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Sample Volunteer Abroad Projects — Mexico

Several projects are available throughout Mexico mainly in working rural communities and often with native Indian peoples. The following is a sample of projects available and volunteers should be prepared to be flexible with regard to their project placement.

Community Development Projects:

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Funacion Kinich - Community Action for Integral Development

Five young Mexicans decided to “walk the talk” and created Fundacion Kinich in their hometown. After all if young people were traveling from abroad with the objective to help a community in a disadvantage situation, why not to have locals to do something to help their own people?  Based in San Jacinto Amilpas, 30 mins. away from Oaxaca City,  Fundacion Kinich offers a safe space for kids of different backgrounds, and their parents, to develop different skills and discuss matters that affect them.

Volunteers with Kinich will work mostly in the afternoons in activities such as:

 

 

A good knowledge of Spanish is a plus, but basic Spanish is accepted. Volunteers will work mainly from Tuesday to Saturday. Participants will live in the same neighborhood, with a host family

 

 

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Evolving the "We"- Community Action for Integral Development


The Community Action Program of the “Municipio” (Municipality) of San Juan del Río focuses in the integral development of the citizens of the region. As a way to integrate the “old” and the “new” San Juanenses, to keep low levels of crime and preserve the traditional, colourful and peaceful face of the city.

This project comprises the efforts of Official Entities that have developed programs to improve the quality of life of San Juan del Río and surroundings. Attention to the elderly, to women in disadvantage areas, to kids in general and to their healthy physical and emotional development.

Volunteers will support   FIVE different areas of the program according to the period of arrival, personal interests and skills:

A good knowledge of Spanish is a plus, but basic Spanish is accepted. Participants could be traveling 30 minutes away from San Juan del Rio to Tequisquiapan or San Pedro Escobar, where the program could be extended. There is an excellent network of transportation,with buses leaving every 15 minutes or so.

Host families are located mainly in San Jaun del Rio downtown where participants can walk everywhere, this helps stress the opportunity to really take part in the community's life.

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Education Projects:

Ninos Encantados de la Barra de Potosi - Charmed Kids of Barra de Potosi - Guerrero

Barra de Potosí is a small fishing village located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, in the State of Guerrero, 25 minutes away from the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo beach resort. Like any other small community on the edge of big tourist resorts, Barra de Potosi is in danger of losing its traditional identity as outside investors and developers seek to exploit its location and facilities. Now local residents are coming together to try and protect and preserve the values and traditions of their community.

“Niños Encantados de la Barra de Potosi”, (Charmed Kids of Barra de Potosi) has its main goal to provide opportunities for the children of the village. However it also raises an awareness and pride in the traditions and folklore of the community.

It began with donation of gifts and money to create a bank of school supplies for children in the village school and led to the purchase and conversion of a small house in the village for use as a children’s library. Children go there to do their homework and art and drama activities and various workshops also take place. However much more needs to be done to improve the building and to increase the activities and services available within the project. Click here to read a story from a past volunteer to Barra.

Highly motivated volunteers with initiative are required to take over different tasks, from office work to homework guidance, coordination of art, language or music workshops, sport activities or reading circles. The project has few resources and facilities and volunteers who are resourceful, flexible and willing to improvise and introduce new activities are especially welcome. This project especially can use volunteer work all year around. Volunteers are welcome for 4 weeks up to 6 months.

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Working with Special Needs Kids in Amecameca, in the state of Mexico

Amecameca is a small city of the State of Mexico, located about an hour and a half away in the south-east of Mexico City and 45 mins. away from Cuernavaca. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and situated at the foot of the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, the city has one of the most impressive views of these snow-clad symbols of endless love. Walking and hill hiking fans enjoy all year around the facilities of the nearby Park Ixta-Popo; and during winter time the Park of the Xmas Trees attract families that want to bring home a tree that they cut themselves after learning a little bit about environmental issues.

Volunteers in Amecameca will share their time working with two projects that support kids from poor backgrounds with Cerebral paralysis, Down Syndrome or Autism, impaired hearing and mental retardation among other conditions.

The CAM-Frida Kahlo, is a mixed school that is open only during weekdays; and the Pequeño Cottolengo Mexicano, is a permanent house for boys only.

