Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Belize

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About

Projects Abroad offers volunteer projects in Placencia or San Pedro Belize. This peninsula, nestled between a lagoon and the Caribbean, is full of adventure and culture. Although Belize is an increasingly popular tourist destination, the country still struggles with development. Volunteers have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on the lives of locals through meaningful travel with Projects Abroad.

Programs offered in Belize include Care, Teaching, Diving & Marine Conservation, and an internship in Public Health.

Highlights
  • Choose a project you are passionate about that fits your interests
  • Make a difference where it is needed most
  • Choose your own start date and duration
  • Get 24/7 support from our local staff
  • Have fun exploring the country and its culture over the weekends

Questions & Answers

Dear Malia: Yes, our programs don't have an upper age limit and we do have retirees joining us all the time. Are you interested in any particular project in Belize? We would love to help you choose the perfect program for you. Feel free to reach us out directly at [email protected] if you need any help.

Reviews

73%
based on 4 reviews
  • Impact 8
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 7.5
  • Value 7.5
  • Safety 6.5
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
Julia
8/10

Learned so much!

My name is Julia and I will be a senior at Hamline University in Minnesota. I am a public health major and have a great interest in gloabal public health. This was such a great experience! I loved my host family and the support staff in Belize. My host mom loved to hear about our experiences and share her's with us. The support staff was always helpful and there when I needed them. One night I became very ill and one of the supervisors was right by my side at 12 in the morning. I also felt a little homesick at the beginning of my time in Belize and the staff was always there to listen and help me through that. I loved the work that we did as well. I learned so many new skills in my short 4 weeks. The outreach work was very necessary in the communities and it made you feel like you were making a difference. I learn so much about these issues and this type of work in my classes at school so it was nice to be able to experience it first hand. I also made sure to develop relationships with the people in the community and that made it even more rewarding.

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved in a couple ways. I think that the support staff was great but they need to listen to what the volunteers are telling them and take their feelings into consideration. Also, at some points it got a little boring in the office and I didn't know how to best use my time.
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Julia, it's great that you were able to experience first-hand what you had learned before in school. It's not really the same, is it? Especially in a developing country! We are glad to have had your help since our outreaches are indeed very much needed, just as you mentioned. It's very normal to feel homesick at first or even physically ill since you are changing your dietary habits completely so our staff is very used to dealing with these issues and they work hard to make volunteers feel better and happier as quickly as possible so they can enjoy their stay as much as possible.
Our staff does try as hard as they can to accommodate all of the volunteers' needs in a group but they simply cannot be all met given that there are so many volunteers in a group with different priorities or feelings. They try their best to make sure the majority is happy though! As for the time in the office, this time is needed to plan the activities and do research so that you know what to present on the health campaigns but we can always use your feedback to get better!
Thanks for sharing!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kristine
10/10

Public health internship abroad in Belize was an experience of a lifetime!

My name is Kristine and I am from the state of Colorado in the United States. I decided to make a career change into nursing after about 6 years of working in administration. I decided nursing was my calling and was really looking for a way to jump-start my career. That’s where Projects Abroad came in! I was looking for a combination of volunteer, international, and healthcare experience. I knew I needed to check off those boxes on the resume and for nursing schools, and Projects Abroad was able to offer that for me. After researching the program, I signed up and found myself on a plane flying to Belize a few short weeks later!
From the beginning, I was really impressed with Projects Abroad. My pre-trip advisor was phenomenal and very helpful. I was also impressed because one of the Projects Abroad staff in Belize was there waiting for me upon arrival in San Pedro (even though I landed a couple hours early). She took me to lunch and we went over all the policies and then she gave me a tour of the island. I was taken to my host family’s house and had a chance to get settled. The next day I was greeted at the office by my volunteer coordinator who had an immensely full schedule of tasks and activities for me to accomplish in the next month. Needless to say, this was exactly what I was looking for and was very excited about all of the projects I would be working on.
As mentioned above, the month that I was in Belize was jam packed with public health related activities. I helped with the mobile clinic 3 days per week in various neighborhoods around San Pedro and I helped organize an HIV clinic (and even went on the Reef Radio TV Morning Show to advertise the event), and did intake forms all day for the event. I also helped prepare and start a mosquito borne illness campaign because rainy season was just about to start as I was leaving (and mosquitos were about to be a big problem on the island)! Furthermore, I helped at a dental clinic and checked for lice on children. Finally, I was able to observe in a medical clinic on San Pedro for about 12 hours while down there which was a very interesting experience for me to see the differences between healthcare in the US and healthcare in Belize. Overall, these assignments were perfect for me and I was extremely happy I got to experience all of these different things. I even got trained on how to check for blood sugar levels while down in Belize, which I hadn’t gotten trained in for my nursing assistant program in the states. I thought that was really cool and beneficial for my career!
I absolutely loved my volunteer supervisor. She was professional, friendly, and flexible. I really loved the activities she assigned to me—they were so fitting for me. And I really liked how approachable she was with anything you wanted to discuss. Having her around definitely made a huge impact on my overall experience in Belize. The other staff were very friendly and answered anything I asked them. They also planned a lot of fun activities for all the volunteers. I really appreciated those.
To touch on my homestay, I stayed in the neighborhood of San Mateo. I stayed with an extremely nice family that made the most delicious food. Staying with a host family was such a fabulous part of the whole experience. I was able to attend church with my host family a couple of times, which was very interesting. I also lived with two Danish girls the whole time I was there. So, I was exposed to two different cultures simultaneously while down in Belize. One of my favorite parts about the host stay and experience was that every day, I chose to ride my Projects Abroad bike to and from work right along the beach. It was a beautiful ride and a perfect way to start and end the day. The host family lived right near the beach so I would just love to do that daily. It was also very interesting because I got to meet so many different family members staying with this host family. I met the mom, grandmother, son, son’s girlfriend and mom’s fiancé. I got to know each one over the course of a month and really learned a lot. I found it to be a great growing experience for me.
Belize is a very interesting and beautiful country that has a lot to offer. There were a few bumps in the road for me along the way, but overall, my experience in Belize and with Projects Abroad was superb. I highly recommend Projects Abroad (especially Belize) to anyone looking to make a career change, do something different, help out a community, and learn new skills. It was an experience of a lifetime and I will forever more keep this experience on my resume.

