Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama

Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama is a grassroots volunteer organisation operating in the beautiful town of Boquete, Panama. 

Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama brings volunteers from all around the world together to experience the gift of service and invaluable personal development.

Our goal is provide a life changing volunteer experience which supports you not only in your work in the community, but also allows you to explore the breath-taking scenery and adventure tourism opportunities for which Boquete is renowned, and encourages you to undertake a journey of self-discovery to help you to BE THE CHANGE that you wish to see in this world.

We offer a wide range of volunteer projects, including working with children, teaching English, working with animals and wildlife, assisting in health and medical centres, working with recycling and environmental education, or participating in a wide range of community outreach programs.

Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama was established in 2005 and has worked with over 2500 volunteers from over 20 different countries. We take great pride in our program as it is unique to other volunteer programs. Our mission goes way beyond just the act of volunteering. We are dedicated to empowering you to BE THE CHANGE you wish to see in the world. We desire that you to lead by example as we believe that is the most powerful way to create change; to change ourselves.

We have spent a great deal of time developing relationships with our collaborating organizations and have designed effective strategies for the integration of volunteers in the organizational work to maximize your overall volunteer experience.

We strive to be professional, but more importantly, we strive to be personable. We do not want you to think of us as just an organization, but rather a group of friends united in supporting you to become who you desire to be for yourself and world around you. At Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama we are dedicated to you, our volunteers. Our desire is to create a friendly, open and trusting environment where you can explore yourself while serving others.



This is not about coming to Panama to change the world. Rather, it is about coming to Panama to change yourself. We believe the best way we can create change in this world is to create change within ourselves. By serving others, it teaches us to be selfless & grateful. By donating our resources, it teaches us to be benevolent & generous. By experiencing another culture, it opens our hearts & eyes to new ideas & ways of being human. By working with people in challenging situations, we gain a new perspective on things we may be taking for granted in our own life. By putting ourselves outside our comfort zone, it teaches us to overcome our fears. By challenging ourselves to do something different, we build confidence in ourselves & in our abilities to fulfill our hopes & dreams.

The volunteering in Panama itself will not change your life, but the experience in its entirety will. While learning about yourself, you get the opportunity to brighten a child’s day and put smiles on their faces. To teach an eager student something new by sharing your knowledge with them. To connect with someone of a different culture helping you to realize, we are one. To learn new ways of communicating while learning another language. To help a child to forget for a moment that they have cancer. To hold a motherless baby. To be there for someone in the good times and the bad. To lead & be an example for others. And most importantly, to empower them to fulfill their dreams & goals.


Program Options

Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities in Panama. Volunteers can work with in an assortment of projects including orphanages, schools, medical clinics, wildlife refugees, environmental organizations, teaching English, jewelry making, and much more! Below you will find a list of our programs to choose from. If you are not sure which one to choose, we will help to determine the best placement for you! Volunteers also have the options of doing a variety of project placements to explore different passions!


Children’s Program

The Children's Program works with amazing groups of children that will inspire you with the strength they have gained from overcoming and managing their own personal struggles in life. Our goal is to serve them by offering them love, attention, knowledge and education to empower them to have successful futures, free from poverty and filled with opportunities.

Volunteer opportunities in Panamamay include: working in orphanages assisting with daily activities and childcare duties, helping with homework, running Saturday morning soccer & music classes. It is important to help in the way they need it. This could mean you will be helping with mentoring and playing with the kids, teaching in a classroom, working in the laundry, cooking meals and feeding the children.

You should also try and bring new ideas to your project. Often the most popular ideas with the children are arts 'n' craft activities, sports games, dance, singing & music. Don't forget to consult your supervisor at your placement before introducing any new ideas to ensure that they are culturally appropriate. Please note that resources may be limited in the programs due to strict budgets & lack of funding, but UMMP does our best to supply you with the materials you need to run a variety of projects.

Each program will vary in terms of number of children, cleanliness, facilities provided, food, management capability, funding assistance, health issues, education provision, etc. Some projects may be more established and have specific duties to be completed on a regular basis. Other projects will not provide as much one-on-one support and require self-motivated individuals. As some of these projects are not full-time, volunteers are able to join 2 to 3 projects to build a full-time schedule.


English Program

The ability to read, write and speak English are increasingly important for many Panamanians in the workforce or those planning to enter the workforce. Volunteers have the opportunity to work as English teachers with the community of Boquete with both adults and younger students. The classes are offered one-on-one, in small groups and in a classroom setting. The English Program involves curriculum development tailored to the students needs and levels. This program is suitable for organized, patient, and self-motivated individuals. A teaching qualification is not required, but volunteers need to be confident teaching English and preferably have or are studying towards a university degree. 


