Volunteer in Costa Rica with International Volunteer HQ today. IVHQ’s local staff in Costa Rica require volunteers NOW! IVHQ has a wide range of volunteering projects available in Costa Rica, including Turtle Conservation, Teaching English, Childcare Work, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Healthcare and Construction and Renovation.
LOCATION OF COSTA RICA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
IVHQ has volunteer programs located throughout Costa Rica but the large majority are based in and around San Jose. Specific locations vary from project to project (for example some projects such as turtle projects are limited in their locality) but the program is based out of the capital of San Jose (this is where orientation and general administration is done). Costa Rica is a very popular destination for volunteers and has a lot of work available.
START AND DURATION OF COSTA RICA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
Volunteers can begin our Costa Rica placements on each Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods of one week to six months.
COSTA RICA VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the beginning of the program and have at least a high school education. Volunteers participating in the Healthcare project must have appropriate training and certification to be presented to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Costa Rica. All volunteers must provide a criminal background check to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Costa Rica.
We recommend that all volunteers regardless of their Spanish language ability (unless they are extremely fluent), take advantage of the very affordable Spanish lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our program staff in Costa Rica. Past volunteer feedback has shown us that volunteers feel they can contribute far more with some Spanish ability. Spanish is NOT a prerequisite for our Costa Rica program, however on certain placements (such as medical placements) the level of work a volunteer can do will be restricted with limited Spanish. Our local staff in Costa Rica offer hugely discounted Spanish lessons to our volunteers and a wide variety of options (one on one learning, group classes and a local student language exchange). More details on these options are provided when a volunteer registers.
HOW MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WILL THERE BE?
COSTA RICA VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS
COSTA RICA VOLUNTEER PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS
Teaching English to low-income communities in San Jose and surrounding areas is a rewarding project. Children, teenagers and young adults are very excited to practice their pronunciation and conversation skills with native speakers. Costa Rica is increasingly becoming the tourism capital of Central America, meaning English is a prerequisite for all people looking to make a career in the tourism industry and get above the poverty line. Volunteers will work in local schools, orphanages and community centers. Work varies but generally consists of providing tutoring to local students, setting up small workshops, assisting local teachers and organizing educational games and activities. It is important to note that schools begin on the 2nd week of February, there is a two week break for the first 2 weeks of July, and the school year ends after the 2nd week of December. Any time that schools are closed, Teaching English volunteers will usually work at “precarios” in community centers and/or church’s teaching. NB Volunteers DO NOT need to be a qualified or experienced teacher.
Costa Rica on the back of strong resources, a stable Government and increasing tourism is becoming one of the more affluent countries in Central America. However this is causing problems whereby citizens from neighboring countries (such as Nicaragua) are immigrating into Costa Rica, causing an increase in unemployment, homelessness and poverty. The aim of our childcare program is to provide individual attention and assistance to children from difficult backgrounds in Costa Rica. Many children at the projects we work with do not receive the level of affection and education that they deserve, and volunteers therefore play an important role in working alongside local staff to improve the educational, emotional, and hygiene conditions of the children. Volunteers will work in orphanages, community centers, daycare centers, schools, soup kitchens and kindergartens. Work varies but generally consists of providing individual attention, sharing affection with children, playing with children, organizing games and activities, educating children regarding hygiene and assisting with home work.
At the turtle project, volunteers assist a Costa Rican biologist with their work at the beach. Volunteers help with studies and protection work of the sea turtles and with the sustainable egg harvesting programs. Volunteers live in one of four beach locations around Costa Rica and must be prepared to work hard. Some of the turtle project sites are very remote. Living conditions are basic and volunteers work shifts (days and nights). Volunteer activities vary at different times of the year but general work includes; beach patrols, building hatcheries to keep eggs away from predators, beach cleaning, count and tag sea turtles, locating nesting females and work with local staff to harvest eggs. NB. This placement has a minimum duration requirement of two weeks. A surcharge of US$7 per day is added to the program fees to cover costs associated with running the program. It is important to note that Spanish classes are not available on the Turtle project coastal locations. Spanish classes are available on the San Jose based programs.
CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION
One of the ways we provide support to the different projects we work with is through our construction and renovation projects. Many projects are under-funded and run-down, and are in need of renovation work. Volunteers usually work alongside a local construction worker who provides them with direction and motivation. Volunteers work on a variety of buildings such as schools, orphanages, community centers and clinics. Volunteer work varies but generally consists of renovating buildings, re-painting community centers, building required infrastructure such as orphanages and landscaping/gardening. You are not required to have experience with construction work but having good energy levels, a reasonable level of fitness and good dedication will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of your volunteer project. NB A surcharge of US$7 per day is added to the program costs of this placement to cover construction materials.
The healthcare system in Costa Rica is relatively well developed. However, the projects we work with always appreciate the extra assistance that volunteers bring through supporting local nurses and doctors. Our projects work with a number of local institutions such as nursing homes, clinics for disabled children, ambulance services, and HIV/AIDS assisted living home. It is important that healthcare volunteers have realistic expectations with regard to the activities that they will get involved in (see below). Insurance regulations and laws in Costa Rica make direct patient contact very rare. Volunteers will generally shadow a doctor and will not be directly providing patient care. Independence in medical projects will always be determined by: - level of training and demonstrated expertise - Spanish level - age - personality and ability to take initiative - duration of program. NB. All healthcare volunteers must bring evidence of their level of education and their scrubs. A surcharge of US$7per day is added to the program fees to cover the extra costs associated with running this project.
