• Brazil
    • Bahia
4 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Year Round
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30)


Starting Price
Price Details
Volunteer options as low as $122/month (based on 6 month commitment)
We also offer package prices that include accommodation, volunteering, Portuguese, Samba, Capoeira and Eco adventure tours. Please visit our website for all pricing options.

What's Included
Jan 15, 2020
Jul 19, 2020
4 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

ETIV do Brasil is located in the beautiful fishing and surfing town of Itacaré, Bahia. Our mission is to connect international volunteers/Interns with meaningful opportunities to support environmental conservation and development in Brazil.

We are looking for volunteers to support projects in environmental conservation, youth development, teaching English and in women's empowerment. In addition, we offer several positions in the ETIV office; from volunteer coordination and recruitment to marketing & communications, website development, fundraising and event planning. We offer highly affordable volunteer opportunities as well as volunteer packages that combine a meaningful volunteer experience with housing, stunning eco-adventure tours and cultural education including Portuguese, Samba, Capoeira classes. Please go to our website to find more.

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Program Reviews

7.91 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 72.73%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 9.09%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 18.18%
  • Impact 7.5
  • Support 7.8
  • Fun 8.1
  • Value 7.6
  • Safety 7.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 11 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Disappointing and Problematic

I. worked at ETIV do Brasil as a volunteer from late February to April 2020. I saw early on in my stay that ETIV do Brasil is not an “organization” in the traditional sense. It’s “structure” consists of one permanent Founder/Director who lives on-site and has both Brasilian and American citizenship and a very small foreign (remote) Board of Directors who have not visited the ngo in years and has very little context of the actual operations. Volunteers are asked to take initiative on projects without much in terms of a guiding framework or administrative support. You are basically paying for a volunteer experience to satisfy the desires of the Director, not to support a functioning ngo.

The online marketing is robust, but deceptively inaccurate. The mangrove project costs virtually zero dollars in overhead to implement, yet they ask 5$ donations per seed, with no guarantee to the donors. I did not see any way how the money from volunteers and donors was actually going to NGO project development. Online reviews are solicited from volunteers by the director and many of the programs and activities listed on their website either do not exist or are actually other organization initiatives this ngo claims to support. The majority of locals I talked with had not even heard of ETIV. There are no serious Portuguese classes and the ngo takes a considerable cut from the pay of whomever the teacher is at the time. Finding a teacher for Portuguese lessons was second to the $$ the ngo made from the classes.

There is no long-term supporting staff here which makes continuity of project management virtually impossible. No budgets were ever given to project leaders nor did the Director show any active support to help with any volunteer initiated projects. The Founding Director insisted upon only working part-time while the only administrative staff member during this time worked 40+ hours per week. The director also did very little to address any concerns volunteers brought up and was defensive when anyone raised a concern. When I arrived, the swimming pool was being filled by a rain gutter coming off a main roof (an idea touted at the time as “eco”) and the housing units were in serious need of repair. Sanitary conditions did not seem to be a priority.

Many Volunteers complained privately about their own concerns, but many were afraid to speak their minds for fear of retaliation by the only person with any authority, the Owner/Director.

There was no clear definition of hierarchy or organizational management. The Director talked badly about her staff to volunteers, violated her own ngo rules on multiple occasions, accused volunteers of stealing things that she misplaced (and asking volunteers to fundraise to replace said “missing” items), asked volunteers to do things for her at risk to their personal safety and refused to pay staff for work they completed, just as a start.

When COVID-19 started, the director dismissed it as overblown and offered her own conspiracies to the illegitimacy of the pandemic and stating that “mercury is in retrograde”....

I would caution anyone considering this ngo as viable non-profit work. It is hard to consider ETIV anything other than a way of gaining $$ to maintain a personal lifestyle. Volunteering here felt like volunteering to help someone maintain their personal property and business, not to support an ngo. There are much better people and places to volunteer with in Itacare if you are interested in ecology and sustainability. It is a shame, because it could be of great benefit to Itacare, but as I witnessed, the leadership is seriously questionable and aggressively defensive. The Director blurs the lines between personal and professionality and often invaded volunteers personal spaces and eavesdropped on private conversations. Until there is a change in leadership, until there is a long-term local staff presence, more continuity of programs, adequate investment in ngo resources, a clear and definitive separation between personal economic interests of the Director and the economics of the NGO, and more focus on the health, safety and well-being of its volunteers and staff, I strongly advise anyone who is interested in ETIV to understand that what they see online and the actuality on-site are very different circumstances. The online marketing is probably 90% focus of the entire NGO. ETIV do Brasil has been operating for roughly 4 years but still does not convey any real sense of organization in the way operational structures work, indicative of truly serious ngo’s. There are no guidelines for resolving concerns or disputes in any of the literature you receive and the Board of Directors seems to be reinforcing whatever the Founding Director wants. There is no objectivity to this organization. Be cautious before investing in this program as you may be severely disappointed.

