Want to volunteer with children in Latin America? You’ve come to the right place.
First, let’s just say that you’ve picked a good region. From the Andean peaks and Amazon rainforest to the white-sand beaches and energetic cities, Latin America entices you to dive in—and have an unforgettable adventure.
Clearly, you’ll have a blast volunteering with children in Latin America. And you’ll improve lives.
In this article, we’ll go over how exactly you can help the youth of Latin America, as well as cover the reputable organizations that can place you in a good program. From childcare volunteering in Argentina to volunteering with children in an after-school program in Mexico, there are many ways you can make a positive difference.
Let’s get started!
How Can You Volunteer With Children In Latin America
Louis Pasteur, the famous French biologist and chemist, once said that children inspire him for two reasons: what they are and what they may become.
Indeed, children will become the adults that build tomorrow’s world. For Latin America, giving all children the proper environment and resources to succeed is key to the region’s future.
As a volunteer with children in Latin America, programs you can join address a whole range of issues and hurdles facing boys and girls in the area, notably poverty, discrimination, neighborhood crime, family violence, and inadequate access to healthcare and education.
Before you volunteer abroad with children in Central America and South America, research what you want to do. Popular project types include:
Childcare and Special Needs Care
Example program: Join International Volunteer HQ in Mérida, Mexico, where you can care for children from economically disadvantaged homes. Help with naps and feeding, play games, and more. And provide valuable support to local families.
Example program: Go with Globalteer to Cusco, Peru, and work on an education-focused community development initiative. Learn Spanish as you help out at an after-school community center. Teach English classes, help with homework, and clean playgrounds.
Support for Indigenous Children
Example program: Join Fronteering in Guyana, where you can teach children from the Amerindian community. By teaching English to indigenous children, you’ll empower the youth to learn a skill that’s important to building a sustainable eco-tourism industry, which allows them to earn income but also protect their way of life and environment.
Example program: Frontier has a terrific sports coaching and community outreach program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Volunteer in an underdeveloped favela and bring direction to the lives of youngsters through sports.
Support for At-Risk Youth
Example program: A Broader View Volunteer Corps runs an impactful program in La Serena, Chile. Care for young children and teenagers that have been abandoned and/or abused. You’ll also work to promote literacy at the center.
Example program: Love Volunteers has a childhood nutrition program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Prepare and hand out healthy food options to low-income families, as well as educate the community about the importance of eating right and exercising.
Now that you know what you can do, let’s figure out where to go. Take a look at our featured organizations below. If any destination or project catches your attention, think about applying!
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Established in 2007, International Volunteer HQ offers volunteer abroad programs across more than 40 destinations, including childcare projects in South America. IVHQ sent nearly 100,000 volunteers overseas during their first 12 years—a testament to the quality of their programs. One of the most respected names in volunteering, IVHQ has been featured in major publications like The New York Times and National Geographic.
If you want to volunteer with children in South America, International Volunteer HQ has lots of wonderful options, such as:
- Street children work in Quito, Ecuador (from $290 for one week): Too many Ecuadorian children don’t have the chance to attend school. Provide basic education for those children that have to work at markets and on streets to help support their families.
- Childcare in Buenos Aires, Argentina (from $590 for two weeks): Support the development of local children from marginalized communities. Work in a soup kitchen to ensure the kids get nutritious meals, host games and activities, and provide a safe environment that promotes learning and growth.
Check out IVHQ’s volunteering programs in Brazil and Colombia as well:
Price: from $495 for two weeks
You have numerous options in Rio through IVHQ. For one project, you can teach English and improve the future prospects of local youth. Another project involves caring for children at an after-school center; many of these children have parents who work a lot, so having a place where they can safely learn and play is vital. One more excellent option is to volunteer on a community development project, where you can do everything from community gardening and art projects to health outreach campaigns.
During free time, the beaches, cuisine, and vibrant culture of Rio await. If you’re interested in volunteering with IVHQ in Brazil, apply on the site!
