Experience Brazilian Culture by Volunteering in Rio de Janeiro

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A country of extraordinary size, granting it an expressive cultural diversity and a huge variety of landscapes and people, Brazil creates deep impressions on its visitors. Volunteer in Brazil and join this programme to make a positive impact on Brazilian society. You can take part in any of the following programmes:

  • Arts & Design & Sports Programmes Volunteering
  • Child Development & Teaching English Volunteering
  • Environmental Programmes Volunteering
  • NGO Development Volunteering
  • Medical & Community Development Volunteering
  • Carnival Preparation in the Samba Schools

You can join for 2 weeks up to 24 weeks. We have places all throughout the year available.

Individuals, groups and students doing research all welcome.

Cost includes lodging in a comfortable guest house, intensive Portuguese language lessons, airport pickup, orientation, internet access; from £755.

Volunteer Clemence on NGO Development Programme Volunteer in Rio de Janeiro Teaching circus skills Teaching sports to kids Teaching English to young adults Sports coaching programme Volunteers helping to build a home Community garden project Volunteer Barbara and students Teaching kids about sowing seeds Volunteer on a childcare project Teaching English Community painting project Volunteer Mark working in child care centre Accommodation for volunteers Music and singing workshops with kids Sports programme in Rio Environmental conservation volunteers Children having music lessons NGO Development project View overlooking Rio de Janeiro Community development volunteers Sports volunteer programme Teaching Volunteer in Rio

The Project

Rio de JaneiroThe goal of all of our volunteering in Brazil programmes is to make a positive impact on Brazilian society and on the projects in which they take place, and promote intercultural exchange. It is the ideal travel experience for those who want to go beyond the ordinary.

You can choose from a variety of different areas of work, including:
  • Volunteer on Arts & Design Programmes
  • Child Development & Childcare volunteering
  • Sports Teaching volunteering
  • Community Development Volunteering
  • Medical Volunteering 
  • Volunteer to teach English as a Foreign Language
  • Environmental and Ecological volunteering - community garden projects
  • NGO Development volunteering
  • Special Seasonal Programme - Carnival Preparation volunteering in the Samba Schools (November to February each year)

Within each area, there are a number of local Non-Governmental Organizations - NGOs, with whom we have developed volunteer programmes for, which cater to the specific challenges that they face, whilst benefitting the communities they serve in.  You will have the opportunity to actively participate in developing communities for a fairer world whilst at the same time having the rich personal opportunity for cultural exchange.   

We can develop a programme for you according to your abilities and interests.  All programmes take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro.   

One of our sports volunteers leading a dancing class

Volunteer on an Arts & Design Programme

Experience Brazil’s samba culture by volunteering with one of our many programmes in the arts and design sector.
 
There is a palpable obsession with the arts in Rio de Janeiro - as music, dance, and theatre is central to what it means to be Brazilian. However, the arts are far more than just entertainment; it can be a powerful force for community building, nurturing human creativity, and social empowerment. With this in mind, this programme partners with a number of arts programmes around Rio de Janeiro dedicated to providing access to the arts for diverse populations - so that all Cariocas (locals from Rio) - may be empowered by the positive impact of the arts.
 
There’s certainly plenty to offer on an arts project which uses an invigorating mix of music, dance, and theatre to support the city’s most at-risk youth. Working with children from a number of favelas (urban slums) your efforts will play a valuable part in helping a project desperately short of resources, while allowing you to absorb the artistic vibes of Rio.
 
As a volunteer for an arts programme, one of your main roles will be to help educate and support the children of Rio by offering a cultural and artistic education that reinforces positive interests, in an effort to provide an escape from the omnipresent drug trade and under-employment. No previous experience or skills are required to join this programme - however if you do have an artistic talent, please do let us know.
 

Child Development volunteering

A childcare volunteer looks after children in BrazilBe an educator, advocate, and companion to children.

If you’re the type of person who has a genuine affection for young children and who wants to jump into a high energy, life-changing experience to help develop their skills and equip them for a bright educational future - volunteering in one of our child development projects may be just the opportunity for you.
 
Childcare volunteers in BrazilHelping in child development is undoubtedly the most beneficial way to increase the life chances of children living in a country with one of the most pronounced wealth gaps in the world. As a volunteer, you will work with children from favelas, providing them with the essential attention, support and guidance needed for healthy child development.
 
As a part of the programme, your objective is to provide children with the care and attention needed to develop their social skills, to encourage them to develop an enthusiasm for higher education, and to teach vital skills to be competitive in a rapidly developing economy.
 
Child development projects require volunteers who are dedicated and willing to give a lot of care and love. These projects generally have few resources, so you must have a lot of initiative and creativity with the facilities that are available to you. While there are few requisite skills needed, one thing’s for sure: you must be able to keep up with the kids!
 

Sports Coaching volunteering

Volunteer to compete, teach, or just play around with the locals, enjoying one of Brazil’s favourite past times: sports.

At just about every corner of Rio de Janeiro, you will find the locals playing Brazil’s national sport: futebol; but now you can be a part of the team as a volunteer on one of our sports programmes. Athletics have become vital for Rio’s lowest income communities, as they provide children and adolescents with recreational outlets in neighbourhoods that offer young people very few options for entertainment.
 
Sports have become an essential part of favela life, especially for children and adolescents. Because there are so few entertainment options for youth in low-income communities, kids unfortunately get caught up in illegal activity to pass the time. That’s why athletic programming has become a vital outlet for children, because it provides them with friendly competition in a safe and fun environment. And the best part is: sports programmes are almost always powered by volunteers.
 
The sports projects include popular programmes such as capoeira, football, basketball, and many others. No previous experience or skills are required to join this programme, but if you are talented in a sport, it will go a long way!
 

Volunteer to teach English as a Foreign Language

One of our volunteers in Brazil with her students

Volunteer to teach English as a foreign language, learn Portuguese, and provide access to one of the world’s most spoken languages.

You can do so much more than just teach English on this project; you will be working, side-by-side with your students, sharing perspective and encouraging cultural understanding. As a volunteer English teacher, you will also be exposing your students to one of the world’s most spoken languages and the one that fuels the global economy. Students range in age from primary school age to the elderly - but no matter who sits in your classroom, teaching English is bound to be an extraordinarily fulfilling experience.
 
English instruction in Brazil is spotty at best, so volunteering to teach English will provide young students with a supplement to what they learn in school and will give people who never took English courses the opportunity to learn the language. It is also an excellent opportunity to give those living in the favelas a chance to have access to the language that fuels the global economy.
 
If you’re thinking about volunteering to teach English in Rio and have no teaching experience, don’t worry! The English teaching placements are flexible - from tutoring a few students, to teaching an entire class. Volunteers also often help each other in planning lessons and activities - but the simple fact that there is an English speaker leading discussion makes a tremendous impact on language acquisition.

Healthcare volunteers in BrazilMedical / Health Promotion Volunteering

Provide access to essential health services and education to the people of Rio de Janeiro.

Health promotion and education is an integral part of furthering the goals of development in Brazil. With a well-informed and healthy population, anything is possible. However, there are extensive health problems that continue to threaten the well-being of the people. As a health volunteer, you will be on the front lines of educating and raising awareness for healthcare issues impacting local communities. Whether you are involved in hands-on health promotion and canvassing, healthcare advising, contraceptive literacy, or leading disease awareness workshops - your work will make an immediate, positive impact on your project.

It is no secret that Brazil's healthcare system is still in its early stages of development, and has limited impact on the poorest communities in the country. As a result, many communities rely on local organisations and NGOs for healthcare advice and education, meaning it is up to the people to provide effective health awareness. Thus, it is imperative that these organisations are staffed with dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers to execute essential health activities across Rio de Janeiro.

This project is suitable for both experienced and inexperienced volunteers. It is also ideal for medical students wishing to gain experience in this field.

Childcare volunteering in BrazilChildcare Volunteering

The Childcare programme is based in community centres, crèches, and orphanages that provide a safe and healthy place for poor parents to leave their young children while they work to make their living. Work is varied and might include play games or sports, give attention, help with meals, tutor children, changing diapers, bath or shower, help with administrative and organisational activities in the institution and others.

Volunteers should have a passion for young children, come in a spirit of generosity and sincerity, open themselves up to the experience, not be intimidated by the strange culture, and last but not least; they should be independent, adaptable and motivated.

Community development volunteering in BrazilCommunity Development Volunteering

Volunteers on the Community Development project have the opportunity to work with many different activities. They should be open to working together with locals in community centres providing assistance with day-to-day tasks to help local organisations carry out programmes that increase the quality of life and broaden the development within their communities.

