Do meaningful work while learning Spanish and experience a new culture!

Fundación Aldeas de Paz

Why choose Fundación Aldeas de Paz?

We promote a Culture of Peace through enriching cross-cultural exchange for people of all cultural backgrounds and nationalities and we practice voluntary community service where we provide additional opportunities in education, sports, health care and skill training. We assist our beneficiaries in developing their potential and improving their own lives. We are a youth orientated organization with the purpose of educating, mentoring, inspiring and empowering young people.

The following programs leave both the volunteers and beneficiaries with tools to drive change in their future and help some of them to become future community leaders: Youth, Care & Community Development; Diving & Marine Conservation; NGO Management & Admin, Medicine & Dental Healthcare Observation and Experience in a local hospital; Social Multi Media Journalism; Animal Rescue & farm maintenance;
We offer free Spanish classes every week!



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Yes, I recommend this program

Casa de los niños

I really liked my stay in Las Terrenas at ADP. During my time I made so many experiences, which mostly were really interesting and good. I met a lot of nice people, got in touch with new customs and culture, enjoyed the beautiful landscape and learned a lot.

I enjoyed working at Casa de los Niños for one month. The school is so different to the ones we know from Europe, which made my experience even more interesting. The classrooms are mostly outside, the do not have a proper curriculum for English and books/exercise sheets are only limited available.

From day one on we had a lot of responsibility because we had a lot of different clases and the job to teach English. Sometimes it was hard, because we had to prepare the clases and organise everything on our own, but I learned a lot. I developed many new skills and improved my spanish. The downside of the school was, that many children were really loud and unorganised, so it was hard to teach them sometimes. But in the end everyone tried to improve their english, which made us happy. Beside from school I got in touch with many other volunteers and enjoyed my time in Las Terrenas. We went to many nice beaches, ate the tipical food, listen to dominican music and studied Spanish!

All in all I really enjoyed my stay at ADP and I would recommend it to other people.
Thank you for your help! I wish the fundation and all the volunteers only the best for their future!

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Yes, I recommend this program

NGO Management and Mama Elba Review

During my placement in Samana, I took part in two different projects; NGO Management and Mama Elba.
I really enjoyed working in both of them, and I think these two projects combined together are the best way to understand and experience the core of the Foundation.

The NGO Management project gave me a better idea about how an NGO works, what the main challenges of this kind of environment are and how to deal with daily issues regarding not only the Founding itself, but the local community as well.

The other project I was working at, Mama Elba, was definitely enriching from both a personal and professional point of view. The children and young adults attending Mama Elba are absolutely lovely, and, while my hope was to help them somehow, what I received from them was way more.
I also had the chance to learn different approaches to education, special educational programs and tools, and the interaction with the students and their families allowed me to learn a lot about the Dominican society and culture.

I really enjoyed living in Samana and I would definitely recommend it. I loved the relaxed and friendly vibe, the kindness of local people and of course the stunning nature.
I would recommend this placement to whoever wants to learn more and get engaged in the local community, it is a great way to acquire new knowledge about another culture, different teaching techniques and the basics on how an NGO works.

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Yes, I recommend this program

A unique experience

To all future volunteers around the world:
After 15 months spending with Aldeas de Paz, my stay comes to an end.So it's an occasion for sharing my experience, point of view and recommendation.

My place abroad was Las Terrenas on the peninsula Samaná in the Dominican Republic. I worked mainly in the cities public hospital.
It' been a long time. 1 year and 3 months is an extensive period spend abroad for a volunteer service, but for all that everyday was worthwhile.

Conception of time in the Dominican Republic is different to the ones a foreign person is used to. Schedules do not work out flawlessly nor appointments will always take place at the exact planned day and hour.
Gradually the progress is made.

Hence you, as a future volunteer should have in mind: the longer the stay the better!

You can not rapid start work in the Dominican Republic from day one on, neither will you see a terrific change and colossal impact during your stay.
This can be arduous to an arriving volunteer filled with creative urges, ideas, motivation and expectations.

