From the moment you begin to explore volunteering in Brazil, you’ll realize this nation is bold in every way: in its celebrations, flavors and the vibrant colors of its landscape. Beneath the surface, the South American country remains one that can engage your senses and steal your heart. What’s more important, however, is that there are many ways for you to give back to Brazil as much as it offers you. Here are some things to know about Brazil and the best volunteer programs available to interested volunteers like you.
Know Before You Go
Brazil is huge. Not only does it occupy almost half of the entire South American continent, but it is the fifth-largest country in the world. Home to some of the planet’s best beaches and acres of unfettered Amazon landscape, Brazil is also one of the most populous countries on earth. Between the stunning natural resources and the populated cities and rural towns, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Brazil in ways that leave a positive footprint.
Brazil entered a recession in 2014, but three years later the economy began to turn around, and the country officially exited the recession in late 2017. Still, the recent economic difficulties have left some communities in need of special attention. Resources are far from being equally distributed — according to Oxfam, the richest 5 percent of Brazilian residents have the same income as the rest of the country combined. In fact, the six richest Brazilians own as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent. This income disparity creates the need for free services in Brazil, from education to urban gardens.
What can you expect during your time volunteering in Brazil? The native language is Portuguese, and English is not widely spoken, particularly in small communities. On top of learning some basic Portuguese before you depart, you should prepare to rub a lot of elbows; the country has 13 cities with a population of more than 1 million. Food in Brazil is centered around rice and beans combined with protein. The national dish is feijoada, a beloved stew. You can also expect to be served fresh fruit and strong coffee.
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers attractive volunteer opportunities for almost anyone who would like to volunteer and explore Brazil. Not only can you volunteer with IVHQ any time of the year, but the five available programs offered in Brazil include accommodations and detailed orientation to get you settled in and prepared for your volunteer program – not to mention, the five project offerings in this country are also diverse and meaningful. You can teach English in low-income communities, offer childcare in Rio de Janeiro, help create floats and decorations for the annual Carnaval (an important cultural event), aid in community development projects, and teach local children about sports like rugby and futebol.
At Love Volunteers, the goal is to provide life-changing intercultural experiences for both volunteers and locals. In Brazil, volunteers choose from six unique programs. You can teach English in shanty towns, offer creative art instruction to local kids or offer free childcare to low-income families. If you like to work with your hands, consider signing up for the construction and renovation program, in which you help families in Complexo do Alemao repair their homes. Love Volunteers also has urban gardening and sports development programs.
Global Leadership Adventures is geared specifically for teenagers. Young people who embark on volunteering in Brazil with the organization take away life lessons and experiences that stay with them for years. The program in Brazil revolves around Amazon conservation, and it lasts for two to three weeks; there are two start dates in the summer. While in Brazil with Global Leadership Adventures, you can expect to participate in efforts to preserve the Amazon. Typical activities include learning about the ecology of the region and working to improve access to the natural resources of the Amazon for regional residents. You can also sign up for hands-on learning and adventure opportunities.
The people at Fronteering have assembled a group of meaningful and outdoor related programs for volunteers and adventurers. Some of the available itineraries, such as the Extreme Amazon 7-Night trip, are designed around teaching you how to learn survival and adventure techniques. The Amazon Guide program gives visitors the chance to engage in eco-volunteering. You will help the staff learn English and help professional guides during overnight trips while you help educate the public about the importance of maintaining the Amazon forest. You can also experience a Brazil ranch stay and learn about sustainable living in the Brazilian countryside.
The Frontier programs for volunteers in Brazil span from women’s empowerment to conservation and a lot in between. In total, the organization offers 12 special programs that last for one to three weeks. Get hands-on conservation experience at an otter sanctuary, or sign up for a health promotion program and bring health education to the favelas of Brazil. Other Frontier volunteer opportunities in Brazil include sports development, an art design community project and teaching women new trades to increase their income potential.
Ready to Travel?
Volunteering in Brazil is a rewarding experience and one that can take many forms depending on your particular skills and expertise. Learn more about one of these well-managed programs, and choose the one that best fits your schedule and needs. Within a few months, you could be on your way to volunteer and explore in one of the most lively and lovely countries on the planet.