There are two other very relevant posts on this site by author “X” and author “Jo” that resonated with me after my experience. I suggest taking their perspectives into serious account too.

What would you improve about this program?
Find some people who professionally know what they are doing and allow them the freedom flexibility and resources to manage. Remove all financial conflicts of interest.
24 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

My first and last Volunteer

The worst time of my life. For me the worst was that I totally wasted my time and my money.

Lets speak about the work that is done there. A good initial point is the general meeting of Mondays. It will be spoken in hardly 40 minutes about nothing, getting zero conclusions of nothing and always trying to hurry to finish as soon as possible. The feeling of frustration of getting nothing done is incredible. During the week will be organized maximal 2 or 3 english lessons. Thats all. Is that really the "profound inpact" that the organization is going to have in the community? To have not even 5 hours of activities during the week having always at least 3 or 4 people working theoretically 20 hours a week? Thats not my idea of volunteer work. And thats because the focus of the organization is just on doing marketing to trick more people and get their money. I can truly say the efforts of the organization are 90% on Marketing and 10% on the rest.

If you see the contract, besides of saying absolutely nothing useful it looks like more like a Travel agency than a "ONG" and that is exactly what ETIV is for me , just a bad and expensive travel agency for foreigners. I see only one difference between both. With a real travel agency you would pay much fewer money to get a real holidays.

Thats a good point to speak about the prices. They will charge you 900 reais, thats about 250 USD per month, for a room with moisture, some of them without doors, in a house without warm water and really noisy and far far away from the city center. Not to say that 3 volunteers where attacked in their very first days and they lost money and their smartphones. Speaking again about the 250 USD you will pay for the room. It may seem to be cheap for you. If you are living now in the first world. USA, Europe or some other countries. But what If I tell you that the rent of the whole house cost just 1000 reais pro month, or that the owner of the ONG lives in a luxury mansion of more than 200 square meters with a huge garten for just 1000 reais? Would you still find the price fair? That not for telling that right in the city center, in Pasarela or Pituba, you would find exactly the same, or even better, for just 400 or 500 reais.
Furthermore besides of the rent It is paid already a volunteer fee, why the hell has to be paid such an abusive price for a disgusting place?

The owner/CEO of the organization claims to have several years of experience in different fields and even to have lead another NGO in Peru. I am very dubious all that is true. They are from far the all worst manager I have ever had in my life. They were not even able to proper listen to a person what makes really difficult to have a meaningful conversation. And even fewer to organize a project.

If after reading my post you are still thinking about doing volunteer work in Itacare with ETIV think it twice. If you want to visit Itacare just do it as a tourist and if you want to do some good, look for an organisation that it is worth it, if not you will end up wasting your time and money like I did.

What would you improve about this program?
It is not possible to be improved. Shut down the ngo and give back the money to the people your ripped off.
27 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

A Last forever volunteer experience!

It was a three months amazing experience!. ETIV is a young NGO, its flexibility gives you the opportunity to use your personal strengths combined with supervision and a lot of support. This NGO encourage an entrepreneur mindset and welcome fresh minds.

I learned so much as the Marketing Coordinator and as a volunteer for the English Program, helping the teachers during the classes and with the planning. I enjoyed my time in the field with the kids, learning from them and the community. I arrived speaking zero Portuguese and now I´m able to speak with people here and communicate in an effective way. Even though my Spanish background helped, but the Portuguese Classes definitely helped to speed up the process. Speaking the language definitely helps you to bond better with the community and make the most of your experience.

It's also important to mention that volunteering is not a luxury trip, please do not mistake them. Make sure that helping a rural area and working for the community is what you are looking for, otherwise you won't meet your expectations. Itacaré is amazing and exciting but this is not USA or Europe, so please make sure to travel understanding and acknowledging this. I'm actually so grateful that I experienced a modest living like this, it makes you value everything you take for granted at home and improves you as a human being 100%. All the love you get back from this kids is amazing and priceless, if that's what you are looking for then ETIV and volunteering is definitely for you.

Volunteer experiences are alone gratifying, however, volunteering in ETIV also allows you to live in a beautiful surfing town in Bahia - Brazil, which makes the experience to last forever. I'll be happy to provide any further information.