During your stay you will face challenges. Nevertheless you will grow with each and learn about yourself and others. By and by you will master a new language, meet various people from around the world, exchange and put things into perspective and experience.
Which I had the great opportunity to.
Likewise myself, the organisation was growing and still is.

Aldeas de Paz is a sprouting and forthcoming NGO.
I am more than thankful for the opportunity of being a part of this Fundacion.
It is a chance of expansion of your own horizon - and for both sides for though the dissimilar living environments and - maxims plus savoir - vivre can fertilise one another.

Exceptional thanks to Vito, Coordinator of Las Terrenas, more of a friend, for always being amiable, available and keen.

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Yes, I recommend this program

The experiences I made really had an impact on my life!

During the 6 weeks I spent with Aldeas de Paz in Las Terrenas I have learned a lot. At first, I was a little disappointed because it was really different to what I expected. But after a while I realised that my expectations simply weren’t realistic. The foundation has only been in the Dominican Republic for three years which really isn’t a long time. That means there is still lots of work to do and room for improvement. But that’s not a bad thing it simply means you have the possibility to help shaping the foundation. My work in the NGO management team taught me a lot about all the little but important things that need to be done to keep the Foundations growing. Like searching for foundations or universities willing to support our cause. Looking back, the experiences I made really had an impact on my life and assured me that working for an NGO really is important and something everyone should do at least once in their life.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Adventure

During my time in Santa Barbara de Samaná, I worked as a hospital volunteer, school volunteer at Mama Elba, as well as initiated my own project at the school Mama Elba. Although it was a short 5 weeks, I learned so much during my stay. Along with really experiencing the difference of healthcare that is found in Dominican Republic, as well as for the first time experiencing what it is like to teach, I learned a lot about myself and the culture of the Dominican Republic. Aldeas de Paz, more specifically Sebastian, did an amazing job making sure my trip went as smoothly as possible from the time before arrival all the way until the end. I really appreciated his support with everything and admired how hard he worked trying to make sure the foundation was running smoothly for all volunteers involved.

My time in the Dominican Republic, is truly indescribable. The food, the people, the music and the tranquility of the town really causes you to fall in love with the country. Creating the special connections I did with some of the hospital staff, my host family, and the students of the school really tied me to Samaná and has made my Dominican adventure unforgettable. The town is easy to grow accustomed to and to really meet and enjoy the company of the community members and local population. I would recommend either hospital placement or school placement because not only will you learn a lot about Dominican life, but the students and patients you see will teach you lessons in life and patience that no other job or university class will. Thank you so much Aldeas de Paz for an amazing time in Samaná, but I can assure you that I will be coming back soon.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose to volunteer with Aldeas de Paz for multiple reasons.

First, I had been on vacation to Samaná in the Dominican for two weeks, and was looking for an opportunity to return for a longer stay. I had also been looking for an organization that had a volunteer program in my field, which is working with Children with Special Needs. The Mama Elba Volunteer Program was just what I was looking for. Finally, I was looking for an opportunity to participate in activities and other programs that were not necessarily in relation to my studies.

Aldeas de Paz turned out to be just that and even more with the opportunity of learning Spanish which was very important to me.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I decided to plan this volunteer trip all on my own, but was in communication back and forth with Aldeas de Paz, sending e-mails to Manfred and Julia which they answered very quickly and efficiently. They provided me with all the information and contacts I needed here in Samana so my arrival would go as smoothly as possible. There was a volunteer who was sent with the taxi driver to start my orientation and answer all my questions, which was great!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you want to do it, go for it and do not be afraid to ask questions. I asked billions of them before my arrival. I was probably a bit annoying, but it really reassured me and confirmed that I should participate in this program. Of course, after my experience, I would take the same decision and do it again without a doubt!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Our schedule went like this:

Monday to Friday (2PM – 6PM): We would volunteer in school. I participated in teaching English to Dominicans on Tuesday evenings. We would have our Spanish classes on Wednesdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

Finally, on Mondays, we would have a meeting before school. On Fridays, we also meet to plan our following week in school.
The rest of the time we could spend a little at the beach before work, and weekends were free for us to do as we wish.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Honestly, I would not say I was afraid. The only thing that I was preoccupied with was being on my own and not knowing anybody. I chose the housing option to be in an apartment with different volunteers so I knew I was bound to make friends. When I finally arrived, whatever preoccupations I had vanished.

