Special Needs Care Volunteer Program in Mexico - Merida
Interested in being a Special Needs Care volunteer in Mexico? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project empowers volunteers to assist in a home for people with disabilities in Mérida. Volunteers gain experience supporting disabled people while helping local staff provide them with therapy, entertainment and basic care in a safe and positive environment.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from $320 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
- Support people with disabilities with care, connection and therapy
- Discover the Mayan culture in Mexico's Yucatán state
- Stay in a volunteer house in a safe and peaceful area of Mérida
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Volunteering to support people with disabilities requires enthusiasm and patience but also promises to be particularly rewarding. In Mexico there are homes for disabled people that are generally run by churches and are funded solely by donations.
Volunteers on the Special Needs Care project can make a significant difference to people with disabilities by helping their development and integration with society, enabling them to live dignified, meaningful lives.
As a Special Needs Care volunteer, you’ll assist local staff in a residence for those with disabilities, providing physical, mental and therapeutic care or at a community center where day programs for more independent individuals with special needs visit. Day to day activities can include:
- Helping with therapy
- Arts and crafts
- Workshops to assist with employment opportunities
- Preparing food, serving meals and cleaning.
Why do Special Needs Care volunteering in Merida with IVHQ?
When you volunteer with people with disabilities in Mexico you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Supporting local initiatives to care for people with disabilities
- Making a meaningful contribution to the community
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining experience working with people with disabilities
- Immersing yourself in Mexican culture
- Discovering Mexico’s rich history
- Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
”Mérida was awesome, the weather is great, people there are really helpful, I loved meeting new people, learning from others and going out with the volunteers. Get ready for everything. There is a lot to do during the weekend, Mérida is really safe and fun. I was in Special Needs Care and I loved it, it was a great project, really good and peaceful, the people there were always nice, always saying thank you and appreciating the help from the volunteers.”
Read reviews from Special Needs Care volunteers in MeridaSee more reviews
Mérida is the capital of the Yucatán state on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast. It was an important area to the ancient Mayan people and many people living there today have Mayan ancestry. This vibrant culture mixed with a legacy of Spanish colonialism has left the city with a heady mixture of activities, events, architecture, artwork and atmosphere. Mérida is also said to be among the safest cities in the Americas and extremely clean.
IVHQ’s Mexico program is based in Merida, 30 minutes from Centro, an area where there is great food, shopping and nightlife. Volunteer placements are set in different neighborhoods around the region.
Arrival and orientation
The Mexico volunteer program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month and volunteers need to arrive in Mérida on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive into Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport (MID) in Mérida, where you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation; or if you are arriving into Cancun International Airport (CUN), you will need to take a 4-hour bus ride from the airport to Mérida. If you choose to arrive in Cancun, the best bus company for traveling to Mérida is ADO. You will see a big red and white ADO sign at a kiosk at the exit of the airport. You should purchase your ticket for the next departure for Mérida Altabrisa Station, which is close to the volunteer accommodation. Please call or email the local staff to let them know your estimated time of arrival so they can arrange for your pick-up. Your IVHQ Program Manager will provide further guidance in regards to travel options between Cancun and Mérida once you have registered for the program.
Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.If you are traveling in Mexico prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Mérida on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation will be hosted by our team in Mexico and will cover everything you need to know for your program in Mexico – an introduction to Mexico, Mexican customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Mexico, and an 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. Once orientation is complete, volunteers will be transported to their placement and introduced to all relevant parties and placement staff.
Volunteer schedule example
On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays - A typical volunteer day would be as follows:
|7:30 AM||Breakfast at the volunteer house or homestay.|
|8:00 AM||Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.|
|2:00 PM||Lunch at the volunteer house or homestay. Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel home, take Spanish lessons, prepare for the next day or do some shopping and sightseeing.|
|7:30 PM||Dinner at the volunteer house or homestay.|
Please note, some placements do not begin until 2:00 PM and in this case, volunteers usually have their Spanish lessons in the morning.