Price: from $270 for one week
Journey to Bogota, where you can volunteer in childcare or teaching. For IVHQ’s childcare program, you’ll watch and engage with children who come from overcrowded living situations, offering them the education and attention they need each day. For the teaching project, you’ll volunteer at a local school in need of extra staff, and teach math, science, arts, English, or whatever else suits you.
During free time, Bogota sits at your doorstep. Visit Bolívar Square, tour the Botero Museum, and more. Interested in volunteering with children in Colombia? Click here!
Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year is an award-winning volunteer abroad organization that operates in 17 countries across Asia, Africa, and South America. On average, Plan My Gap Year sends more than 4,000 volunteers overseas each year. They’re known for their affordability, great in-country support, and wide variety of volunteer offerings.
If you want to volunteer with children in Latin America, Plan My Gap Year has you covered. Programs like the childcare project in Ecuador, where volunteers help out children that have been abandoned or abused, have an immensely positive influence.
PMGY also has some good initiatives in Costa Rica and Peru:
Price: from $834 for two weeks
Plan My Gap Year has two volunteer projects with children in Costa Rica:
- Childcare: For families of low social status in Costa Rica, poverty remains a big hurdle. As a childcare volunteer, you’ll provide support to these families by giving children quality learning and play time after school.
- English teaching: Teach preschool, primary, and high school students English, and give them a language skill they can use to open up economic opportunities.
Note: PMGY recommends that you speak at least basic Spanish for their programs in Costa Rica.
When you’re not volunteering, have fun in San Jose and explore the surrounding rainforests. Sound like the volunteer destination for you? Get more details here!
Price: from $594 for two weeks
Join Plan My Gap Year in Cusco, a city known as the former capital of the Inca Empire and a gateway to Machu Picchu, a world famous Inca citadel. There, you can volunteer in childcare or teaching, which is a big help for low-income families and the indigenous peoples that call the region home. Many of the children you’ll be working with come from troubling home environments and/or don’t have adequate access to education.
For the childcare project, you’ll feed, teach, and play with children at daycare centers, as well as volunteer for children with special needs. For the teaching project, you’ll train students in math, science, and English (a crucial language for the booming local tourist industry). Do any of these programs interest you? Find out more on Plan My Gap Year’s site!
When it comes to volunteering with children in Latin America, definitely consider Maximo Nivel. Established in 2003, Maximo Nivel specializes in high-quality, affordable volunteer abroad programs in Central America and South America. They’re a very respected name in the region thanks to their incredible commitment to meaningful progress and their locally-run programs.
Maximo Nivel is very active in Costa Rica, where you can volunteer at a youth center for underprivileged kids, teach English, build schools, and more. Their volunteer programs with children in Guatemala and Peru are excellent to explore too (see details below).
Price: from $645 for one week
Economic disadvantages create obstacles for too many kids in Guatemala. With unequal access to education and healthcare, they don’t have the chance to reach their potential. Maximo Nivel’s various initiatives address these challenges. As a volunteer, you can:
- Teach English: Help children learn a language that can improve their employability later in life.
- Assist with community development: Construct classrooms, small clinics, and community centers to give children and adults better resources and quality of life.
- Work in childcare: Offer academic support, teach basic hygiene, and provide social and emotional support to children come from abusive or neglectful home conditions.
- Provide medical care: Help out understaffed and under-resourced schools, make sure vulnerable children get basic medical services, care for kids infected with HIV, and more.
- Work with indigenous communities: Live with a family in a rural village. Help with everyday tasks, teach the children English, and learn Kaqchikel, the main Mayan language in the region.
When you’re not working with the boys and girls, roam around Antigua, a gorgeous city that’s surrounded by volcanoes and filled with marvelous colonial architecture. Seem like the program for you? Find out more here!
Price: from $645 for one week
Lend a hand in a variety of projects in Peru. You could volunteer at a community center and provide educational and emotional support to children from broken homes. Or, if English teaching is what you prefer, hold classes in an after-school program. As a volunteer with the building and construction project, you can refurbish schools for children and build clinics and community centers. And if you want to be a medical volunteer, you can serve at a rural clinic and make sure children outside Cusco get basic medical services.
During off-hours, do exciting activities like hike in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Intrigued? Learn more here!
