Affordable Volunteer Programs in Jamaica

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Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions offers a safe and meaningful volunteer travel experience that allows you to experience Jamaica not like a tourist but like a Jamaican. As a Jamaican owned and operated volunteer placement organization our programs are based in small Jamaican communities across the island which allows you the opportunity to immerse with local Jamaicans as you carry out your volunteer work rubbing shoulders with Jamaicans. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or it’s your first time travelling abroad one of our experienced Program Advisor will work closely with you to co-create a life changing and meaningful volunteer experience in Jamaica.

We offer a wide variety of service projects in rural areas, the city and the coast (Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) of Jamaica. Our volunteers are placed either with a host family or at a volunteer house. Volunteers who stay with a host family really get a firsthand experience of Jamaica's cuisine and our dialect "Patios".

Questions & Answers


based on 10 reviews
  • Impact 8.9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
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My expeirence

I have been to many places around the world for service and Jamaica was unique. With that being said, it was fun because it was a different. I had never stayed in a house like that for a service project, but I think that it enhanced the comradery and the expeirence. I liked the idea of having a lot of time to play with the kids. Also, being a part of the culture was nice. It was as if we were not only there for service but also for vacation.

How can this program be improved?
The only way I would improve this program is the scheduling. There was too much down time, and I think we could jahve gotten a lot more done if we had a set schedule.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Girl Scouts had a great experience with Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions

Our girl scout troop had a fabulous service trip to an orphanage in Jamaica thanks to the help of Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions. The trip was life changing and the bonds we formed with the children we met will never be forgotten. Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions was key to the success of our trip -- they worked tirelessly with our leader to ensure everything was organized prior to our arrival. The staff of JVE ensured our trip was safe, informative and fun for adults and girls alike. No detail was left to chance and our trip was exactly what we hoped it would be and so much more. We are looking forward to a return journey next summer to visit all our new friends at the orphanage and we are excited to work with Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions again. JVE worked to ensure that the program fit perfectly with the goals of girl scouts in building girls of courage, confidence and character. Our trip was a huge success and although we know we can't solve all the world's problems -- it was wonderful to be able to make a difference for the amazing children we met in Jamaica.

How can this program be improved?
To improve the program I would advise visiting groups to have double the activities planned that they think they will need. I would also ask JVE to provide more paintbrushes and garden tools (the needed tools for our project) so that more of us could work together to get the job done. More challenging projects would also be welcome -- volunteers are coming to work and more than anything else want to leave knowing they made a lasting change. It is great to be able to stretch beyond your limits (for kids and adults) to help someone in need.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Great program & support from start to finish!

Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions was such a terrific company to work with for our Girl Scout trip abroad. From the very first day I contacted the company expressing interest in volunteering to help children in Jamaica they were extremely helpful in providing information and suggestions for my group which consisted of 8 Girl Scouts and 8 mother's. They worked with me throughout the whole planning process for months before our trip, and were on top of getting back to me with any questions I needed answered.
As for the volunteer program that they set up for our group it was a perfect match! I couldn't have planned anything better. Volunteering at an orphanage was so rewarding. All of us on the trip formed such a bond with the people of the orphanage; residents and administrative workers.
The whole staff of Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions was amazing to work with! They were with us from start to finish, offering support the whole time.
I was very impressed with Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions, and so was my whole group. It was such a heart filled experience and impacted us in ways that are hard to explain. We loved it so much we hope to return next year!
I definitely recommend Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions to help organize a program for anyone that is interested in volunteering abroad!

How can this program be improved?
The program was perfect, if I had to say one thing it would be that more gloves and paint brushes/rollers were provided so more of us could work at one time & accomplish more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Working with children

I always knew that I wanted to volunteer, but nothing really captivated me until I found an opportunity to volunteer in Kingston. I wasn't sure what to expect so I was very nervous, especially as a young woman travelling alone. I worked with children ages 4-17 at an orphanage. The other volunteers and I created a summer program for the kids where we held computer, math, english, and art classes. We also played games and had loads of fun! In addition to volunteering, I experienced Jamaican cuisine, the beautiful sights and the night life. I have since been back 5 times to visit the kids, one of which times my mum and step dad came to meet the kids and see the orphanage!
I could ramble on, so if you have any questions or would like to know more about my experience, feel free to contact Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions and ask to speak with me :)
I highly recommend the program!
- Sasha