Animal and Wildlife Program

Do you have a passion for animals? Then this is the program for you! The Animal & Wildlife Program works with a variety of animals including: howler monkeys, capuchins, coatis, a variety of tropical birds, goats, horses, dogs, cats, snakes, spider monkeys, and squirrel monkeys just to name a few. Volunteers have the opportunity to care for the animals, give guided tours of the animal rescue centers and educate the local population about the wildlife and how to properly care for the animals. Volunteers may also participate in community spay & neuter clinics and basic daily operations of the program. Volunteers with specialized qualifications have the opportunity to work with local veterinarians, improve local facilities & services, and assist with trainings.


Health and Medical Program

This is the perfect placement for those interested in becoming a healthcare professional or for those that are currently working in the the medical field. Volunteers have the opportunity to shadow and assist doctors, to give top quality service, love & attention to the patients. Duties may include: checking vital signs, sterilization of instruments, home visits, participating in organized trainings & events, patient intake procedures, and most importantly, giving the patients what they need to lift their spirits during their time of illness. Basic Spanish will be helpful for working with the patients, but many of the doctors speak basic English. Please note, volunteers will not be permitted to perform advanced medical procedures in Panama that would require Panamanian certifications & training. Our current program focus is working with children with cancer or leukemia.


Recycling and Environmental Education Program

This is the perfect placement for all you environmentalists! Volunteers have the opportunity to work in the school system educating children about important environmental issues, work hands on at the local recycling center assisting with daily tasks and administration. Volunteers are also needed to assist with the collecting, sorting and distribution of materials. Opportunities to work with aquaponics and sustainable living also are available. 


Community Outreach Programs

UMMP works with a number of small community based organizations which provide social services to enhance the local community. As some of the projects are not full-time, volunteers may take part in a flexible schedule, which includes a combination of projects.


Handicap Foundation

The Handicap Foundation supports handicapped members of the community, focusing on those with minimal economic resources. They provide an open, welcoming social environment and provide individuals with the tools and resources to excel. Volunteers with relevant qualifications and experience have the opportunity to work in the center giving physical or speech therapy to both children and adults, and act as a mentor. Volunteers without such qualifications are welcome to participate in a range of other activities, including playing games, reading a book, helping with handicrafts, or just being available to lend a helping hand where needed. Basic Spanish is useful, but many of the staff members speak both English & Spanish.


The GEM Project

This is a multifaceted international jewelry-making empowerment program that inspires positive thinking, global giving and creative power for positive individual and social change. The GEM Project volunteers will work with various aspects of the project including: program development, training, incorporating new jewelry designs, marketing of jewelry, fundraising and program administration. Volunteers do not have to have experience making jewelry to participate in many aspects of the project, but jewelry design experience is greatly appreciated. This project is for dedicated, creative volunteers who are innovative and positive thinkers.


Entrepreneurship Development Project

Do you have a project or idea you would like to implement into the community of Panama? We want to hear your ideas! The Entrepreneurship Project is designed for those who know what they are passionate about and have the desire and determination to move forward with their ideas. This project aims at giving you the connections needed to implement your ideas into serving the community. It is self driven, but UMMP is there to support you every step along the way.

Volunteers are also able to add the following programs to any of the above. Additional fees apply.

Cultural Immersion Program

Living with a Panamanian family during your volunteer time is an incredible cultural experience. A homestay offers you an amazing opportunity to practice Spanish in a natural, relaxed and authentic atmosphere as well as being in a unique and privileged position to get immersed in the Latin American culture, cuisine, customs and daily way of life.

We have many different types of families and this allows us to choose the host family that best suits you. With our homestay program volunteers have the optional of adding a meal plan to cover their lunch & dinner for an additional $49 per week (this option is available with most families). Many of our host families in Boquete are within walking distance to the village center, while others require a short ride away using public transportation.

This project also provides an income source for the participating families & promotes cross cultural understanding. The Cultural Immersion Program is a rewarding intense cultural encounter, but volunteer should expect to experiences some challenges as you process through the cultural immersion.


Volunteer Enrichment Program

The Volunteer Enrichment Program is designed for you adventurists that want to make the most out of your time in beautiful Panama! By adding on the Volunteer Enrichment Program, volunteers have the opportunity to choose the tours they would like to participate in! Most importantly, volunteers receive 20% off all additional volunteer tours!  

Volunteers participating in the Volunteer Enrichment Program get to choose two of the following activities: Waterfall Hike, Hot Springs, Cooking Class, Wildlife Center, Jewelry Making, or a Yoga Class, or one of the following activities: Volcano Hike, Coffee Tour, Horseback Riding, Pacific Beach Trip, Howler Monkey Refugee Center

At Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama, we connect you with the opportunity, you create the experience. Join us as we learn & grow together united for a brighter tomorrow. 

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