Volunteer in Brazil
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in and around Rio de Janeiro
- Accommodation in a volunteer house
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $495 for 2 weeks
- Affordable Portugese language lessons available
- Between 20 and 40 volunteers start in Brazil each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Brazil to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Brazil will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Brazil with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Brazil volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city of Brazil, located on the coast in the South East of the country.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 24 weeks. Please note, Teaching English and Community Development projects have a minimum duration of 3 weeks.
The aim of the Teaching English project is to expose students from low-income communities in Brazil to the world’s most commonly spoken language, one that fuels the global economy.
As a volunteer on this project, you will supplement what students have learnt in school and provide those who have never had any English instruction with an opportunity to learn the English language.
This project is well suited to volunteers who are fluent in English and have a passion for education. You will work with students ranging in age from primary school age to elderly, sharing perspectives and encouraging cultural understanding. The inclusion of an English speaker leading the discussion makes a tremendous impact on language acquisition.
Your tasks may include tutoring a few students or teaching a full class. You will need to create your own lesson plans and often volunteers will work together on these.
You are not required to have experience or a qualification in teaching to participate, however we do encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Please note that there is a minimum duration of 3 weeks for this project.
Supporting the development of children is one of the most beneficial ways to increase the quality of life for children living in Brazil, a country with one of the most pronounced gaps between the rich and the poor.
Children in Rio de Janeiro attend school either in the morning or afternoon, leaving them unsupervised for long periods of time if their parents are at work. The aim of this project is to ensure children have a safe and supervised environment to use this time constructively.
As a volunteer on this project, you will help ensure that the children have access to the care and attention needed to develop their social skills. You will also play an active role in inspiring them to develop an enthusiasm for higher education, teaching vital skills to succeed in later life. Volunteers can be placed in community centers working with babies, or in centers for children or teens. These centers generally have few resources, so you need to bring your initiative and creativity to make the most of what is available. Volunteers can also teach English to the children through educational activities, such as drawing games and role-play.
If you’re someone who is caring and attentive, and loves working with children, this project is for you.
As a volunteer on this project, you will be placed in community centers working with babies, or in centers for children or teens. These centers generally have few resources, so you will need to bring your initiative and creativity to make the most of the facilities available. You may also be required to teach English to the children through educational activities, such as drawing games and role-play.
Please note that this project has a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks.
Carnaval is an event that breaks all economic and social boundaries – a love and passion for Samba makes everyone equal. The Carnaval project enables volunteers to join the preparations and embrace the hard work involved in getting ready for one of biggest parties on earth! Samba schools competing in Carnaval have a full year of intense work to prepare the many costumes, floats, music and dances for the celebration.
This project is well suited to creative volunteers with a flair for decoration and craft, as you will be helping some of the leading Samba schools in the creation of costumes and floats. Samba schools are born from the local favelas (urban slums) and most of the schools take their names from the community they represent. Each school unifies and proudly represents people from that community and all Cariocas (Rio-born Brazilians) also have their favorite school.
You do not need to have any experience in costume or stage design, just a willingness to work hard at sewing, cutting, pasting and other craft-oriented tasks to help out with the costume and float design.
While volunteers are hard at work, they can also engage in Portuguese and English language exchange with fellow workers.
Please note that the dates for Carnaval change every year (it is held 46 days before Easter). Participation in the actual parade is not included in the project, however volunteers may come across this opportunity at an additional cost by arranging this independently once in-country. This project is available between October and February each year.
As a volunteer on our Community Development project, you will have the opportunity to work with local organizations in Rio de Janeiro, providing assistance with day-to-day operations that enable the staff to focus on big picture initiatives and development projects within their communities.
Volunteer placements include organizations working in health education and awareness, technology, arts, environmental development, media and design.
If you’re someone who is creative and industrious, you can play a valuable role in scaling up the impact of the organization’s initiatives.
As a volunteer on this project, you may assist with painting and other restoration of local community centers, help to establish new community development programs and assist with community garden projects and arts programs. Volunteers with at intermediate-level Portuguese language skills can also support outreach campaigns.
Please note that this project has a minimum duration of 3 weeks.
Sports are a vital part of life in Rio de Janeiro, particularly in the favela communities where children from low income families have few options for entertainment. The national sport, futebol, is a passion that unites Cariocas, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. The aim of this project is to provide children and adolescents from favela communities with opportunities for healthy, constructive recreational activities in a safe and supportive environment.