How can this program be improved?
I thought it was a great program and I don't have any suggestions to improve it.
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Kristine, we are very happy to have helped you jump-start your career in such a positive way. It's great to read you had such an amazing time helping in our mobile clinic and observing procedures. We hope to see you in another one of our medical placements soon!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Cary
2/10

San Pedro Belize - High School Special Public Health Placement

My 17 year old daughter just arrived home following a two week High School Specials Public Health Placement in San Pedro, Belize. This was supposed to be an amazing learning opportunity that would help her make decisions regarding her future including her desire to pursue Nursing as a career and to gain skills towards further travels abroad. The provided itinerary seemed very "full" and exciting with a balance of volunteer work time during the day and evening social/recreational activities. This seemed perfect as my daughter is a very active young woman who thrives on being "busy". The composition of the placement was NOT what the itinerary reflected.
Our daughter was one of seven girls participating in this placement. They traveled each day to the Projects Abroad office, which is where they spent more than 50% of their daytime hours each day. Sometimes, it was the whole day. The amount of time they needed to be in this location was a fraction of this - so much time was spent talking to each other or being on their phones/laptops to pass the time. The staff would not adjust the schedule and certainly did not work to find them other things to do. Any time spent in the field ACTIVELY volunteering (as my daughter had assumed she would be doing), was thoroughly enjoyed and rewarding. Following much time spent in a small office most days, the girls then went back to their very small apartment where all seven of them stayed. Some nights they had activities but when they did not, the girls had to stay from 5:00 pm onwards in this location as they were not allowed to leave unsupervised and there were no staff members to take them out. After we complained as parents, this slowly started to change but our daughter perceived that the request for exercise or outings in the community were an "inconvenience" rather than an expectation.
Most importantly, our daughter and her close friend who attended with her were ready to come home after a few days. They were bored, frustrated and very sad to be so sedentary in such a beautiful country with so many opportunities to volunteer, help and make a difference. To have sent them this far to primarily sit in office space or an apartment seems unacceptable - especially given how expensive the placement was and what we perceived the activity level was going to be. Following much discussion, we convinced our daughters to stay and finish the placement. They are glad that they did as there were rewarding moments but many of their lasting memories are not positive ones.
I am choosing to post this information as all of these complaints were raised with our placement supervisor throughout the two weeks. She was at times responsive but mostly defensive. Change was forced on the staff but we did not think that so much effort should be needed on our part to have acceptable conditions or experience. We would NEVER recommend this company to anyone moving forward and are very disappointed by the outcomes. We are hoping to protect others from the same experience and can only hope that by making the information public, it will result in some change moving forward.

How can this program be improved?
Increased volunteer hours actively in the community - less office time.
Daily social and recreational activities that are healthy including exercise, time outdoors and exploration of the community.
Accurate itinerary that has increased detail pertaining to volunteer work activities
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Mrs Kruger,

Our goal is for all our volunteers to be safe, to be happy, and to have a positive impact while on this project. I am sorry to hear that your daughter did not feel this way and we’re sorry you’ve felt the need to leave this negative post.

We take all feedback seriously, and without diminishing how your daughter felt, we think it’s also important to stress that her feedback was very much out of line with the majority of volunteers on exact same project at the exact same time as her.

Allow me to share, with her permission, this recent email from a volunteer who was part of the same group as your daughter -

“I was in Belize for four weeks and the entire experience was so incredibly rewarding and more than I could have ever imagined. In fact, I am already planning another trip with Projects Abroad to further my medical exposure and explore my interests. If you took initiative on this project, there was always work to be done. I believe that the experience you get out of any volunteer or internship program is what you put into it. I was always ambitious and open-minded to learning new things and gaining experiences.

Over the course of my four weeks, I worked directly with communities, focusing on sustainable, healthy living. One of the most prevalent issues we focused on was mosquito borne diseases, including Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. I was given the opportunity to begin a partnership with the Red Cross on an 18-month Mosquito Borne Disease project, which aimed to further education about Zika specifically. Every week, we hosted mobile clinics in three different impoverished communities, performing blood sugar and blood pressure testing, free of charge. In addition, we provided BMIs, educated on healthy lifestyles, and gave referral cards for a free consultation to any patient with abnormal results. We worked with the Polyclinic, the largest medical facility in San Pedro, to organize educational tools to provide at their testing day. After extensive training, we created informational resources about HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment, as many community members have little to no knowledge about either. Countless patients were tested in a single day, all of whom were very grateful for the opportunity to know their status. Furthermore, I also collaborated with different organizations, including the Kidney Association, Ministry of Health, Zika Prevention Force, Belize Vector and Ecology, and the Health Education and Community Participation Bureau to host a community-wide Health Fair. The health fair was featured on the local TV and radio station, and there were over 100 people in attendance. We also worked at the local primary school, where we began constructing a greenhouse. It was so incredible to see the day-to-day direct impact we were having . It was always fulfilling to hear the supportive patient feedback. It reassured me that what we were doing was meaningful when I would hear that what we were doing was needed, appreciated, and helpful”

After reading your review, we have done a thorough investigation the other volunteers’ Online Debrief reviews on this particular programme. Our High School Special Belize Public Health volunteers have rated our programme this year -

95 score on the question of “The staff in Belize were professional”
100 score on the question of “The staff in Belize were reliable”
95 score on the question of “I received good guidance and support for my project work from Projects Abroad”
90 score on the question of “My role was clear to me”
90 score on the question of “I was happy with the amount of project work I had on a daily basis”
100 score on the question of “I was able to contribute towards the goals of my project”
95 score on the question of “Projects Abroad volunteers play a useful role in the community”

During our investigation it’s become clear that there were other factors that influenced your daughter’s experience. We’re more than willing to discuss directly and privately with you, please feel free to get in touch through the details below below.

For your other specific points, I understand that your daughter didn’t enjoy the research time in the afternoons. However, the volunteers are doing serious public health work in the local community every morning with the mobile clinics and healthcare campaigns, and it is crucial that they are equipped with the relevant cultural and medical knowledge before they participate, alongside local health workers, in these programmes.

A quick note on the evening activities. As you know, the program includes 3 or 4 evenings of activities (trivia quiz night, Garifuna traditional dance, outdoor movie screenings, and a trip to the best ice cream place in town). On those nights when our volunteers have free time, our lovely host mom is always happy to take them out into town or to walk along the beach, knowing that she has to supervise our high school volunteers at all times. And over the weekend, the programme was packed with exciting trips; snorkelling in the barrier reef, climbing to the top of Mayan ruins, cave tubing, etc.

We take the allegation of theft really seriously. However, we’d like to make clear that no staff member has access to the host family apartment - only the host mom and the volunteers can come in unsupervised. All our staff undergo tough criminal records checks, and all are trained in child safety and safeguarding. If any staff member were caught stealing they would be fired immediately.

You say that your daughter heard an inappropriate comment from one of the third party boat drivers that we rented for that day’s trip. This is totally unacceptable. We have already reported this incident to the boat company owners, and removed the company from our list of suppliers. We will not work with them again. Of course we operate a zero-tolerance policy on any kind of sexual harassment.

Once again I am sorry to hear that your daughter experience in Belize was not what you had hoped for. All of your comments have been taken on board and relayed to our staff in Belize to ensure that improvements are made. We are always free to discuss this further and can be contacted on the details below.

With best wishes,

Somi Cho
[email protected]
+44 1903 708300

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Gabby
9/10

Alternative Spring Break

I would recommend this volunteer opportunity in Belize to first-timers and students. This program is great for young adults who want to travel and give back. The staff was great and very helpful if we had any problems. The food was great there as well. We did work there at a local preschool, which was a lot of fun. We also had free time. During this time we could explore San Pedro or rest. It was the perfect balance!

Yes, I recommend this program

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad is a global organization formed around the need for gap year programs abroad designed for students taking a break from studying. Since its inception, Projects Abroad has expanded to offer high school volunteer programs, and a vast...