutrition.
--Don't feel you have particular skills?
  Then help with the bookmobile or teach photography, drama, your interest.
--Later they want to teach how to start a business; run a Day Care; Marketing;
  Customer Service and anything else that will help people earn income.

Bolivia: Appropriate Technology & Construction

Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America.
It is a long walk to almost anywhere in most of remote, rural Bolivia.
Come build the roads, schools and clinics to serve the people of these remote areas.
Or train about appropriate technology and alternative energy sources
so that women don't have to walk miles to forage for fire wood.

Who is needed:
--Construction experience or just plain muscles & willingness for construction projects.
--Experience with construction and/or heavy machinery to build roads.
--People that are savvy re Appropriate Technology or interested to learn & train others.
--Administrative & Office help. People that can get the office organized.


Bolivia: Social Services, Education & Health

Once clinic & schools are built, help deliver services in the remote rural areas.
Or help in the cities.  People flock to the cities hoping to find work. There is none.
Kids support the family by shining shoes. Or kids live on the streets.

Who is needed:
--Social service workers for rural community outreach.
--Youth workers, social workers, psychologists to work with street kids
   that have been abused or come from violent or alcoholic homes.
--Nursing, Pre-Med & Public Health students to teach how to stay healthy
  & Sexual & Reproductive Health.
--Dentists & dental students who can do simple oral exams for people living on street.
--Soccer players to teach & coach street kids.
--Fund-raising; marketing; social media to keep organizations afloat.

Shoe shine boy sustains family.

Ecuador: Rural Development

Get an inside view of the toil it takes to bring food to market in Ecuador.
Help improve the lives of Ecuadorian campesinas and their families.

Who is needed:
--People  with skillsi in organic farming and/or agriculture
   or just an interest in learing and getting your hands dirty
--Animal scientists to help improve pastures, care & yield of dairy cows
--Nutritionists that can improve what farmers grow and eat
--People with skills in setting up cooperatives
   and alternative livelihoods for women such as crafts


Costa Rica: Ecology

Costa Rica was deforested, but since the 1990's
has restored its pristine beauty.
It is known for its sustainable development.

Come help & get your hands dirty!
--Restore desecrated watersheds
--Restore tropical rain forest
--Learn permaculture
--Surf or swim at beach in your time off!

Help in the high, High Andes        on hold due to budget cuts

The organization is indigenous and the director is well versed in how international
development organizations work, i.e. "project cycles" & "monitoring & evaluation".

If you want to learn how internatinal NGO's work...you can get a helpful sampling here.

Bolivia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates  in the world.
Bolivia also has high malnutrition in children. 

We need assistance with:
Income Generation.
Aquaculture & agriculture.
Water Sanitation. Micro-irrigation.
Natural Resources & environment.

Teaching ESL & Academics in English      on hold
Single mothers are the driving force behind this school.
These struggling mothers wanted life to be better for their children.
The mothers feel that the ticket out of poverty is being able to speak English.

Who is Needed:
Native English speakers, ESL or TESOL training a plus.
Adept in teaching math, social studies, reading  & English
but you do not need a teaching credential.

Strong people skills essential and you must connect well to kids.

Very cool: Organization provides food & room.

Spanish and/or Quechua Lessons

Many volunteers bound for South America,
want to improve their Spanish.

We have 2 sites--Bolivia and Peru--
where Spanish or Quechua langage lessons are offered as an additional service.

Spanish language lessons can also be arranged
in Costa Rica and Honduras.

For me, this is the Sacred Valley.      on hold

My colleague told me that I must visit this place and these people.
"It has a special feeling," she said. I have never had such a strong sense
that this is a place where Heaven & Earth forces meet.

Our colleagues here generate income through their spa, restaurant & resort
that then feeds & funds their development projects in the surrounding communities.

Who and what are needed. Volunteers to:
--hospitality marketing:
help to upscale spa & resort
--expand adventure travel services; fly-fishing, mountain biking & birding
--marketing agriculture & fruits.
--sustainability--farming on dry land, eco-tourism, wind & solar.
--sustainable economic generation: small & rural business whizzes   new
--"all the nurses, doctors & public health volunteers that you can send."
--writing business plans & obtaining financing   new
--eCommerce; building websites & SEO          new

down the road.org

Photo credits, thanks to: Citizen X; David Zimmerly & Jeroen Neele.

How the International Volunteer Programs work:

Looking for a Volunteer Vacation or to Volunteer Abroad? We offer more real & challenging. More affordable.

Affordable:  1/4th the price of most programs.
      See fees & how to apply.

harness your skills to tackle real challenges.

Real Deal
: other programs offer group  experiences & send a chaperone.  We are for volunteers - students & older - who want
the real deal: willing to do both the grunt work & the glamorous; able to live humbly & make a real contribution.

Personalized: rather than one-size-fits-all approach,
we believe that if you are really going to make a contribution, we must match your skills to where they are truly needed.

Flexible Schedule:
You can go at any time of year though school schedules or hurricane season may create some constraints. Duration of your stay can be determined with the Host Director.
Your schedule can usually be accommodated.

Home Stays
keep the cost down & deepen your understanding of daily life. Or you can stay at a guesthouse.

We believe that you can immerse in other cultures if you are well prepared:  Travel Consults maximize health & safety.

Transportation: Some people wonder who pays airfare. 97% of the time: the volunteer. Your host organization cannot afford to pay your airfare. 50% of humanity earns <$2/day.

  Travel Consult with Mary Ellen is often recommended
  to volunteers going to Americas.
  See info about usefulness of Consult with Mary Ellen.



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