From the days of the Spanish conquest, through the time when the US built the Panama Canal, until today when foreigners are flocking in numbers to its land to live, Panama has always been an attraction destination. The country has seen amazing growth with some occasional setbacks over the years. The influence the canal has had on its destiny cannot be measured, but it can be seen everywhere you look. The country of Panama is a beautiful country rich in traditions, food, and history. Here you will have an amazing opportunity not only to volunteer and help others, but to be in contact with a society on the rise.

The country is mainly driven, economically and developmentally, by its capital, Panama City. Here commerce and business flourish as a direct result of its geographical location and importance lent by the Panama Canal. This wonder of human machine works has made Panama a very important center for people from all over the world. When you walk the streets of Panama City you will see a wide variety of nationalities and cultures represented. It is refreshing to see such a cosmopolitan mixture of nationalities.

Ecotourism/Conservation

With the incredible natural diversity in Panama, it is no surprise that ecological focused projects are in demand and on the rise. Many volunteer programs are focused on conservation of the resources in the provincial areas of the country, and in the education and support of the populations in these areas. Many of the highest quality organizations are found outside the capital anywhere from one hour to multiple hour trips on land. Panama is home to an amazing diversity of environments and species, and the growth in organizations and potential organizations reflects that.

Health

Panama boasts some decent health services, however, as seen throughout much of Latin America, it is not always made a priority. If you are in the large cities, you can find great opportunities in the more established hospitals and health service institutions. These provide great opportunities for medical students also who need to do residency work and for understanding medical advancements in the country. In the provincial towns, you can expect to be on the forefront of health education projects and in direct contact with local people. In the provinces, there are not well established institutions thus volunteers are often required to have a more hands on experience and to create alternative solutions to certain health issues.

Human Rights Advocacy

By sharing a border with Colombia and being a major byway in the immigration lines of Latin America, you can find some volunteer opportunities in human rights advocacy. It would be wise to consult groups such as the UNHCR to see what groups are in the capital currently focused on this issue. There are some other groups that have operations in various countries and they often times have an office in Panama City as well.

Health and Safety of Volunteers in Panama

Panama is a country that does not require a massive amount or any special types of vaccinations. As a rule of thumb, always have your Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Tetanus up to date. However, vaccinations such as Yellow Fever are not necessary. If you find you will be out in the country side and it makes you feel better, you can get additional vaccinations. If you are in the city areas of Panama, there is even less need for the vaccinations.

In terms of safety you should always be aware of your surroundings. When in the large cities, consult with your advisors or locals before going out to find out what areas to be in and which areas to avoid. Once you are out in the city, know where you are going and look like you know where you are going too. Make sure you have someone to go out with at night and a sure way of getting home afterwards. In the provincial towns, gauge who is alright to be around and where to be. It will be a more intimate setting in the countryside, so you will have to figure out a routine that works for you. Whether you are in the cities or in the countryside, always keep your jewelry and "bling" to a minimum. This goes for just about anywhere in Latin America. The idea of vanity and publicly wearing lots of accessories is an invitation for theft and potentially other problems. Humility in these cases will serve you well.

Visas for Volunteering in Panama

Tourist Visas are relatively easy to get and they last anywhere from 30-90 days. Check with your organization to see what they handle, what you would need, and to see about renewal methods.

Work Visas are tough to come by, as many companies have to prove why to employ you rather than a local. Check with your company or organization about who to handle this.

Contributed by Lee O'Brian

Volunteer Programs in Panama

Displaying 1 - 15 of 24 programs
Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Panama: Cocle
Panama
9.62 •21 reviews

Promote health, reforestation, and environmental protection by...

Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Discover AMIGOS - Panama
Panama
10 •3 reviews

Discover AMIGOS is a two-week group volunteer experience for ages 13...

Surf For Life
Build Community Development Projects in Central America
Multiple Countries
9.87 •15 reviews

As a Surf For Life volunteer, you will work alongside local community...

Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Panama: Azuero
Panama
10 •2 reviews

Explore the Azuero Peninsula while you promote health and...

Proyecto Mosaico e.V.
Proyecto Mosaico: Volunteer Work in Central America
Multiple Countries
9.36 •14 reviews

You can become a part of our work! Share your time, experiences and...

Outward Bound Costa Rica
Outward Bound Costa Rica: Girl Scout Destinations in Costa Rica & Panama
Multiple Countries
10 •6 reviews

Experience an unforgettable adventure with fellow Girl Scouts from...

Volunteers Around the World
VAW Medical Outreach
Multiple Countries
10 •3 reviews

VAW - Medical Outreach provides volunteers with an opportunity to...

Outward Bound Costa Rica
Custom Short Term Course in Costa Rica, Panama, or Nicaragua
Multiple Countries
9.67 •3 reviews

We design custom courses for groups of 5 participants minimum. Groups...

Movement Exchange
Volunteer, Dance, and Discover Art, Culture & History with Movement Exchange
Multiple Countries
10 •2 reviews

Travel, learn international dance, gain teaching experience, and have...

International Service Learning
Health and Medical Programs in Panama
Panama
9.5 •2 reviews

Assist in providing community and medical services to those in need...

Unexpected Moments of Magic
Be the Change! Volunteer in Panama with Unexpected Moments of Magic
Panama
10 •1 review

Come to the beautiful town of Boquete in Panama and make an impact on...

Ceiba Leaf campus
Charity Projects and Volunteer Programs in Panama
Panama
8.5 •2 reviews

We are currently offering 6 ongoing volunteer programs for travelers...

Give and Surf
Local Community Volunteer in Panama
Panama

Over 200 volunteers from around the world help us each year & are...

Adventure Volunteer
Volunteering in Animal Refuge Centre in Panama
Panama

Take an unique chance of working with wild animals and exotic plants!...

Global Brigades
Global Brigades: 7-9 Day Health and Economic Development Projects
Multiple Countries

Global Brigades volunteers will have the opportunity to spend a week...

What People Are Saying

It is hard to fully summarize this summer in writing, but I will do my best! My time in Panama with Discover AMIGOS was one of the most incredible, life-changing experiences I have ever had...

a picture of me with local girls from the school I taught at!

Cacique [kəˈsēk]: a native chief or local political boss. I will never forget waking up that morning in a sweat, knowing everyone was going to depend on me. The day my outlook on life changed forever...

A photo of my best friend and I with our friend we met who is part of the indigenious Bri-Bri community in Talamanca, Costa Rica.

Movement Exchange embodies pure passion, love, connection, and service. Going into the program last summer, I knew something incredible was about to happen, but I had no idea how much the experience...

Some of the sweet children in Panamanian orphanges

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