Care Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica
A placement on one of our voluntary Care projects in Costa Rica will be a challenge, but you will begin to see the positive impact of your work from the very moment you arrive. You do not need any qualifications to volunteer, or to have had any previous experience. Gap year students, career breakers or retired volunteers are all welcome.
Costa Rica is a relatively prosperous Central American country with a developing tourist industry and a reasonably good standard of living. Although this is a country with huge potential for economic growth, however, there is always a need for extra assistance at the many kindergartens and day care centres.
- Placement locations: Heredia and surrounding small towns
- Types of care projects: Care centres, kindergartens, special needs centres and centres for the disabled
- Ages: Children aged 0 to 18 or young adults
- Number of people cared for: 8 to 120
- Role: Volunteers work on achieving the goals set out in the Care Management Plan, including running educational games and group activities, and providing emotional support
- Accommodation: Host families
- Price: From
- What’s included? Food, accommodation, transfers to and from our specified airport, insurance, personal webpage, induction and orientation, 24/7 staff support
- What’s not included? Flights, visa costs, spending money
- Length of placement: From 2 weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
Our voluntary Care placements are based in and around the city of Heredia. These placements are spread throughout the towns and you will normally travel to your placement by bus, although some placements may be within walking distance.
The majority of our Care placements are in day care centres and kindergartens, with ages ranging from just a few months old to thirteen years old. The number of children and local staff varies from centre to centre but there is always a great deal you can do to contribute to the care and support of the children at your Care placement.
You can help with day-to-day practical tasks and important life skills, ensuring that the young children have been cared for and fed, as well as assisting with basic education such as teaching numbers and the alphabet. You might also help with reading, writing and arithmetic. Volunteers often also assist the local staff with tasks such as serving food, washing up and cleaning, which are essential to the daily running of the care centres.
Songs, games and sports are also popular activities to help with. The children will welcome any new ideas that you may have for drama activities, putting on a concert or arranging a sports day. Enthusiasm and a willingness to throw yourself into your work, and of course a love of children, are vital!
With older children, you can make a real difference just by offering your friendship. This is also the perfect opportunity to put any skills you have to good use. Suggestions for various games and activities will always be well received. From finger painting to football, the time you dedicate will help to add fun and enjoyment to their lives. Anyone with skills in art or music could put these to use by suggesting activities to the local staff, who will be glad to make room for your ideas. The options available are limited only by your imagination!
Voluntary Special Needs work with Projects Abroad
We also work with disabled and special-needs children and teenagers in a special education centre in Heredia. Volunteers placed here work alongside local staff in the centre, caring for babies, children and young adults with disabilities such as Down's Syndrome. By giving much-needed support to the staff, and care and attention to the children, our volunteers really help to make a difference. You will need lots of dedication and patience on this placement, but you will be sure to find it an immensely rewarding experience.
Volunteers can also choose to work in a day centre for the elderly. The centre’s members are aged between about 65 and 90 years old, and really appreciate the company of our volunteers. They enjoy activities such as light physical exercise, card games and bingo, and arts and crafts, which our volunteers can help with. You may also be asked to help out with fundraising events and administrative and maintenance tasks from time to time. If requested, you might even be able to assist in the centre’s physiotherapy sessions.
If you would like to work in either the centre for disabled children or for the elderly, please specify this on your application. Volunteers at these placements are required to have basic Spanish.
Care volunteers should be prepared to work a full working day. The majority of placements open from 7 or 8am until early or more commonly, late afternoon. Your exact hours will depend on your individual placement and your specific time-table will be decided with your supervisor when you arrive. You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Costa Rica Care Management Plan.
All of the care placements close for at least 2 weeks over the Christmas period from around the third week in December until early or mid-January, depending on the centre. The special education centre closes for its main holidays from mid-December to mid-February, with a shorter holiday in the first two weeks of July. All of the placements also close for 1 week over Easter (Holy Week). Over the Christmas and Easter periods, volunteers are able to go travelling or enjoy the festivities with their host family.
Volunteering abroad on a Care Project in Costa Rica
Over the years, our volunteers have worked with children at orphanages and residential care homes in Costa Rica. They have done incredible work at these placements, improving living conditions there and creating opportunities for children by supporting their education and care. However, we have decided to move our focus away from orphanages and homes toward community and family-based care. This is because we believe stable family environments are best for the children we work with. Read more about orphanage volunteering and our position on it. This means that instead of volunteering in orphanages in Costa Rica, volunteers will work in placements like day care centres, kindergartens and schools, or support groups for the elderly and mothers and babies. This will help Projects Abroad build stronger relationships with local communities and – most importantly – help families stay together and flourish.