What would you improve about this program?
As any NGO, they have room to grow, however, their in the right path for sure.
25 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience with ETIV!

I am currently a virtual volunteer with ETIV on the Marketing and Communications team and I'm very happy with the experience! I love working with Jaci and the team of international volunteers who are all very motivated and bring unique perspectives to the projects we're working on. After just a few months of volunteering, I can already see the significant growth and impact of the work we're doing. I definitely recommend getting involved with this NGO, they are uniting so many diverse people and doing really amazing work!

26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Endless Opportunities at ETIV

My experience at ETIV do Brasil has been incredible. The volunteers all bring such a special light and passion to the program in their own way. The children of Itacare and neighborhood of Passagem are very friendly and open to learn. Its really nice that volunteers get a lot of freedom to initiate their own projects, and that also teaches you a lot about responsibility and commitment. The community here at ETIV is very united and everyone is aware of each other’s projects. In terms of Marketing work, the schedule is very flexible and the variety of tasks and freedom for new projects is nice, but requires organized and dedicated volunteers and interns. Other volunteers are very helpful when it comes to pictures, blogs, and filming classes. Sometimes organization and administration can get blurry since we ETIV is a small NGO, but working through this is part of learning to solve different kinds of issues. Itacare is beautiful! The local people are very friendly, there is a very vivid night life, and much to do especially for those looking for adventure. ETIV is what you make it!

What would you improve about this program?
This program can be improved in the sense of organization. Enforcing more clear communication with volunteers and administration prior to arrival would be great to ensure a clarity of responsibility.
26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Not as advertised