The IVHQ Eco-Agriculture Conservation project is based in the central highlands of Costa Rica where volunteers assist local communities through strengthening the entire coffee production operations. Volunteers provide assistance on this project not only through their help with coffee production and marketing, but also through reforestation and caring for their community. Your program begins with 1-2 days in San Jose where you will receive orientation and we will organize your bus trip to the project site. Once you arrive at the farm and settle into the home stay accommodation, you can familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Project tasks will be determined by the time of year that you are on location but will always be providing support to the families that live on the farms in this community. Tasks such as coffee-picking in the fields, roasting of beans and packaging of the final product will be part of your duties. Other activities include: cropping of fruits, vegetables and reforestation efforts. The high coffee harvesting season is from December until early February, but there is plenty of work all year round in the process. Coffee harvest season runs from November through March, and during this time you will spend at least some of the days actually picking coffee cherries from the plants. From November through to approximately May, volunteers will assist in processing the coffee. This means passing it through machinery to get the pulp of the coffee cherry off, washing the beans, and then drying the beans on drying patios that need to be raked and moved around on a regular basis to assist the drying process. All year round volunteers will be roasting and packaging the beans, and working on improving marketing and distribution to get the beans out there to the world stage. In the non-harvest season, farming activities will include: Planting, caring for and harvesting of fruits and vegetables for local consumption, Coffee tree nursery: germination and care for baby plants, planting in the ground, Care for current trees – pruning, seeking out damaged or diseased trees to get rid of them, Reforestation of depleted areas. All year round volunteers can also supplement their volunteer time by teaching English in a local school. You will be working 4-6 hours a day depending on the amount of work the family has at the time. It is important to note that this work is seasonal and tasks will vary depending on the time of the year you are on location. Spanish lessons are not available in this location and are only available on San Jose based programs. NB A surcharge of US$7 per day is added to the program fees to cover extra costs associated with running this program.
COSTA RICA PROGRAM COSTS
One of the strengths of IVHQ is our extremely affordable fees. Click here to see the program cost to volunteer in Costa Rica and what you receive in exchange for your fees.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
Volunteers are accommodated in a home-stay where they will live with a local family. We give that family money from your fee for support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a family; that way you will learn the Costa Rican way of life, meet local people, eat local food, speak the local language (Spanish) and engage in local customs and traditions. Living is comfortable and all home stays have electricity and running water. Volunteers can expect to share a room with one or two other volunteers but in some home stays volunteers get their own rooms. Costa Rican food is tasty, diverse and volunteers can expect to experience a myriad of flavours and meals during their home stay experience. If volunteers wish to eat out, there are a large numbers of restaurants and diners in both cities to suit all tastes and budgets. If you have special eating needs, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
Orientation will begin on every Monday of each month and last for approximately one day. Orientation will be conducted by staff in San Jose and cover everything you need to know for your volunteering placement in Costa Rica – Introduction to Costa Rica, Costa Rican Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Costa Rica and Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
EXTRA ACTIVITIES - Mini Adventure in Costa Rica with IVHQ!
Spanish language courses are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ strongly recommends these for all volunteers unless they are fluent. If a volunteer's Spanish is none to basic and they are staying for a period of longer than two weeks, they should strongly consider these courses as they will allow them to work and communicate with all parties a lot more efficiently during their stay. These language courses are organised on your arrival in Costa Rica at the program orientation. The language course is tailored to each volunteer's current level of Spanish and program staff are also professional Spanish teachers, so volunteers find these lessons very effective and worthwhile. Classes run for the duration of your choice, Monday through Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers.
First Day: On the first day of the volunteering placement, the volunteers will be escorted to the project and introduced to the staff at the project you will be working with.
Weekdays: Volunteers will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift which will last about 2 to 4 hours. A typical afternoon schedule would be as follows:
12PM - Lunch with the host family
1PM - Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer joins with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work. Work and hours is dependent on the project and location that the volunteer is participating in.
4PM - Work at the project usually ends. The volunteer at this point is free to travel home, visit and see places or do shopping. If volunteers are taking a Spanish language course they will usually do this in the morning (or in the afternoons if you are volunteering in the morning) and this may take 2-3 hours.
7PM - Dinner with the host family.
*Please note this schedule can vary as some projects take place in the morning or evening. If a volunteer is taking advantage of the Spanish language course (most do) they will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half of the day (3-4) hours taking Spanish lessons.
Weekends: During the weekend, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local town and Costa Rica. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield such as Manuel Antonio, Arenal/Irazu/Poas Volcanoes, La Fortuna, Cahuita or Braulio Carillo National Parks, Puerto Viejo, Monteverde, or the Nicoya Penninsula to discover other areas of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Volunteer Fees
|Volunteer Period||Program Fee US$|
|1 Month (4 weeks)||975|
|2 Months (8 weeks)||1475|
|3 Months (12 weeks)||1975|
|4 Months (16 weeks)||2600|
|5 Months (20 weeks)||3120|
|6 Months (24 weeks)||3640|
To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
The turtle conservation, medical and construction programs also have an extra cost of US$7 per day for surcharges and materials. This will be included in the fees quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
What do my fees pay for?
Registration Fee (Refundable if you choose not to go*) – 24/7 support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – Airport pick up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer placement period, In-country 24/7 volunteer support and In-country administration costs.
What additional costs will I have?
Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, Spanish lessons (optional), souvenirs, trips or tours you do while in the country, transfer back to the airport at the conclusion of the program, spending money (volunteers in Costa Rica generally find US$30 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses).