Belize is a small, beautiful country in Central America. Belize has enormous diversity when it comes to culture, language, ethnicity, geography, plants, and wildlife. Belize is the perfect volunteer destination for those looking for a unique tropical adventure. As one of the least densely populated countries on the planet, Belize is a great place to get away from your busy life and give back!
While working outdoors in Belize is a great way to take advantage of the beautiful landscape, there are a variety of ways you can get involved with the local community. No matter what type of volunteer work you’re interested in in Belize, there’s sure to be the perfect project for you!
Even with 26% of the country, including land and sea, protected under the law there is still lots of conservation work to be done. Belize’s economy relies on the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit each year. Unfortunately, human development and tourism have led to the destruction of natural resources and local wildlife. Volunteers interested in marine life can work along the coast, where there are hundreds of neighboring islands and one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. Volunteers can work with the environmental, wildlife on land or sea, or to spread awareness of the importance of sustainable tourism practices.
Another popular way to dedicate your time and skills to local Belizeans is to work in construction. Your help to build schools, community centers, and homes can make a big difference! These programs don’t require any previous experience in construction - just a willingness to learn and get your hands dirty.
A volunteer’s enthusiasm in the classroom can get students excited to learn and come to school. Even though the government of Belize requires all children to attend school regularly and primary school is free, it’s common to find students that have been forced to drop out due to fees associated with school. No matter what kind of background you have, you can be of help in a school in Belize. From mentoring and tutoring to teaching in a formal classroom setting to helping with extracurricular activities, find a teaching volunteer project that fits your skills and interests.
Best Places to Volunteer: Belize City, the largest city in the country, is located on the peninsula of the Caribbean Coast. This city offers volunteers a lively place to experience Belizean culture. Located in the Belize district, Belize City is also convenient for getting to the airport and to neighboring Belizean islands. The Cayo region of Belize is a perfect destination for the adventurous type of volunteer. Cayo is full of environmental wonders, especially the caves and jungles.
NGOs in Belize: According to WANGO, there are 9 official non-governmental organizations in Belize. Most of these nonprofits focus on environmental issues while others address inequalities faced by minorities like women, youth, and the indigenous population. Contact one of these NGOs directly to find out more about their work and their need for volunteers.
Know Before You Go: Although English is the official language of Belize, many citizens only speak Spanish or the Belizean Kriol. Spanish is taught in schools and both Spanish and Kriol are spoken by more than half of the population.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Belize
Belize is generally seen as a safer country than most neighboring Central American nations. The main cause of crime in Belize is linked to gang related violence and human trafficking. Usually, these problems don’t affect travelers directly but it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Although Belize City is one of the most dangerous in the country, staying in the tourist areas of town will ensure that you are away from the majority of any violent activities. Be sure to only drink clean, bottled water while in Belize. There are several basic vaccinations you should get before your trip.