Christmas Volunteering Abroad Opportunities
Once again Christmas is creeping up quicker than ever with gingerbread men, snow-capped window displays and twinkling lights making a come-back. The good news is, it’s not too late to make this festive season the best yet. Christmas volunteering abroad is the ultimate way to give back and a hark to the true spirit of the holiday.
This December, IVHQ’s volunteer programs in South America and Central America are offering Christmas volunteering opportunities with a focus on holiday-oriented projects and the chance to share in culturally-unique celebrations. Whether you’re looking to spend ‘the big day’ embracing the culture and traditions of a community overseas, or you want to travel post-Christmas, IVHQ has a program to work around your Christmas plans! Keep reading to find the option that is the right fit for you!
Christmas volunteering in Peru
In Peru, the celebrations peak on Christmas Eve (“La Noche Buena”). This usually starts with heading to church around 10pm for Misa de Gallo (“Rooster’s Mass”), followed by lively festivities including house parties, fireworks whizzing through the brightly decorated streets and plentiful feasts. La Noche Buena can run late into the night, which can often make for a quiet Peruvian Christmas Day.
IVHQ’s Peru – Lima program offers a chance to spread the holiday spirit of goodwill to children and communities in need. In December, as a break from the standard volunteer projects, volunteers help out with Christmas-oriented activities in various orphanages and children’s shelters throughout the city. Traditionally, volunteers also travel every year to an Andean village to put on a Christmas celebration.
If you’re volunteering with IVHQ in Cusco, then you’re still in for some festive treats that are unique to the area. The city embraces elements of both Catholic and pre-Colombian traditions to celebrate an undoubtedly special time. The Santuranticuy (“Selling of Saints”) Market, held in the Plaza de Armas on Christmas Eve, colorfully brings out locals adorned in traditional dress, delicious cuisine, creating a wonderful atmosphere amongst the beautifully illuminated churches nearby.
Volunteers who apply for either the December 19th or 26th 2016 start dates will participate on a special Holiday Experience project, which allows the opportunity to experience several different projects, including wrapping presents and preparing decorations for a Christmas party for underprivileged children. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
Christmas volunteering in Colombia
Alumbrado, meaning ‘lighted’ is the perfect word to describe the city of Bogota during Christmas time. The streets of Bogota are lined with lights, candles and paper lanterns which illuminate the area in a glow, accompanied by music and performances.
IVHQ’s volunteer program in Colombia offers volunteers a special experience and the chance to help communities in need during the festive season. There is still availability for volunteers to apply for the 15th December 2016 start date in Bogota. For those who cross into the Christmas and New Year’s period, additional activities will include assisting with small Christmas parties at Elderly Care, Feeding the Homeless and Childcare placements.
Christmas volunteering in Costa Rica
Christmas in Costa Rica is a vibrant celebration of lights and music. Ticos decorate their homes and streets with wreaths of cypress trimmed with red coffee berries, ribbons, ornaments, lights and nativity scenes where the locals often place offerings of fruit and toys.
Costa Rica volunteers who apply for either December 19th or 26th 2016 start dates will participate on a special Holiday Experience project, which allows the opportunity to experience several different projects. Tasks vary, but typically involve working with the elderly and with underprivileged children, as well as helping with beautification projects at childcare centers and throwing holiday parties for children. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
Christmas volunteering in Guatemala
The Guatemalan holiday season kicks off with the age old tradition of ‘burning of the devil’, which is a spectacular sight, with families lining the streets with their homemade pinatas, all going up in a blaze of firecrackers and flame. The season proceeds with parades, music, torches and an outpouring of magnificent fireworks in the central plaza. December 24th is a day for family, involving late night mass, a great meal and a time to share gifts. It’s not uncommon for locals to spend the eve partying until early hours of the morning and spend Christmas Day sleeping off the festivities of the night before.
Other than the unique cultural festivities held in Antigua, participating on the IVHQ Guatemala program provides a great opportunity to try your hand in supporting a variety of projects. Volunteers who apply to start the Guatemala Program on the 19th or 26th of December will partake in a special Holiday Project which may include experiencing a day in the life of a local coffee farmer, providing help at a local animal shelter, throwing holiday celebrations and gift giving with underprivileged children. Both Christmas and New Year’s day is a free day to enjoy in Antigua, during this time it is very common for volunteers to band together and explore the markets, ruins, and beautiful views from Cerro de la Cruz.
If you’re interested in exploring Christmas volunteering opportunities outside of South America or Central America, you can also volunteer on these recommended programs over the festive period.
Volunteer in Romania this Christmas
Make Romania your #1 destination this Christmas. While volunteering your time and contributing to projects, such as Childcare, Teaching or Special Needs Care, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside local people, meet like-minded volunteers and explore this celebrated region against a breath-taking backdrop. Think striking mountains, ancient castles, fortified churches. Enough said.
Volunteer in Kenya this Christmas
Traveling to Kenya provides a priceless experience year-round, and those volunteering here over Christmas have the unique opportunity to join their host families, community members and fellow volunteers to mark the occasion. If you’re planning on traveling solo, you’ll be well supported by our local team and never short of volunteer travel buddies to explore the adventureland at your doorstep. In the lead-up to Christmas and post the celebrations, you’ll be able to engage in Teaching, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Sports Education, Women’s Education and Music projects in the rural and urban areas in and around Nairobi. Many volunteers are pro-active in organizing Christmas parties or activities to exchange traditions and get into the Christmas spirit too.
Volunteer in Ghana this Christmas
A much-loved destination amongst IVHQers, Ghana holds a special spot in the hearts of those volunteering with IVHQ over Christmas. Whether you’re volunteering in Teaching, Childcare, Construction and Renovation or Agriculture, all volunteers in Ghana have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture while supporting important community projects in the company of other international volunteers. Come ready for a bit of adventure during your free time with the Kakum National Park, Wli Waterfall, Korokobite and Cape Coast within easy reach of the volunteer accommodation in Accra.
Volunteer in Laos this Christmas
The IVHQ Laos program is based in a village just outside of the capital city, Vientiane. You’ll be immersed in the local culture and work with fellow volunteers who you can size up as potential travel buddies! During your time in Laos you can volunteer on Teaching English, Childcare and Construction and Renovation projects. If seeing more of the world is your resolution for the new year then Laos is a brilliant option. After you volunteer you can set off with your backpack and explore places like Myanmar and Cambodia!
Whether you have 1 week or 24 weeks to commit to volunteering abroad over Christmas, IVHQ and our local teams will ensure that you are contributing to impactful projects while having the unique opportunity to spend the holiday period in a community abroad. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.
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