Outreach International

Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Guidebooks are full of superlatives about the richness of culture and nature in Mexico, but the realities of environmental degradation, social deprivation and poverty cannot be ignored. Outreach International is giving gap year and career break volunteers the opportunity to be a part of an exciting movement of Mexican groups that are trying to address these needs.

All our Mexico volunteering projects are based in just one small part of this vast country, this is around the Bay of Banderas on the Pacific Coast. Some of these projects are in the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta, others are in the more traditional villages dotted around the bay.

If you want to immerse yourself in a fascinating culture, learn to speak Spanish and make a real difference, our projects may be for you.

Volunteers for Mexico are not expected to speak Spanish, but in order to integrate with the local people, it is important to have some knowledge of it. We expect you to put every effort into learning the language and you will get much more out of your project if you can communicate properly with the community.

When you sign up with Outreach International, you can borrow one of our comprehensive Spanish CD courses. This will provide you with approximately fifty hours of tuition and will take you from being a complete beginner to a reasonable conversational standard. We also provide a good one week Spanish course on arrival in Puerto Vallarta and can recommend an excellent private tutor for any volunteer wishing to learn more. We find that most volunteers reach a high standard by talking to people on their projects.

Greta Ruiz, our Mexico volunteer coordinator based in Puerto Vallarta, is particularly keen that volunteers should travel in Mexico and beyond during your stay. With her contacts, she is able to help you plan specialized itineraries for your own expeditions or travel options. Mexico is famous for its pre-Hispanic architecture of massive stone temples to the sun and moon. Artisan markets of woven fabrics, ceramics, metalwork and carpentry are rich with traditional crafts.

For those interested in expeditions, scuba diving, surfing, horse-riding and mountain bike tours are available in numerous places. Of course, with the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean, there are thousands of kilometers of coast to explore. Travel in Mexico is easy and inexpensive in comparison to Europe, with a great bus network covering the whole country. A short local trip will be organized as part of your Outreach International volunteer package and your week ends are usually free for exploring.

Through personal contacts and friends made on the projects, volunteers have been invited on fantastic trips to remote beaches, weddings, fiestas and celebrations.

There are no rules about time off, but in most cases weekends are free and many Mexico volunteers choose to travel after their projects. All projects are linked to initiatives involving Mexican staff, so you will quickly adapt to the Mexican style of working. The key here is to be flexible and to use initiation. Outreach International demands a serious commitment from all volunteers, but at the same time recognizes that the nature of voluntary work demands a flexible approach, and we definitely want you to have an enjoyable as well as a rewarding time.

With Outreach International's focus on one particular area of Mexico, volunteers will in most cases have regular contact with other Outreach volunteers. Often the closest bonds are made with fellow volunteers, and in most cases volunteers are placed in pairs to give each other support. Meetings and small expeditions will be arranged to bring volunteers together and to take time out together during their stay.

Parents, families and friends of volunteers in Mexico can always have immediate contact with both the UK Head Office and Greta Ruiz, out coordinator. Greta will know where each volunteer is at any time, and will regularly visit volunteers in their project locations. She has been with us since 2006 and provides the best possible level of support. For many volunteers in Mexico, a gap year is their first time away from home. Greta makes sure you are given the support to make this a safe and enjoyable experience.

"There were times when I felt I needed to speak to Greta on a more personal one to one basis for advice. Greta was wonderful and always made me feel at ease so that I could talk to her in the strictest of confidence about any concerns I had no matter how small they may have seemed. She always made herself available and we would meet up in our favorite coffee shop." Jenny Hutton. Mexico career break volunteer.

As part of your personal analysis and debriefing at the end of your placement, Mexico volunteers are asked to write a short article concerning your work and experiences. We will ask you to do this before your departure. You can also request official certification from Outreach International acknowledging your contribution to the project. Our projects are all recognized by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Outreach International will also be able to provide future employers with references for volunteers who successfully complete their project placement.

An important aspect of the UK office support is to assist and advise volunteers on how to raise the money to finance their voluntary work in Mexico. The UK office will have discussions concerning finance with individual volunteers once they have had their selection interview and been accepted on the program. We also run regular fundraising awareness days at our base in Somerset.

Most Mexico volunteers, particularly those on rural projects, will live with wonderful local families. This enables you to become a part of the local community. It also means you will use your Spanish at all times. We have known our families for several years, have seen them grow and have watched their children grow up. They are wonderful people and are an integral part of the Outreach International experience. Volunteers are always made to feel welcome. You will be invited to join in with the family's social life, large communal meals, fiestas, weddings, picnics, invited horse riding and fishing.

Mexican food is excellent and volunteers can expect to eat well, but again within the context of local conditions and cuisine. There is an abundance of gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally. This includes avocados, oranges, pineapples, chilis and limes. Fish is eaten more commonly than meat and vegetarians are catered for.

"Yolanda really was my Mexican mummy. We spent so many happy hours chatting, laughing and gossiping. Every night I would go to bed with a smile on my face looking forward to the next day."

The Mission of Outreach International

The Cultural Mission

You are generally asked to work on your project in pairs, not in larger groups. This means that the cultural impact of sending volunteers abroad to small communities is kept to a minimum. It also makes it easier to integrate with local people and immerse yourself in the culture.

We need to be sure that all projects are fully sustainable. Although they need volunteers, we make certain that they are not dependent on us.

The Environmental Mission

Oak Tree Program - We are committed to doing all we can to preserve the environment. We are aware of the detrimental impact of international flights and make every attempt to be carbon neutral. That's why for every person volunteering abroad with us, we plant three oak trees.

We have sent nearly two thousand volunteers abroad and now have a woodland of over 6000 trees overlooking our Somerset office – and we look forward to planting many more!