Love Volunteers has received lots of praise for their high levels of transparency and low fees, as well as their commitment to making an impact. Established in 2009, Love Volunteers operates in more than 34 countries across the globe. If you want to volunteer with children in Latin America, Love Volunteers has offerings to suit a range of preferences.
For example, if you want to volunteer with children in Central America, check out Love Volunteers’ education support program in Granada, Nicaragua (from $929 for four weeks). Teach children and empower them to break the cycle of poverty.
Or, if you want to volunteer with children in South America, know Love Volunteers has a disabilities and special needs volunteering project in Cusco, Peru (from $429 for two weeks). Give essential care to disabled children and instill the confidence and hope they need to create a better future.
Read through a few other programs below:
Price: from $269 for one week
Too many schools in Honduras suffer from a lack of resources and staff. By volunteering to teach in El Porvenir, you can help marginalized youth discover a love of learning. Expose the children to your culture and language, teach computer literacy, host sports activities, and more. By showing the kids that learning is useful and fun, you can motivate them to remain in school and strive for great things.
During your stay, enjoy the rich culture of Honduras and the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. Sound amazing? Click here to apply!
Price: from $999 for three weeks
Travel to Cartagena, a stunning port city with colorful colonial buildings and cobblestoned streets. There, you’ll work with underprivileged children, doing everything from teaching English to getting them involved in extracurricular activities. Your role as a volunteer is vital in keeping at-risk youth in school and working towards their future.
Cartagena, with its splendid location, has plenty to do during free time. You can even just sit on the beach! If this Colombian city sounds like a great destination for a volunteer abroad trip, go apply!
Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad is one of the world’s largest volunteer and intern abroad organizations. Known for great in-country support and incredible variety of programs, Projects Abroad has been featured by publications like BBC, CNN, and CNBC. They send more than 10,000 people overseas each year.
For volunteering with children in Latin America, Projects Abroad has plenty of choices, from childcare in Ecuador to a medical internship in Argentina (where you’ll treat kids). Take a look at a few other options below:
Price: from $3,065 for two weeks (prices lower a lot per week the longer you stay)
Head to San Pedro, and work with kindergarten and primary school students. The focus of this initiative is to help children struggling with writing, reading, and counting. To encourage their development, you’ll engage with them through games, puzzles, arts and crafts, and other activities. And you’ll contribute to the meaningful work of improving literacy in Belize.
During off-hours, the town of San Pedro, with its tasty seafood and buzzing beach scene, is at your doorstep. Are you ready for a volunteer trip to Belize? Get all the details here!
Price: from $2,765 in two weeks (prices lower a lot per week the longer you stay)
Run educational activities that support early childhood development in Costa Rica. As a volunteer, your contributions are much-needed at the centers and kindergartens, which are overcrowded. Additionally, you’ll get the chance to support disabled children at a special needs center.
For this program, you’ll stay with a host family in Heredia, a charming city that’s home to the National University of Costa Rica. Want to learn more about this project? Click here!
Founded in 2006, GoEco features more than 170 initiatives in childcare, education, community development, and environmental conservation. A leading volunteer tourism company, GoAbroad recognized GoEco as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2015. They’re known for their unique volunteer adventures, affordable prices, and 24-hour volunteer support.
GoEco has a solid selection of volunteer programs with children in Latin America, including childcare in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a great teaching and social work initiative in San Jose, Costa Rica, and English teaching in Cajamarca, Peru. GoEco’s programs in Ecuador and Argentina are also special (read on for details!).
Price: from $1,400 for two weeks
Immerse yourself in Argentinian culture as you study Spanish in the morning and volunteer with disadvantaged children in the afternoon. Great for those majoring in Spanish and/or education, your duties as a volunteer at the after-school program will include playing recreational games, engaging in arts and culture workshops, helping with homework, and organizing events. All your work will ensure children are getting better social, educational, and emotional support, as well as the nutrition they need.
During nights and off days, experience Buenos Aires, a city buzzing with passion and energy, stunning art and architecture, and entertainment (it’s time to tango!). Sound wonderful? Visit GoEco’s site and apply!
