Jamaica runs to the beat of its own soundtrack. You’ll feel that rhythm, whether you’re taking a dip in a swimming hole, touring the cultural sites in Kingston, or enjoying jerk chicken in a family-run eatery.
Jamaica stimulates the senses — and calls you to venture further. Volunteering in Jamaica is a great experience for anyone looking to enjoy an incredible adventure while helping this great Caribbean nation build a better tomorrow.
Let this article serve as a resource for discovering the perfect opportunity to volunteer in Jamaica!
A Brief History of Jamaica
Jamaica is a diverse and lively country with a complex history. It’s vital to understand this before traveling there.
Arawaks, indigenous peoples of South America, first arrived in Jamaica roughly 2,500 years ago. Following the arrival of Christopher Columbus and subsequent control of the island by Spain, most Arawaks died from disease and violence at the hands of the Europeans.
Later, the English took over Jamaica from the Spaniards, and the slave trade brought Africans to the island. Slave rebellions and social movements led to abolition and eventually emancipation in the early 19th century. It wasn’t until 1962 that Jamaica gained full independence from England, though.
Jamaica is intensely proud of its history. The country hasn’t had long to establish itself since independence, and it hasn’t been easy. Jamaica faces pressing challenges, ranging from poverty and crime to inadequate access to healthcare and education, but remains focused on forging a better path ahead. By being a volunteer in Jamaica, you can help the beautiful island nation enjoy a brighter future.
Types of Interning and Volunteering Opportunities in Jamaica
Volunteering in Jamaica is an attractive option for those interested in Jamaican culture and helping the country develop and prosper. There are lots of options, ensuring you can apply your skills and knowledge in the best possible way.
If you hope to volunteer or intern in Jamaica, some options include:
- Education: Teach IT, English, math and other subjects. Provide educational support to classrooms and community centers.
- Healthcare: Raise awareness about mental health and provide services to children and adults, do a medical internship at a rural clinic, care for animals, and more.
- Human Rights: Help protect children from abuse, assist parents who have missing children, and offer guidance to marginalized groups.
- Community Development: Bolster Jamaica’s disaster management processes, work on a cooperative farming project, build schools, and more.
Beyond volunteering in Jamaica, you can also immerse yourself in a cultural program. For instance, you could learn the Patois language, which features largely English words superimposed on West African grammar. Or, you could experience the Rastafarian way of life in a rural village. Such experiences would certainly be amazing.
The Best Jamaica Volunteer Programs
Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer organizations in the world. Each year, they send more than 10,000 people overseas, and are known for their variety of reputable volunteer and internship projects across the world, including Jamaica.
In Jamaica, you’ll have the chance to help communities in need while exploring the country’s vibrant culture. Beyond the idyllic white beaches are social problems that need to be addressed to improve the quality of life for underprivileged people.
- Medical Internships: Shadow doctors in a large hospital and rotate between different departments, like General Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology, and Surgery. Expand your practical medical knowledge and give your CV an extra edge. Specialized internships also are available in Dentistry.
- Teach English: Gain practical teaching experience and help raise literacy levels in schools and through community programs. Help plan lessons, run classroom activities, and inspire children to improve their English and follow their dreams! You can teach other subjects you are skilled in as well, and you don’t need experience or a teaching qualification to join.
- Human Rights Internship: Join a team that fights for children’s rights and reducing violence against children. Child disappearances, child abuse, and domestic violence are major issues in Jamaica. Follow your passion for human rights and support a real cause to help address these issues.
- Building: Use your hands to make a difference and build important infrastructure in disadvantaged communities. You’ll help improve sanitation facilities at schools, build school playgrounds, and renovate the homes of those in need.
International Volunteer HQ offers volunteers the chance to participate in more than 200 projects across 40 destinations. Founded in 2007, IVHQ has sent more than 83,000 people abroad.
If you want to volunteer in Jamaica through IVHQ, know they have five different projects going on. These include:
- Teaching and School Support: Assist teachers at an elementary school.
- Kindergarten: Arrange education and social activities for children aged 3 to 5.
- Sports Development: Teach students basketball, football, track and field, and more.
- Animal Care: Offer human comfort and medical treatment to dogs housed at a shelter.
- Business and Community Development: Help start-up enterprises develop their ideas, scale up their efforts, and optimize business processes.
Programs are held in Saint Mary parish, which is located in northeast Jamaica and close to beautiful beaches. The great thing about IVHQ is that their fees are very reasonable for travelers on a budget: programs last one to eight weeks, with prices starting from $365 for one week.
Ready to Travel and Volunteer in Jamaica?
As you can see, your choices abound for volunteering in Jamaica. Before you travel, take time to explore all the available programs, and find the one that matches your budget, interests, and goals.
Remember: Go with an open mind and desire to make an impact. The Jamaican culture and people will win you over. And you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.