The range of work can include, but is not limited to: promoting health and sanitation awareness, teaching English, playing sports, management and administrative tasks, marketing & fundraising, painting & renovation, community garden & environmental campaigns, arts programs, help to spread the word about local initiatives, recreational and extracurricular workshops and assist in any other activity developed by the local community.

Creative, capable, committed, flexible and motivated volunteers are welcomed at this project and can offer great value to help them become stronger, developing the sustainability and increasing the impact of the community’s initiatives.

Environmental & Ecological volunteering & Community Garden Projects

A volunteer helping in the gardens of Rio

Experience the natural marvel of Rio de Janeiro and be an environmental steward as a conservation volunteer.
 
If you enjoy the outdoors and want to help preserve Brazil's natural wonders, consider becoming an environmental volunteer; from conservation projects to urban renewal, you can join a variety of programmes designed to protect Rio’s stunning landscape. 
 
Volunteers can work with the Tijuca National park on a conservation or reforestation project. The Tijuca Forest is the world’s largest urban rainforest.
 
Additionally, you will work on a community garden project in the favelas near Tijuca helping to create alternative solutions to the ever-increasing environmental problems in Rio created by plastic residues, waste, and pollution.
 
Rio de Janeiro boasts one of the most magnificent contrasting landscapes in the world: cascading forests on massive mountains adjacent to a world class city. However, this contrast isn’t always mutually beneficial, as many of Rio’s treasured green spaces are damaged by urban sprawl.
 
As a volunteer on an environmental programme, you can help to support and develop some of Rio's most precious natural spaces, while providing alternatives to low-income communities on how to dispose waste and recycle. No previous experience or skills are required to join this programme.
 

Special Seasonal Programme: Carnival Preparation in the Samba Schools (November - February)

Volunteer on the Rio carnivalCarnaval is an event that breaks all economic and social boundaries – a love and passion for Samba makes everyone equal.

The Carnaval Programme allows volunteers to get involved in the preparation and hard work that goes into one of the biggest parties on the face of the earth! Samba schools competing in Carnaval have a full year of intense work to prepare the many floats, costumes, music and dances.

Volunteer in Brazil | Volunteer Rio de Janeiro | Working AbroadSamba schools are born from the local favelas (urban slums) and most of the schools take their names from the community they represent. Each school unifies and proudly represents people from that community, and all Cariocas (Rio-born Brazilians) also have their favourite school. Volunteers help some of the leading samba schools in the preparation of costumes or decoration of the floats – you don't need any special skills, just a willingness to work hard. Whilst you are hard at work you can also engage in some Portuguese and English language exchange with your fellow workers. There are many large warehouses available where each school of the Special Group (the best schools) has the space to build and store their floats and work on their costumes.

Volunteers are also welcome to go to the rehearsals at the Samba school to see the amazing samba dancers, hear the bateria (drum group) and hopefully learn some new moves. NB The dates for Carnaval change every year (it is held 40 days before Easter).
 

NGO Development volunteering

Volunteers discuss their next move with an NGO in BrazilVolunteer to help develop more impactful programmes and expand the reach of our partner NGOs as a development volunteer.

The most important skill needed for this kind of volunteer work is a positive attitude, creativity, and flexibility. The most successful volunteers have been self-starters who are willing to chart their own goals and objectives, while serving the needs of the partner organisation. Please note that to write project and funding applications for our partner project volunteers will need an intermediate level of Portuguese or fluent Spanish.

There’s no doubt, our partner NGOs are making significant impacts in their communities - but with your help and creativity, their programmes could develop even further - making them markedly more sustainable and impactful. Volunteer opportunities range from helping partner NGOs to create new programmes, develop existing ones, make performance indicators, and work in outreach and promotion.

Our partner NGOs provide essential resources and programming to their communities, but staff members are often swamped by day-to-day operations and have little time to focus on the “big picture.” As a non-profit/business volunteer, you will have the opportunity to help them accomplish objectives that they may have not otherwise had time or the manpower to do without you. The time commitment and reach of your work is largely up to you, but creative and industrious go-getter types are always needed for this kind of role.
 
