We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Just choose a project and apply:
Are you drawn to helping children in need? Do you have a soft spot for cheeky smiles? As a volunteer you have the opportunity to help children in need and aid in developing and inspiring their minds and hearts. These children seek love, attention, knowledge and education to empower them to have successful futures, free from poverty and filled with opportunities. This program works to create growth and development opportunities for children and teenagers with a focus on children living in orphanages, and those who come from low income families. Volunteer opportunities may include: working in orphanages assisting with daily activities and childcare duties, helping with homework, running Saturday morning soccer & music classes. It is important to help in the way they need it. This could mean you will be helping with mentoring and playing with the kids, teaching in a classroom, working in the laundry, cooking meals, or feeding and bathing the children. As some of these projects are not full-time, volunteers must be able to join 2 to 3 projects to build a full-time schedule. This program is suitable for positive, caring, motivated, and self-directed people who have a love for children.
Hablas Ingles? (Do you speak English?). The ability to read, write and speak English are increasingly important for many Panamanians in the workforce or those planning to enter the workforce. Volunteers have the opportunity to work as English teachers with the community of Boquete with both adults and younger students. The classes are offered one-on-one or in small groups. This role is suitable for an organized, patient, and self-motivated individual. A teaching qualification is not required, but volunteers need to be confident teaching English and preferably have or are studying towards a university degree.
Are you excited about helping out and learning about a community in Panama? Our partner works with a number of small community based organizations which provide development services to enhance the local community. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with the disabled, animal & wildlife programs, medical and community recycling. As some of the projects are not full-time, volunteers may take part in a flexible schedule, which includes a combination of projects.
Volunteers with relevant qualifications and experience have the opportunity to work in the centre for the disabled giving physical or speech therapy to both children and adults, and act as a mentor. Volunteers without such qualifications are welcome to participate here in a range of other activities, including playing games, pushing someone in a wheelchair, reading a book, helping with handicrafts, or just being available to lend a helping hand where needed. Basic Spanish is useful, but many of the staff members speak both English & Spanish. Long-term volunteers are encouraged to apply. Unless volunteers are suitably qualified, this is a part time placement (meeting as a group once per week) and volunteers will need to participate in other projects to complete their volunteering schedule.
Volunteers will work with an animal refuge and educational centre that saves and provides a home for unwanted, abused, and abandoned animals, and also provides a long-term home for macaw parrots. Volunteers are needed to assist in caring for the animals, maintaining the center, increasing awareness, and providing valuable information to guests of the center. Volunteers with veterinary background can also help in a spay and neuter clinic.
This is the perfect placement for all you environmentalists! Volunteers will work with an organization which is dedicated to educate school children about the environment & organize community activities & events. Volunteers are needed to assist with the school-based program and also with the collecting, sorting and distribution of materials.
The GEM Project is a multifaceted international jewelry-making empowerment program that inspires positive thinking, global giving and creative power for positive individual and social change. The GEM Project is currently working with mothers with children with disabilities and young pregnant teens who are struggling to care for themselves and their babies. The ladies join together on a weekly basis. Volunteers at this project will work with various aspects, including: program development, training, incorporating new jewelry designs, marketing of jewelry, fundraising and program administration. Volunteers need to be able to communicate in Spanish and have to have experience making jewelry to participate in the project. This project is for dedicated, creative volunteers who are innovative and positive thinkers. Please note, the GEM project is not available year round, as it is offered in 12 week sessions.
Do you have a project or idea you would like to implement into the community of Panama? We want to hear your ideas!
The Entrepreneurship Project is designed for those who know what they are passionate about and have the desire and determination to move forward with their ideas. This project aims at giving you the connections needed to implement your ideas into serving the community. It is self driven, but our partner organisation is there to support you along the way.
Panama is bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, and met by Colombia and Costa Rica at each end of it's S shaped body.
The valley of Boquete is located in the western highlands of Panama at 1,200 meters above the sea level. Nestled amongst the country's most mountainous region, this peaceful town is situated between the Caldera River and Baru Volcano.
Boquete is safe, beautiful, inexpensive and exciting. It can be easily accessed by 1 hour daily flights from Panama City to David (the country's second largest city), and then a 30-40 minute car / 1 hour bus journey from here.