Price: from $1,550 for two weeks
Want to volunteer with children in the Galapagos? Then check out this program! As a teaching assistant, you’ll have an essential role in making certain children are learning and growing as much as they can. Your duties will include assisting during classes and play time, preparing and serving meals, and playing games and activities with the children. You’ll also teach English to the students, which is a critical second language.
Of course, free time during your volunteer trip calls you to explore the Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s foremost destinations for viewing wildlife and natural scenery. So, are you ready to travel to the Galapagos? Sign up today!
Aiming to transform the lives of both volunteers and the people they serve, Cross-Cultural Solutions provides immersive experiences across seven countries. In their first 24 years, CCS sent more than 35,000 volunteers abroad and helped out more than 25,000 children.
Mainly offering education and health programs Cross-Cultural Solutions offers opportunities to volunteer with children in Latin America, including child education and child health efforts in Lima, Peru. CCS is also doing a lot of great work in Guatemala (read below).
Price: from $1,990 for one week
Choose between an education and health initiative in Guatemala:
- Volunteer for child education: Rural schools in Tecpán face serious obstacles, notably the lack of resources. Volunteer as a teacher and provide engaging lessons to young children. And get them on the right path to a bright future.
- Volunteer for child health: An underfunded health system only exacerbates the challenges impoverished families in Tecpán face. As a healthcare volunteer, you’ll provide eye assessments and distribute glasses to children, carry out dental hygiene campaigns, and help schools build better hygiene facilities, like hand-washing stations. Help keep the kids healthy and ready to learn, play, and grow.
When you’re not busy, visit Iximche, a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site in Tecpán. Sound like fun? Learn more about the programs in Guatemala here!
An award-winning organization, Global Vision International was founded in 1998 and successfully placed more than 35,000 volunteers overseas in their first two decades. GVI’s programs have been carefully developed to ensure they align with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as no poverty, no hunger, good health, and quality education.
With partners like Save the Children and Building Bridges Coalition, Global Vision International is truly an excellent organization for volunteer programs for children. For instance, you could teach English to children and assist with community development efforts in Quepos, Costa Rica. GVI’s also has some good programs in Mexico (details below).
Price: from $2,195 for two weeks
Head to Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and volunteer at a children’s center run by Save the Children. By giving the children a safe and engaging environment, you’ll help them learn new things, make friends, and live healthier lives. The center offers crucial support for children from abusive home situations. As a volunteer, you’ll see your impact right away, and the smiles from the children will be contagious!
When you’re not helping the children, enjoy the stunning Yucatan Peninsula and the beautiful beaches. Already packing your bags for Puerto Morelos? Get yourself registered first!
Not yet in college or working? Don’t worry—even teenagers have options for volunteering abroad with children in Latin America. Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) boasts a wide array of programs designed specifically for high school students. They were founded in 2004 and combine volunteer service with adventure travel.
Known for their commitment to safety and making a lasting impact, GLA has a whole array of initiatives to help children in Latin America, like their program in Belize. Their project in Guatemala is definitely worth considering too (read below).
Price: $3,499 for 14 days
Teach English at a Maya school, journey across sacred Lake Atitlán, shop at an indigenous craft market, attend a ceremony with a Maya shaman, and more. If you want to immerse yourself in Maya culture, and help Maya youth establish a strong foundation for the future, then this program is perfect. You’ll improve access to education for Maya society and work to preserve indigenous culture.
Does this program sound like an epic adventure? Click here to learn more!
Start Packing Your Bags For Latin America
From the Caribbean coasts to the streets of Rio, Latin America awaits, ready to delight you at every step. You can give back to this region in powerful ways by volunteering with children.
To make the most of your adventure, research programs and read articles like this. Consider your preferences for destination, project type, and budget. To make the trip as cost-effective as possible, make use of Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform and raise money to fund your adventure.
So, are you ready to volunteer with children in Latin America? For even more inspiration and guidance, check out our other resources:
Volunteer in South America and Latin America
Volunteer Vacations in Latin America
Volunteer Abroad for Free
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.