The most important skill needed for this kind of volunteer work is a positive attitude, creativity, and flexibility. The most successful volunteers have been self-starters who are willing to chart their own goals and objectives, while serving the needs of the partner organisation. Many of our volunteer programmes were formatted by volunteers, and all the descriptions on the website were written by a past volunteer (Jeffrey Schulte, from USA). We also have some communication channels that were established by volunteers. You may also help our partner organisations to develop as a Volunteer for Development.
 

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Dates & Costs

A volunteer with their students in Brazil

2nd October to 29th October 2016
16th October to 12th November 2016

6th November to 3rd December 2016
20th November to 17th December 2016
4th December to 31st December 2016

18th December 2016 to 14th January 2017
1st January to 28th January 2017
15th January to 11th February 2017
5th February to 4th March 2017
19th February to 18th March 2017
5th March to 1st April 2017
19th March to 15th April 2017 
2nd April to 29th April 2017
16th April to 13th May 2017
7th May to 3rd June 2017
21st May to 17th June 2017
4th June to 1st July 2017
18th June to 15th July 2017
2nd July to 29th July 2017
16th July to 12th August 2017
6th August to 2nd September 2017
20th August to 16th September 2017
3rd September to 30th September 2017
17th September to 14th October 2017
1st October to 28th October 2017
15th October to 11th November 2017
5th November to 2nd December 2017
19th November to 16th December 2017

A sunset in Rio de Janeiro

You can join from 2 weeks up to 24 weeks as a maximum.  If you wish to join for 2 or 3 weeks, this is fine, but you will need to arrive on the start dates listed above. In general, volunteers work between 10 to 20 hours per week. Volunteers on the teaching and community development programmes need to join for minimum 3 weeks, but all other programmes are 2 weeks minimum.

The programmes take place all year round, but we have arrival days that are set to help us organise airport pick-ups, accommodation and placements. There are two arrival days each month, on Sundays - please refer to the dates above. If you want to arrive on a different day we can usually arrange that, please contact us to check availability and extra costs. Orientation takes place on the Monday and the Intensive Portuguese language course starts then too and lasts 2 weeks, 2 hours every day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks.
 
Costs

The cost for a 2-week programme is £755, 3 weeks is £855, 4 weeks is £905, and every extra week past 4 weeks costs £85. The maximum you can stay on the project is 24 weeks. Please email aaron@workingabroad.com if you have any questions about the costs, or are interested in living in private or independent accommodation.

Please note if you join during the week of New Year's Eve, or during Carnival week in Feb/March each year, there is an extra premium (£80 for New Year's and £180 for carnival week) added to your programme cost due to higher lodging prices during those weeks. In 2017 Rio Carnival is from 27th February to 3rd March.

Volunteer in Rio de JaneiroWhat is included in the cost:
  • Lodging in a guest hostel
  • Intensive Portuguese language course for 20 hours
  • Airport pickup by a programme representative
  • Orientation and information about getting around the city, guides, listings, tips, maps, health issues and safety
  • Placement and support from partner organisation in Brazil and WorkingAbroad Projects
  • Assistance in the case of emergencies
  • Free Internet access 24x7
What is not included are your flights and travel to Brazil, in-country transportation (except for airport pickup), meals (except for breakfast at the hostel), visa costs (if necessary) and your own health and travel insurance. Please note that it is mandatory for all volunteers joining this programme to take out a medical/accident insurance to cover the duration of the programme. All volunteers who will be working with children also need to do a Background Criminal check and bring a copy of it with you at the start of the project. 

Food, Lodging, Travel

Volunteer accommodationLodging
As a volunteer in Brazil, you are lodged in a guest hostel in Santa Teresa, one of Rio de Janeiro's most enchanting neighbourhoods. A bohemian area with an intense cultural life. It stands out for its unusual architecture and the hundred and ten years old tram which still runs through its winding cobbled streets. For the environmental programmes, you will be lodged in a residential sanctuary in the heartbeat of the Mata Atlantica (Tijuca national park), the world's largest urban subtropical rainforest, it provides ready access to the Christ statue of Corcovado as well as to the city centre, sambadromo (the place where the samba schools compete) and beautiful beaches. 

Experience true Brazillian culture and cuisine

With an atmosphere reminiscent of that of a small town, it enchants visitors with its panoramic views of the 'Marvellous City', offering a variety of options for eating local dishes to international cuisine. 

