Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad: Building a fair and equal society for all.

Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad - IKPVA

Why choose Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad - IKPVA?

Iko Poran is a well-established NGO offering a wide range of life-changing volunteer programs in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

These safe, affordable and meaningful programs include Teaching, Childcare, Community Development, NGO Support, Construction, Environmental Protection, Animal Conservation, Sports, Art & Design, Medical/Health Promotion and many special projects to match your skills and interests.

Iko Poran is the only Volunteer Abroad organization based in a developing country, which is also a volunteer destination (Brazil).

We run our own projects and over the past 17 years have supported thousands of volunteers to make a difference in local communities and have the time of their lives.

We have created an international network to offer a wide range of possibilities for volunteers to contribute in the most affordable way. Our mission is to help you leave your mark on the world!

Visit our website and apply today – you will receive a response within 2 working days


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Michael Antonio
Yes, I recommend this program

Voluntariado na Africa do Sul

A frase que começo meu depoimento é: "As definições de amor foram atualizadas". Fiz uma promessa de que viria para Masiphumelele com os braços e coração abertos.
Só que um dos meus maiores medos era de como essa experiência mexeria comigo e que não voltaria o mesmo. Assim, após que o voluntariado acabou, posso garantir que uma parte do meu coração sempre vai pertence a esse lugar. Essas crianças são maravilhosas.

Obrigado Masiphumelele e obrigado Iko Poran pela oportunidade, foi uma experiência incrível.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
O Verdade significado de Ubuntu! Generosidade, solidariedade, compaixão com os necessitados e o desejo sincero de felicidade e harmonia entre os seres humanos.
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Yes, I recommend this program

What a great and touching experience!

My wife and I spent two weeks with the EEF family in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Staying together with the students at the EEF hostel made everything even more intense and special. 

Once they were back from school, our daily sessions with the kids would begin. We had the opportunity to help them with English, as well as their homework in whatever subject they needed support. We also had great discussions about global affairs, financial planning and life in university, as well as exciting trivias about topics like Brazil and Africa, which they enjoyed a lot. We even had the chance to help some of the students with their application essays for university. Now our fingers are crossed for them. ;)

During the weekend we were invited to visit one of the kid’s home and get in touch with the family and local neighborhood. Another special occasion was the Ethiopian Christmas, celebrated on January 7th, which we had the opportunity to share with some of the kids. An unique celebration with traditional food, dance and coffee ceremony. Moments which we will never forget!

We thank both EEF and Iko Poran to have made it possible. Iko Poran team (Felipe in special) was very supportive since the very first contact. The EEF program managers in Addis (Alice and Giulio) made everything possible for us to get the most out of this experience. 

What would you improve about this program?
Don’t worry too much before arriving there. You will certainly be helpful and the EEF managers are also there to help tailor the activities to the students’ needs. ;)
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Yes, I recommend this program


Foi a experiência mais intensa que já vivi na vida. Por mais que as fotos e vídeos retratem os momentos, a verdade é que só você vivenciou tudo aquilo. Cada olhar afetuoso, cada sorriso genuíno, cada abraço sincero. A experiência te preenche e te faz perceber que se doar a quem precisa é uma das coisas mais gratificantes da vida. E acima de tudo, descobre que fazer uma criança sorrir, te faz sorrir mil vezes mais. Se você tiver a oportunidade de conhecer uma cultura completamente diferente da que você vive, não pense duas vezes... Vá!  E acredite, você vai voltar transformado. Eu espero ter feito por essas crianças pelo menos um pouco do que elas fizeram por mim. Porque honestamente, nada que eu faça ou tenha feito será suficiente pra retribuir todo o amor que eu recebi.

What was your funniest moment?
Dançar músicas locais com as crianças, elas tem uma energia e um gingado surreal. Foi muito divertido!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Cidade De Deus/City Of God

There are very few words I have to describe what I experienced during my time in Rio. From the crazy, but amazing brazilian population, to the hands-down best food in the world, to the amazingly juxtaposed scenery. Rio was something else. Crazy Night life, intriguing museums, stunning street art, mouth-watering restaurants, breathe-taking beaches. YES PLEASE.
The program itself is an amazing way to show you a glimpse of the beautiful, but tragic story of Brazil's Favelas. On one side we have the breathe taking beaches of Ipanema and Copocabana, and literally in their backyards we see hundreds of favelas. The borders are non-existent.
During my time, I was able to go to these Favelas, and not only help people out and do all that good stuff. But I was able to connect. Really connect. Familiarize myself with their situation. Each favela is a Micro-society in itself. Each with its own stores, own restaurants, own kids, own problems. If you spend enough time there, you get to truly see how these people live. How they cope. How they suffer. How they enjoy life, regardless of their circumstances. Its beautiful.

