Volunteer in Panama
Find structured, free & low cost volunteer opportunities in Panama with international and local charities, NGO's, non-profit organisations and animal sanctuaries.
Volunteer Programs in Panama
A Guide to Volunteering in Panama
With One World 365 you can search local and international organisations offering rewarding volunteer experiences in Panama.
There are lots of ways you can help make a difference. A lot of people think of Panama just as a spectacular destination where you can relax on beaches but you can also contribute by teaching at schools, helping wildlife and working on community and conservation efforts. You can work with animals at wildlife clinics, help care projects, working in remote villages and helping at schools.
This is the perfect way to spend a meaningful vacation or gap year in Panama.
How You Can Help
You will really be able to give back and make a difference whilst also having a lot of fun. There are short and long term volunteer projects in Panama including free and low cost opportunities where you can work with local NGO's and help wildlife, the environment and communities.
Volunteering and teaching helping with daily school activities and working alongside local teachers leading lessons and coaching sports is very popular. Environmental and conservation programs in Panama can include living in spectacular locations research and monitoring marine life and coral reefs. These are great if you would like to experience the outdoors lifestyle and get to work in paradise, some days you might be monitoring fish populations and checking / studying the colourful coral reefs.
For non-skilled placements no previous experience is needed but for some internships and medical / environmental projects you might need a relevant degree or college course. It's not all work too, usually you will get free time at nights and weekends and there are lots of additional extra activities which can be booked once in the country.
Location of Projects
Programs can be joined in places like Bocas del Toro, Panama City and more remote locations including Boquete, Cocle, Guna Yala and the San Blas Archipelago. Panama City is the focal point of the country where most people work, this city drives the country but although Panama has seen huge growth economically over the years there have also been setbacks and some sections of the country suffer from poverty.
Community Volunteer Programs in Panama
Most volunteering programs centre around community development with rural communities in need of assistance. You could apply to help disadvantaged people, the elderly, handicapped people or volunteer at an orphanage. Daily activities can include working alongside local staff helping create a fun environment for children and leading fun activities like sports. One of the most meaningful experiences is working to preserve the Kuna Indian tribe. Education and teaching projects are very important, there are opportunities to help at schools improving literacy among young people.
Volunteer with Animals & Conservation Projects in Panama
Panama is a very exotic destination and you can play a role in helping wildlife and the environment. You could join recycling programs and raise awareness within local communities or work rescuing and rehabilitating animals. No previous experience is needed to work with wildlife in Panama and full training will be provided when in country, you could be working as part of an outreach team going to remote areas finding and helping animals like stray cats and dogs. If you have any previous skills these will come in handy, daily tasks can include treating animals, cleaning enclosures and helping local vets.
How to Apply
Some organiations charge a sign up fee to volunteer in Panama, on these placements you usually get a structured experience including:
- Airport pick-up and transfer to project
- All food and accommodation
- Training materials and science equipment
- Pre-departure support and services
- Comprehensive training necessary for research techniques
- 24-hour in-country support and a 24-hour emergency phone line
Most local NGO's, non-profits and other organisations will require you to be aged 18+ but there are summer opportunities for 15 - 18 year olds. Group volunteer trips are popular and you will need to apply in advance to secure a place. You will also need to be eligible for a tourist visa and please note not everyone speaks English in Panama and it is recommend you pick up basic Spanish to get the most out of the experience.
You can join for a period of 1 week to over a year, this is the ultimate way of doing more than sightseeing and getting a real cultural immersion - volunteering in Central America is also really fun and a great way to mix sightseeing and also integrating into the local society. There are also combination programs available where you can also learn Spanish. If you are a student then this type of voluntary experience abroad will look fantastic on a CV / resume.
Volunteer in Panama for Free
There are some free and low cost volunteer programs in Panama with local organisations. Usually you will need to cover flights, accommodation and food for the duration of your stay. It is also recommended to give a donation.
Panama Volunteer Reviews
Have you ever been to help in Panama? Would you like to review an organisation or project? Get in touch and give us your feedback!
"I went to volunteer with Give and Surf in Panama and built a teacher’s house, community center. I really love Give and Surf and will be returning in a few months to build another community center due to the success of the last. My daughter will be doing an internship in Panama with them beginning in March. She will be there 3 months." - Sarah. USA