El Salvador is one of the lesser visited nations of Central America. Often overlooked due to its better known neighbors such as Guatemala and Costa Rica, El Salvador has experienced a civil war and gang violence in the latter part of the last century, which are the main reasons why people choose to avoid the nation. However, what people do not know is that even though some violence continues, it is almost exclusively between rival gangs and tourists are virtually never involved. As one of the poorer countries in South America, El Salvador has a need for volunteers to work in diverse areas.
Construction: El Salvador has always had poor infrastructure, and thus volunteers are required to help in various projects. Due to natural disasters, namely earthquakes and hurricanes, El Salvador has seen many buildings destroyed in the last decade. As a volunteer, you will have an opportunity to work on construction projects for houses, schools, and churches.
Education: Due to its poor educational system, many young El Salvadorans don’t have proper access to education. As a volunteer, you will work in schools and help teach children, focusing mostly on teaching them English. You will also have an opportunity to work on arts and crafts projects with the children as well as play sports with them.
Health Care: Like most developing nations, El Salvador has a poor health care system. As a medical volunteer, you will be able to work with doctors and nurses and help take care of patients.
Planning Your Trip
- Volunteer Support: If you volunteer in El Salvador through an organization, they should have a support system in place for you which you can turn to for help and support. Your home country’s embassy or consulate can be reached in San Salvador for further information and support as well.
- NGOs/Nonprofits: El Salvador has many nonprofit organizations. This is a complete list of NGO's in El Salvador.
- Know Before You Go: A basic level of Spanish is highly recommended and will be helpful for your visit, but it isn’t really a requirement; you will have an opportunity to learn some of the language while you are there.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in El Salvador:
As a volunteer in El Salvador, you are highly recommended to get certain vaccinations. These include Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Rabies.
In terms of safety, most Western travelers don’t face any particular safety threat. It is important to remember to be aware of your surroundings however, and to not carry around valuables in public places.