Paraguay, a country heavily influenced by the Spanish, is known as the heart of South America because of its central location and abundant natural resources. The Paraguay River is an important part of the country forming Paraguay’s two regions: Oriental and Occidental. Even though Paraguay is one of the poorer countries on the continent, Paraguay has a rich history and a growing economy which you will not want to miss. Its culture is interestingly a strong mix of the Guaraní and the Spanish. If you are looking to volunteer in a place that has both city and wildlife, Paraguay is the country to go to.Photo credit: Deni Williams.
Many volunteers go to Paraguay to help with making the community a better place because of the high number of poor communities and 34.7% poverty level. Volunteers often help with community centers and infrastructures to help make the area more developed. Usually there are various methods to help within specific communities but the main motive is to help those communities develop.
In underdeveloped communities, it is important to help the local children to get the best possible care and attention that they might not otherwise receive in their communities. Helping the children can influence their future and Paraguay’s future. The youth need role models that they would not otherwise have without volunteers guiding them to make the right choices. In Paraguay, youth development is strongly tied with community development. An example of a youth development opportunity would be assisting and volunteering at the Special Olympics with kids in Paraguay.
Because of the extensive wildlife such as the wetlands, the forests and the wide variety of animals that make up a large part of the country, environmental and natural wildlife conservation is a prominent volunteering opportunity. The large Paraguay river has many opportunities for wildlife to grow and develop. Paraguay frequently faces a deforestation problem so with volunteers helping to increase resources for forests, the problem can be alleviated.
Know Before You Go: Before you go to Paraguay, make sure you get your visa because entering the country requires both a visa and a passport. Also you may want to stop by the doctor’s to go over what type of vaccinations you would like before going on your trip. The more rural areas have less paved roads which may be dangerous during extreme climates and block you off from getting anywhere.
How to Save Money While Volunteering: Try using calling cards because those can save you a lot of money with phone calls. Those phone calling cards are usually pre-paid so you can control how much you are talking on the phone in a more accurate way. The cost of living in Paraguay is also less than in the United States unless you are buying United States’ products. Transportation is generally the same everywhere and accommodation should not be too much of a cost.
Best Places to Volunteer: In Paraguay you can get involved either with U.S. NGO’s or local NGO’s. Some well-known organizations are the Peace Corps, Amigos de las Americas, and Habitat for Humanity. The Peace Corps and WWF are two U.S. NGO’s that are active in Paraguay. They focus on two different areas of volunteering opportunities. You can also find more Paraguay NGO’s on wango.org.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Paraguay
The traffic in Paraguay can be concerning because the automobiles get the right of way in the country. There has been some crime in Paraguay as well. Most of the time they are non violent but travellers should always be aware especially in regards to their belongings. Paraguay also has a lot of theft and robberies. More crime seems to happen near the city.