Day Care Centers
Even though Costa Rica takes great care of its students in primary school, there are few choices for children under the age of 6. Many of these children come from single parent families who have limited access to eduction and financial and material resources. Volunteers spend their time with infants and toddlers helping with a variety of tasks and playing games. Volunteers for this program must be flexible, creative, and have a lot of energy. Often volunteers will need to organize activities for the children, and assist with chores (cleaning, cooking, washing the children, etc).
*Volunteers should have a beginner level of Spanish skills. This program has a 2 weeks minimum time commitment.
Costa Rica offers free public education. On average, there are about twenty-eight students in a classroom. Students are required to wear uniforms during the nine years of their formal education, from ages 6 to 15. The school year in Costa Rica runs from February to December. Students have vacation for about two months, from December to February, and a few weeks off in July.
ELI works with a variety of local schools in rural locations, where the educational opportunities are low. Volunteers will assist the teacher with English, Arts and Sports classes as well as leading activities, helping with homework and after school programs. Even though volunteers are in classrooms, resources are very limited, and many of the students do not have basic materials such as books, pencils or paper.
*Volunteers should be flexible, creative, highly motivated and mentally prepared to work without readily accessible materials.
After School Programs
Volunteers can also work with After School programs helping children with their homework, preparing recreational, artistic and sport activities and acting as role model for the children. If you are looking to improve your Spanish, this is a great option for taking Spanish classes in the morning and volunteering with children in the afternoon.
*This placement requires a minimum stay of two weeks and participants should have an Intermediate Spanish level. No prior teaching experience is needed.
Woman Empowerment Programs
ELI partners with women’s offices around Costa Rica, where the municipality advocates for women’s and children’s rights and provide services such as training, support and advice. These organizations focus on education, self-esteem, and other initiatives which give women the proper tools to improve themselves and their family's economic and social conditions. Programs center on issues such as domestic violence, women's rights, women's health, and economics/ entrepreneurial projects. Participants may help with different projects which strive to improve the living conditions of women including: training workshops on handicrafts, clothing, cooking, ceramics etc.; business training; presentations and forum discussions on home violence, leadership, women’s rights and health consultations.
*A minimum commitment of two weeks is required and participants for this placement must be able to speak Spanish at an intermediate to advance level.
Costa Rica has a 28% of the country’s total land area set aside in national parks and preserves and a booming low impact tourism industry. However, there are still many environmental issues like endangered species, corridor preservation and restoration and sustainability . Volunteers can work in a variety of projects.
Animal Conservation: Volunteers assist with a center that aims to protect wildlife in danger. Participant will help with education projects, taking care of the animals and preparing promotional materials.
Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening: Volunteers are welcome to work at a cooperative or other community project with the goals of promoting sustainable practices and creating eco-tourism centers in order to benefit the local economy without massive environmental damage.
Eco Parks: Volunteers can assist with trail building and interpretation (signs, maps, species identification, etc.), and ongoing projects include reforestation, cleaning up, educational programs for local students, and community centered awareness programs.
*These programs require a minimum 2 weeks time commitment. Volunteers for this program must have Intermediate Spanish language skills, and be comfortable in a 100% Spanish speaking environment.
Participants with a medical background are welcome to assist with day to day tasks in a hospital or rural clinic. Conditions are very basic. Tasks are assigned by the local staff based on what they feel is appropriate given a participant's background. Many participants also assist with educational outreach programs in addition to time spent with patients in the clinic. This is a great opportunity for doctors, nurses, PAs, and medical students to learn about Costa Rica while also giving back to the community in a very appreciated way.
*This internship requires at least a 4 week minimum commitment and an intermediate level of Spanish.
Participants with a background in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are welcome to work with a government run organization aimed to improve the quality of life for disable children and their families. Participants can help with physical therapy sessions, preparing recreational activities for the children and helping with special sport activities for children with physical and mental disabilities.
ELI works with a variety of micro finance organizations that provide training and business advice at a community level in Costa Rica and have changed the lives of many small scale entrepreneurs.
Interns work with small businesses, womens groups and community organizations helping educate and train small businesses to identify, prioritize, program, execute, and evaluate development projects. Additionally, participants focus on increasing income, improving the environment for businesses, and helping businesses find new markets to work with.
Experience within the fields of accounting, business administration, marketing, or finance is very helpful.
*This placement requires a minimum of 4 weeks commitment and an intermediate to advanced level of Spanish.
Projects are based in the town of San Ramon. This relatively small town sits in the province of Alajuela and many of its inhabitants must commute to work in the capital city San Jose each day. Those who do not make that commute daily work in rural farms in the region. As with many communities throughout the developing world, San Ramon has more prosperous areas, and areas with higher need. Volunteers work within low-income communities in the area.
Alternative break projects are available for either one or two weeks. During two week projects, volunteers have the middle weekend free and are welcome to travel to other parts of the country to explore. Costa Rica’s size and hospitality make it ideal for weekend adventures. All volunteers must arrive and depart on a Saturday.
Volunteers work on a construction project helping to build houses at cost for low income families in the poor neighborhoods of San Ramon and surrounding villages. The international organization Canada-Costa Rica heads up the projects and all volunteers will work with skilled carpenters and contractors. Experience in construction is not needed, though any skills you bring to the project will be gladly utilized.
1 Week = $550
2 Weeks = $950
**There will also be an additional $100 nonrefundable application fee for each participant.
- Welcome at airport and transportation to San Ramon
- Orientation and Introduction to Costa Rica
- Accommodations with a host family (private room and 3 meals per day)
- On-Call support through the duration of the project
- Bilingual In-Country Coordinator and Staff
- Travel assistance for weekend trips and local sight-seeing
What’s Not Included
- Airport/exit taxes
- Health and Accident Insurance
- Personal Expenses (including weekend trips and local sight-seeing)
- Daily transportation to and from volunteer project site