TBF also accepts groups; in the past, they have helped out with English classes, assisted in refurbishing TBF’s old building, and have offered consultation in business administration or other areas of expertise.
When volunteers are not working, they have plenty of ways to keep themselves busy: hiring a local tutor to improve their Portuguese, surfing, learning capoeira or jiujitzu, working on photography and film projects, conducting research, or exploring Rio. Some have volunteered for other organizations in Rocinha as well.
As a marginalized neighborhood, Rocinha can be dangerous. According to TBF’s Volunteer Manual, “Police and members of Rocinha’s drug gangs are extremely dangerous, and while it is wise to be friendly when spoken to, it is important to avoid getting involved with either.” TBF will provide volunteers with guidance about staying safe.
Rio de Janeiro
Application Process: Volunteers should send an email and arrange for a meeting upon arrival to Brazil. Individual volunteers must be 18 or older; those younger than 18 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Families are welcome.
Cost: None. Volunteers are responsible for their own expenses.
Placement Length: Minimum three visits for short-term volunteers.
Language Requirements: None, although if the volunteer does not have Portuguese skills, TBF asks him or her to be actively studying before and during volunteering. Local tutors can be hired by the volunteer upon arrival in Rocinha.
Housing: Volunteers must make their own arrangements, although TBF can provide a list of conveniently-located hostels (US$17-26 per night). They also work with a guesthouse that is in a local home (US$120-144 per month; shorter stays are possible, but preference is given to resident volunteers). All volunteers are responsible for their own meals.
Operating Since: 1998
Number of Volunteers: about 50 “voluntourists” and another 7 resident (long-term) volunteers in 2012.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.