Strong economic performance has reduced the national poverty level to 29% in 2008; however, Panama has the second most unequal income distribution in Latin America. Panama has extremes of wealth and poverty with the wealthiest 20 percent of Panamanians controlling more than 50 percent of the country's wealth, while the poorest 40 percent only control 12 percent.
Despite Panama's relatively high income per capita (US$3,080 in 1997), poverty remains pervasive. Over one million people (37 percent of the population) live below the poverty line. Of these, over half a million (19 percent) live in extreme poverty. One-half of all Panamanian children are poor.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Panamanian communities, focusing primarily on orphaned children, animals, environmental projects and school children.
As a volunteer in Panama you can provide love, affection, education and support to orphaned children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. Depending on your interests you can also contribute to recycling projects, working with the elderly, or handicapped and jewellery making. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Panamanian communities.
Free from large crowds of tourists, visitors to Panama will enjoy discovering this beautiful country.
Panama has no shortage of stunning beaches, mountains and rain forests to explore, along with it's smattering of colonial towns home to exquisite handicrafts and the country's friendliest people.
Those looking to get further out and explore will enjoy trekking in the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, home to Panama's only volcano.
All volunteers will have the option of adding Spanish classes to enhance their volunteer experience for an additional fee with our partner school.
Also, Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Learn spanish before you go
If your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
You will receive a Program Guide which contains a wealth of information. You'll find everything from a broad overview of the country you are going to; project details; life on the project (accommodation, meals, what to wear etc); along with extremely helpful information and advice for preparing for your trip.
GVN provides four different options to pay your program package and secure your placement. These include:
*Placements longer than 8 weeks are available, please contact us or apply online for details.
*Based on an 8 week placement
Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, project transportation, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $35 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.
Apply now for the Panama Program:
Start Date: 1st Monday or 3rd Monday of every month (except January 2014 - 2nd or 4th Monday)
Volunteers are encouraged to arrive on the Friday before their placement to have the weekend to explore the area and gain comfort with the culture.
Length: 1 week to 12 weeks. Your stay can be extended beyond twelve weeks on a case-by-case basis (depending upon visa and our partner's requirements).
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox. This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.
Boquete enjoys a sunny, cool mountain climate, with temperatures ranging between 60° - 80°F (16° - 28°C).
The projects will be predominantly located in Boquete and surrounding areas. However, some volunteers will be based in David.
The Global Volunteer Network offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities in Panama. Volunteers can work with a range of projects including: orphanages, literacy, animal refuge, working with the elderly or handicapped, jewelry making and recycling. Our partner will also work with the volunteer closely to place you were your knowledge, skills and talents will be best used.
You must be at least 18 years of age. There is no upper limit, you just have to be in good health.
Many of the programs are run in both English and Spanish. If you are a native English speaker and have no Spanish speaking skills, we do recommend that you learn a basic level of Spanish before you start volunteering, as this will enhance your overall experience. The staff at our partner organization speaks English, but the locals at your specific project may have very limited English. All volunteers participate in a Spanish language crash course included with orientation. Volunteers will have access to our partnering language school for additional lessons during their stay for an additional fee.
Volunteers are encouraged to arrive on the Friday before the 1st or 3rd Monday of each month, as this will give you time to settle in and explore the area before starting your placement on Monday. Please note airport pick-ups cannot be arranged for those arriving on a Sunday. Volunteers will need to cover the costs of additional accommodation. Special arrangements can be made to start anytime throughout the month if needed.
Most projects are closed during special holidays such as Easter Week, Christmas and Carnival. Some of the teaching projects are not available during the summer months of January-March; however there are alternate placements available during this time.
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Program Specialist will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
As in many countries, foreigners are perceived as wealthy in Panama. Most of the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by volunteers, but not every individual is the same. We work extremely hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and security policies are in place to achieve this. However, as in any situation at home or abroad, there is no way to erase all potential threats. You should avoid extremely remote areas where you will be alone. Volunteers will be given further safety advice, including for the case of natural disasters, in their orientation session.
Our partner works with many organizations and we work diligently to place our volunteers with the project most suited to the volunteer's knowledge, skills and talents.