Yes, I recommend this program
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My Experience with JVE

It has taken me a while to come on here and write my review as I wanted to gain some perspective after the experience I had in Jamaica. I want my review to help other people, not to use this as a form of complaint as that is not my aim. The background to my trip, I am a qualified nurse in England who has wanted to volunteer from as long as I can remember. I started my search on where to go & I found Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions online. From the beginning was impressed with their website, fast responses, Skype call to introduce themselves so was very excited to embark on my trip. I decided to go for 5 weeks from 21st February - 28th March 2015. Unfortunately I did cut my trip short due to some of the problems I experienced whilst I was there. And ended up leaving on Weds 25th March.
As I am a nurse I stuck with that field and volunteered in an elderly care home, I also volunteered in a children's orphanage on an afternoon. In the middle of my stay I was invited to join a school group to visit the Blue Mountains and helped planting a tree in the national park.
I honestly think if you are going into the experience with your eyes open & are made aware exactly what service this company and also his mothers company Jamaica Volunteer Programs provides then you won't have any problems, however I wasn't. This is a company... For profit... And the word "voluntourism" would be more appropriate. I was also told on a number of occasions this is a "lucrative business" and "we are running a business here".

Things you should be aware of:
- NONE of the money you pay the company goes towards helping the projects you are volunteering with which is the part I found most difficult & upsetting. The thing these places need more than anything is money.
- There is no structure or goal with regards to the volunteering... There was no plan, no aim, I was literally there as a spare pair of hands. Particularly the orphanage I felt as though the children actually experienced more emotional trauma from these people coming in & out of there lives just to come and visit them, play with them for a few days, then leave. They had become accustomed to this & were asking if we'd brought toys because it was now expected that that's what happens. These children have all experienced more in their lives than they should have had to have done from witnessing domestic abuse to actually experiencing abuse in all forms. And now lead a lifestyle where tourists pull up (albeit with the best intentions) on a bus to come and see them & how they live (I hate to use this phrase but it's the only way to describe it... Like animals in a zoo). And on reflection it was quite upsetting.
- The elderly care home was run by Catholics and its biggest problem was financial... I helped and advised as best I could with the experience & skills I have from home but there was a limit to how I could help. I left feeling disheartened that I couldn't do more. The lady who runs the place is a saint... She has worked there for 25 years, 7 days a week with no pay. And still doesn't receive any financial backing from the company that provides these "voluntourists".

Accommodation & Social Aspect
- I stayed at Smokey Manor which is owned and run by Jamaica
Volunteer Programs NOT Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions so experienced complications and conflicts with regards to my accommodation transport excursions etc. as they are very closely linked as they are all family but do run as separate businesses.
- If you do stay at Smokey Manor then you are located up in the hills, no public transport or access to taxis, therefore if on a weekend or evening you want to leave to explore you are charged USD$20 (per person so a car full would be $80!!), this I had not factored into my budgeting and bearing in mind it is a 5-10 min car journey to the bottom of the hill (if that!!). I was also constantly reminded of the high cost of living in Jamaica which they used to justify a lot of their costs.
- Basically you are confined to the guest house unless you are going to your projects or you pay to leave either by transport or on an excursion.
- Lunch is not included (or wasn't with my package) so I arrived on a Saturday and went from breakfast Sunday to evening without another meal, or I would have had to pay the transport fee ($20) just to go the supermarket to get some food.
- Whilst I was there they had overbooked the accommodation and therefore wanted me to move into a house further up the hill & over the road. The house was a building site in the process of being finished, although the inside was beautifully decorated the outside was unfinished, I would have been very isolated, with no access to the facilities I had paid for... E.g. Wifi & meals, I would have had to walk back to the main house for meals on an evening alone. I therefore chose to leave early as the time fell at the end of my stay.

Positives (Yes there were a few)
- Louise the housekeeper cannot be praised enough, she works extremely long hours & cooks the best food!! She was so warm & friendly and genuinely happy to see you!! She is a wonderful woman!!
- I met some of the most amazing people from around the world, mainly from the U.S. who I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet had I not gone and still keep in regular contact with now and also from the projects.
- Jamaica is a beautiful country & has some beautiful places to visit.

