The Peoples of the World Foundation

Education for and about Indigenous Peoples

Here we list organizations and programs, by country, where travelers can volunteer when traveling in Central America and Mexico. All opportunities involve working in some way with and/or for the benefit of indigenous people. Some organizations are run by indigenous people. Some are places where our board members, past and present, have volunteered. Please contact us if you know of a non-political, secular organization that you think should be added to this list.

Please note that we are not a volunteer placement agency. We make no representation about the kind of experience you may have if you volunteer for any of the organizations listed on this page. We are not affiliated with any of these organizations and we do not represent them.

We recommend that you research the current situation in any country/area before traveling there and check for any visa requirements as well as travel advisories issued by your government. We do not interview, place or recommend individual volunteers to organizations. Please do not contact any organizations listed on this page stating that The Peoples of the World Foundation placed you or recommended you as you will be misrepresenting us as well as yourself.

Honduras*

*Note that many of these opportunities require or recommend some ability in (Latin American) Spanish.

Mayatan Bilingual School (Report broken link) "High school students (ages 14+) and recent graduates can have the adventure of a lifetime and make a difference in the world by spending a few weeks at Mayatan Bilingual School... If you will be visiting Copán Ruinas and would like to see our campus and volunteer for a day or a few days, we just might have a spot for you! ...We're open to new ideas that enrich our students' education."

Guacamaya Spanish School (Report broken link) "... the region around Copán [Ruinas] is one of the poorest places in the Western Hemisphere. For this reason, volunteer opportunities abound. And your efforts are sure to be deeply appreciated. For many years we have been arranging volunteer stints for our students... The need for volunteer assistance is greatest in the following areas: Environment, Health, Education, Agriculture, Religion."

El Maestro en Casa (Report broken link) "Though we are a small organization, we've got a big heart and we welcome volunteers of all ages, abilities and interests. Most of our volunteers have been either from international development agencies, such as the US Peace Corps or JICA from Japan, or stay-at-home fundraisers, but we have had a few individuals who are teaching interns, retired specialists or people who want to combine further Spanish language training with volunteering."

Garifuna Community of Cristales (Report broken link) "The international volunteers will take part in the renovation of [the Garifuna cultural and artistic community] center, including painting, design and construction of an attractive facade according to Garifuna culture. The group will also participate in thematic video forums and discussions on issues of responsible sexual health, gender equality and human rights..."

The Maya Project (Report broken link) "The Maya Project is run on the principle that learning is fun. It uses creativity — including art, drama, story telling, games and more — to introduce children ... to themes of the ancient Maya past and living Maya people... By introducing children to the incredible achievements of Maya people over time, the project has helped to build self-confidence in Ch'orti' children participating in the program."

La Ruta Lenca (Report broken link) "Our volunteers spend 5 days working at orphanages, schools, or rural villages followed by 3 days of exploring the best destinations Honduras has to offer."

Mexico*

*Note that many of these opportunities require or recommend some ability in (Latin American) Spanish.

Nahua People of Chicueyaco (Report broken link) "The Nahua are an indigenous group descended from the Aztecs that have maintained their customs and their language... The Nahua women's group has built a small health clinic in the village of Chicueyaco... teams will work alongside community members to put on a secure roof and possibly tile the floors."

Nahua People of Xiloxochico (Report broken link) "The people of Xiloxochico have ... requested that our teams return to their community to support the needs of bilingual education... teams will work side-by-side [with] parents and school leadership to build additional classrooms, restrooms and a playground space."

EIL Intercultural Learning (Report broken link) "Volunteering in Mexico focuses on those living in poverty. Volunteers can make a valuable contribution in communities that are in danger of being left behind as a result of poverty, abuse of the environment and the lack of economic opportunities."

Schools for Chiapas (Report broken link) "Individuals wishing to volunteer in Chiapas must first attend [a] regularly scheduled Schools for Chiapas delegation. These delegations provide a structured and comprehensive overview of the Zapatista movement ... in Chiapas. Please note that there are very few teaching opportunities for individuals who do not speak one of the six Mayan languages of Chiapas."

Amigos de las Américas (Report broken link) "AMIGOS has been building strong ties with communities and public service organizations in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, for over 30 years. Volunteers promote community health and nutrition by working with local youth and community members to carry out... Community Service... Indigenous Rights Awareness... Youth Engagement."

Kaya Responsible Travel (Report broken link) "Volunteering in Oaxaca, Mexico allows you to see and be apart of this historical town living and helping the indigenous people of Mexico. As the most diverse state in Mexico it truly is a beautiful place to volunteer. Volunteer opportunities in Mexico include tutoring disadvantaged teens, working in a children's shelter, empowering women, environmental conservation projects and volunteer medical projects."