The hostel in Santa Teresa has free Internet access 24x7, kitchen & fridge for use by volunteers, lounge areas, swimming pool/bar, free breakfast each day, linen & towel service as well as many other facilities. Volunteers stay in shared dorms (private rooms are also available at extra cost, please just let us know). The hostel is located in the bohemian neighbourhood of Lapa in Santa Teresa, walking distance to the area where all the bars and restaurants are, as well as to the supermarket, drugstore, bakery, health clinic, and easy public transportation.

Volunteers out in Brazil's marketsFood and Meals
Brazil is a relatively inexpensive country for foreigners, but it all depends on your lifestyle. As described above, the houses also have fully equipped kitchens where you may cook. A meal at a restaurant may be as cheap as R$ 7.00 (2.50 GB pounds) in very nice and healthy popular restaurants or up to R$ 30.00 (11 GB pounds) in nicer places.
 
TransportationVolunteers cooking at the guest house in Rio
Buses cost R$ 2.50 (0.90 GB pence) and subway costs R$ 3.10 (1.10 GB pounds).  You should budget R$ 50 (18 GB pounds) per week for transportation.  Upon arrival you will receive a complete guide with information about public transportation, drugstores, ATM machines, banks, restaurants, markets, shopping malls, beaches and other useful information.
 

Requirements
We can develop a programme for you according to your abilities and interests. All programmes take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro.  Volunteers from 18 to 60 yrs of all nationalities are welcome to apply. All volunteers also need to do a Background Criminal check and bring a copy of it with you for the start of the project.

Language
The official language in Brazil is Portuguese. If you can grasp a little, it will definitely take you a longer way and you will feel much more rewarded, and at the same time you would be able to offer more to the organisation. If you want to take some Portuguese language lessons (other than the 20-hour Portuguese course that is included in your project fee), we can advise/help with finding you suitable teachers according to your level, to do alongside the volunteering. Please email us for more information on this.

Interactive Map & Background

Below is an interactive map showing the location of the lodging:



About Brazil
The Amazon from above

Brazil is a country of extraordinary size, covering almost half of South America , granting it an expressive cultural diversity and a huge variety of landscapes and people, creating deep impressions on its visitors.

Brazilian people come from a complex ethnic mix of Indians, Portuguese, Africans and other cultures. Their cultural identity is based on values of tolerance, solidarity, and happiness of living and also the taste of ancient things. The Brazilians are lovely hosts who love to laugh, sing and dance. It is also a complex country, contradictory, unfair and unequal, reflecting one of the highest concentrations of income in the world. Less than 1% of Brazil's population owns more than 42% of money and property. But, at the same time, it gives people lots of opportunities to improve.

The mountains of Rio de Janeiro

 
The country also has a lovely tropical climate, with a large variety of fauna and flora, starting from an impervious forest, going through a vast variety of mountains of different sizes, large swamplands and several large rivers nets - sometimes moving along plain lands or forming magnificent waterfalls -until they arrive at the Atlantic coast, with about 8.000 kilometers of continuous beautiful beaches.

Volunteer Testimonials

Ute relocated to London in 2010 after having lived in Berlin for more than 10 years. She volunteered in Brazil in 2015:

Volunteer Ute with a group of childrenOnce I had made the decision to volunteer, I did some research and was overwhelmed with the possibilities and organisations. I actually wanted to build houses in a favela, but the particular organisation that offered the program allowed volunteers only to stay for a maximum time of four weeks. As it was clear to me that I'd apply for a sabbatical at work and that I'd like to stay for at least three months, I decided against it. Instead I thought of how people at work always told me that I train them so well, so I thought "Why not teach English?".

Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city, one of the best places in the world. Despite the fact that more than six million people live there, you can actually manage to meet the same people over and over: at the bus stop, at the many Botecos, at the beach. I loved the diversity in the city and how widespread it was. The program itself is surely not unique, teaching English to underprivileged people in favelas is something that every organisation offers. What made it unique for me was that Felipe, the manager, was always hands-on with everything; from picking the volunteers up from the airport to driving them to the placements to going out for drinks and organising spontaneous BBQs, he was always up to get together and interact with us. His life experience makes a huge difference in how he handles things and I felt in really good hands during my three months stay in Rio.

