Volunteering in Mexico
The largest country of Central America, Mexico is almost a magical and mystical world where nature and civilization are intertwined and where the past and the present coexist in a timeless enchanting way.
The Andes mountains were once peopled by the Mayan and Aztec empires and ancient ruins of their magnificent cities can be found all over this country, coexisting with urban colonial and modern architecture which are gracefully combined to create original, colourful and classy towns and villages.
Excellent weather, bewildering landscapes, exotic wildlife, delicious cuisine and warm and friendly people are just some of the many attractions that Mexico has to offer those tourists who choose this richly cultured and proud nation.
Merida is the capital city of the Yucatan peninsula region, located in the Mexican Gulf. It is a perfect example of the fascinating blend of nature and civilization and the old and the new.
Blessed with caribbean white sand beaches, ancient archaeological sites, beautiful colonial and modern buildings, a variety of restaurants, theaters and museums, it is also famous for its cathedral and Plaza Grande. Tourists who choose this amazing colonial city will find everything they can expect and much more.
CW works in tight cooperation with local organizations that are based in Merida and the Yucatan region and work in the areas of preservation and promotion of their natural landscapes and cultural inheritage. Projects based in this region include sea turtle protection, tourism, sustainable farming, education and marketing development among others.
What’s included in our fair-cost policy?
All our programs include a fixed price Registration Fee of US$249 and a Program Fee that varies according to the duration of the program and the services included.
The Registration Fee covers the costs of all that Connecting Worlds has to do in order to organise the experience in an efficient manner and offer each participant a quality program. These costs include marketing, staff salaries, travel costs of staff who visit and inspect each of the programs on offer and Connecting Worlds’ solidarity fund among others. We need this fee just to sustain the organization.
The Program Fee is the total cost of everything related to the services that the volunteer will be able to take advantage of upon arrival to the destination of their choice. For example, accommodation, meals, transfers, the donation made to the volunteer project, welcome orientation and constant 24/7 support. The payment for this fee goes directly to the country in which the volunteer will be stationed, directly benefiting the local community. It’s a fee which helps organisations that work in the country associated with the program at hand to move forwards with their projects and generate work opportunities for the local community.
Thanks to our fair-cost policy, the volunteer benefits from not having to pay high fees and our local partners benefit from being able to invest in their projects and keep things moving forwards. Connecting Worlds also benefits from keeping the costs of its programs as low as possible because we get the opportunity to support local communities and make a difference in our own small but important way.
This program aims at inspiring Mexican children to learn this foreign language and helping them realize how important this will be in their future working lives. The projects are placed in alternative and traditional local schools, foster care institutions, orphanages and community centers. Many of the children in the program attend public schools where they receive little or no English tuition, so volunteers to this program will provide them with this tuition by preparing and conducting English lessons based on previous volunteers’ work and organized in weekly theme workshops. The tasks involved are:
-Planning activities to reinforce the weekly theme.
-Preparing workshops and playing educational games.
-Helping with homework and reviewing previous lessons.
Classes are in the morning or the afternoon depending on the placements and volunteers are required to work three to four hours daily in the classroom and participating in additional recreational activities. During the school holidays volunteers are still required to give lessons at community centers and they are expected to work there independently.
No previous experience in teaching is required but a passion for teaching and a proactive, creative and fun attitude is essential to engage and motivate these students in their learning process. We strongly encourage volunteers to this program to take some teaching training course such as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
Though we advice volunteers to have an English-only approach to their students, an intermediate level of Spanish skills is required.
This projects take place in a variety of placement located in the city as well as in the surrounding villages, so volunteers may need to travel some distances to reach their working placements. They include family crêches at children’s therapy centers, day care community centers and shelters for teenagers that have suffered some sort of domestic abuse.
Like in most developing countries, in Mexico underprivileged children depend on the support of non-governmental organizations and charitable institutions, often low funded and short of staff. So volunteers for this children projects are always welcome and highly appreciated.
As a volunteer you’ll be required to assist the local staff in a wide range of tasks that include day-to-day household activities, helping to feed and entertain young children, helping with educational and recreational activities, offering personalized attention to vulnerable children and teens, organizing and conducting lessons and practical skills activities such as handcrafts, music, sports and others. Any kind of quality time and stimulating activities devoted to these underprivileged kids will make an invaluable difference in their future prospects and will leave the volunteer’s heart filled with joy.
