Volunteer in Brazil

Have you ever thought about spending your holidays or a time-out from your everyday life doing something meaningful? What if this ‘something meaningful’ means being a volunteer in Brazil? The largest South American country stretches from the Amazon Basin in the north to the massive Iguaçu Falls in the south. Just to give you an idea of how long that is: the journey from the western border that Brazil shares with Peru to Recife in the east is longer than the journey from London to Moscow. As a volunteer in Brazil, you can get to know the land of football with all its traditions and the colorful “samba”. This guide will give you an overview of the variety of volunteer opportunities in Brazil. The opportunities for volunteers are as varied as Brazil itself. There will be the right program for everybody and it is definitely a great place to visit as a volunteer! So let’s get started!

Amphibian Researcher

The Amphibian Projects aims to study critical in the area of conservation. Frogs have been dramatically impacted by climate change

Forest Inventory

Tree Inventory: we study the biodiversity in different areas of the reserve to assess forest well-being. In the process we can understand the distribution of fruit tree species

Reserve Maintenance and Gardener

Trails – we have a couple of trails around the reserve which will need to maintained for visits. Grabbing a machete, you will cut back any plants that are intrusively

Restoring Brazlian Atlantic Rainforest

We warmly invite you to join us at the Iracambi Rainforest Center in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, where you’ll gain firsthand experience in reforestation

Volunteer work in Brazil

Although Brazil is a tropical paradise with a diverse landscape, it’s also a developing country. As such, Brazil offers multiple and variable areas that need the help of volunteers. While the country has a huge flora and fauna, Brazil also faces the second highest rate of deforestation. Furthermore, locals need volunteers to help them achieve social, economic, and environmental change and development. All these factors make Brazil a great destination for volunteer.

Animal and wildlife conservation

Approximately 700 new animal species are discovered each year in Brazil. As a volunteer in Brazil, you can be a part of this amazing experience and help the researchers and conservationists in taking care of these exciting new discoveries as well as of the animals that are endangered.

Different tasks of your volunteering experience can be:

  • animal rescue assistance
  • veterinary medicine
  • data collection
  • extinction prevention
  • environmental education activities

Take the opportunity to work at an animal rescue project, located in a beautiful setting in Brazil. As a volunteer in Brazil, you can take care of wild animals that have been harmed, mistreated or kept as pets. Further, your help is needed to rehabilitate and reintroduce them into their natural habitat once they are ready. You might also volunteer as a research assistant and help biologists perform monitoring and research tasks. These can range from setting up camera traps for mammals in the Amazon rainforest to reproducing insects in the lab.

Another very interesting job you can do as a volunteer in Brazil is observing birds. The Atlantic Forest in Brazil harbors nearly 200 bird species that are found nowhere else but here. As a volunteer in Brazil, you will work closely with researchers and volunteer coordinators until you are trained enough to independently conduct the day to day work. Another, maybe unexpected animal you might get in contact with during your time as a volunteer in Brazil is the neotropical otter. Humans are the largest threat to otters in Brazil as the animal’s survival is directly linked to the preservation and conservation of water and ecological corridors. It is estimated that habitat destruction has the potential to reduce Brazil’s otter population by 50% over the next 20 years. As a volunteer in Brazil, you can get involved and stop this development to save the Brazilian otters from extinction.

Biodiversity and its conservation

In addition to the great number of animals discovered each year, there is also a new species of plants discovered almost every other day! Brazil offers a great diversity of natural phenomena and is perfect for volunteers to discover, document and eventually take care of them.Furthermore, due to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, planting new trees and preparing the land for planting are increasingly important tasks. As a volunteer in Brazil, you could be helping to reforest the lands, prepare seedlings and register reforestation data to keep track of the improvements made. If you want to help preserve Brazil’s natural wonders and enjoy the outdoors, one of the environmental volunteer opportunities in Brazil will be a great experience for you.

The 5 most important environmental challenges Brazil is facing at the moment are the following:

  1. deforestation
  2. acid rain
  3. water pollution
  4. industrial pollution
  5. waste disposal

Volunteer work in Brazil on environmental projects can help local people address these issues and protect some of Brazil’s most precious natural spaces.

Support community services

Even though Brazil is mostly known for its Carnival, its beautiful beaches, and the Amazon River, there are local communities that do need support as well.

As a volunteer in Brazil, you can get involved in many issues. Among others, community volunteers can help with:

  • the integration of people who have recently moved from poor areas into cities
  • building up communal vegetable gardens and parks
  • hosting fundraising events

By helping out in a community project, volunteers will get into close contact with the people living in Brazil. Your contact and cooperation with the host community will provide a unique cultural immersion experience.

Teaching in Brazil

The contact between volunteers and residents is especially close when you are teaching as a volunteer alongside local teachers to help improve English levels and literacy. In Brazil, you can assist with teaching and lead English lectures. This is a great way to spark the children’s interest in languages and also provides an opportunity to teach the language to those who have never had any English lessons.

Volunteering as a teacher and mentor for these kids is not only very rewarding, it will also challenge you and give you a new perspective. Volunteers working in teaching projects need to be:

  • open minded
  • creative
  • flexible
  • prepared to face challenges

You will play an active role in improving the quality of the lectures and create secure and productive learning environments. As an English teaching volunteer, you will also provide children with greater opportunities for their future. These aspects are very important for the sustainability and development of the teaching projects in the long run.

Support local NGOs

If you are talented in organizing, planning and delegating tasks, you should join a local project and support administrative work. Volunteer work in Brazil with its focus on supporting NGOs will provide you with valuable experience in working with NGOs and you will gain transferable skills that will be useful for future jobs. Voluntary work at an NGO ranges from managerial tasks to coordinating the work of other volunteers and working in outreach and promotion. If you have a special talent for marketing and multimedia, you can help your host project capture images and videos of its work to use in YouTube clips, documentaries or magazine publications.Volunteers are also needed to raise awareness about the projects and support fundraising efforts. The most important skills needed for this kind of volunteer work is a positive attitude, creativity, and flexibility.