First, with having a volunteer greet me at the airport with the taxi driver; they both made me feel very comfortable from the start. Also, the drive from the airport to Samana was reassuring because I remembered the familiar roads and places from when I came on vacation the first time. Finally, when we arrived at the apartment, the volunteers all greeted me and made me feel right at home. I knew I was going to fit right in, and now here I am back again for a teaching contract.

Why should I volunteer in the Dominican?

This country and its people are in need of a lot of things, but mostly do it as a life experience and for yourself.

The culture and mentality here are very different from Canada which is just what I needed. Some of the people here do not live with much, but still manage to put a smile on their faces and make the best of everyday.

My experiences here have been mostly positive; I have learned Spanish and am still learning. I visited a variety of places, but still plan on visiting more. I made great friends from here and other parts of the world like the US and Germany. I lived in an area where Dominicans treat me like part of their family.

I got myself a Dominican boyfriend, and we are still going strong after almost a year of being together. I have been to musical events where I got to see Ozuna, Maluma, Nicky Jam, and more amazing Latin artists. I could go on and on because I have made some really great memories and life experiences here!

Finally, when travelling, I believe that it is extremely important to keep an open mind, try to adapt yourself to the culture of the country you are visiting.

See it as learning experience for yourself, but also for the people you will have the chance to be in contact with. Keeping an open mind is the way to go in my book!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at Aldeas de Paz? What has been your career path so far?

Manfred Mönnighoff, Founding Facilitator, Aldeas de Paz, Venezuela

Manfred: I am in the position of a volunteer coordinator. After a successful business career in Holland in I became a social activist and joined small grassroots NGO's around the globe and worked as a volunteer with the intention of helping to create and promote a "Culture of Peace" by putting my professional skills to work. In 1995 I started my first humanitarian project in Merida, Venezuela. The work in Merida focused on children rights. Efforts were made to integrate street children and at risk youth into a more stable environment, and at times, into foster families. With the aim of creating an official organization in Venezuela and thanks to significant fund-raising as well as the collocation of my own life savings, I succeeded in forming 2001 the legal constitution for a volunteer-based NGO in Caracas, Venezuela, called Fundación Aldeas de Paz.

What does the future hold for Aldeas de Paz - any exciting new programs to share?

Manfred: At this point we have a variety of programs: youth care, community; NGO management and admin; riding for disadvantaged children; multimedia journalism; indigenous exchange; medical program. The multimedia program started only a couple of months ago and it is a great success! We found that the activities around multimedia are very stimulating for our young beneficiaries and create a perfect pretext for tutoring classes and homework reinforcement in all school curriculum related subjects. We are now producing short video clips which reflect their everyday reality and those of their family and community. We also discovered that this program is very popular among volunteers and interns

What about the future of the industry? How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

Manfred: From my experience we will see more volunteers from Asia, East Europe and South America applying for overseas placement. This is a tendency I am observing for the last 12 months and particularly Venezuelan volunteers are increasingly signing up when before 2012 we hardly found any Venezuelan volunteers to join! This is a very positive development and we are now working on publishing our listings increasingly in the Latin world

What do you most enjoy about your role at Aldeas de Paz?

Manfred: I enjoy tremendously the possibility to do meaningful work and be agent for social change. I love what I am doing for work and I feel inspired by the people I meet through my work as Founder and Director of the Peace Villages Foundation. I have a wide range of interests related to the well being and peaceful evolution of humanities and I love promoting community atmosphere and being surrounded by nurturing and like-minded people who are passionate about whatever they are doing.