In addition, all staff travel is kept to a minimum. All paper and other office products are recycled.

Please read our Environmental Credentials for more information.
 
The Moral Mission

Outreach International supports projects that genuinely help important environmental and humanitarian causes. These are not projects that hit the international press; they are small, grassroot initiatives that focus on the needs of individuals. We believe that you can make a difference to the lives of these people and that you will receive as much as you give. You should come back to the UK after volunteering abroad with a fresh outlook on life and new found wisdom. Your experiences may last for just a few months - but the memories will stay with you forever.

Outreach International Volunteer Information

We offer the best possible level of support for our overseas volunteers and want the best voluntary workers to support our projects. Deciding to work with Outreach International is an important decision. If you make that choice, we will offer you a project placement and in-country support to maximize your efforts.

Give us your time, energy and commitment and we will give you life-changing opportunities in your voluntary work abroad.

Carefully Selected Projects

Every project is handpicked, regularly assessed and reassessed. They are frequently visited by our UK director. We are passionate about them. We know that you will be supporting a worthwhile cause and that you will be taken seriously. All projects are fully sustainable. Voluntary workers overseas never take positions that could be offered to local people. In the absence of volunteers, the work would continue.

Our overseas volunteer projects are carefully selected and regularly monitored. They all need volunteers so there is a clear, defined role for you.

Personal Approach

We are a small company so we meet every volunteer and treat you as an individual. These meetings take place with the Outreach International Director. You will also have opportunities to talk with a volunteer who has recently completed your selected project. We make sure you know exactly what is involved in the project and what you will be doing when overseas. This happens before any commitment is made. It is essential to have the right person supporting the right project.

Enhance Your Skills and Extend Your Life Experiences

You will live in a fascinating, diverse country. You will tackle mental and physical challenges in your voluntary work abroad. You can improve your CV with the skills and experience you have acquired. You will also have the opportunity to learn another language.

Small Local Initiatives

You will participate in small local initiatives that have immediate impact on the community and environment. You will become immersed in a local community and obtain a good understanding of its culture. You travel to your destination in a group and will live close to other volunteers but we normally have just two people working on each project to insure minimal cultural impact on the host community.

Experience

We have been sending volunteers overseas since 1998. We also offer opportunities for voluntary work in Asia, South America, Central America and Africa.

Wide Range of Career Break and Gap Year Opportunities

We have over 100 volunteer work projects in seven countries to choose from. Our projects are varied and your career break or gap year opportunities include: working with disabled children, street children, disadvantaged communities, orphanages, medical centers, teaching English, physiotherapy, animals and conservation activities. Each project is small enough and sufficiently flexible so it can be tailor made to suit you.

Inclusive Costs

Our costs include most of the expenses you will need throughout your trip, excluding international flights. They cover comprehensive insurance, accommodation, local travel, food, an excellent in-country language course, briefings in the UK, in-country support and airport pick up. (Other voluntary work organizations include much less and may have hidden costs.)

Other organizations demand full payment up front delivered online with the application form. They get your money, but you don't really know what you're getting into. We prefer to chat to potential volunteers over the phone first. Then we meet you informally and then, and only then, you can commit, if you wish, to a project. It's a little more involved than others, but we want you to enjoy the best, most suitable project rather than simply take your money. We're also good value. You may pay a little more, but with us you get a complete package, inclusive of EVERYTHING bar flights, vaccinations and personal spending.

Price Pie Chart - Our most recent accounts have been independently verified by PricePie. "PricePie clearly shows where your money goes when you buy products and services. You'll see a pie chart and our logo to prove we've independently verified it as accurate and honest."

No wonder that most of our volunteers are actually referred to us by their friends or family who've volunteered before!

Mexico is a huge country with immense contrasts and diversity. There are thousands of villages where the population live unchanged lives, bound by tradition, the family and fiestas. It's also the location of the first ever Outreach International volunteering project and today, gap year and career break volunteers are still greatly needed.

The country contains an astonishing variety of climates, landscapes and eco-systems. There are deserts and vast mountainous canyons, tropical jungles and cool, cactus-covered sierras.

All of our Mexico volunteer projects are based on the Pacific Coast in beautiful towns and villages around the Bay of Banderas.

The country is famous for its pre-hispanic architecture of massive stone temples dedicated to the sun and moon. There are artisan markets selling woven fabrics, ceramics, metalwork and carvings. White water rafting, scuba diving, surfing, horse riding and mountain biking tours are available in numerous places.

"We were taken to our village in the back of a truck. Our fellow passenger was an angry pig that thrashed out violently. Finally we caught a glimpse of Chimo from high up in the hills. We could see the small settlement on the coast, surrounded by jungle and mountains. It was more beautiful than I had ever imagined..."

You could make a real difference – to others and yourself!

Outreach International needs volunteers to work abroad in schools, hospitals, orphanages, with the disabled, animals and animal rescue, wildlife, physiotherapy, medical projects, sports and on humanitarian and conservation projects in the Puerto Vallarta area. We're always looking for Gap Year students or anyone who wants to take a career break, Summer holiday, Easter or Christmas vacation break or a few months or a year out volunteering overseas.

Some of our current needs include:

• Physiotherapists - To help at a specialist clinic for disabled children and also a project working with disabled children and adults.

• Teachers - There are great teaching projects in various coastal schools and fishing villages on the Pacific Coast. These include special needs schools.
            
Many of our volunteer projects abroad can be done with groups of friends working on the same project. This can be groups of 2-8 people, so why not get a group of your friends to all sign up and volunteer together?

If you're interested in applying as a volunteer, please complete our online volunteer form - it should only take a few minutes.

Last updated: August 12, 2017 · Charity ID: 910

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