Working materials are often scarce and any contributions or creative initiative to make up for this lack is always very appreciated.
The program is placed in residential shelters for abandoned teenagers and adults with special needs. There they receive essential assistance as well as physical and medical therapeutic attention, education, entertainment, and above all, affection.
These shelters, run by religious institutions, are funded only by donations; so volunteers with big, warm hearts are always needed to assist the local staff with the many activities involved.
As a volunteer to this program you’ll be required to undertake a variety of tasks that range from daily household routines (cleaning, cooking, serving meals, etc) to organizing and participating in recreational and occupational activities, fundraising campaigns and assisting professional therapists in their sessions routine.
Any background on physiotherapy and occupational therapy is very helpful to these projects, but the only indispensable requirements are compassion, patience and willingness to offer lots of loving and quality time.
This program is run by nonprofit organizations and is aimed at helping solve the desperate situation of the too many cats and dogs that are abandoned in the streets of Merida.
Without any government policies to protect their rights or to provide for community shelters and clinics, most of these unfortunate animals are euthanized.
These nonprofit organizations’ main goal is to rescue this animals from the streets and finding adoptive homes for them. They also are focused on education campaign to help change the mentality of their local community, as well as devising fundraising campaigns to cover the expenses of animal shelters and food and provide free or low cost mass spay/neuter campaigns.
Volunteers with a great love for animals are always welcome to lend a caring pair of hands. You don’t need much more than that to help cleaning and bathing, training and feeding cats and dogs to make them ready for adoption.
Cleaning their cages and providing maintenance to the shelters’ facilities is also needed, as is helping with fundraising and cliniccampaigns.
Even non--Spanish speakers can participate in this program and it provides an excellent opportunity to begin learning this language.
Vet volunteers are extremely appreciated during the annual spay/neuter campaigns.
These projects are located in rural contemporary Mayan farming communities about two and a half hours’ bus ride from Merida.
The program is focused on promotingsustainable agriculture, reforestation and preservation of indigenous plants gardens.
The program is still at its initial stage and a lot of hard field work is required, so volunteers for this program must be ready to do a lot of physical labour, get dirty and live in tough and rather precarious conditions. But participating in these projects in a unique experience to get fully immersed in the local culture and have a taste of the local rural lifestyle.
For volunteers less adventurous and who wish a less demanding activity but still want to be part of the program, some English teaching and educational activities can be arranged in the local villages.
Among the numerous tasks involved in the program, you may be required to help with the following:
-Planting, sowing, harvesting, and cultivating agricultural products.
-Repairing facilities, creating irrigation systems and making compost, -Plastering rudimentary buildings and excavating cave systems.
-Cleaning and monitoring wildlife in reservoirs and lakes.
-Digging and replanting indigenous plant species.
-Labeling native plants and trees for educational purposes and maintaining indigenous plant gardens.
-Helping with daily household routines; among many others.
A combination of traditional Mayan and modern techniques is applied in these day-to-day tasks, mostly executed by local Mayan staff working side by side with our volunteers. Yet, if volunteers prefer to have further interaction with the local community, there are childcare and Teaching English projects available.
All our volunteers must be at least eighteen years old on their starting date of any program, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. They must have full travel insurance and a police background check is also requires and should be presented to our CW office In Mexico on arrival.
Some Spanish language skills are required for most projects and for the Teaching English project an advanced level of Spanish is necessary.
There are Spanish courses for all language skills levels offered by our local partner and we recommend our volunteers to take advantage of these very affordable classes in site that will help them make the best of Their volunteering experience in Mexico. Those interested in taking these classes can arrange it once in site with our local staff.
Depending on the program they choose, volunteers will be lodged either in placements located in the coastal city of Merida or in rural placements located about two and a half hours away from that city.
The programs begin on the first and third Mondays of each month and can last from one to eight weeks.
Most of the programs are located in and around Mérida, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula.
Programs start on Mondays and have a minimum duration of one week and a maximum of twelve.
