The Dominican Republic is a destination famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, energetic culture, and friendly natives. Located on the island of Hispaniola – a part of the Caribbean - the Dominican has the 2nd largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. With all that the Dominican has to offer, any visitors are sure to fall in love with this beautiful country and its people.
As you begin to volunteer in the Dominican Republic, you will surely be touched by the passion and spirit of the locals. Volunteer your time to help improve their quality of life through community development, construction, and health education programs. You will be devoting your efforts towards to enriching the lives of the children and families in the local rural communities.
Photo credit: benkucinski.
Volunteering in the Dominican Republic is sure to be a life-changing experience for anybody. While the Dominican is, again, known for its beautiful white sand beaches, it is also a largely impoverished nation. In relation to this, the majority of volunteer programs are based solely around community development and construction. The medical care available in the Dominican is also lacking, so those interested in pursuing a career in the medical field will thoroughly enjoy this aspect of volunteering.
The majority of projects in the Dominican focus on this area of work. With little access to every-day resources like books, pencils, and teachers, volunteers and supplies are helpful to the education system. Volunteers can teach English, or any other subject needed, to local children and/or adults in the area. For formal teaching positions, a teaching certification is strongly recommended to be as impactful as possible. Volunteers can expect to work most of the day for 4-5 days per week, giving them time to socialize and immerse themselves in the culture of the natives.
Much of the Dominican is undergoing sustainability projects that involve the construction of schools, medical clinics, and agricultural systems, as well as implementation of clean water sources and health education. Volunteers are able to get their hands dirty with the locals while learning important skills. The overall goal of these projects is to improve the general quality of life for the people in these communities. Students will work an average of 30 hours a week with long lunch breaks in cooled areas.
Health Education Programs
While the Dominican healthcare system is below average, volunteers (especially those with a medical background) have an opportunity to assist in beneficial projects. If students are considering becoming nurses, doctors, or pharmacists – this is the program for them. While volunteering, they will be very hands-on, making house visits, observing in rural clinics/hospitals, helping in the pharmacy, and taking vital bodily measurements. There are many opportunities within this program to tailor it to the volunteer’s skills and interests. A typical day in this program would be 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM with a lunch break, and, after dinner, volunteers will have time for exploration and interaction with the natives.
Planning Your Trip
In Dominican society, appearances are extremely important as Dominicans are very fashion conscious. They believe that clothes are important as they indicate social standing and success. So while in the Dominican Republic, make sure you dress well!
Best Places To Volunteer
The Dominican Republic doesn’t really have cold-weather seasons, and because of this, prime volunteering times are flexible. The most popular places to volunteer are:
- Santo Domingo: The capital and largest city; the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the Americas.
- Santiago de los Caballeros: Second largest city, located in the north-central region of the country; economy largely dependent on agriculture.
Both places are larger in size and population so there is a wider range of volunteering opportunities.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in the Dominican Republic
As a volunteer in the Dominican Republic, you are recommended to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B, and Typhoid. If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure you get vaccinated for Rabies as well. For more information, visit MD Travel Health.
Contrary to beliefs, the Dominican Republic is in fact quite safe for tourists. Like in any other foreign country, you should still be vigilant in crowded areas due to pickpockets and you shouldn’t walk alone at night.