Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second largest city and revered as the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city). The city definitely suffers the effects of crime and gang violence but Rio’s residents, known as cariocas, travel to the beaches of Copacabana and Pao de Açúcar as if they lived in utter paradise. Indeed, Rio comes quite close to that. Rio is a fantastic place to volunteer because first, there are issues for which an extra pair of hands can help; and second, Rio is one of the most culturally captivating places in South America and perhaps the world.Photo Credit: Jaime Spaniol.
Whether it’s in a rural or urban area, volunteers are needed to offer youth support. One can give free classes and help young Brazilians to find jobs in the Rio’s poor suburbs or teach kids the importance of balanced diets so as to curb the high rates of malnutrition. Without this support, Rio’s youth will be stuck in abject poverty.
Volunteers can help build communities through construction, athletic coaching, NGO development, promoting environmental sustainability—the list goes on. The fact that Rio’s population is so large means extra aid is needed to help smaller demographics cope with the changes of a developing city and nation.
One of Rio’s main attractions is the city and the surrounding parks’ innate beauty. Habitat restoration, tree planting, fencing, and trail maintenance outside the city is crucial to preserving Rio’s greenery.
Questions to Ask: If I don’t speak Portuguese, what’s the best way to communicate with community members? What are the areas to avoid at all times of the day?
How to Save Money While Volunteering: No matter where you are, remember to keep your belongings close so as to keep your wallet as full possible and your worries at a minimum. Consider multiple options when on a budget. Walk or take the bus instead of a taxi or try cooking at home with locally bought food.
Volunteer Support: Rio de Janeiro is a massive city, constantly bustling with American and European tourists; resources to accommodate these demographics are present. What’s more, your volunteer program will most likely have a more direct support system. If you require more political/diplomatic assistance, there are numerous consulates in Rio.
Don’t let the crime deter you from volunteering in Rio de Janeiro. If you do, you’ll miss out on a thriving and engaging culture in which certain groups badly need your help. Volunteering opens up a world of meaningful Portuguese opportunities that cannot be realized just by seeing the sights. You’re also guaranteed to get a tan.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Rio de Janeiro
Pick-pockets and street muggings are the most common types of crime. Neither wear flashy jewelry in the streets nor walk at night alone. Taking public transportation at night is also not the safest decision. Always keep a close eye on your belongings, whether in the cities or on the beaches.
Try to avoid street food, which is usually prepared the night before in unsanitary conditions at the mercy of unclean hands. Staying as clean and sanitary as possible is best to avoid catching anything. To build your immunity, it is strongly recommended that you take the following vaccines: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies.