Brazil

WorkingAbroad

I volunteered in Rio de Janeiro as a football trainer and English teacher. Through WorkingAbroad I was placed at the local organization Iko Poran. Iko Poran placed me in a project called Jocum in the favela Borel. Jocum is a very organized Christian charity with a hospital, music school, women project, football project and they organize a lot of different activities for the community. Safety in the favela was no problem; in fact, the people were very welcoming to me when they knew that I volunteered for Jocum and they were very eager to participate in the program. The participants of the football project are around 18 years old, so playing football with them is a great experience in itself if you like football! Staying there for a longer period gives you the chance to really make a difference and help the people, although a short stay will be great too. Next to the football trainings I also taught the participants of the football project English classes.
As I stayed for almost 3 months with another volunteer, we became good friends with the boys in the favela and they treated us like we were one of them. Still months after volunteering, I'm in touch with many of the boys from the football program and I promised them to come back!

What I liked the best are the relationships we could build with the football players and help them in making their life decisions, eg. about going to school, having work, how to treat the girls in the favela, how to stay away from criminality, etc.
More information about the project on www.goal4rio.com

Iko Poran has two houses where you will live with the other volunteers. Living with the other volunteers is a lot of fun and you will enjoy every day/night. At Iko Poran, Zac and Vivi help you with everything you need, they also offer you Portugese language course, which helps you a lot to get around.

Improvements for the program:
Pricing of the program could be improved. Just to volunteer we paid a lot for accommodation and breakfast. However, the quality of these were pretty bad. The mattresses were bad, kitchen equipment was very old and the wifi barely worked if everybody was back in the hostel.
For breakfast, there were only white slices of bread, cheese, ham, most of the time a piece of fruit, 1 type of cereals, milk and coffee. For none of us this was enough to start a full day of volunteering.
To sum up, nothing too bad, but Iko Poran can easily improve these to improve the experience of the volunteers.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Oct 14, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Global Volunteer Network (GVN)

I volunteered on the GVN Brazil Program this September and it was by far the most rewarding, eye opening and heartwarming experience I've ever had. GVN supported me before, during and after my trip and is always there to answer any questions you may have.

During my stay in Rocinha, I was working and living with wonderful volunteers from all over the world. I did the Teaching Program so I got to teach smart and enthusiastic kids every afternoon, as well as equally amazing adults some days of the week. At night we got to do some locals classes which was a lot of fun as well, I've never met more welcoming and friendly people than the ones in Rocinha!

The children running up to you yelling "Teacher!", grabbing your hands and hugging you, will put a smile on your face every single day. The lessons are great because the kids are genuinely happy to be there and eager to learn, especially when you put in the effort to make everything interesting for them (singing songs, playing games, reading stories, letting them act things out and draw, asking people to come up front to point things out etc.).

Arriving in a favela by yourself is daunting of course, especially when you don't speak Portuguese. All I can say is that it's SO worth it to jump in head first and go for it, you will not regret it. Sure, it won't always be easy but that just makes you a stronger, more independent person. The people you meet, the experiences you have, the things you visit in Rio will stay with you forever. My main advice: stay as long as you can!! I was only there for a couple of weeks and I so wish I could have stayed longer.

Thanks to GVN and the local Brazil Program, I can't wait to come back some day!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Oct 2, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Expanish

Muito boa a experiência.

Fiquei estudando na Expanish por 4 meses e aproveitei muito tudo que ela ofereceu.

As aulas são muito boas e os professores claro, são fantásticos. Já sabiam todas as dificuldades que um brasileiro tem na hora de aprender o espanhol.

A equipe muito atenciosa, e resolveram um problema que tive nas aulas bem depressa.

Foi uma ótima maneira de viver a cultura de Buenos Aires e estudar espanhol.

Super recomendo.

Gracias Expanish

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Jun 18, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Frontier

On the last day of project, one of the children gave a speech. She said that she was so happy people had come to Tuiuti (her favela) from all over the world. She said she was grateful that we had given them opportunities to learn English, and that she would never forget what we'd taught her. She said she was happy that now her favela would be known all around the world, and that this would bring more opportunities to them. It was not something I had expected, and it was very emotional. I will remember it always, even though it was in Portuguese. So yes, my time was appreciated and it was worthwhile.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: May 21, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

ELIabroad Experiential Learning International

I spent two weeks with the animal program outside Curitiba and it was everything I hoped for... The planning process with ELI was easy, transportation was really nice to have, and the guest house was wayyy nicer than I expected. I worked with the staff on feeding/maintenance/cleaning for the aviaries, large cat enclosures (including jaguars, mountain lions, oscelots), a huge enclosure for bush dogs with elevated walkways...If you are afraid of heights, some of the enclosures might be scary. Bring a Portuguese dictionary so you can look up animals (some of them they only know the Brazilian name for). The property is enormous...in my free time I hiked and explored the complex lake system and back country. It's an amazing place for someone who appreciates nature and wants to get away from the city. It's quiet at night, so bring movies or books or something to keep you busy after the sun goes down. Work starts at dawn and the time goes by quickly. I'd go back and stay a little longer if I could take the time off.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Nov 27, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

To blatantly brand the Costa Rica participants as liars is, in my opinion, a classic example of the arrogant and uncaring attitude of the Cross Cultural Solutions staff. I was a participant in their Ondina house in Salvador, Brazil, almost 10 years ago, and from the moment I arrived I realised I had made a huge mistake in trusting this company.

I had been assured, verbally and by email, before I started the program that I would not need to be fluent in Brazilian Portuguese to participate in their HIV/AIDS program. It even said the same, in print, on both their website and the literature they had given me. I had also specifically requested that I work only on the HIV/AIDS program, as I was only interested in this program, due to the exceptional approach that Brazil has taken towards antiretroviral medication. I stated that I absolutely did not want to teach English or work with children (if I'd have wanted to do that, I'd have stayed at home for free). When I arrived in Brazil, I was told that I would be teaching English to children in favelas, that I was unsuitable for the HIV/AIDS program because I was not fluent in the language, and handed a brochure, presumably tailor-made for this situation, that 'proved' the requirements specifically stated that fluency was a requirement.

So, I'd just paid a large sum of money and flown a very long way to spend 2 months doing something I absolutely didn't want to do. Welcome to Day 1 with CCS.

In the coming weeks, we learnt that the places we were teaching at thought that we were being paid to be there, which was absolutely not true. We also had to pay for all the teaching supplies, additional to the money we had already paid to be there. There was no structure to the teaching program whatsoever - we were just paired up, sent into a favela, and told to 'teach English'. This would have been daunting and frustrating enough if I'd have actually gone to Brazil with the intent of teaching. I didn't, so you can only imagine how I felt.

The house staff would make a meal one day, then we'd be left to eat the scraps of leftovers for the next day, and leave the bins in the toilets overflowing for days. Yes, I can cook for myself, and yes, I'm perfectly capable of emptying a bin covered in faeces-ridden tissue, but that's not really the point. Another example of the house staff not doing their job was the time I was followed home by three young lads who tried to take my bag from me and smacked me around the face on the doorstep of the security gate to the house. I had rung the doorbell, shouted the guard's name, banged on the door, shouted Socorro (Help) many, many times before they hit me, and only then did he actually poke his head over the fence. Why wasn't he at his post? Because he didn't care about his job or our safety? Who knows.

Understandably I wasn't quiet about my dissatisfaction. Perhaps if I'd have accepted that I'd been lied to and just got on with it quietly, the staff would have been nicer to me, instead of frequently making me cry with their harsh words and lies. At one point, the project coordinator told me that the children hated me and that's why they hadn't come to class that day. I found out the next day that they'd actually been banned from going to class by their elders as punishment because they'd stolen paper to make party invitations with, a party that we'd held together the week before. Oh, and they threatened to send me home. On more than one occasion. Empty threats from a woman who strongly resembled a pickled Eartha Kitt, dripping in Dior and Gucci - a clear indication of where our money was truly going.

On the plus side, I got my own back by learning Brazilian Portuguese to such a standard that I pleaded with them, in their own language, to let me participate in the HIV/AIDS program, the program that I had actually paid to do. CCS said I could only do it if I kept my teaching obligations, so I worked two programs simultaneously. It was run by the local NGO, GAPA Bahia. GAPA Bahia were amazing, the staff were friendly and fun, and the work I did with them was really interesting. I would contact them if I ever went back to Brazil to volunteer again.

