Searching the web for volunteer programs in Brazil produces a lot of results but many of the programs involve the payment of not so insignificant sum of money in order to participate. People generally volunteer to make a difference, not to make someone else a profit.
The very existence of agencies that place people into volunteer programs demonstrates that they must provide some benefit or service of value. They would cease to exist otherwise. Using a volunteer agency is likely to speed up the process, involve fewer hassles, and enable you to speak to people with experience in what you are seeking to do. From the charity’s point of view, I guess they reduce the administrative burden and screen out well-intentioned time-wasters.
Whilst you can theoretically arrive in Brazil and try to find volunteer work, it is much better to prepare in advance. Contact international or local charity organizations that are on the ground in Brazil and find out what their needs are and how best you can be of help.
You’ll look a lot more credible in the eyes of a project coordinator if you’re currently volunteering in your local community or have some knowledge of the environment you’re about to enter. Wide-eyed idealists with no understanding of the local culture, language, history, or politics who ‘just want to help’ are more of a hindrance than a help to many programs.
The desire to assist is commendable but if you don’t have any of the skills needed it will be more beneficial for you to take action through your local community than through direct action on the ground in Brazil. Raising funds in your local community may be 10 times more effective than volunteering your labor.
The longer you’re prepared to volunteer for, the more likely you are to be accepted or helped along the way. If you’re only available for 3 months you’re leaving just as you begin to understand the people and the problem you’re trying to alleviate. The time and money an agency has invested in you are lost when you leave and this is also time and money not spent on helping the people you really wanted to help.
Personally, I think it is very commendable that people are looking to volunteer and make a difference. Just remember that it’s the time commitment and your existing skill set that will determine how much of a help you can be.
Volunteering Websites for Brazil
Type Brazil into the search facility and go from there. You can choose between planting trees, building orphanages, human rights activism or praying for people (only 10 minutes a day, no travel required). Or all of the above.
The focus here is on low-cost volunteer programs but there are only a few with programs operating in Brazil. This a great list for those looking for opportunities elsewhere in South America.
For those with some language skills already these Brazilian websites are good starting points. Ajuda Brasil acts as an umbrella group for charitable organizations.
I’m happy to link to other volunteer programs on this page provided they are non-profit and non-religious.