Working at the CAM-Frida Kahlo

Volunteers at CAM will help teachers and therapists with groups of 8 up to 12 kids, either in physical activities, art and body expressions workshops, early stimulation sessions, or during lunch time in the dining room. They can also help in the maintenance of the installations: growing a garden and painting walls surrounding the Center, or supervising and cleaning the workshops areas.

The special program for older students offers training in computers, jewelry making, candy making and baking, and prepare participants to sell their products in local shops. The income generated in this way is divided between the school support and the students’ personal expenses. Volunteers can take part in the workshops or as chaperons of the kids when they go out to do business.

Volunteers in Cottolengo will help with daily chores such as cleaning or maintenance, helping in the kitchen or dining room serving meals and supervising the kids, assisting the teachers in their classes, helping the younger kids with their exercises and organizing evening games. Participants could teach some kids how to grow vegetables, or involved them in drama or art creation workshops. To share time with them is the most important part of the experience, in words of the kids’ mentors: “they need to get to know people and feel loved”.

Since September 2009 eight Cottolengo kids attend classes at CAM-Frida Kahlo so volunteers could be in charge also of supervising their homework and attitudes and feelings in the new environment. In addition, volunteers could assist the kids manage their life experiences outside the house.

Volunteers taking part in this project will live with a local host family in Amecameca, usually living within walking distance from CAM.

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Cuadra Don Antonio-Healing with Horses

 Cuadra Don Antonio, founded as a stable which main objective was the promotion of the care and respect of horses soon became a riding school where kids could get familiar with horses and their care at affordable prices.

Cuadra Don Antonio sponsors horse therapies for kids with special who come from a disadvantage background. Low income families can apply for the service, and under a means test scheme they receive the service almost for free. Special needs kids who live under the care of the state receive this therapy for free.

Located 15 mins away from Queretaro City Downtown, Cuadra Don Antonio is trying to expand this service to attend more kids from disadvantage backgrounds so they badly need committed volunteers to help. The stable has 15 boxes, a tack room, a cow corral, 2 horse pens, a training arena, a food storage room, bathroom, an area for kids to play and an office. There is the plan to construct an equine surgery and recovery clinic as Vet students are already doing their internships here.

Three days a week volunteers might be helping in different stable chores such as  horse grooming, horse exercising (ride, lunge), feeding animals, assisting vet checks up, muck stalls and supporting riding classes.  Depending on the demand of the therapy sessions, volunteers might help with them also.

 

Saturdays and Sundays volunteers will support the Special Kids Therapy Sessions (it is easier for some families to transfer their kids in public buses over the weekends when there is less people traveling). 

Volunteers do not need previous experience with horses or horse therapy, but they need to love working with animals and kids, and be patient! Volunteers have to be willing to learn and not be afraid of horses.

 

A good knowledge of Spanish is a plus, but Basic Spanish is accepted. Participants will live in the same with a host family and will be driven everyday to the stable by the Project Coordinator.

 

 

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Making the Invisible, Visible: Working with Immigrants,Indigenous Groups and Youth Rights in Mexico City.

Social movements, wars and economic crisis in the country have shaped a modern city where the very poor and the very rich, the well educated and the illiterate, contemporary constructions and cardboard settlements, are only examples of the contrasts that share its space. Liberal laws on gender and sexuality have brought attention to the lack of laws to help the inclusion of other vulnerable groups such as indigenous collectives, young people in disadvantaged situations and international immigrants.

We Mexicans want to think that attitudes such as racism, bullying and discrimination do not exist in our country. We simply do not see what we don't want to see. The Civil Society and non-profit organizations are working to make a difference; with their work in favor of these invisible groups they have pushed both local and federal governments to action. Working with few resources, they manage to create enthusiasm and generate support to their causes mainly through the achievements of their own volunteers.

Refugee support group:

This  work promotes the active participation in the creation of multidisciplinary politics and the development of services for immigrants. Thousand of people travel through Mexico every year, many of them refugees running away from insecurity and lack of freedom or economic opportunities in their own countries. Opposite of what can be believed, during their stay in Mexico, a country where 75% of its population is mestizo and that complains about the ill treatment of our co-nationals in the USA, immigrants in our territory can face human rights violations such as discrimination, detention and extortion.

