UPDATE: Are you looking for a ways to help in the wake of the recent earthquakes? Here are volunteer opportunities to help Puerto Rican residents:
Do you have the urge to volunteer somewhere and improve a community? Puerto Rico has suffered several natural disasters recently and needs help. It's a great place to volunteer as Puerto Rico boasts a tropical marine climate and is only 2.5 hours from Miami.
As Puerto Rico undergoes more industrialization, the island’s rainforest is under threat. Reforestation efforts have thus far been modestly successful but volunteers are sorely needed to help the region balance economic growth and environmental preservation. Planting seeds and harvesting the trees is a popular volunteer-supported endeavor.
Nearly 45% of Puerto Ricans live below the poverty line even though 15% of the population is unemployed. Volunteer support to improve the quality of life is crucial, whether that support stems from educating the youth or helping families get back on their feet.
It’s important to remember that Puerto Rico is still subject to the US Department of Education, a government branch that suffers from a huge pile of debt. Tutoring English and basic subjects can supplement the low level of education many students receive.
Planning Your Trip
How to save money while volunteering: The public transportation system is pretty inadequate outside of major cities. Públicos, or shared taxis, are popular means of getting around mainly because they’re cheap.
NGOs/Nonprofit/Volunteer History in Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico has a wide variety of NGOs throughout the island—from the Caribbean Recycling Foundation in San Juan to the Natural Health Institute in Rincón. Here’s a more complete list of NGOs in Puerto Rico.
Know Before You Go: The more knowledge of the Spanish language the better. However, by no means will your efforts be belittled if you can’t communicate fluently with community members.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Puerto Rico
Crime in Puerto Rico is concentrated in San Juan and Ponce, two of Puerto Rico’s largest cities. While the violence is strongly connected with the underground drug trade, crime can affect any traveler. Thankfully, violence directed towards tourists is quite rare. Theft is a greater threat so like anywhere, don’t leave belongings in plain site whether in your car or in your house.
Most tap water on the island is safe to drink. Just don’t take a swim in a freshwater body of water at the center of downtown. Save that for the rainforest. On the topic of rainforests, Puerto Rico has fewer diseases than other Caribbean climates. Regardless, it would be best to take routine, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid shots.