The kids are a joy to work with. Life is much easier if you can communicate with them, so i highly recommend learning some Portuguese. Everyone appreciates it. Plus the kids find it fun seeing gringos try and talk to them ;) You'll have tons of fun playing football everyday, and you'll very quickly pick up how eager everyone is to play, regardless of age, gender or skill level. Football is Brazil's National Religion. Get used it.
All's fun and games, however, being in that environment you can't help but notice the social poverty that exists. Many kids do have problems at home, or school, or even with themselves. But that's why the football program is such a wonderful tool. It helps these kids not only relieve themselves of Society's issues, but also teaches them how to deal with it.

Carlao, the project manager, is a hard-working, fun and honest man. Well respected in his community, Carlao spends his days working with the kids, and his nights playing in his Pagode group. I couldn't have asked for a better person to help me during my time there. Tamo Junto mano.

Felipe, the head of Iko Poran, was always there for myself and the other volunteers. Very easy to talk to, Felipe always did his best to help us get around both efficiently and safely. I knew we were always in good hands. I never felt shy or worried to ask him any questions. He would also go out of his way to make sure we enjoyed our stay there. Often he would invite us to different activities taking place, or show us the best restaurants around. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity Felipe!

Overall, I wouldn't trade the experience I had in Rio for anything. Not a moment goes by where i don't think about my time there. I long to go back to see those kids and play football for hours on end. Great friendships were made, many of which i still have right now. If you're reading this and still contemplating if you should go or not, DO IT. You're Welcome

PS: If you don't speak Portuguese and someone starts talking to you, just smile, nod your head, and say " Valeu" (pronounced VAH-LE-OH). Just youtube it, You'll be alright ;)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Sometimes you can feel lost, or not very useful. This isn't because they don't appreciate your presence, its just that most times the days activities are decided upon on the spot. There isn't an extreme amount of planning. However, Its very encouraging if you have something prepared before-hand. E.g) a sessions on just possession play, or teaching them hoe to keep the ball better, or even another game such as dodge-ball. Putting in some effort shows you care, and that goes a long way. Everyone is open to new ideas. Don't be scared!
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Experience Like No Other!

I took part in teaching English at the Centro Social e Cultural Tatiane Lima over a 10 week period, as well as getting my hands dirty replanting trees, mending and creating pathways in the Tijuca Rainforest. Needless to say this was an amazing experience as a student studying anthropology & sociology, as it has given me greater cultural and societal insights into Brazil. Moreover, on a personal level the 11 weeks I stayed in Brazil were positively life changing and were boosted by Felipes support throughout - I am especially thankful for the connections I made through Felipe as he connected me to a wonderful Portuguese tutor, hostel/English teachers/rainforest volunteers and gave me a great tour of the city. The accommodation is relatively safe given the city, I stayed there for 10 weeks and was never fearful of my belongings being stolen, the staff there speak multiple languages which makes this experience accessible for people from many different backgrounds. Obviously extra precaution must be taken whilst in Brazil including not being flashy and being aware of your surroundings, however, the people and areas I was introduced to by Felipe were beautiful, kind and high spirited people only willing to introduce me to their culture. However, the relative precautions which must be take do not detract from the cities night life, culture and fun and I recommend for any prospective volunteers reading this to consider striking a balancing between immersing into the culture and volunteering as this is an amazing opportunity which has to be embraced 360 to get the real Carioca feel!

As the director of the programme Felipe is was very helpful, encouraging and understanding and helped me get acquainted to the culture more quickly and get around. His openness in sharing his story and the development of the organisation is also inspiring . Lastly, as a student this was an amazing experience to practice ethnographic work for the first time in a completely other culture which is invaluable - I urge students in general to consider this as a cost effective option to garner more work experience to not only immerse yourself and study but to add to your resume.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I was inspired to undertake this program as part of the need to give back and contribute to human development and society. My experience of working and providing care to patients gave me the inspiration to meet obvious gaps in practice and level of medical training among youths who are future leaders of the African continent.

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

The program organizers provided me the forum to meet with some youths who are members of the indigenous communities in Addis Ababa. They helped with local arrangements of lodging and accommodation, as well as guidance on moving around the city of Addis. The organizers also provided me with the training environment.