During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Mérida and the state of Yucatán. You can make the most of Mérida’s charms and check out the bustling local markets, baroque Spanish architecture, a wide variety of music, art and cultural events, visit a 19th century mansion, sample the local Yucatan cuisine, take a dip in a volcanic crater or watch a Mayan ball game.
Day trips can be arranged so volunteers can explore popular sites in the area, such as Chichén Itzá – the most famous of the Yucatán’s Mayan ruin sites and one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations, the impressive Uxmal Mayan ruin site and the historical town of Izamal.
Looking for more ideas of things to do in Mexico? Check out our Mexico Travel & Tours page!
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers in Mexico are accommodated in a volunteer house nestled in a quiet neighborhood of Mérida.
The dormitory-style volunteer house provides shared rooms and bathrooms, a communal outdoor kitchenette for basic food preparation and access to the yard, patio and swimming pool.
You can expect to share a room with up to five other volunteers of the same gender. Living is basic, yet comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity and running water.
Volunteers who wish to arrange an accommodation upgrade for more privacy, air conditioning, filtered water and heated showers can do so with the local team after registering for the program. The host families speak Spanish and therefore homestay accommodation is also a great way to practice the local language and experience the local culture first-hand.
The volunteer house in Mérida has WiFi and internet cafes are located within walking distance of the volunteer house.
In Mexico, volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner in the volunteer accommodation, with a combination of Mexican and Western food. We recommend budgeting between $5 and $10 per day to purchase lunch. When you arrive the local staff will provide recommendations on economical places to eat in Mexico.
Tap water is not safe to drink in Mexico, however bottled water is readily available and you should budget approximately $5 per week for this.
Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements you have so we can make special arrangements for you.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||$320 Equivalent to $46/day|
|2 weeks||$520 Equivalent to $38/day|
|3 weeks||$710 Equivalent to $34/day|
|4 weeks||$880 Equivalent to $32/day|
|5 weeks||$1,020 Equivalent to $30/day|
|6 weeks||$1,190 Equivalent to $29/day|
|8 weeks||$1,530 Equivalent to $28/day|
|10 weeks||$1,870 Equivalent to $27/day|
|12 weeks||$2,210 Equivalent to $27/day|
|16 weeks||$2,890 Equivalent to $26/day|
|20 weeks||$3,570 Equivalent to $26/day|
|24 weeks||$4,250 Equivalent to $26/day|
- Breakfast and dinner
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Discounts on language lessons
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, lunches, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Mexico generally find US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches, Spanish language lessons, and local tours and activities.
Spanish language lessons
Spanish language courses are available for all volunteers at all levels. IVHQ recommends these courses for all volunteers, unless they are fluent. If you have a basic level of Spanish and and are staying for a period of longer than 2 weeks, you should strongly consider these courses, as they will allow you to work and communicate with all parties more efficiently during your stay. These language courses are organized on your arrival in Mexico during your program orientation. The language course will be tailored to suit your current level of Spanish. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. Each class runs for 3 hours per day in the morning or afternoon, Monday to Friday.
- 1 week: $295 per person
- 2 weeks: $480 per person
- 3 weeks: $665 per person
- 4 weeks: $860 per person
- 5 weeks: $1055 per person
- 6 weeks: $1250 per person
- 7 weeks: $1445 per person
- 8 weeks: $1640 per person
Check what's required to visit Mexico
Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Mexico, based on your country of residence.
Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
Weather and climate: The Tropic of Cancer effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones. Mérida lies on the Caribbean coast in the State of Yucatán and is one of the warmer regions of Mexico. The warm season lasts from April through June, with an average daily high temperature above 35°C (94°F). The hottest day of the year is May 7, with an average high of 36°C (97°F) and low of 23°C (74°F). Being prepared for the intense heat during this time frame is essential. The colder season lasts from November to February with an average daily high temperature below 31°C (88°F). The coldest month of the year is in January, with an average low of 18°C (65°F) and high of 29°C (85°F).