Traces of the Zika virus have been found in the Caribbean. To learn more about Zika and how to avoid getting infected, read the Washington Post's article on Zika precautions.
The Caribbean is often thought of as a single entity—one big area filled with sunshiny days, seashells, and tropical mimosas. However, this image does not do the Caribbean justice. It is composed of many small countries, including the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and Grenada, all of which suffer from poor economic growth and community stagnation. Volunteering in Haiti is similar to volunteering in Barbados for those reasons. Although you can undergo similar types of volunteering tasks all over, each country is different.
The Caribbean is home to rich biodiversity both on land and at sea. Volunteers can track and observe whales and dolphins, conduct coral reef research, or undergo other means of marine life preservation. Doing this will preserve the Caribbean’s innate beauty and source of livelihood for native occupants.
Volunteers can engage in various community building projects, including renovation of degraded buildings, and agricultural support such as helping farmers to harvest fruits, grains, and vegetables.
Youth Support and Development
Working in youth development homes as therapists, English teachers, and communication caregivers is crucial to help young Caribbean's manage their poor conditions. Money has gone towards building schools but there is a lack of qualified people to teach in them.
NGOs/Non-Profit/Volunteer History: NGOs are very active in the Caribbean. From assisting the disabled in Barbados to scientific research in Trinidad and Tobago to promoting greater recycling in Puerto Rico, there are numerous opportunities for volunteering with established NGOs.
Questions to Ask: What areas are best to avoid at night? Should I volunteer where I can best communicate with the people are volunteer where there’s the greatest need?
How To Save Money While Volunteering: Stay in an accommodation that has a kitchen and shop locally; take public transportation in more developed islands; and pay close attention to how you’re spending your money.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in the Caribbean
The Caribbean sun and friendly people can often put volunteers at ease. However, it’s crucial to remember that you’re in a new place, meaning keeping valuables close is important. Petty thefts and small episodes of street crime are the primary concerns volunteers should keep in mind.
As any tropical region, the risk of certain diseases is higher. Volunteers should take the following vaccinations before working in the Caribbean: malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and Diphtheria.
Visas for Volunteering in the Caribbean
With Cuba as the exception, traveling to and from popular Caribbean countries is relatively simple. A valid passport is generally required. Check out VISA HQ for more detailed information about each country.