Volunteering abroad in Santo Domingo is an experience waiting to happen for those zealous enough to step outside their norm into the life of a Dominican. Santo Domingo is the oldest settlement that was established by Europeans, giving it a culture as rich as its need for caring people like you. Fill your days helping a community where half of the population lives under the poverty line and spend free time enjoying all the natural and manmade wonders that Santo Domingo has to offer.
How to Volunteer in Santo Domingo
Choosing a type of project helps begin your time volunteering in Santo Domingo on the right foot. With plenty of traditional and modern, there are all sorts of sectors that need a helping hand and open heart.
Popular causes/projects in Santo Domingo. Like in many impoverished countries, the Dominican Republic, and more specifically Santo Domingo, has a lot of social problems that you can help to alleviate. Orphanages are one type of program that everyone can make a difference at. Working with children who are disabled or orphaned are the primary target to receive aid in these types of programs. Working with local animals is very rewarding in a city that has serene landscapes at its doorstep. Programs that aim towards impacting and helping to sustain the local ecosystem have you spend your days cleaning up sites that are high-risk for pollution. In addition, why not spend some of you time with the local aquatic life, working to monitor the dolphin population. Flipper would be proud!
Program lengths. Program duration when you volunteer in Santo Domingo varies greatly; most start at a week or two, while others can be extended up to several months. One word of advice: most people who travel meaningfully end their trip wishing they had stayed at least another week. That gives more time to help the community, explore the city and make a lasting impact.
Life in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo is a city of firsts: the first cathedral, the first university, and the first castle in the Americas are all located there. Living in Santo Domingo gives you all the opportunities to experience these places (and many more!) for the first time.
When not busy making the world a better place, take some time to get to know the city. Zona Colonial is a district in the southwestern part of the city known for its architecture that reflects the middle ages. Learning about the culture and history of the people you are helping can greatly improve the quality of help. To accomplish this, visiting one of the many museums, like the Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana, can shed light on the struggles that the local people have had to endure.
If you want to get away from the city life for a few hours, then surrounding the city is the Greenbelt, a national park dedicated to preserve the impeccable beauty of the Dominican rainforest. There are many trails to hike and pristine waterfalls hidden through the Dominican Alps waiting to be discovered. White sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters surround the entire island, so there is no shortage of water fun when the sun gets a little bit too hot among city streets.
Santo Domingo is an international hub and still considered a major port for many ships. So, while the city has many firsts, you won’t be the first international volunteer that they see. On the contrary, many people there can speak English to varying degrees. Customs in Santo Domingo are more traditional than other parts of the world: families are still mainly patriarchal, bachata blasts loud and proud, and it’s not rare to get invited to home-cooked meals that last for hours. Buen provecho!
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Volunteering abroad in Santo Domingo gives the opportunity to gain international experience. No matter which career path you have, having spent time will give you a leg up when applying to a job or applying what you learned to a future project. This international experience also lets people know that you are someone who can step off the beaten path, take risks, and put others before yourself.
Equally important is the global perspective that can only be gained by spending time outside of your own country. This new viewpoint helps give a greater sense of what is important in the world. While at home, worrying about catching the latest trend or Hollywood news might be the biggest thing on your mind. Being abroad and seeing what many people have to do every day just to have food, water, and the chance to go to a school helps to show that what might basic comfort to some is a luxury to others.
One challenge of volunteering in Santo Domingo might include contact with poverty never experienced before, such as children who can’t afford to go to school because they must help their parents work. Remember the reason you chose to spend time abroad: making a lasting impact. You want to make the world a better place, but to do that, you must put yourself in challenging situation to make the most of the opportunity.
Volunteering in Santo Domingo can be the greatest use of your time abroad. Learning and really interacting with locals offers much more than any all-inclusive resort could offer, while still giving time to enjoy all the tourist spots. Are you ready to spend the best few weeks of your life having an astonishing adventure that actually benefits the locals more than you? If so, hop on over and start leaving a positive footprint on this bustling island.
Feeling inspired? Read our full guide to volunteering in the Dominican Republic.