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Volunteering Abroad Opportunities In Mexico

November 13, 2012

Home to 113 million people and the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years including some of the most advanced ancient civilizations, Mexico is perhaps one of the most diverse countries in the Americas.

Oaxaca, Mexico - Volunteer Global

Today Mexico has one of the world’s largest economies and is an emerging power with democratically elected public officials, a prime example for developing states around the world. Mexico is also one of the most diverse countries in the world, with climates both temperate and tropical; the country consists of desert, mountains, jungle, and beaches. Although Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Mexico, dialects of several indigenous languages are also widely spoken, including Maya, Zapotec, Yukatek, and others.

Mexico provides travelers and volunteers a fusion of modernity and tradition. However, social inequalities such as gender bias, access to adequate healthcare, and public security are of major concern for the country. Location also plays a central role, as urban areas (particularly those in Central Mexico and near the coasts) generally provide more services and opportunities for citizens than rural areas.

Check out these three great opportunities for volunteering in Mexico!

Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots

Oaxaca, a tourist favorite for its cultural diversity, is also one of Mexico’s poorest states, with over 3 million men and women living in extreme poverty, and children dying every day from lack of sanitation and clean water, parasites, and malnutrition. Children often resort to selling trinkets to tourists on the streets for survival, making them vulnerable to violence, sexual assault, disease, and more.

Founded in 1996, Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots is a child sponsorship program aimed at providing children an education and skills to keep them off the streets. Today, over 600 children are sponsored through their center at el Centro de Esperanza Infantil. The organization assists youth through high school and university level coursework, allowing them to become educated, productive members of Mexican society capable of fostering social change.

Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots relies on a regular base of volunteers to operate the center and serve children in need. Volunteers actively engage in their work, making a real difference to the lives of the children they serve while also improving their Spanish speaking abilities. Volunteers may choose short-term and long-term stays with the organization, and have specific tasks based on their project duration.

Long-term volunteers are able to take on tasks such as outreach to families, grant-writing, fundraising, research proposals for projects and implementation, art and sports projects with the children, translation of written materials, assisting children with using computers, assisting in the library, and working in the kitchen.

Short-term volunteers are able to assist in the library and kitchen, as well as work with children in the computer lab and with arts and other projects, and translating materials.

For more information, check out:

The Chiapas Project

Founded in 2001 by a New Jersey family, the Chiapas Project is an organization dedicated to providing medical and dental care to inhabitants of Opotec, Chiapas.

The Chiapas Project makes semiannual one-week trips to Chiapas, at the end of summer and the end of winter. Trips generally consist of 35 volunteers who provide medical and dental care to over 1,000 patients in Octopec, Chiapas, and surrounding villages. Past volunteers have also assisted orphans and young victims of sexual abuse.

While treating patients, Chiapas Project also trains locals in medical and dental care to serve as providers for populations in the region. The organization hopes to expand in the future to some of the more remote, poverty stricken areas and be able to host several trips per year.

The Chiapas Project seeks volunteers who are healthy, self-motivated, and have a strong desire to make an impact in a short amount of time. While medical and dental professionals (from nurses and EMTs to doctors and dental hygienists) are in high demand for volunteer trips, volunteers with all skill levels are able to apply and serve with professionals. Non-professional volunteers are also able to take on tasks such as cooking, transporting materials, and other tasks.

For more information, check out:

SEE TurtlesSea turtle - Volunteering in Mexico - Volunteer Global

SEE Turtles is a conservation tourism project aimed at linking volunteers wishing to protect endangered sea turtles and increase resources in communities to help residents manage their regions and environment.

SEE Turtles is a project area of SEE the Wild—an organization dedicated to the conservation of endangered wildlife and ending the destruction of ocean environments through working with conservation organizations worldwide.

Volunteer projects with SEE Turtles include working on nesting beaches (monitoring and protecting nests), participating in scientific research (collecting data), translation and environmental education initiatives, and more. Whale watching and whale shark programs also exist in Mexico. Benefits for the volunteer include learning/improving upon their Spanish speaking, Projects are available throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Mexico are located in both the Yucatan Peninsula and the Baja Peninsula. Project duration is 7 days.

For more information, check out:

And of course...don't forget to check out Volunteer Global's very own volunteer projects in Mexico! Provide veterinary assistance to a locally based animal sanctuary:

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.