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

One piece of advice I would give to anyone considering this program is to be very open minded and prepare to meet new people. This is because I found the Ethiopian community locals to be friendly and warm towards volunteers and tourists. I would also advise that you make detailed enquiries about the specific roles and duties you would be involved in before you set out for the program.

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

An average day in the program was filled with one tutoring activity or the other. A typical day involved helping the kids review their school home work and getting involved in one public health advocacy seminar or the other in the evenings. Each workshop focused on teaching the youths life saving skills in emergency situations where there is no doctor. We also worked on learning first aid treatments for common injuries and accidents amongst other things.

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

I did not really have any fears or negative expectations before setting out for this program. This was because I knew and read from the web that Ethiopia is a peace loving and friendly country, particularly when you stay and work within the capital city of Addis Ababa. I had planned and limited my visit to this part of the country.

Staff Interviews

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

Priscila Tufani Carneiro

Job Title

Priscila, tell us about your role with Iko Poran.

I work for Iko Poran with marketing, working on the company online campaigns and with partners around the world. In addition, I have also worked in the past as a volunteer coordinator in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I now live with my family in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and the US (Austin, TX) promoting Iko Poran.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Traveling has always been a passion for me. Since I had my first international experience when I was seventeen years old, I knew that was only the beginning. Being able to see different places, learn a new language and a new culture has become one of my greatest passions. I want to be able to pass this on to my son, who is already learning two languages and is half Brazilian and half American.

One of the trips that has impressed me the most was going to Cuzco, Peru. What an amazing place to visit! Not only is the nature stunning, but also the architecture and the history are so rich and beyond what words can express.

Even though I was born in a neighboring country, it's like being on the other side of the planet. It's so different from Brazil and that's what makes South America such an interesting place. There's so much diversity!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Change is the key word for someone that is looking for a volunteer abroad experience. Working as a volunteer in a different country is the most rewarding experience if you are looking to understand and learn a new culture from a local perspective. Change is inevitable!

On my side, as a volunteer coordinator, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to get to know and understand the reality of my own city better through projects in low-income communities in Rio.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

After working so many years for Iko Poran I have had the pleasure to follow the personal growth of so many volunteers that went on this adventure with an open heart. It's really hard to pick one single story. But the one that lingers in my head is the relationship made by a volunteer and his project that last until today.

This volunteer worked on a project in Rio for 6 months and had the chance to bring the artists from the project to have an exhibit in his own country. They all got to share and experience each other's country and culture.

This, for me, is the base of volunteerism. Sharing experiences and cultural values and bringing people together.

There are no life savers, but human beings that travel the world with an open heart to connect and share. It should be a win-win situation and this genuine exchange experience between the volunteers and the projects is what makes the program successful for everyone.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

As I mentioned I love traveling and learning about new cultures. I already had the chance to travel around South and North America and Europe.

I would love to go to Asia next and Nepal would be a dream come true. There is so much I don't know about Asia and I feel that would be the ideal destination at this point in my life. Not only because of its natural wonders but also because of the spiritual side and its people.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The first time I heard about Iko Poran I was very impressed with the idea of having international volunteers working in low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I had never heard of traveling as a volunteer before this. At that moment I knew I wanted to work with this organization and be part of this very special group of people.

Iko Poran is one of the few organizations based in a third world country that also receives volunteers locally. Dealing with the daily challenges but also having a deeper understanding of what is to be an international volunteer.

Aside from matching volunteers with different projects around the world, we get to see the whole process very close and we are able to help the volunteers at a higher level. We do understand the challenges and the rewards of what is to be an international volunteer.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I have always thought that success meant hard work. A company that promotes volunteer programs around the world needs more than just that. We work in an extremely sensitive and unique type of business.

People that apply for programs like ours are willing to donate their time and skills to create a positive impact in a different country. The projects also open doors to those in search of help, but also to warmly welcome the volunteer into their lives and community.

We need to make sure the projects and volunteers are not just numbers and treat them on an individual basis with our constant help and support to make sure they have the best experience.

When people choose to be a volunteer they come full of hopes that their presence will create a positive impact. The biggest interest for us as a facilitator should be to help them achieve their goal. Not only finding a good place/fit for them but also making sure they have the right expectations.

The projects also need our support to understand what to expect and how to better work with international volunteers. Promoting win-win experiences is our main goal.