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Favela painting project | WikiCommons
Favela painting project | WikiCommons
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The Best Places To Volunteer In Rio De Janeiro

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 8 February 2017
Volunteering at the right organisation can leave travellers with a wealth of meaningful experiences and a connection with locals that would be difficult to get from simply backpacking. Be wary of volunteering programs that cost a small fortune, however – there are plenty of smaller organisations in need of help in Rio de Janeiro that offer volunteering opportunities for free.
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Mais Caminho

Mais Caminhos aims to provide educational opportunities and life-skills development to children and adolescents in orphanages. The volunteering program is totally free and volunteers receive free accommodation, food and job-related training. Volunteers are given freedom to create and develop their own projects, and there are numerous areas to work in such as agriculture, social media, social development, web design, education, cooking, driving, and as a coordinator. Whatever your skills or background, this organisation will find some use for them. The minimum commitment is six months with an intermediate level of Portuguese required. Those that commit for one year can start with little to no Portuguese and will receive a month-long course at their language school for free.

Mais Caminho, R. Farme de Amoedo, 135, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro +55 21 2267 6552

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Project Favela

Project Favela is a school and international volunteer program that includes two important free projects: the Early Childhood Education Program and a diverse After-School Program. The school is based in the heart of Rocinha, one of Rio’s largest favelas, and aims to abolish poverty through childhood education. Volunteers don’t need to be teachers as training is provided before taking on roles such as teaching English, literacy, science, technology, math, geography, art, theatre and coding. The project includes accommodation in the favela and volunteers are required to make a donation depending on the length they will stay which is between three weeks and six months.

Project Favela, R. da Raiz, 145, Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro +55 21 98134 2636

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Edu Mais

Edu Mais offers extracurricular activities and complementary education to the underprivileged children and adolescents in the Pavão–Pavãozinho and Cantagalo favelas. The shortest programs last between four weeks and six months and are free. Accommodation is only open to those that commit to a long-term program which is one year or more. An intermediate level of Portuguese is required for the positions available, which include teachers in English language and computer literacy, grant writers and office administration.

Edu Mais, Rua Saint Roman 142, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro +55 21 98344 9201

Um Rio

Its tagline of ‘Rugby for Development’ leaves little doubt that rugby is on the curriculum yet it also teaches human rights, explores educational avenues and healthcare. Um Rio supports and provides for young people in communities and favelas that are affected by crime and violence. By creating a safe space and stimulating environment, it provides children and adolescents with access to other opportunities that are away from law-breaking activities. The organisation works in partnership with the Oxford University Rugby Club and offers various free volunteer positions.

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Community in Action

Complexo do Alemao is located in the north of Rio de Janeiro and was once one of the most violent favelas. Nowadays living conditions are improving and it’s organizations such as Community in Action that are helping to shape the lives of residents there for the better. The volunteer experience lasts between two weeks until three months with full support prior to coming to Rio – including training and tours – yet it doesn’t include accommodation, flights or visa support. Unlike the other organisations, this one costs between USD$200 – USD$600 which contributes to the overall expenses of running the program. The volunteer roles available include music teacher, creche support worker and manual labour projects.

Community in Action, Estrada do Itararé, 480 Ramos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil