Located on a peninsula between Todos os Santos Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find Brazil’s third largest city and the country’s “Capital of Happiness.” Salvador da Bahia possesses an energy that cannot be matched in any other city. The city features a unique colonial charm, pristine beaches, and a constant buzz that can be felt through the Afro-Brazilian culture that fills the streets. Salvador has been in a state of reinvention since the 2014 World Cup, but the city is still in need of change. Volunteer abroad in Salvador, the lively city of international expats, African inspirations, and constant change!
What You Need to Know to Volunteer Abroad in Salvador, Brazil
Salvador is centered at the heart of Bahia, the southeastern state in Brazil. The Portuguese and African fusion creates a unique vibe that draws travelers from across the globe. Since hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014, international travelers have swarmed Salvador, and they city has begun to reinvent itself in order to cater to tourists while preserving its heritage. With constant change, there are endless opportunities for volunteers abroad in Salvador.
Popular causes in Salvador. While most tourists will see a fun side to Salvador, it is important to be aware of the major wealth gap that exists in their society as you volunteer in Salvador. Many families are left without jobs, homes, and basic necessities and many volunteer placements revolve around community development. Lend a hand in orphanages and schools where you’ll help keep young children off the streets. Teach English to aid in youth education. Or venture off the beaten path and preserve Brazil’s natural habitat with wildlife conservation.
Short-term volunteer programs in Salvador. While long-term programs are encouraged in order to maximize your impact on the community, there are many fun short-term placements in Salvador. The city hosts one of the biggest Carnival celebrations worldwide, and volunteers can come for as short as a week or two to help with the celebration. Spend your volunteer days decorating floats, preparing costumes, or participating in parades that will bring joy to the community.
Long-term volunteer programs in Salvador. Long-term volunteers in Salvador will typically find placements in schools or community development. Most programs will combine volunteer placements with studies, so you can spend time practicing Portuguese. Not only will you sound like a local, but you’ll be able to evoke change while integrating into Salvadoran society!
Life Abroad in Salvador, Brazil for International Volunteers
African drums reverberate off walls of ancient churches, colonial architecture lines cobblestoned streets, and a tropical coastline creates a gorgeous backdrop for this happy Brazilian city. Volunteers will be captivated by the culture of Salvador. It can be found in the music, religion, food, and dance, and can be felt in all corners of the city. Join the capoeira (Afro-Brazilian dance) circles that form in the plazas each night to rhythmic drums, observe a Candomblé (traditional Afro-Brazilian religion) ceremony, and feast on tasty acarajé (bean and shrimp fritters). Get to know the Portuguese new colony, as well as the African slave history that is unique to Salvador.
Although it can be a more expensive city than other destinations throughout South America, as a volunteer in Salvador, you can find plenty of ways to save money. Avoid eating at restaurants and shop at local grocery stores, stay away from buying manufactured goods like clothing and electronics, and stay with a host family to cut down on costs. Not only will these small changes save you some cash, but they will also help you integrate into the culture and blend in as a local.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Volunteers Abroad in Salvador, Brazil
As with any travel abroad, it is always helpful to know the language. Although most volunteer programs in Salvador will not have a language requirement, it’s a good idea to brush up on your Portuguese before volunteering abroad. Learn some basic phrases before you go, stay with a host family to practice daily, or balance your volunteer work with language lessons so that you can connect with locals on a new level and maximize your impact on the Salvadoran community.
Volunteers in Salvador should also be aware of safety while volunteering abroad in Salvador. Crime rates are high throughout Brazil, especially in poor communities, and Salvador unfortunately has a lot of drug-related crime. Be aware of your surroundings and travel in groups to avoid getting into trouble.
There is no doubt that volunteers in Salvador will fall in love with the constant buzz. Join a community that needs help reinventing itself, yet still radiates joy in every aspect, from the constant music and dancing, to the delicious foods and rich culture. As soon as you arrive, the locals will tell you, “Smile, you’re in Bahia!” and that smile will not leave your face for your entire stay!
Want to know more? Read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Brazil.