If you are serious about volunteering and doing something meaningful with your time, go somewhere else. What ETIV advertises on their website is not at all what the reality actually is. All the volunteer descriptions online state the following: “volunteers work at least 4 hours a day/20 hours a week, usually from Monday to Friday from 9am – 1pm.”
Well, this isn’t true. I had originally signed up to help with English teaching and environmental classes. English classes consist of the following: One 1 hour English class a week in Passagem (the “poorer” community where the ETIV office and volunteer house is located). About 2 weeks into my stay another English class was started in another area of Itacare, but this was also only for 1 hour. So, 2 hours of “teaching” a week, plus a couple hours prep… = 20 hours of “meaningful” volunteer work? The English “teachers” are not qualified to teach and do not have much guidance in terms of lesson plans, weekly/monthly plans for what to teach the kids, and no real support. I was told when I arrived to not expect too much from English classes with the kids as it is more to spend time with the kids than what it is to teach English. So what is the point then? The website makes a big deal out of creating the future leaders of Itacare and instilling core values into them and helping them be better, yet I was left with a very strong impression that it was all just for show and the NGO is not actually doing too much for the community.
The environmental class is also once a week for one hour. Youth development is pretty much just supporting the English and environmental classes. More than half the positions advertised on their website are not even up and running and those that are are so disorganized. Why not partner with local organizations who are already established? I tried to run a sports class but this too was an epic fail. The first one was cancelled due to inclement weather, the second one the kids showed up half an hour late and the third was cancelled without anyone informing me of this. This is another thing, the NGO lacks leadership. The director doesn’t seem to know what is going on half the time, doesn’t know how to lead a team, and doesn’t seem to know how to run her NGO effectively. She has many years experience in the field according to the website, but this experience doesn’t seem to show in the day to day running of the NGO.
The assistant director is a volunteer who doesn’t seem to know much about the working world. She is pro “just give the volunteers tasks and let them do it” without providing much structure or any semblance of a schedule or time frame to follow to have things accomplished by. The director agreed that it would be a good idea to try incorporating some sort of schedule so people’s days are more structured… Yet none of this was ever communicated effectively to the volunteers so everyone ended up complaining about each other… The one girl was always complaining about having to wait on others to get things done yet she was the first one who did not want to have a more structured schedule in place. One of the others tried to step up to try get things better organized but then the others complained about her telling them what to do…It was a lose/lose situation. I understand the need to be flexible especially in a little rural village, however one needs to find the balance between structure and flexibility.
I was never asked for a police clearance certificate. I was working with kids yet for all anyone knew I could have had a criminal record as long as my arm. (which I don’t)
When I asked about getting a taxi from the house to the bus station to leave I was told to contact the taxi driver myself. I don’t mind making my own arrangements, I have been traveling all over for a very long time so I am not afraid to do things on my own, but why am I paying the NGO for “ongoing support” when I have to do everything myself anyway?
I had to have very cold showers a few days in a row. I brought this to the attention of the assistant director who told me that there had never been hot water (yes, no hot water but there was always warm water), there’s only cold water and it was because of the time of day I was showering as the water tank was being heated by the sun. Hmmm. Ok. A few days later in the staff meeting it came to light that there was something wrong with the wiring which is why there was only cold water. So, where was my support and understanding from those in charge? Instead of blowing me off, why not look into the matter and try be more helpful and understanding?
My room was dirty upon arrival. There was a used condom wrapper under the bed, the floor under the bed had not been swept, the closest was full of mould, and the fan had not been cleaned and was covered in thick dust. The sheet I was given was stained brown and had rips and tears in it. The duvet cover/sheet was stained black (from mould I assume). The dish cloths were also stained black. Some of the kitchen utensils were so rusted and worse for wear they should be discarded. The kitchen was filthy. The dish rack was so thick with dirt and grime (and this for CLEAN dishes) that it seemed like it hadn’t been cleaned in months. The chopping boards were also so stained with mould they should also be discarded and new ones purchased.
There is a laundry machine in the house however should you wish to use it it will set you back R$20 per wash (even to wash your sheets when you leave). The machine only uses cold water and doesn’t seem to clean the clothes thoroughly. I used the machine twice and both times my clothes came out still somewhat dirty. If you choose not to pay R$20 you will have to wash your things by hand in a bucket, or take it to the Laundromat in town.
Now, the “tours”. Some of these are with reputable companies who have insurance and are covered if anything were to happen to you. Some of these “tours” are really just a fisherman transporting you in a boat to a location. That is not a tour. For example, a “tour” to Pontal is really just a R$5 ride in a fisherman’s boat to Pontal. That is not a tour (in my opinion.).
Also, I had initially wanted to learn capoeira. The director didn’t know that the person apparently contracted for this had started a new job and was no longer offering the capoeira. Granted the director of the NGO offered that I join the beach fitness class instead (to which I agreed) but it still left a bitter taste in my mouth. I wanted to do capoeira. It was supposed to be included in my package, yet the NGO doesn’t even keep up to date with what it is offering and if these things are even still available.
On a positive note though, I was initially signed up to stay for 6 months. When I saw that the reality was different to what was advertised the NGO agreed to allow me to change my stay to only one month and reimbursed me the rest of my money. I had signed up for the package, and two weeks into my stay I had to get stitches in my hand. Again the NGO agreed to change my package to a “just volunteer” commitment for 1 month so I managed to receive some money back. However, I still feel like this was a complete waste of my time and money. I chose ETIV and Itacare as I wanted to improve my Portuguese, practice capoeira and have an impact and be able to help the community. Unfortunately these things never came to fruition, but it was definitely a learning experience.
The little village is quaint. If you enjoy the beach, surfing and socializing then you’ll enjoy the town. I am an introvert so I don’t need much in terms of mingling with people, so the town wasn’t of too much importance to me (I chose Itacare for the humanitarian aspects). However the location is beautiful. If location and the social aspect are more important to you, then you may have a great time here. If the humanitarian and volunteering aspect is more important to you, perhaps look elsewhere.
I sincerely do hope they get more structure into the NGO and focus on building it up and possibly building partnerships with other, more established NGOs already operating in the Itacare area.
There is so much potential and opportunity to do meaningful work and truly empower people but there has to be better leadership and better organization. I wish them all the best and hope they realize their goals in the future.
(P.S: I would be interested in hearing from previous volunteers if anyone has had similar experiences there? Some people I spoke to had similar opinions to me so it would be interesting to see if this is how the NGO has been running since its inception.)

What would you improve about this program?
Please see above.
26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience

Itacaré is the perfect volunteering destination is you are a lover of all things the great outdoors - sun, surf, jungle and wildlife.
ETIV do Brasil is a very new NGO, so the opportunity to share ideas, work on a range of projects and be very widely involved in the organisation is all yours.

I volunteered here for 2 months and truly loved watching the organisation grow in such a small time frame and loved having the ability to contribute in a wide variety of ways.

The beauty of Itacaré makes you forget you are even working!

27 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience in Paradise

I loved my time volunteering with ETIV do Brasil so much I extended my stay (and to be honest I never really wanted to leave)! Given that the organisation was still fairly new I had the opportunity to be involved in the setting up of the English projects, I was even able to start my own project! The kids here are amazing and the location is absolute paradise! You definitely won't regret coming to Itacare, I definitely didn't!

26 people found this review helpful.

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