If you are looking for a voluntourism kind of trip and are going into it with your eyes open with regards to what it entails, the financial costs, location etc. then these are good companies to go with. I felt 100% safe throughout my trip.
If you are looking for a true volunteering experience where the projects have a goal and an aim and are genuinely helping the community then I would not recommend this company. I would suggest looking at non-profit organisations who are genuinely there to help the local community and are not running as a business.

I have selected the option for potential volunteers to contact me about this project if they wish too.

Response from Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions

Hi Kathryn we do thank you for posting a review of our program and giving feedback. We will make adjustment to all the concerns. I will happy to respond accordingly. At Jamaica volunteer expedition we strive to give all volunteers our 100% but unfortunately at times we do have dissatisfied volunteers. This may be for several reasons such as not adequately reading the volunteer handbook and not following instructions from local partners.
Jamaica volunteer expeditions do support all the projects we run in several ways.
1. Financial contribution is given to the partner if this is what best. Meaning we monitor and determine if this does more damage than good.To determine this we monitor our projects through monthly reviews.
2. Most of the projects run by JVE are community driven
3. We facilitate donation and resources for all our partners
4. We are a for profit organization however we have a charity that fund projects across the island or we make donation to the NGO partners we work with.
There was also a concern about food not been given at our partner Jamaica Volunteer Programs? This statement given was not the truth. JVP provides 2 meals a day to all volunteer and arrangement is always made for lunch while on project.
I would like to add that JVP is one of our most popular programs and they continue to get 95% positive review as they are very experience and do their very best to support their volunteers.
The accommodation is located 10 Minutes outside Kingston as we clearly stated on website and all our marketing material. This is what makes the program very successful and unique. volunteer are located in on a hill overlooking the city with a panoramic view of the blue Mountains but is not located in Kingston .Volunteer on our Kingston program can relax and unwind after a hard day of volunteering in the city.
Because the accommodation is located where there is no public transportation JVP charges a project transfer cost to the projects. This cost is the same as what locals would pay. Normally most volunteers pay don't have a issue with this subsidized fee.
Kathryn also mentioned of spending a few days at another accommodation across the road. This arrangement was made by JVE because Kathryn was volunteering during our spring break season and all rooms at Smokey Manor was Booked out. We made alternate arrangements for her to have a home stay experience at the Rhoden family which is literally 20 seconds walk across the street from Smokey manor. The Rhoden family is very loving and give their very best to support all volunteers. This accommodation was newly built an Kathryn was the first volunteer to occupy the room. We are unsure why Kathryn was not satisfied with the arrangement as another volunteer Sherene Jermaine stayed at the accommodation during the same period and was 100% happy and found no problems. Sherene also made a review on Go overseas and volunteers can get feedback about her stay

The team would like to acknowledged the concerns Kathryn have about the program and we will review and make changes were seen fit. We also would to wish Kathryn the best in her nursing career and ventures. Have a god bless day

No, I don't recommend this program
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One Day Family Volunteer Experience

Our family was vacationing in Negril and wanted to take some time away from relaxing and this was the perfect excursion. We went with our two children ( age 8 & 10) to a local school to help with their annual sports day. We were able to not only interact with the staff and students, but their families as well. We had a great time, lovely lunch and couldn't have been more pleased with the experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Amazing Trip Could Not have been better.

It was an amazing trip, it was comforting while also helpful doing community work. We stayed at the Smokey Manor for half the trip and then we went to the Blue mountains. It could not have been any better. I am a vegatiarian and they where very flexable with that. The space was small, but in a good way. We all got really close together like family. We welcomed part of the staff to be part of our school family. Even some other people from a different group. Over all I could not have seen this to be any better. Very nice and I would recommand anyone to do this program because it worth every second, and penny.

