Volunteer in Panama


Get involved in a variety of community aid projects in beautiful Panama. With such a range of interesting projects there's one to suit everyone. You have the opportunity to contribute to orphanage, school, wildlife, and environmental projects, working with the elderly or handicapped, literacy projects, jewellery making, and much more! The Panama projects are based in the small mountain village of Boquete. It is a picturesque tropical rainforest tucked away on the eastern slopes of Volcan Baru.

People can spend a lifetime searching for their passion and a sense of purpose. I am thankful for the GVN Panama Volunteer Coordinators, two people who have found their passion and dedicate their being to service for others. Through them I have realized that I can make an impact. Boquete was my first true service experience, and thanks to Kaytee & Oscar, I will continue to pursue this newfound passion!

Jen | Panama Volunteer


Such a great organization!!! This was the best volunteer experience of my life. GVN's partner organisation is doing such great things for the community. I think that everyone should be given the same opportunity that I had because it was life-changing. Keep up the good work!

Meg | Panama Volunteer


Just Choose a Project and Apply!


Volunteers are accommodated in either a volunteer house or a home stay. For volunteers staying in the volunteer house, it is conveniently located in the center of town on the main street; the home has a peaceful atmosphere that will  make you feel just at home. The home has hot water and you will be able to share an equipped kitchen, a comfortable living room lounge to chill out and free internet access is available. Volunteers need to bring their own towels and laundry services are available within a block of the home. Volunteers should expect to share a room with a fellow volunteer of the same gender, the house can accommodate up to 13 people at one time.

For volunteers living in home stays conditions may be more rustic than for those in the volunteer house and an extra charge will apply. However, living with a Panamanian family during your volunteer time is an incredible cultural experience. A homestay offers you an amazing opportunity to practice Spanish in a natural, relaxed and authentic atmosphere as well as being in a unique position to be immersed in the Latin American culture, cuisine, customs and daily way of life.

Your program fee provides for your breakfast from the start date of your placement. Breakfast foods may include: cereal, bread with jam/peanut butter, fruit, yogurt, granola, pancakes, eggs, juice, tea and coffee. Please note that meals will differ between different accommodation. For all other meals - lunch, dinner and snacks - volunteers are responsible for purchasing at your own cost and preparing food for yourself.

GVN Projects: Only $250 application fee + $500 per week (1-4 weeks), and $200 per week after this. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)

$250 application fee + $1447 program fee for 2 weeks. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)



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.

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Community Outreach

Community Outreach

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.

Centre for Disabled Children and Adults:

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.

Animal and Wildlife Project:

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.

Recycle it:

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

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.

Entrepreneurship Development Project

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.

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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.

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Panama Application Form


Apply Now: Step 1 of 3



Why GVN?


Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.

We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:

  • Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
  • Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 14 years experience in placing 19701 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
  • Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
  • Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
  • Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
  • Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.




How GVN works...


The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.

GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 14 years experience in the field.

At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Panama and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.

Program Package

$250 application fee + $1447 program fee for 2 weeks. (This includes accommodation, meals, coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up)

The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.

Your program package includes:


  • Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
  • Your Program Guide, with all the details on Panama and your placement.
  • Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
  • Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
  • Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.


  • Accommodation: Volunteer House (Home stays & several other lodging options can be arranged for an additional fee).
  • Meals: Breakfast daily.
  • Project Donation: Included to empower local organizations.
  • Airport pickup: On arrival date.
  • Training: In-country Orientation & training covering placement logistics & also a very personal exploration into your life goals & aspirations.
  • Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
  • Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
  • Extras: Spanish crash course, weekly volunteer dinners & outings, free reliable wi-fi Internet at volunteer house with access to volunteer computer, weekly volunteer reflections, Certificate of Completion & reference letter upon request.


  • An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
  • Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
  • A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
  • The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
  • Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.

The program package does not include: 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.




Tell me more about South Africa?

As its name suggests, South Africa is the most southern country on the African continent. It is bordered by Namibia to the north west, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, and Mozambique to the north east. South Africa is roughly 5 times the size of Britain, and covers 1.2 million sq km. South Africa was isolated politically and economically for a long period of time, as other countries protested against their racial discrimination known as apartheid (apartness). That era ended in 1994 when the ANC (African National Congress) was elected to power, led by Nelson Mandela. Pressure from ANC, other black political organizations, and the international community forced an apartheid government to pass a referendum in 1992, for everyone to vote in free and fair election.

What is the climate like in South Africa?

In South Africa, the seasons are predominately summer and winter. The autumn and spring seasons are very fleeting. Finding itself at South Africa’s northernmost area and bisected by the tropic of Capricorn, visitors to Limpopo can expect sunshine, long summer afternoons, and dry days for most of their stay. Summer (October to March) in the Limpopo province can reach 30°C -35°C during the day. The winter is dry and very pleasant. Although the temperature can fall below 5°C at night, the days can present clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.

What kind of volunteer work is available?'

Community Service: You could be one of 10 volunteers getting involved in community service tasks in our specialized program in honour of Nelson Mandela. Volunteer work includes the following:

  • Helping out at an orphanage by doing chores 
  • Offering to paint and renovate a shelter for the homeless
  • Helping fix the playground at a daycare centre 
  • Helping paint and decorating a children’s ward at a local hospital 
  • Spending time at a children’s ward in hospital talking to the children and assisting the nurses 
  • Spending a day with the elderly listening to their stories
  • Taking a bag of toys to a local hospital’s ward or a daycare centre in a rural village
  • Reading to someone who can’t read 
  • Coaching an extramural activity at a school 
  • Helping out at a local soup kitchen

What hours do I work?

Teaching assistants typically work weekdays, approximately 7 hours per day. There is a small variation in hours depending upon the time of year. The hours are generally longer during the school terms. Volunteers in childcare centres will normally have a busy afternoon schedule as children are done with school for the day, however there are some morning shifts where the children are under school age. Weekends are the normal days off.

Where will I be located?

The initial orientation and first night of accommodation is in Tshwane, Pretoria.

Participants will then travel to the rural area of Venda. This is located in the Limpopo province (the northernmost province of South Africa). Venda is about 4.5 hours north of Johannesburg within the Vhembe District, situated in Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa.

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About Panama



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.

Development in Panama

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.

Volunteer Impact

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.

What else can I do in Panama?

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.

Spanish Lessons

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


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