Volunteers could be asked to help in the mornings in their offices doing research on immigration topics, translation of articles and publications, or administrative work such as filing. During the evenings they might support the research and activities done by the "House of Refugees" where cooperatives of women gather to share experiences. Additionally, the idea is to formalize the "exchange of skills market" between newcomers and neighbors, by creating a database.

Support to young people:

This is an organization born from the desire of a group of young people to empower other youngsters by developing projects and initiatives to generate knowledge and information with a young approach. They consider themselves "agents of change" and promote their human rights work.

The gender program recognizes that traditional role models and the lack of information among young people help to perpetuate problems such as high levels of teenage pregnancies, illegal abortions, the increase of sexually transmitted diseases and gender violence. The HIV action provides information, not only on practicing safe sex, but it supports initiatives to prevent bullying and provides support to young people living with HIV. The drug policies action takes its coordinators to participate in regional and national events where the debate about the legalization of drugs is being held.

Volunteers in this organization will be helping to do research of topics, translating documents and taking part in the "actions" of the organization such as: attending special events of sister organizations. Volunteers could also help design posters, write reports or handbooks relating to the important work being done.

Support to Indigenous Groups:

Brought to a city where their native language and customs are seen as too traditional to be good -- kids struggle between their desire to keep their traditional values or become modern and accepted. They work during the mornings, washing car windows or selling sweets, and attend school during the evenings. A group of young Mexicans have created spaces to entertain these kids, to give them a break from the "adult life", and to keep them away from drugs, alcohol and violence.

Volunteers working in this project will have the opportunity to organize games, sports competitions, art workshops or music classes along with Mexican volunteers. Although direct information on the use of drugs, contraceptives or other health issues is not shared openly, the desire to find ways to help young people navigate the difficulties of adolescence is clearly present in this project. Supporting the youth so that they can stand out and do better in life is one of the main goals of this project.

Ideally, volunteers taking part in this program, wanting to work with immigrant's rights, will stay in Mexico City for at least 12 weeks. However, shorter periods of time can be arranged through a mix of experiences with the two groups.

The tasks and responsibilities of a volunteer in this program will depend on the length of stay, the language skills of the candidate and the availability of the organizations supported.

Participants will live with a host family in Mexico City or in a residential facilities depending on the availability. Volunteers will make use of the public network of transportation-metrobus,subway,mini-bus- to get to their projects. This cost is not included in the program fee but will not exceed $20 USD or 15 Euros per week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Eco tourism Project

LA VENTANILLA ECO-TOURISM PROJECT, IN OAXACA


The Co-operative project in the beach village of La Ventanilla in Oaxaca State was set up to stop the killing and selling of turtles and their eggs and has grown in to a sustainable development project which generates alternative sources of income for the local people. It is located in a small beach village in a large mangrove zone just 60 minutes away from Huatulco and Puerto Escondido beach resorts. Twenty five families living in the village are actively involved in the co-operative which has among its goals to rescue the natural habitat of hundreds of species of birds and reptiles and the promotion of eco-tourism.

Irish volunteer Marie Claire shares the liberation of the last turtle in a video clip here.

The co-operative started operating tours along the mangrove swamp and offering horseback riding tours to generate an extra income. They have also established a tree nursery housing 70,000 plants of mangle and other local varieties, a crocodile farm and nurseries for turtles and iguanas.

This project requires volunteers all year around for periods of 4 weeks up to 3 months.

Guest Cabins

Volunteer activities might include cleaning and preparation of the eco-friendly tourist cabins, to assist in the community owned restaurant “El maíz azul” (“The blue corn”), helping in the rehabilitation of confiscated animals and the release of newly-hatched turtles into the ocean.

Between August and October, for example, volunteers could take part in night patrol canoe trips to find turtle’s nests, to collect and record eggs, and to bring them to the nursery. Participants will also help in the organization and development of workshops to recycle paper, aluminum, plastic and coconut fibre; as well as in the daily cleaning of the beach, the dock and the island; and in the planting and harvesting of ornamental and fruit trees.

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