How can this program be improved?
Nothing, I would not change a thing. Food, shelter, and staff where overall amazing.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Internship In Kingston

Deciding to complete an Internship in Jamaica was one of the best decisions I've ever made! Studying in the Travel and Tourism Industry, students were granted the opportunity to travel worldwide and since I am a person who loves traveling I instantly began to seek for an International opportunity. Now being that I have Jamaican background It motivated me find a company in Jamaica and Intern for them, thus how I found Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions. This experience helped me to enhance and practice customer service skills all over the world while also learning more about my cultural background. From the moment I arrived I felt welcomed as the company team members were present from airport pick to the final date of Internship. I was blown away with great field trips where we as a team and as an individual created inseparable memories, viewed many beautiful sceneries, had the chance to make new friends and be fulfilled with delicious local foods and pastries. This trip was a big step for me as it completely allowed me to step out my comfort zone but i'm so glad I pushed myself into this decision. I would definitely recommend this program to any persons who wish to volunteer and/or do an Internship with JVE. It was truly an eye opener experience and I hope that in the future I will return for a visit or participate in an alumni events.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the accommodation portion of the program. Although all accommodations are all located in the same vicinity, I would ensure that all volunteers are equally split up around the different accommodations to ensure that no one is left feeling isolated and that they are always feeling comfortable and safe from the company around them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I was "inspired by possibility, guided by purpose!"

I participated in the Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions program from March 13th-April 8th. I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a safe vacation, volunteer experience, or anyone wanting to learn about other cultures. The accommodations are beautiful, clean, and make you feel at home. The staff are very welcoming and provide excellent service, catering, and several opportunities for activities and tours. What I most enjoyed about the program was the opportunity to interact with the locals of Kingston. The cultural immersion was an unforgettable experience, and will be returning soon!!

How can this program be improved?
No complaints
Yes, I recommend this program
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Orphanage and Sports coaching volunteering in Kingston, Jamaica.

Volunteering in Jamaica has been the most amazing experience and I will never forget it! The evening I arrived in Jamaica I was jet lagged and nervous, but after speaking to the other volunteers and Marlon, the son of the family who own the guest house, those nerves soon went.
The first week I was in Jamaica I was volunteering at an orphanage in Havendale. The girls were all lovely there, just craving attention. I read them stories, helped them with their homework, played games outside with them and one day we made birthday cards for the lady who ran the orphanage. There was also an 8month old baby boy, I loved teaching him how to walk, he was very sweet. By the time I was leaving he was trying to say my name, which was just brilliant. Also in the first week I went to Manning's Hill pre school twice, all the children there were lovely too, it was a great experience being able to help them with their words and letters. The aunties and the teachers at both the orphanage and the school were very helpful and grateful for me being there.
For the remaining 3 weeks I was at Shortwood Practicing school, this was for children aged 3-15. I was volunteering with the pe department by helping to teach the kids sports. On the first day I taught a class of 5year olds track and field sports. It was great and the kids were all really helpful and pleasant. On the second day it was parents day, so I was sitting next to one of the pe teachers as he did his one-to-one parent teacher consultations. This was a very eye opening experience and I learnt a lot about the background of some of the kids. During my time I was also asked by one of the senior management team to go up on stage during their devotion in the morning, and tell the children about me. I also donated some footballs and netballs to the pe department as they didn't have any! They were desperately needed for the kids to learn new skills for competitions. The pe teachers and the rest of the staff at the school were very kind and willing to help me with anything I needed. They also didn't push me into anything I didn't want to do, it was always what I felt comfortable with.
Staying in Smokey Manor Guest House was brilliant, the Evans family were great with everything, you knew they'd be there to help if you needed them, The housekeeper and cook Louise is a legend! Everyday cooking authentic Jamaican dishes which were so tasty! But always with a smile on her face.
The day trips I went on were also great, I learnt a lot about coffee in the Blue Mountains and relaxed at Hellshire Beach.
Overall this volunteer experience has been life changing, it couldn't have been any better. I learnt so much, I think I made a difference to the lives of some of the children, plus I has great fun, had loads of new experiences and made some friends for life. I will definitely be coming back to Jamaica soon, as I've fallen in love with the island, the culture, the music and how kind the people are. I don't think I've ever been as relaxed in my entire life, I'm even staying an extra week with someone I've met since being here.

How can this program be improved?
The cost of some of the day trips could be a lot less.
Yes, I recommend this program

About Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions

Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions offers a safe and meaningful volunteer travel experience that allows you to experience Jamaica from a different perspective of that of a travel magazine. As a Jamaican owned and operated volunteer placement organization...