Enjoying free time and climbing Dois IrmaosAll the volunteers lived in a fantastic hostel: Rio Hostel in Santa Teresa. It is a huge old building which overlooks the city and has lots of dorms, private rooms, and suites. There's a swimming pool and bar area too, as well as a balcony at the front from where you have the most amazing view over Rio. The hostel is clean, the staff, as already mentioned, are amazing, and in the yards there are avocado, acerola, and mango trees. You just need to find a way to get the fruit down!

If you want to volunteer in Rio de Janeiro I'd absolutely recommend this. Felipe is a great guy with lots of positive energy and he will strive to make every volunteer happy and have a good time. He has a huge network of NGOs in Rio and the outskirts so that practically everyone can find a program that they will be happy in.


Katharina Strienz from Germany speaks about her time on the Carnival Preparation in Samba schools programme:

Volunteers at Carnival!There were two houses, where volunteers stayed and I was lucky to stay most of the time in the bigger one with only five others. I was positively surprised that not only the house, but also our dorm was cleaned once a week and we also got fresh blankets. From my point of few the breakfast, which was served every day, had enough options, even for volunteers from other cultures. The kitchen had a good equipment with two fridges, six hotplates and boxes for everybody, where we could store our food. Free WiFi was accessible in the living room, as well as a computer, hot water, coffee and another fridge. Furthermore we could borrow books in different languages, also travel guides, or watch TV.

For four weeks I was working in the Samba school Salgueiro for Carnaval preparation. The other people there were all very friendly and tried to communicate with us, even they spoke nearly no English. They work from 9am to 7pm, but we could come and go whenever we wanted to. Our task was to help in a room where costumes were made. For that reason we had to cut and glue a lot. Once we had to draw and cut several hundred circles. Even the work sometimes could be a little bit boring it was a great experience to do it, to get involved in this big event, to get to know the people there and to feel their enthusiasm for Carnaval and their job!

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most marvellous cities of the world and I was really happy to volunteer there. Everyday of the week there is something different to do, you can visit so many sights and beautiful places. During the six weeks I have been there I've never been bored. The only thing every future volunteer has to be sure of, is that it's a very very big city and you have to schedule a lot of time to get around.

Because I already did another voluntary work in Argentina with another organisation I can compare the two programmes and I want to compliment the Carnaval preparation in Rio. It was a great experience: I got to know many nice people, a wonderful city, country and culture! I will recommend it! 

Feedback from Rosie Peck

I did have a really amazing time in Rio! I was on the health awareness and promotion program, and I learnt how to take blood pressures and the advice to give (in Portuguese) to people with high or low blood pressure. I also gave some English lessons as the building/clinic I was in was not very busy.

In terms of feedback I would say that really a volunteer should stay at least four weeks in order to have time to settle in and see progress in their work, especially since volunteering is only four days a week. Also, on the health program, I found that there wasn't work to do unless you made work, for example the volunteer I was working with had set up a blood pressure awareness program so some days we went around the favela measuring people's blood pressure and giving advice (quite full-on) while other days could be very quiet if we sat in the clinic waiting for people to come to us to get measured. Volunteers should also be aware that things don't always happen that fast and it can be hard to see progress in only four weeks, so try to come for longer if you can.

Also, people in the favelas can be very friendly! A local woman that another volunteer and I worked with for a few weeks invited us to her family's barbecue. She and her husband cooked and a lot of her family came - it was really lovely.

 

Students at a school in RioFeedback from Rosa Lin, Hong Kong, who joined the Arts Programme in June 2013

Children's artwork at a Brazillian schoolThank you Vicky, Zac, Vivi. I arrived back in Hong Kong and look forward my next voluntary work but probably will be 2014.  Once again, thank you for the perfect arrangement and great memory for the group. Keep rolling on the ideas!!  These drawings have been completed by the kids.  They are lovely and very well mannered. Thanks again for the arrangement.

 

Feedback from Emma Cutler, 16 February – 16 March 2013:

Casa Aurea was a colourful and quirky guesthouse in Santa Teresa. 6 female volunteers shared one room, a bathroom and a fridge in the basement. The atmosphere at the guesthouse was lively and the opportunities to engage with other guests and residents were plentiful. The best feature of the guesthouse was the open air seating area, surrounded by tropical plants - the hammocks were a real treat! Having seen the other accommodation options I realise just how lucky I was to be placed there.

