Other Organizations Operating Programs In Puerto Rico
IVHQ is a world leader in high-quality, affordable volunteer abroad projects, but of course, it isn’t the only organization operating programs in Puerto Rico. These are some of the other opportunities available to dedicated volunteers:
The 2004 tsunami that took more than 250,000 lives was a turning point for the founders of All Hands and Hearts. They wanted to find a better way to harness the energy of the global volunteer community to provide immediate relief in disaster zones. They created an organization that “arrives early and stays late”, delivering services to individuals impacted by natural disasters. All Hands and Hearts has brought more than 56,000 volunteers to 18 countries to participate in 106 programs. By its count, the organization has touched nearly 1.2 million lives and returned more than 109,000 children to school.
The Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief project launched in January of 2018, and it has already succeeded in putting 2,533 global volunteers to work removing debris, rebuilding homes, managing mold contamination, repairing roofs, and renovating community facilities. A shocking 1,244 projects have been completed in just over a year, but there is still a lot left to do.
If you choose this program, you don’t have to come with construction expertise. All training is provided to you free of charge. Current assignments are focused on returning people to their homes, so you can expect to work on roof repair, housing renovation, and rebuilding of community infrastructure.
Habitat for Humanity is a well-known and widely respected organization that operates in communities around the world. Founded in 1976, it connects volunteers with people in need of housing, whether due to poverty, natural disaster, or other tragedy. Since it was founded, Habitat has placed more than 4 million volunteers and constructed, preserved, or rehabilitated more than 800,000 homes. Based on those figures, Habitat for Humanity is the clear leader when it comes to nonprofit builders.
Habitat for Humanity isn’t new to Puerto Rico, but Hurricane Maria gave its work fresh urgency. There are opportunities for individuals, families, groups, and youth to contribute to building and repairing homes for Puerto Rican residents. All of the work is completed free of charge to families, and you don’t need any experience to participate. Keep in mind that unlike traditional volunteer abroad organizations, Habitat is typically unable to offer lodging and other in-country support.
Summer is an ideal time for students to gain real-world experience, and Global Works specializes in creating those opportunities. In its 29-year history, this organization has placed more than 12,500 volunteers in community service, language immersion, and cultural exchange programs around the globe.
Global Works founders have a special love for the island of Puerto Rico. After all, it was the site of the organization’s very first service project in 1990. At that time, participants contributed to rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. Today, Global Works volunteers are back to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. The project is designed for students in grades 9 – 12, and it lasts for a full eight days.
During the time in-country, students contribute 30 hours to service projects in Villa del Río, a small community outside of San Juan. The work is typically related to rebuilding homes damaged by the hurricane. When the workday is done, participants are taken on guided tours of the must-see sites, in addition to spending quality time in cultural exchange activities.
Global citizens are those that feel at home, no matter where in the world life takes them. Greenheart Travel is committed to creating opportunities for everyone to become a global citizen. Its award-winning programs are carefully designed with an eco-friendly focus, and the organization offers funding for alumni who develop their own sustainable initiatives.
When you participate in Greenheart’s Sustainable Forestry and Permaculture Project in Puerto Rico, you gain hands-on experience with preserving existing rainforests and promoting reforestation of areas cleared for agricultural use. This program takes place on a 1,000-acre reserve in the island’s southern mountains, where volunteers are planting and caring for thousands of new native and exotic hardwood trees.
Your work may include data collection that is needed for conservation research, or you could spend the day caring for seedlings, saps, and mature trees, as well as the reserve grounds and trails. No matter how you spend your days, you can be sure you are making a much-needed contribution to the area’s long-term environmental health.
As one of the few non-profit volunteer abroad organizations, Globe Aware’s mission is two-fold. It aims to develop programs that simultaneously promote cultural awareness and support sustainability. When Globe Aware defines cultural awareness, it isn’t about encouraging members of other cultures to change their lifestyles. Instead, it is about encouraging participants to recognize and appreciate the unique beauty – and distinctive challenges – that other cultures face.
In terms of sustainability, Globe Aware wants its programs to support skill development, so that communities can eventually pursue their goals without relying on outside assistance. The Globe Aware Puerto Rico Post Maria Rebuild project aims to do just that for communities still recovering from the massive storm.
Programs run for eight days (seven nights), with specific start dates that have already been scheduled. You will be located in Yauco, a city about 80 miles from San Juan. Approximately 1,300 homes are in need of roof repair or replacement so that families can move back in. Globe Aware has committed to completing at least 100 homes by the end of the year. If you don’t have construction or roofing experience, you can still volunteer. The project is overseen by licensed engineers, and you will receive the instruction and training necessary to get the job done.
When the workday is complete, join fellow volunteers in exploring the island’s natural beauty. Wander among buildings notable for their colonial architecture or relax on some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches.
Ready To Volunteer In Puerto Rico?
Once you’ve decided which program is best for you, it’s time to start planning your volunteer experience. Consider talking with former volunteers so you’ll know how best to plan and what to expect during your experience – do your research, and if you travel smart, a life-changing experience awaits!