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While Panama is an incredible vacation destination in Central America, it is still a developing nation with much room for improvement, and so, has many opportunities for volunteering. We’ve gathered some of the most rewarding volunteering experiences to partake in for all who wish to give back to Panama and contribute to the greater good in some way, however small.
Just next to the popular Casco Viejo neighborhood, so close you can walk, is an area known as El Chorrillo. This neighborhood is avoided by many as it is poor and used to be extremely dangerous and controlled by gang activity. Though not as dangerous as it once was, El Chorrillo is still very poor, isolated, and ultimately avoided—children who live there can’t even make it to school because no bus is willing to drive there to pick them up.
With Educate Me and You Educate a Nation, a weekly volunteer program run by Localinpty CEO Victor Peretz, a group of volunteers gathers at the police station in El Chorrillo to help the area’s children learn English. By doing so, volunteers get a taste of the reality that many Panamanians still face today just beyond the tourist traps of Panama City. You’ll not only learn about Panama’s culture but also get to give back to innocent Panamanian children who can really use your help.
This is not your average beach trip and though it won’t be glamorous but you’ll be making Panama’s beaches really shine. Trash collection is a major problem in Panama and since littering is out of control, the beauty of many gorgeous beaches gets lost in the muck of trash left behind by locals and travelers alike. Take the initiative to join one of the many beach clean-up crews that meet regularly and rediscover the beauty of Panama’s beaches by helping to clean up after those who weren’t as responsible.
This group cares for the extremely high number of stray animals that wander the streets of Panama and recently held a clinic at the Casa Comunal in Nueva Gorgona where spaying and neutering services cost just $10 for cats, $15 for dogs, and $20 for large dogs over 50 pounds. No appointment is ever necessary to attend these clinics and animals are treated on a first-come-first-served basis. If you plan to attend one in the future, make sure to not feed your pet any food or water the morning of the surgery. The clinic encourages people to adopt rescue animals and help strays find homes and thus discourages the purchasing of purebred animal. Its services should not to be used as a cheap way to spay or neuter a pet.
This non-profit group organizes free dance education in Panama. It currently offers one weekly program in El Chorrillo where you can teach dance to local Panamanians. Check out the group’s Facebook page for updates and events.