How to Volunteer in Rio de Janeiro

Interested in going to volunteer in Brazil? Choose Rio as your destination!

Rio is a spectacular city but suffers from large scale poverty and there are lots of programs available which need assistance.  Types of volunteer programs available to join in Rio de Janeiro include:

  • Favela Projects
  • Sports Coaching
  • Building Projects
  • Community Initiatives
  • Teach English
  • Work with Children
  • Help with Carnaval Preparation


Carnival Volunteer Programs in Rio

Sometimes before Carnival there are opportunities to help with preparations or if you are there during this period try to see the celebrations in person. Living and working in Rio is a great way to travel to see places which are away from the tourist crowds too, you'll be far more than just your average holiday maker. One of the benefits of doing something like this is you will get lots of time to explore this famous city.


Conservation & Eco Tourism Volunteer Programs in Rio

There are also sustainable development projects in Ilha Grande, you will get to experience this island located off the coast of Rio which is a true paradise with endless white sandy beaches. Ilha Grande is a recommended place to visit situated about 150 km from Rio de Janeiro, this beautiful Brazilian island is a protected area and off-limits to cars.

The only way to get to it is by boat and the handful of coastal villages are connected by over 150 km of hiking trails. Noted for its scenic beauty, with mountain peaks, waterfalls and pristine forests, Ilha Grande is one of the richest ecosystems in the world. It is home to some of the largest remaining populations of many endangered species and boosts one of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Lopes Mendes.

Because tourism here is increasing there is a need for conservation and awarness, most projects are run by local NGO's and tourism businesses


Community Volunteering in Rio

Most projects in Rio have a focus on community development. Some projects are challenging but very rewarding.


Volunteer with Animals in Rio

There are so many animal shelters in Rio which accept volunteers all year round. Usually you will need to speak basic Portuguese.


Favela Volunteer Projects in Brazil

Brazil is famous for its favelas, which are found in cities like Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte and where over one million people live. Favelas or Comunidades as they are known locally are where the poorest members of society live and people here struggle due to poverty, poor education and crime. There are literally hundreds of favelas throughout the country and these communities face many daily problems but you can help by joining locally employed staff and international volunteers trying to improve the lives of locals. 

The authorities in Brazil have been trying to make the favelas a more safer place for local residents and since winning the right to hold the football World Cup and Olympics. They implemented a pacification process in 2008 where the police and army entering favelas to find and kick out the drug barons and criminals. They then set up a permanent police office and presence which aims to keep the locations safe from the return of the criminal elements. So far this has had mixed results with some favelas being made safe and a more pleasant place to live but there are still big trust issues between the local people and police - also there has only been a fraction of the favelas pacified so there is still a lot of work to be done on the ground.

Grassroots organisations like Community in Action offer placements at community centres where you can teach sports helping to get children of the streets of Rio de Janeiro. There are many great initiatives and favela projects which have been very successful in recent years in reducing crime and improving living standards and you can apply all year round. These projects are a great insight into the local society whilst also being able to effectively help local people have a better future, they are also very safe and structured and only operate in pacified locations. 


How to Apply

You can search programs and local organisations above to arrange a placement today.


Rio de Janeiro Volunteer Reviews

Janine Ewen volunteered in the Manguinhos Favela in Rio de Janeiro, here she shares her first hand experiences - "It is concerning the level of inequalities from one of the worlds economic giants but you will be impressed by how much people pull together to build and lives in the favelas - especially when it comes to electricity and running water. Pacification has a large presence in the favelas but it doesn't necessarily make you feel safe when visiting/working there, you'll likely witness violence - especially amongst children. Favelas are built on top of each other, you have to question peoples' safety if anything was to collapse."