This project is well suited to volunteers who are passionate about sport and have a genuine interest in youth development.
When volunteering on this project, you can expect to be working with local children in popular Brazilian sports, such as futebol, futsal, capoeira and rugby.
This project is open to all volunteers with a passion for sport and an enthusiasm for working with children. We recommend letting us know your preferences and skills to help our local team place you, but flexibility and willingness to participate in a range of sports is necessary.
Please note that many of the placements are based outdoors and are dependent on good weather. In the event of bad weather, our local staff will do their best to place volunteers at other projects, such as Childcare or Community Development. This project has a minimum duration of 2 weeks.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive into Rio de Janeiro on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) or Santos Dumont Airport (SDU) in Rio de Janeiro. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Rio. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Brazil prior to your volunteer program, you will need to arrange your own transport to the hostel accommodation.
Orientation is hosted by our Brazil team at their office in Rio de Janeiro. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Brazil – Introduction to Brazil, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: 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 is as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house or homestay.
8.00 AM Volunteers travel to their placements.
8.30AM – 2.00PM Volunteers join the placement staff. Work and hours at the placement are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. There is usually a morning tea break and lunch break.
2.00 – 5.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to their accommodation, go sightseeing to the beach, or do some shopping. If volunteers are taking Portuguese Lessons, these will generally take place in the evenings.
Please note, this schedule can vary depending on the project that the volunteer is participating on.
Volunteers are accommodated in a hostel in Glória, which is a 3 minutes walk from the metro station. You can expect to share a bedroom with 5 to 7 other volunteers of both genders. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding, private bathrooms and air conditioning provided. All rooms have a communal, co-ed bathrooms equipped with western toilets and hot showers. Volunteers should bring their own towels or rent one at the hostel for 5 BRL each. Lockers are available but volunteers must bring their own padlock.
Accommodation upgrades to private or matrimonial rooms can be arranged at an additional cost after registering for the program. All upgrades must be arranged through the local team no later than 4 weeks prior to your start date. If you require accommodation prior to your program commencement or would like to stay on after the completion of your program, this is not a problem. Ask your IVHQ program manager for more details on how to arrange this.
WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the hostel. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.
Volunteers in Brazil are provided with breakfast at the volunteer house, but they need to arrange their own lunch and dinner. Breakfast generally consists of coffee, tea, natural fruit juice, fruit, brown bread, butter, jam, cheese, ham and porridge. The volunteer house has cooking facilities to prepare meals and there are nearby shops to purchase food. If you have any special dietary requirements for breakfast, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
“Volunteering on the Carnaval Program was the best thing I have ever done, I was thrilled to be able to help with the costumes and gain some friends from the favelas in Rio. You get a true understanding of how life is and their culture. I would definitely do it again.” - Laura Shafer (Carnaval Program Volunteer in Brazil)
During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Rio de Janeiro and other areas of Brazil. Popular tourist activities include, relaxing on the beaches of Copacabana, climbing Corcovado Mountain, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer, catching the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain, horse trekking and wildlife spotting in the Pantanal wetlands, exploring Iguaçu Falls and trekking through the Amazon.
See our Brazil Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Brazil!
Weather and climate: The climate of Brazil comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large area and varied topography, but most of the country is tropical. According to the Köppen system, Brazil hosts five major climatic subtypes: equatorial, tropical, semiarid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical. The different climatic conditions produce environments ranging from equatorial rainforests in the north and semiarid deserts in the northeast, to temperate coniferous forests in the south and tropical savannas in central Brazil. Many regions have starkly different microclimates.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Brazil. All volunteers are required to register to secure their spot on the Brazil program at least 5 weeks prior to their start date. The program fee needs to be paid within 30 days.
Fluency in Portuguese is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Brazil volunteer program, however on certain projects, such as Teaching English, volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Brazil. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Portuguese lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Brazil.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.
Portuguese language lessons are available to all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ recommends these lessons for all volunteers in Brazil unless they are fluent in Portuguese. Volunteers with a basic level of Portuguese should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons can be organized upon arrival in Brazil, during the program orientation. These language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Portuguese and must be paid for in Brazil to our local program staff.