The Top Questions About Volunteering Abroad in Jamaica
Volunteering abroad in Jamaica sounds great, right? You get to learn more about another culture, while helping others in need. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds can find this type of experience to be literally life-changing. Want to learn more?
Let’s start with the most important question most people have:
Why do people volunteer abroad in Jamaica?
There are as many different reasons to volunteer in Jamaica as there are people who volunteer. For some, the primary reason is to help people in need. Our volunteer programs provide plenty of opportunities for growth, development and personal reinvention through unique and life-changing experiences.
Others choose to volunteer in Jamaica in order to have an immersive and genuine cultural experience. From the interactions you’ll experience during your volunteer activities, to the shared meals at your volunteer home, to the experiences you’ll gain with local residents during your free time, you will have the opportunity to see the Real Jamaica and learn a lot about its culture in a relatively short amount of time.
And, of course, some people are interested in all of the above!
We offer a wide variety of volunteer programs that cater to different individual interests you may have, as well as the overall type of experience you are looking for. Our programs currently include volunteering at a local orphanage, with separate programs for teaching, student services, sports coaching and building maintenance.
We also offer volunteer opportunities for teenagers, students looking to fill a “gap year” between high school and college, students on Spring, Summer or Winter break, mature individuals looking for a break from their careers, and anyone else who’s looking to help those in need and have a life changing experience.
Our volunteer programs work with orphanages in Jamaica that have children (both boys and girls) ranging from age 3 to age 16. As you might imagine, the full-time caregivers at the orphanage do not always have the time to give each and every child their full personal attention.
As such, one of the main goals for our volunteer program is to give our volunteers the opportunity to provide each child with love and friendship.
The orphanage has a wide range of volunteer opportunities available for those who wish to help the children. As a volunteer you will have flexibility in the types of activities you conduct. Some of our previous volunteers have run activities such as arts and crafts, sports, or teaching the children a song or dance from their home country. You may also help them learn how to use a computer or even help them with their homework.
The orphanages in Jamaica are usually in need of basic school supplies, including books, pencils, erasers, crayons, markers, pencil sharpeners, sports equipment and clothing, as well as arts and crafts supplies. In addition, linens and basic toiletries are always welcomed. If you’d like to help, you can bring some of these items with you as an extra piece of luggage when you come to Jamaica. These types of in-kind donations do a lot to help the orphanages and schools educate and care for their children.
We offer a wide range of volunteer programs, and a variety of program lengths. Individuals who don’t have a lot of time in their schedules will be pleased to learn that we offer opportunities as short as just one week in length.
We offer a wide variety of programs for volunteering in Jamaica, and we’ve helped everyone from high school students all the way up through retirees have a meaningful and powerful volunteer experience. We even have programs that allow families to come to Jamaica, volunteer, and leave with a powerful and lasting set of family memories.
Volunteers are housed at ‘Home Stays’ in our neighborhood and other volunteer homes, however, the primary place where most volunteers will stay is called Smokey Manor, located in the hills of Smokeyvale, St. Andrew. This property offers a panoramic view of the city as you’ll be able to marvel at the city lights of Kingston at night, or turn to the east and gaze upon the majestic Blue Mountains.
At Smokey Manor you’ll have a “home stay” experience while also having your own private accommodations.
Smokey Manor offers three different kinds of accommodations for volunteers. There are private single rooms and private double rooms, each of which are air-conditioned and have private bathrooms. There are also dormitory style accommodations, one of which houses eight volunteers, while the other holds four. Each of the dormitories has its own bathroom facilities.
Not all of the available residence spots will be full at all times, although Smokey Manor is almost always full during spring, summer and winter break. If you’re interested in learning whether other volunteers will be there at the same time as you, just ask us when you book your stay.
While staying at Smokey Manor you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings when you’re not volunteering. We also offer free hiking tours and dance classes. There is a basketball court, lawn area and plenty of board games for you to enjoy with your fellow volunteers.
Our volunteer programs are designed to fit within your personal schedule and budget. Most volunteers come for at least one week, and it’s possible to volunteer for as long as you desire. Just be sure to note the visa requirements for your country prior to planning a long term volunteer stay.
Questions About Day-To-Day Volunteering
The short answer is that there are some expectations around personal attire, but the type of clothing that’s most appropriate will depend upon the type of volunteering you do. In general, clothing with a fairly loose fit and made of lightly colored fabric will be your best choice for the Jamaican climate.
For example, if you’re volunteering as a teacher at a school then your dress should be on the formal side. For male volunteers this means a shirt with a collar, long pants, and either closed toed shoes or sandals with straps (no flip-flops, please). Female volunteers might choose to wear pants or a skirt, and a shirt or blouse that covers the shoulders and midsection. Local schools don’t allow shorts, or sheer (see-through) blouses.
Male and female dress standards for office volunteers, as well as medical facility volunteers, are generally the same as the standards for teachers.
Volunteers at the orphanage have the option to dress a bit more casually. Shorts and t-shirts are acceptable, as are flip-flops and other open-toed shoes. For female volunteers who choose to wear shorts, it’s generally preferred that the length of the shorts stop just above the knee.
While staying at Smokey Manor you’ll experience authentic Jamaican foods, cooked fresh and naturally grown. Some of the popular foods in the Jamaican cuisine include, jerk chicken, curry goat, rice and peas flavored in coconut milk, ripe banana fritters, stewed peas and more. Green leafy vegetables are also available with any meal.