Join a sports volunteer project

Sports play a vital role in the lowest income communities of the big cities in Brazil. At just about every corner of Rio de Janeiro, you will find the locals, especially children, playing Brazil’s national sport, futebol. Particularly in the favelas, where low-income children and adolescents have few options for entertainment, sports have become a great part of life. But futebol is also a passion that unites Cariocas, Rios locals, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status.Volunteers in sports projects have the opportunity to work with children from poor areas and teach them in different kinds of sports. This has proven to be a very effective way to provide marginalized groups with opportunities for healthy, constructive recreational activities in safe environments. Sports projects provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to experience the local communities up-close and learn more about the Brazilian culture.

Cost of living

The suggested daily budget for living as a volunteer in Brazil is between US$ 12 and US$ 35. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the services you might need and things you might want to buy for your volunteer work in Brazil. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can be prepared and save the money you will need.

Additional costs you should consider as a volunteer in Brazil:

  • program fees
  • flight tickets
  • travel insurance
  • fees for your visa
  • personal expenses

Things to know before volunteering in Brazil  Safety & precautions

You probably already know that safety can be an issue in Brazil, depending on where you go. However, with a little bit of common sense, you should be fine. Please keep the following tips in mind during your Brazilian volunteering journey:

  • Only carry the money that you will need for the day in your wallet.
  • Leave the rest in a safe in your hotel/hostel room together with credit/debit cards, air tickets, and passport.
  • Don’t stay in extremely cheap accommodation, as the owners will probably not be prepared to deal with foreigners. If you don’t speak Portuguese, trying to arrange things with a non-English speaking local might not turn out too easy.
  • Smoking in public places is forbidden by law.
  • The use of helmets or any other type of object or piece of cloth covering the face of individuals upon entering a public or private premises is forbidden by law.

Culture & religion

Some interesting facts for you here: From a traveler’s perspective, South America splits into roughly three regions. Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil are the so-called ‘Inca and Amazon’ countries in the northwest. The south is often considered more developed with countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. And lastly, you have Brazil, which needs to be treated separately due to its size and different language. After all, Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world.Chile and Ecuador are the only South American countries that do not share a border with Brazil. Despite the immense size of the country, roughly two-thirds of Brazil’s population lives on or near the coast. The cultural hotspot Rio de Janeiro is famous for its exuberant Carnival festival, featuring parade floats, flamboyant costumes and samba music and dance.

Health advice

Going abroad always includes some issues and precautions that need to be taken into account, especially if you are traveling to a country with tropical temperatures and wilderness. To stay safe, here are some basic precautions you should take:

  • Get travel insurance and bring medicine with you, especially if you need special medication.
  • Malaria is prevalent in the Amazon area and it is recommendable to use antimalarials.
  • To avoid dengue fever or malaria, prevent bug bites: You might want to cover exposed skin, use an insect repellent, and use a bed net.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include MMR, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Chickenpox, Polio, and your yearly flu shot. Moreover, the US-based health protection agency CDC recommends Rabies vaccines for people who will be working with or around animals and a Yellow Fever vaccination for all travelers.

Who can volunteer in Brazil?

You might have noticed by now that there are many volunteer opportunities in Brazil that require different skills and abilities from their international volunteers. While you can find out the specific requirements for each project on their profiles on Volunteer World, here are some general requirements that apply to most projects in Brazil:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most of the volunteer projects. When in doubt, we advise you to get in contact with the local project manager, as in some projects you can also volunteer when you’re 16 years old.
  • You should have an intermediate level of English knowledge; some projects also require an advanced English knowledge.
  • Depending on the project you’re interested in, you might need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.
  • To have strong interpersonal skills, and experiences in working with a wide variety of people is expected of all volunteers. For teaching projects, other skills like dancing, drawing, sports, etc. can favor you as well.

What visa do I need for volunteering in Brazil?

You have made it to the last section of this guide, which is another really important aspect while planning your trip: getting your volunteer visa for Brazil. Please consider that the following information is based on a best practice approach, which has been made according to the best of our knowledge and in cooperation with several volunteer organizations. That’s why you should please make sure to discuss your visa requirements with your contact person on Volunteer World. If in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the Brazilian embassy or consulate in your country.

General entry information

There are some general requirements you should comply upon your arrival in Brazil:

  • Please check the current validity of your passport. Your passport should have at least 6-month validity from the date of arrival in Brazil.
  • Make sure your passport has at least two blank pages. Brazil requires that you have adequate unused pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure.
  • Please check if a transit visa is required for any connections.
  • Make sure to be in possession of a valid return ticket.

Best practice for short-term volunteers

Citizens of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan or Switzerland do not require a visa to enter Brazil for up to 90 days. You only need to show your passport and a return ticket to receive your stamp upon your arrival. You should register your trip with your embassy though. Once in Brazil, you can apply for a 90-days extension so you can stay 180 days in total.

Best practice for long-term volunteers

If you are planning to volunteer in Brazil for more than 90 days, you have to apply for a volunteer visa (also known as a temporary work visa). Make sure to apply for this Visa before entering Brazil at your closest Brazilian Embassy or Consulate.

To start your application process, you have to get supporting documents from the organization you are volunteering with. The Brazilian Embassy or Consulate will additionally provide you with all further information and give you a checklist of documents that need to be submitted to complete your application.

Please keep in mind that the application process requires a lot of paperwork and can take a long time. That’s why we would like to advise you to start early enough.