Accommodation for this program consists of a volunteer's house with dormitory-style bedrooms for six people of same gender, shared bathrooms, a communal outdoor kitchen for basic cooking and a patio (yard) with a swimming pool. The house is placed in a quiet neighborhood of Merida and although it may at first appear to be rather precare, it is comfortable, has electricity and running (not drinking!) water. WIFI is not available there.
Those volunteers who wish to be lodged in more comfortable and better equipped placements with air conditioning and hot water showers, they can arrange for this with the local team after arriving to Merida.
The program includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually prepared by volunteers taking turns. The food provided is a combination of Mexican and Western cuisine but volunteers with specific dietary requirements must inform their local agencies when applying, so arrangements can be made. We also recommend exploring the excellent and very affordable cafes, restaurants and canteens of the region.
Running water in Mexico is not safe to drink, so volunteers must assign about U$D 5 per week of their personal budget for bottled water.
An orientation will be conducted on the volunteers’ first morning at their placements and a member of our local staff will provide them with all the necessary details about their projects, what to expect from their volunteering experience and introduce them to the local staff of the project they’ll be working with.
During this orientation they will also be introduced to the Mexican customs, rules and historical and cultural background and the local coordinator will fill them in with basic information about the program regulations and rules, some safety tips and travel advice.This is the ideal moment for volunteers to clear out any remaining doubts and also a good opportunity for them to exchange money, buy sim phone cards, get acquainted among themselves and exchange contact details for future outings together.
After this introductory orientation, each volunteer will be taken to his or her project placement where they will be introduced to the local staff and interiorized in the specific volunteering tasks of their project.
Although working schedules vary according to each project, every one of them will begin with a first orientation day, already described in detail above.
Working weeks go from Monday to Friday and the weekends are free.
An example of a typical weekday would be something like this:
You have breakfast at about half past seven and at eight you leave home and travel to your project’s placement where you work, depending on each project, from nine to two in the afternoon, when work usually ends. Then you have lunch at your accommodation placement and have the rest of the day free to attend your Spanish classes or go sightseeing, or simply stay home and relax.
Dinner is usually served at about half past seven in the evening.
At some projects volunteer work takes place in the afternoon instead of the morning, so volunteers in those projects can take their Spanish classes in the morning.
• A total of 68 languages are spoken in Mexico. One of them is Spanish, which is the officially-recognised national language. The other 67 are indigenous languages which are not recognised by any official source.
• Mexico covers an impressive land area of 1,964,375 kilometers squared, maxing it the 15th largest country on the planet.
• Mexico is the 11th most populous nation in the world and home to roughly 116,220,947 people. Population density is around 57 inhabitants per kilometer squared.
• The volcano, Pico de Orizaba, rests at 5610 meters above sea level and is the highest point in Mexico.
• Laguna Salada, at 10 meters below sea level, is the lowest point in Mexio.
• The United States, Guatemala and Belize all share borders with Mexico.
• Mexico operates within three different time zones: Central, Pacific and Northwest.
• Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico, covering 247,455 kilometers squared.
• Tlaxcala is the smallest state in Mexico, covering 3,991 kilometers squared
• The colours of the Mexican flag originally stood for: green (hope), white (unity), and red (blood of the nation’s heroes).
For more information, visit the following link: http://www.cwabroad.org/mexico-p-12.html
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*Please note: All Volunteer programs in México attract a refundable* Registration Fee of USD 279 on top of the program Fee. A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment. You can calculate the value of your currency in US dollar using this currency convertor.
*The Maya Agriculture project has a one-off surcharge of US$65 to cover transport and materials.
*Please read our refund policy.
What do my fees pay for?
Registration Fee: Discounted program fees, Support and guidance from CW staff, program marketing costs, staff salary, pre-departure assistance, CW Solidarity Fund, administration costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with participants.
Program Fee: An Internship placement according to your requirements, orientation, program supervision, in-country 24/7 participant support and in-country administration costs.
What’s no included: Accommodation and meals at volunteer house, Airport Pick-up, Air tickets,International Insurance against sickness, accident and 3er party liability. In addition to providing health insurance, the plan must cover medical evacuation and repatriation, Vaccinations, Certificate of Good conduct, Visa, Local travels and Personal expenses. Our participants in Mexico generally find USD 50 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.