If you’re diabetic, or you follow a vegetarian or gluten-free diet, you can eat here just like you eat at home. For more information about the food that will be available during your volunteer program, click here: http://jamaicavolunteerprograms.com/jamaica-cooking.
Some of our new volunteers also ask about the availability of safe drinking water. Jamaica is known by many as “the land of wood and water.” As such, it’s generally not a problem to find water that’s safe to drink. In fact, many tourist cruise ships stop in Jamaica to refill their water supplies. If you would still prefer to purchase natural bottled spring water, you will find that it’s readily available.
We use the GoOverseas website as a clearinghouse for all of our past volunteers reviews and experiences. We ask all volunteers to provide honest feedback, and we never edit them. You can learn more by visiting http://www.gooverseas.com/volunteer-abroad/jamaica/jamaica-volunteer-programs/30504.
When you are in Jamaica your safety and security is our #1 priority. We take this so seriously that we do not think our job is complete until you have returned home safely. Jamaica is a small island and often times the news about crime is very sensational. However, we do have crime as you have in your own country, but it is usually confined to specific areas that are not included in our volunteer programs. As you do in your own country, we ask that you use precautions and common sense when moving around.
To ensure your safety, here are some of the things we do:
• Our property is located outside of Kingston in the parish of St. Andrew, which is safe and is situated in the beautiful hills where you have a panoramic view of the city. You may not be aware that the owners live on the same property where volunteers are located. This means so you will always be surrounded with people that are like friends and family.
• While volunteering, you will be placed with a local mentor who will give you tips and support. This means that at all times you will be surrounded by caring and trusted people to keep you safe.
• When you arrive, we ask you to get a local cell phone or have roaming so we can contact you on your mobile phone. In this way we can always offer support.
• Our volunteer home has panic buttons installed on the property. If there is an emergency, in minutes, we can have security back up. If you have a medical emergency or illness we only need to squeeze this button and an ambulance will be available. In the case of a fire, we have fire extinguishers available all over the property.
• To ensure your safety we also provide our own transportation driven by family members and when we use other transportation, we pre-screen the operators. A list of our trusted transportation operators is available for all our transfers and tours. As part of your transportation package, you’ll have a tour guide/driver who not only knows all the safe places to take you but also knows the customs of Jamaica.
• When you are in Jamaica you will never be alone. Help is always available – 24/7 for emergencies and other support. Our team is there to support you. One of the major goals of our organization is to have you feel as if you are visiting family overseas.
Apply to Volunteer With Jamaica Volunteer Programs
In order to apply to one of the Jamaica volunteer programs, first complete an online application by visiting: http://jamaicavolunteerprograms.com/apply-now. After we review your application we’ll schedule a phone or Skype interview at a mutually convenient time.
We next ask that you pay a nonrefundable program fee in order to book your space in the program. All of the applicable fees are detailed on our website.
The last step is to submit copies of the following documentation:
• two letters of recommendation
• a copy of the first page of your passport
• a police check (verifying that you have no criminal record)
• proof that you have purchased travel insurance
No. Our program is open to people from nationalities from all around the globe.
The answer to this question will depend upon your country of citizenship as well as the country of the passport used for travel. Jamaica requires that visitors from some countries obtain visas. In addition, visitors from different countries may also have different periods of time that they are permitted to stay on the island. To learn more about the visa and travel requirements for your country, you can visit the Consulate General of Jamaica website at:http://www.congenjamaica-ny.org/visas/requirements-2/.
The cost of a volunteer program in Jamaica depends on how long you’d like to stay, and the type of accommodation you prefer. The prices that we’ve posted our website reflect the basic dormitory costs.
The program cost includes your pre-arrival support, in-country support, accommodation, pick up from the airport when you arrive, breakfast and dinner each day, transfer to and from projects daily, and orientation upon arrival.
You will be responsible for your airfare and fees traveling to and from Jamaica, any costs associated with securing visas, your return transportation to the airport, lunch each day, any optional tours you choose to participate in, a small tip (at least $10 US) to the housekeeper, and any other personal or incidental expenses you may have.
We offer a variety of programs suited to your schedule, needs, and goals for coming to Jamaica. In addition to our volunteer programs, we also offer study abroad and internship opportunities. Furthermore, we also offer cultural immersion trips where you’ll experience much more of the ‘Real Jamaica’ than a typical tourist could ever hope to have.
In addition to providing you with programs of flexible length, we also offer the ability to begin your volunteer experience at anytime of the year. Ideally, we would ask that you try to arrive on a weekend so you can begin volunteering on the following Monday. All of our projects and programs are available year-round, and run on a Monday through Friday schedule.
However, if your flight schedule does not allow you to travel on a weekend, we will try to accommodate you but please contact us to discuss this.
Jamaica Volunteer Programs also offers internship programs in Jamaica. The biggest difference between volunteering and having an internship through one of our programs is the reason you have for doing it. As a volunteer you are choosing to give your time and skills in order to help others in need, while also immersing yourself in a new culture and learning more about how people live in other parts of the world.
Individuals who choose an internship are looking primarily to gain “real world” experience in a profession or career field that they’re interested in. An internship can help them build skills and develop professional relationships that can help them as they develop their careers.