Huichol Art Therapy and Medical Centre (Report broken link) "This project is suitable for volunteers interested in art, medicine, social work or the anthropology of indigenous indians and their culture. The medical centre needs a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, an art therapist nurses and a volunteer who could build them a website. You would also be asked to work with patients assisting with their treatment and therapy under the supervision of a qualified practitioner."

Guatemala*

*Note that many of these opportunities require or recommend some ability in (Latin American) Spanish.

Special Education (Report broken link) "Somos Hijos Del Lago is an organization that takes care of mentally handicapped children. Currently they care for about 15 children ranging in age from 1 year to 19 years. They provide this free service to families that have no other way to care for the disabled child while they are at work. Somos Hijos Del Lago strives not only to enable the parents of these children to work, but also to help the children be as independent as possible."

Rising Minds (Report broken link) "Rising Minds provides volunteers and assistance to small, locally-run businesses and cooperatives around San Pedro la Laguna in the Guatemalan Highlands, helping improve incomes and quality of life for local people while teaching visitors about Guatemalan customs and development issues... Our homestay and crafts programs provide a chance to get to know Mayan people and traditions from the inside while helping to support local craftsmen and women. Our expedition programs weave together service, cultural immersion, and adventure."

Niños del Lago (Report broken link) "Los voluntarios cuentan con varias opciones para trabajar, pueden enseñar el idioma inglés, matemática, acompañar a los niños en sus tareas, o bien alguna actividad técnica que deseen compartir con los estudiantes como pintura, música, manualidades, entre otras."

Proyecto de Niñas Mayas (Report broken link) "... every person that chooses to study at Corazón Maya [Spanish School] helps to support our community project. We are currently assisting eighty local indigenous girls, from low-income families. Since we believe that the lack of education is the largest problem and the root of many of the aforementioned social phenomena, we have decided help pay for the education of these girls."

Children of the Maya (Report broken link) (This is a summer program for high school students.) "You will spend the week volunteering at a local school refurbishing and building classrooms and working with the Maya children. The school is unique in that it is run by Maya teachers and actively promotes indigenous language and culture. In addition to building classrooms, you can share your talents doing arts and crafts, playing sports and games, and teaching basic conversational English."

Spanish, Service and Maya Culture (Report broken link) (This is a summer program for high school students.) "From community service to excursions and cultural events, language is given a new context. Spanish class will never be the same... This is more than just a teen community service trip, it's also an opportunity to connect with a whole new culture."

Village Volunteer Project and Cultural Exchange (Report broken link) "Spend a week living in a rural Mayan village, working during the days on a project commissioned by the local community... This is usually fairly tough labor so be prepared!"

Mayan People of Cantel (Report broken link) "GCN [Global Citizens Network] has partnered with the NGO, La Asociacion Wajxaqib Aj, the Mayan Center for Peace/Centro Maya Para la Paz, whose goal is to fortify solidarity and peace among the communities. Currently, GCN teams are working side-by-side with the organization to build a Mayan Cultural Center."

Volunteer Service Trips with Mayan Families (Report broken link) "[We] give participants a chance to provide volunteer service to Mayan Families in the highlands, connect with other members of our community, and gain a meaningful understanding of Guatemala. We welcome Teams from families, Spanish classes, high schools, universities, civic groups, congregations of any faith, adventure travelers, sports teams, and more, as well as individuals."

Experiential Learning International (Report broken link) "Each placement starts with intensive Spanish classes either in colonial Antigua or a small town outside the city. Participants in these programs will experience the warmth and hospitality of Guatemalans, the cultural richness, and the contrast in development in Guatemala."

Guatemala Dental Project (Report broken link) "Immersed in local culture, volunteers spend six days in the highlands, providing much-needed [dental] care to Mayan children. Smiling mothers in colorful local garb wait patiently outside the [dental] clinic. Children eagerly await their turns and report all the details to the kids just arriving."

Centro Maya Xela (Report broken link) "Centro Maya Xela works with many different nonprofit organizations working on social projects with the local indigenous people that need volunteers. Volunteer jobs can range from teaching math to village children, to developing sustainable agriculture, to medical work in clinics, to working in orphanages for disabled children."

Council for Mayan Communication (Report broken link) "Each volunteer program is tailored to suit the particular interest and abilities of the volunteer. We offer backpackers specials and deluxe packages."

Maya-Archaeology (Report broken link) "This is a scholarly project in the FLAAR office in Guatemala City. Most of the research involves digital photography but as much in ethno-botany and ethno-zoology as in archaeology."

 

The Peoples of the World Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in the United States under Internal Revenue Service code 501(c)(3).

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