Volunteer at a Children’s Center in Mexico
Volunteers on this project in Playa del Carmen, Mexico will be working in a children’s center run by Save the Children. The focus is on empowering children to know and apply their rights as well as providing a safe environment in which they can learn and play.
Responsibilities are extremely varied on this project. Volunteers will be involved in the overall running of the center, from delivering health and safety sessions to ensuring the center is clean and tidy. The center’s expert staff will provide close supervision. Volunteers may also get the opportunity to assist in community centers along the Yucatan Peninsula.
Save the Children is absolutely committed to ensuring that children are safe and know their rights. Many parents in this part of Mexico have to work long hours in order to support their families, meaning young children are often left alone and have to look after themselves for large parts of the day. Others may have been victims of aggression and are in need of support. The center gives children a suitable environment in which to play and learn.
While in Playa, volunteers will be helping with homework, preparing educational resources, tidying the center and playing games with the children. A lot of the work focuses on making children aware of how to keep safe: from teaching them how to identify different forms of violence to making sure they know their rights. Severe weather is a very real threat in this part of Latin America, so volunteers may also be involved in advising children of safety measures to take during a hurricane. Volunteers need to be flexible and adapt to the changing requirements of our local partners.
This expedition requires a full time commitment. Depending on your length of stay volunteers can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surrounding islands and local sights.
Where you’ll stay
During your time in Mexico, your accommodation and food are included in the project cost. Volunteers will be living on the outskirts of Playa Del Carmen with easy access to public transport routes and the project partners. Accommodation is basic and you’ll be sharing a (mixed sex) flat, loft or apartment.
Volunteers take turns preparing the daily meals in the communal kitchen. There is mobile reception and volunteers are allowed to bring their laptops. There may not be wifi available at the accommodation but there are numerous internet cafes in the area.
Activities & Training
Things to do
Volunteers are welcome to organize side trips for their free time or before or after their project experience. Playa Del Carmen offers vibrant nightlife, restaurants and shopping. All associated costs and travel expenses are not included in the project fee and need to be factored into the volunteer's own budget. There are endless adventures along the Yucatan peninsula as well as opportunities to travel to other nearby destinations in South America. Many of these activities involve diving and are located very close to the expedition base: cenote diving near Tulum, diving with turtles in Akumal Bay, wall reef diving off Cozumel island or snorkeling with whale sharks off Holbox island between June and September.
Rio Lagartos is nearby and is home to great flocks of flamingos and river crocodiles, while Bacalar is known as the lake of seven colors and is a must see if volunteers are happy to travel further afield.
There are also many ruins and archaeological sites in the region which allow volunteers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich Mayan culture, inlcuding Tulum, Coba, Palenque and Merida.
Orientation and Training
Staff in the field will provide training on the skills required, but you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you travel.
Volunteers not fluent in Spanish need to complete a minimum 20 hour language course to prepare them for work in the field. This will be at an additional charge to the volunteer.
Good to Know
All volunteers are encouraged to learn more about local history, culture and customs before travelling. All training will be taught in the field.
Volunteers not fluent in Spanish will be required to participate in a minimum of 20 hours of Spanish once in the field. This is an additional cost.
Volunteers are required to be fluent in English. While in Playa volunteers will be helping with homework, preparing posters and educational resources, tidying the center and playing games with the children. A lot of the work focuses on making children aware of how to keep safe; from teaching them how to identify different forms of violence to making sure they know their rights. Severe weather is a very real threat in this part of Mexico, so volunteers may also be involved in advising children of safety measures to take during a hurricane. Volunteers need to be flexible and adapt to the changing requirements of our local partners.
This expedition requires a full time commitment. Depending on your length of stay volunteers can expect to have a few free weekends to explore the surround islands and local sights.
Volunteers need not have any specific skills just an enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. Volunteers need to be comfortable and confident swimmers and be physically fit and healthy.
Volunteers need to submit a criminal check not older than a year by the time of the project start date.
Health and safety
A change of environment, climate, food and lifestyle often results in minor, and occasionally more serious, illness.
Please inform staff if you feel unwell at any time. We have emergency procedures for all foreseeable events, the staff are first aid trained and you will receive a safety briefing on arrival.
Please note we cannot provide specific medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider (doctor, GP, etc.) or visit a travel clinic for further information leading up to your trip. Please be forthcoming about any health issues before you begin the project as failure to do so may have serious consequences for you, the staff and other participants, including your removal from the program.
We have a small safe on base for money and passports. Traveling in Mexico is generally quite safe and there are low crime rates. The biggest risks result from weather related hazards.
Volunteers meet at 10:00 on the project start date at the Hotel Colorado in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo.
We recommend the following accommodation:
Calle 4 entre Av. 20 y 25
Centro Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo
Hostal Happy Gecko
Av 10 entre calle 4 y 6
+ 984 147 0692
Playa del Carmen Hotel H&A
Av. 20 entre calle 2 y 4
+ 984 873 3177
At the end of the project volunteers will be transferred back to Playa del Carmen round 15:00. We recommend departure flights are not booked before 18:00 on that day.
Field staff advise that you enter the country using a tourist visa. For most nationalities this doesn't need to be arranged in advance. Check with the immigration authorities of the countries you intend to visit, or see www.inm.gob.mx