The two best ways to say Merry Christmas in Latin America: “Feliz Navidad” or by turning the words into actions and extending the holiday spirit through volunteering. This December, IVHQ’s programs in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru are offering a festive spin on volunteering with chance to work in holiday-oriented projects abroad and share in culturally unique celebrations.
2018 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 24th 2018 or December 31st 2018 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, traveling to an Andean village to educate locals on a Medical Campaign, participating in a community renovation project, assisting the dog shelter and spending a day taking children out for a little holiday fun. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, volunteers are encouraged to relax and enjoy the local festivities.
2018 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 Colombia – Bogota program 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 2018 start date. 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 project placements.
2018 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.
Volunteers who apply for either December 24th 2018 or December 31st 2018 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.
2018 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 December 24th 2018 or December 31st 2018 will partake in a special Holiday Project which may include experiencing a day in the life of a local coffee farmer, providing help at an elderly home, some construction and renovation tasks, 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.
Interested in volunteering in Latin America for the 2018 holidays?