Santa Teresa was a great location, amazing views over the city, lots of nice bars and restaurants and regular buses that has replaced the local tram service. The location suited me perfectly but it is probably worth mentioning that it is a long way from the beaches, which a lot of people commented on, and the up hill walks were a killer! The area was once home to grand villas and despite being faded retains a lot of character. It is now home to the artists of Rio and it has a lively, welcoming atmosphere.

Rio itself is an edgy and vibrant city full of noise and dirt. I was placed at a community centre on a Favela about an hours bus ride out of the centre of the city. The centre manager was very welcoming but as she spoke no English and our level of Portuguese was really basic it made communicating very challenging. Thankfully I had taken the TEFL certificate so together with another volunteer we brought a few basic resources and created lessons around everyday topics introducing games, stories, songs and anything we could think of to encourage the children to learn. You never knew who was going to turn up to a class or when they would arrive. 6-17 was the age range so we split the class in two; there were also one or two adults that turned up from time to time. 

I found the Portuguese lessons really useful. They were well structured and taught in a friendly and relaxed environment. English is not widely spoken in Rio so if you want to communicate learning Portuguese is essential.

Having never volunteered internationally before I really didn’t know what to expect. The opportunity to experience living in Rio was incredible. I think I underestimated how hard it would be though. Getting up at 6.30am, a forty minute walk, an hours bumpy bus ride, teaching two classes a day, another hours bus ride and forty minute walk, two hours of language lessons and all of this in extreme heat! I gained a huge amount of insight from this trip. The whole experience helped me reevaluate my priorities and learn to go with the flow in a way I would never have thought possible before.

Past volunteer Marco Heestermans from Holland:

I really enjoyed my time in Rio, here is some feedback on my stay.

The guest house in Rio was in Santa Teresa, which is a really nice and safe area in the center of the city. The only bad part was that you had to walk up the mountain all the time!  The project itself was great in our case - you have to make the most out of your project and you shouldn't expect everything to be perfectly organised (like everything in Brazil..), and I think it is helpful to mention that without any knowledge of the Portuguese language it can be really hard. I had the basics of Portuguese before I came (which made me not follow the Portuguese language course), so I could communicate with the people at the project.

On the whole I learned a lot in the last 3 months, not only the obvious things like the improvement of my Portuguese and meeting a lot of interesting new people, but also just the kids and adults in the favalas which makes you aware of the differences between Brazil and Holland. I found it the best combination of vacation and a working experience and I’m definitely happy I chose to do the volunteering experience!

Teaching volunteers with their students in BrazilCorrine Buhagiar, from Malta, volunteered at the project in March 2013:

Brazil was amazing, I realy enjoyed every minute of it and made loads of friends thanks to your programme. I would highly recommend it. The community I was working in was great. I was coaching a range of different sports from football to teaching volleyball and even drawing and painting. We would do anything the kids felt like on the day and it was great.  My Portuguese lessons with Vivian were also good. I am sure I will apply for another of your programmes.



Clare from Ireland writes about her time on the project:


The guest house (Casa Amaralinha) was in a very central location. Being in Santa Teresa, it was close to amenities and metro/bus links. I also felt very comfortable in this area of Rio de Janeiro. The people running the guest house were very helpful and always on hand to help with problems and queries. I enjoyed staying with other volunteers and the house was clean and well maintained. I particularly liked the outside areas.

I really enjoyed the project I worked at (CCI). I was able to develop my teaching skills and meet some fantastic people. I felt really welcomed and safe in this project at all times despite the language barrier. The project leader looked after us well and was appreciative of the work we did. It was good to be able to work with the other volunteers at my project too in order to teach English to two classes.

I found the costs to be very reasonable. I was able to get around, eat and visit tourist attractions on a small budget. The only other advice I would give to future volunteers is just to make the most of the days you are not at project as Rio de Janeiro is so vast and beautiful and also learn as much Portuguese as you can before you arrive.

Two volunteers on the programme - Brandon Arnold and Conor Hartnett made the following video whilst working with a community NGO in a favela in Rio



 

Volunteer in Brazil | Volunteer Rio de Janeiro | Working AbroadHow to Join

If you are interested in volunteering in Brazil, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form including two references and your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid two months before arrival. Once we have confirmed your place, you will receive a pre-departure package with all detailed information on your project, Rio de Janeiro, suggested items to bring etc.

 

 

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