Yes, due to the scheduling of several of our partners projects, volunteers are able to participate in a variety of projects. Volunteers will have a main project that can be supplemented with additional projects and interests.
Many of the projects are within walking distance from the volunteer house, however for those further away, you will be able catch a bus or taxi to your project each day. The cost for the bus is around US $.50 - $2 each day, or for a private or a shared taxi the cost is around US $.50 - $3 per day.
This is a suggestion of what may be needed - please consult with your medical professional or travel specialist for more details.
Malaria is not needed for Boquete or David. Discuss closely with your doctor if you plan to travel through the rest of Panama.
Some of these can be taken in oral form so please discuss with your doctor to see what is best for you. Some people can be affected quite differently to others by medication.
The majority of volunteers will live in either shared gender dorm rooms in a volunteer house, or more traditional home stays are available in certain areas. The volunteer house is equipped with basic western style amenities. There is a male and female dorm and one private room in the volunteer house. The home stay accommodation is more rustic than for those in Boquete. The Boquete Volunteer House can accommodate up to 13 volunteers. There is a male and female dorm and one private room.
A homestay offers volunteers an amazing opportunity to practice Spanish in a natural, relaxed and authentic atmosphere as well as being in a unique and privileged position to get immersed in the Latin American culture, cuisine, customs and daily way of life.
Our partner encourages family volunteerism, so you are able to bring your family, including children of all ages. Childcare can also be arranged at an additional cost if needed for some of the projects.
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Each project will provide you with the resources you need. However, for the teaching and childcare projects we encourage our volunteers to bring additional resources such as: teaching resources, craft materials, sports equipment, toys or games to assist you. Our partner organization also has a selection of resources including games, books, pens and paper etc.
There are many festivals in Panama however this will not hinder your volunteering as when they are on you will most likely be invited to celebrate with everyone. During Christmas & Carnaval many organizations are closed for more extended periods of time.
Yes. Volunteers have their weekends free for traveling and we recommend you take advantage of being in Panama to see places of interest. Our partner organization is able to assist you in booking tours of Boquete, Bocas Del Toro Archipelago, Panama City, and the Panama Canal.
Generally speaking, what you wear at home, you can wear in Panama. With that being said, as many variations of style differ, volunteers should dress appropriately at all times, according to the customs in Panama. Volunteers need warmer clothing for the nights (light long-sleeved shirts and sweaters, pants/jeans), and light/loose clothing for the day (t-shirts, shorts).
The program costs cover accommodation, airport pick-up and breakfast daily. If you plan on arriving early or staying on, then you will need to have spare money for this time. You may also require extra money for your days off depending on what you intend on doing. Other costs include food, bottled water (if you desire), visa (only required if staying longer than 90 days), travel, and any shopping you will do personally. Volunteers need to pay for the bus to their project each day - approximately US $.50 - $2 per day. All visitors to Panama are required to pay approximately US $5 for a tourist card at their departure airport; your airline will provide these prior to your flight to Panama.
This will depend on the time of year and the project you choose. We try to place volunteers with at least one other at their placement if possible. There is room for up to 20 volunteers at any one time in the volunteer house.
Orientation takes place on the first or third Monday of the month. Volunteers are given a general introduction to the language, projects, and a cultural orientation.
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
As volunteering in Panama involves working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals, volunteers need to provide a police clearance document before volunteering commences. There are different types of police clearance but at minimum the check must include your full name and date of birth. Note, minor offences such as traffic infringements will not be taken into account. If you come from a country that does not issue police clearances for volunteer work, three character references from reputable sources (employer, justice of the peace, landlord, the minister of your local church, teacher, etc) may be substituted. Your character referees should know you well enough to vouch for your character.
David is situated on gently rolling plains about half way between the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Cordillera Talamanca Highlands to the North. On the ocean, a short drive away, you will find the city of Puerto Armuelles and the beaches of Lar Barqueta, Las Lajas and Playa Hermosa. David is the second most populous city in Panama. In David you can encounter several museums and cinemas where you can go to the movies, shopping malls and plenty of more dance clubs, bars, and restaurants. It is the capital of the Chiriqui Province and the center of a rich farming region. The city’s heart is its fine central plaza, the Parque de Cervantes and is located 1.5km southwest of the highway.
David is located 38 kilometers (23 miles) away from Boquete. You can arrive in car between 30-40 minutes and by bus in one hour. It is also the halfway point between Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica.
For those seeking warmer weather, David, which is close to sea level, is the place for you! David is hot year round with less rainfall than Boquete, with average temperatures usually between 78F and 82F (25C – 28C).
Thursday, July 04th, 2013
Now I have been here nearly 2 weeks volunteering feels like “business as usual” so it is getting harder to find something to write about. Still visiting the ophanage and the recycling cente. Working on a project that hopefully will mean the local hostels, hotels etc start to recycle. That would be cool to think [click here to read more]
Friday, June 28th, 2013
Week one of three already gone. Going to do a mix of teaching english, working at the orphanage and working in the recycling centre whilst I am here. The kids at the orphanage are funny as with my clear lack of Spanish they keep trying to teach me spanish words!! Will have a few more [click here to read more]
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Great day today in the recycling centre. Interesting to see the difference in recycling in NZ and Panama. Will be one of my regular places to go. Also went with another volunteer Susie to the library where she was teaching english to some local kids. I have to work out how to do this myself [click here to read more]
Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers
As a volunteer in Panama you must:
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"We volunteered as a family of four, including our two teenage kids. Though we'd traveled extensively together, we were a little nervous about whether we were up to this experience, but halfway through the trip we wished we could stay for two more weeks. We spent part of our stay working with children undergoing cancer treatment and the second part working at an orphanage. Each place had its own challenges and unexpected rewards. The experience was more enriching than I can possibly communicate. But it wasn’t just about the "work" – Boquete itself is a magical place and Katie and Oscar have a true gift for hospitality. All of us are eager to return to Boquete – to all of the special children, and to our new friends."
Its heart warming to say the least. It is an easy community to become involved with, and they are incredibly appreciative of anything you do. I wanted to go somewhere to make a difference, and here I feel as though I am doing that. To be honest, since this is my first time volunteering I had no idea what to expect, but I chose this placement because of the region, and the opportunity to learn a little Spanish. I expected to be here for three months, so far I have been here for just over four.
I had an amazing experience in Panama. I chose to volunteer so I could get to know the Panamanians and their culture as more than just a tourist. I liked this program because of the amount of different projects i could get involved in. The Panamanians where very friendly and welcoming. I was involved in teaching English, volunteering at a teen centre and an orphanage. It was a great experince, volunteering in Panama. I met some amazing people who will be friends for life!
The 4 weeks I spent in Boquete were life changing. The experience was more incredible then I could have ever imagined. I left a part of my heart in Boquete. I have been home less then two weeks and I am already planning my trip back. What Kaytee & Oscar have established [...] is inspirational!
Kaytee & Oscar are such good people! I am so happy I was able to be apart of this organization, and see & particatipate in what they are doing in Boquete. After 3 months in Panama, I was 100% sure that I will continue volunteering in the future thanks to [them]. I can gladly say I started in Boquete with them. Without a doubt life changing. Thanks!!
At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organisations in each country. What this means for our volunteers is that they receive a unique and genuine cultural experience whilst being immersed in a local community.
Volunteering abroad could be the very thing for YOU!
If you're looking for something worthwhile to do volunteering will give you the opportunity to travel whilst making a difference in the community you are based in.
Did you know taking a Gap Year can improve your college admission chances and success rate during your studies?
"Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrolment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way" – Harvard College Office of Admissions, 2010.
International volunteering is a great way to gain experience living in a developing country, learning about another culture and experiencing a different way of life. It is a fantastic way to grow as a person, to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and is a tool for self discovery and identity formation.
Other personal benefits include, developing international friendships and networks, social awareness, and building independence.
Volunteering can increase your employability, help you to gain valuable work experience and enhance your CV/resume.
"Going to a foreign country for a volunteer experience is a huge boost on a resume. Employers love to see a person that can think outside the box and work past their comfort zone. The added benefits of teamwork, foreign language knowledge, and plain old hard work also add polish to the volunteer candidate. Since business now happens on a global scale, the volunteer is armed with useful, and potentially actionable, information." – USA Today, 2010.
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