I wouldn't recommend CCS to anyone. If I thought I stood even half a chance of getting my money back, I would have tried, but you just can't reason with the unreasonable.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: May 19, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1

Comments

Another thing, CCS - if and when you reply to this, please try to do so in a more mature fashion than you did to the other people who made negative comments. It's not as if I've just come back and I'm letting off steam. If you hadn't made such hideous responses to the negative comments of the people who didn't have such an amazing experience whilst in your care, I would never have said anything.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I was introduced to Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) through a dear friend of mine. The programs sounded very exciting and in line with the humanitarian work I enjoy doing. After attending a formal information session at it's New Rochelle, NY office, it was official confirmation this program was the right fit. I knew right away the type of volunteer work I wanted to do and where. My choice was to perform work in the HIV/AIDS field in Salvador, Brazil. From the moment I enrolled through the moment I returned from my service work in Brazil, I was supported throughout the entire process. CCS Brazil is a special place. I gained a large appreciation for the country, the culture, its people, and the fight in HIV/AIDS globally. The volunteers, from all over the world, connected in a very fluid and respectable manner. CCS Brazil offered other areas to work, such as teaching English and in other healthcare sectors. The country directors and staff are personable, supportive, intelligent, and go beyond their means to run a smooth, safe, and informative program. Without hesitation, I endorse CCS Brazil, and Cross Cultural Solutions as a whole.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Dec 24, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

I had a fantastic time on the program. I have gotten to know some really great people.
I was living in a floating house on a river in the Mamirauá reserve in the Amazon forest with 2-5 other people.
Every morning at 7.30 we took the boat out on the main river to observe pink river dolphins. The sometimes got really close to the boat, jumping and carrying objects in their mouths.
When living on such a small and constricted area (10x15 m), you get really close to people. After a week it's like you've known eachother for years. And since we didn't have neighter TV, radio, nor internet, we spent a lot of time talking.
People in the Amazon are warm and friendly. They are always there to help you. They invite you in to their house for lunch or dinner, even if you've just met. Most of the locals speak little or no English, but it doesn't matter, you can communicate anyway.
I loved it there and I recommend everyone to go on this program!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Dec 13, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

10 days ago I left a place that welcomed me with open arms, an open heart, and an open spirit. Upon entry to my home in Salvador with Cross Cross Cultural Solutions I did not know what to expect. What I received was love, guidance, and one of the best experiences I have had in my 27 years of life personally and professionally. The Cross Cultural Solutions staff in Salvador was welcomed my personality, yet challenged me to think harder, and to go deeper in my observations of Bahian culture and sysytems.

As a volunteer, I knew my primary goal was to serve the community. However, CCS, they were very clear and also gentle in explaining the needs and the history of the neighborhoods we served in. As an intern studying abroad, I knew my primary goal was to learn as much about Afro-Brazilian culture and education. CCS provided a holistic experience that helped me to reach my academic goals. I was able to visit various types of schools, hear lectures from scholars, attend samba, and capoeria classes... but not just attend the classes, but I learned the history and cultural connections.

The beauty of the knowledge gained was that I talked to the entire staff about the things I was learning and just about life in general. From Maria our amzing cook, to Lulu, to the night staff of Jo and Nando, and of course our guiding lights Gracie, Vinni, and Ivan who guided us daily.

The staff were very professionally and provided the right amount of personal care for me. I consider Salvador a second home and look to visit and stay in touch often. For all those with the opportunity to serve in Salvador, please do so. It will improve your quality of life.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Sep 4, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

The CCS Brazil program changed my life, period. I volunteered with them for 3 months and it was the most amazing experience in my life. I couldn't imagine my life, now, without having gone through this experience. The staff in the house are not just "staff" they become your family while you're there. They take care of you as if you were family. The program is well organized and they work day and night ensuring that you have a beautiful and safe experience. This is true from the moment they pick you up from the airport to the moment you are dropped off. CCS helps you become immersed into the local culture. They offer you Portuguese, dance and history lessons. The staff also provides you with very local events/attractions and places for you to visit. After a while, you almost start feeling like a local and speaking the language. This program deserves more than 10 stars!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Brazil
Posted: Aug 26, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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