Volunteer in Jamaica
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- Projects based in the parish of St Mary, nearby the popular port town of Ocho Rios
- Accommodation in a dormitory-style volunteer house or local homestay
- Between 5 and 10 volunteers start in Jamaica each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $365 for 1 week
- 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 Jamaica to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Jamaica 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 Jamaica with your new-found friends.
The Jamaica program is based in the parish of St Mary in the northeast of Jamaica. Volunteer placements are located in the parishes of Saint Ann and Saint Mary, within 10 to 60 minutes travel time from the volunteer accommodation. The program is located in close proximity to the popular port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time. Volunteers traveling to the program are asked to fly into Sangster International Airport (MBJ) on the Sunday prior to your program start date.
The Jamaica program begins on the first and third Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 8 weeks.
Teaching and School Support
As a volunteer on the Teaching and School Support project in Jamaica, you will play a hands-on role in supporting local teachers in teaching academic and non-academic subjects to elementary school students. The classrooms typically have 20 to 30 students who are aged between 5 and 12 years-old.
This project is well suited to creative volunteers with strong initiative and an enthusiasm for teaching. The academic portion of the project follows a government-issued curriculum and volunteers work alongside a local teacher to provide extra support and attention to the children. For the non-academic portion of the project, volunteers are encouraged to teach home economics-based subjects and arts and crafts.
When volunteering on this project, you will spend between 4 and 6 hours per day assisting the teachers at a local elementary school. The teachers will provide guidance for both the academic and non-academic lessons.
As you will be volunteering with the support of the teaching staff and IVHQ’s local team, you do not need to be a qualified or experienced teacher to participate on this project. However, we encourage you to come prepared by completing some relevant training. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Please note that during school exams and holidays (typically early January, April, July to August, and late December), this project closes temporarily and volunteers will need to choose another project such as Sports Development, Animal Care or Community and Business Development.
As a volunteer on the Kindergarten project in Jamaica, you will play an important role in assisting local teachers with informal learning and developmental activities in a classroom setting. The children are aged 3 to 5 years-old and are full of energy and an enthusiasm for learning.
This project is well suited to energetic volunteers who love working with children and are passionate about supporting their development. If you’re new to international volunteering, this project is a great option as you will be working alongside local teachers who can guide you in your daily tasks and activities.
Your tasks will involve assisting with arts and crafts, singing songs, reading stories and organizing outdoor games. Volunteers are encouraged to come prepared with ideas to bring to the classroom, which can be discussed with the local team upon arrival in Jamaica.
Please note that during school exams and holidays (typically early January, April, July to August, and late December), this project closes temporarily and volunteers need to choose another project to support: Sports Development, Animal Care or Community and Business Development.
The purpose of the Sports Development project is to use sports as a vehicle to help strengthen community ties, improve quality of life and support collaborative community development efforts. As a volunteer on the Sports Development project, you will play a leading role in teaching local school children and wider community members a range of sports.
This project is well suited to self-motivated volunteers with a passion for sport and exercise. There is a need to be flexible on this project, as the day-to-day work does not follow a set structure. You will have the ability to teach your choice of sports and outdoor games and the most common sports to teach are track and field, football, basketball and netball. Keep in mind that you will only have access to limited sporting equipment on this project, so you may wish to bring some equipment from home. The students are very energetic, so volunteers should love the company of children and understand their behavior, while being comfortable with maintaining discipline among the groups.
When volunteering on this project, you will spend between 4 and 6 hours per day teaching and organizing sports lessons. You will primarily be working within local schools with students aged between 5 and 12 years old. There are also placements within surrounding communities where volunteers will focus on bringing the community together by hosting sporting events.
As a volunteer on the Animal Care project, you will be working in a shelter for abandoned dogs in Jamaica. Your role will be focused on providing human company, medical treatment, and playtime to support the health and wellbeing of the dogs housed at the shelter.
On this project, you will be assisting with bathing and brushing the dogs, providing basic obedience training, cleaning cages, helping during feeding time, maintaining the shelter grounds, sharing love and affection, and walking and playing with the animals. You will be volunteering alongside local staff who will provide you with guidance and assistance in carrying out these tasks within the shelter. When available, there is scope to help with the rescue missions which involve taking abandoned dogs back to the shelter and coordinating the adoption process. The dogs are often adopted by families from overseas and occasionally by members of the local community.
The Animal Care project is best suited to volunteers who love dogs, are passionate about supporting animal rights and don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
The project typically takes place in the morning, from 8am until noon and you will be welcome to continue volunteering in the afternoon. All the dogs that are cared for in the shelter are vaccinated.
Business and Community Development
The aim of the Community and Business Development project in Jamaica is to facilitate learning exchanges between international volunteers and start-up enterprises in Jamaica to help scale up their efforts and improve operational efficiencies.
As a volunteer on this project, you will be working alongside small local businesses, charities and NGOs to provide guidance and assistance with the basics of getting an organization off the ground. You will be able to assist with business planning, bookkeeping, website design, social media, financial planning and IT skills. Creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset are a must as you will be working with limited resources and you will need to be proactive in learning about the market or community in which the enterprise operates. This will enable you to identify how you can best support the enterprise to succeed using your existing skills and experience.
The project is best suited to volunteers who have a degree or work experience in a relevant field. We recommend that you bring your own laptop to Jamaica, however this is optional.
Please note that once you have registered for this project, you will need to supply a copy of your resume so you can be placed within the most appropriate enterprise.
The program orientation begins on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation, however an airport pick-up can still be provided from Norman Manley International Airport (KIN). 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 Ocho Rios. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liase with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location.
Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9am Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – Introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Jamaica, 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.
On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff. You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8.00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12.00 PM Break for lunch.
1.00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3.30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, go sightseeing or do some shopping.
Please note, this is an example schedule as some projects take place in the afternoon. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project.
Volunteers are accommodated alongside other international volunteers in either a homestay with a local family, or a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable in both the volunteer house and homestays and all accommodation has electricity, running water and western bathrooms. WiFi is also available in the accomodation.
Bedrooms are comprised of single beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers, however in some homestays, volunteers get their own rooms. Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill each day, as this will avoid you having to purchase plastic water bottles. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is not always heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.
Breakfast is included in your Program Fee and you will be provided with a continental-style breakfast every morning, which is served in the kitchen/dining room of the volunteer house. Breakfast includes toast, fruit, cereal, milk, tea and coffee.
For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the spacious and well-equipped communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this includes gas hob, oven, microwave, fridge and pantry space. Alternatively, you can purchase lunch and dinner from restaurants nearby the volunteer placements and accommodation at a cost of between US$5 and US$25 per meal.
You have the weekends free to relax and sightsee and there is no shortage of things to see and do in Jamaica! Ocho Rios is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with travelers to Jamaica.
The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour (visiting the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a cultural music lesson), Black River safari (cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting) and a surf camp.
See our Jamaica Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Jamaica!
|Currency||Jamaican Dollar (JMD)|
Weather and climate: The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.
Volunteers must be over 18 years of age at the beginning of the program unless volunteering with a guardian who is 18 or older. Volunteers must speak English. Volunteers must provide a recent criminal background check. Volunteers must have adequate travel insurance.
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.