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Volunteering Opportunities in Yucatan

Editor’s Note: We get so many requests from visitors and residents alike about how they can volunteer to help the people and the animals of the Yucatan. Whether it is from a sense of guilt for all the wealth that we live with in the countries north of the border and elsewhere, or just because we so appreciate the Yucatan culture and want to do our part to keep it alive and well, almost everyone who comes here ends up doing something to give back. We once had a project where we interviewed expats all along the Riviera Maya… eight cities in all. In every single one of them, the expats were involved in local dog shelters, spay and neuter clinics and some sort of projects to help children of lesser means. We encourage everyone to look around them and see where they can help. And then to approach this work with a humble spirit that recognizes that while you might be sharing something of your financial or physical wealth, the people in the Yucatan that you are working with are sharing with you a unique wealth of their own.


Volunteering in the Yucatan Progreso ApoyoSupport Children in Yucatan

This is the oldest expat-operated, educational support program in Yucatan. Beginning in 2002, the mission of the Progreso Apoyo program has been to keep children in public school when their families are unable to afford uniforms (including shoes), backpacks and school supplies. All of the students have a sponsor who sends a specific amount to cover their expenses. Sponsors receive photos and thank you letters from their sponsored children. The program also accepts one-time monetary gifts, which go into the general find. This money is used when any child exceeds his or her apoyo limit. Students must maintain an 80% grade average to remain in this program. For more information, contact: kbmorgan_99 [at] yahoo [dot] com and be sure to read our Yucatan Living article about the Progreso Apoyo Project. 

Volunteering in the Yucatan Cholul’s “educaTE Yucatan”

This educational support program is much like the one in Progreso, except that it also has a very well-managed breakfast program associated with it. This program was started by a visitor to the Yucatan who was inspired by the Three Cups of Tea story. She, in turn, inspired a number of local women in Cholul to help out the school children in their neighborhood. To read the story, learn more about this program and how you can help, please visit the our article on educaTE Yucatan.

Volunteering in the Yucatan width= Telchac Education

This educational support program is patterned after the Progreso Apoyo program. In fact, the founders of these programs consult regularly with each other. Telchac Education Program also helps to provide books, uniforms and shoes for the children in and around Telchac, which is located on the Yucatan Gulf Coast. Telchac Education does not forget the needs of teachers, who also receive teaching materials and aids. To learn more about this program and how you can help, you can visit the Telchac Education website.

Volunteering in the Yucatan International Women’s ClubInternational Women's Club in Merida Yucatan

The I.W.C. was founded in 1984 by a few English speaking women and has now grown to include more than a dozen nationalities, including Yucatecas. English is the official language of this club, whose members are united in Friendship, Community Service and Self-Improvement. Community Service projects include providing higher education support and mentoring for several young ladies. The I.W.C. also contributes funds to other groups and organizations, such as food banks and children’s shelters. Funding for these programs comes from designated fundraisers, including trips, monthly raffles, individual sponsorship and special events such as the I.W.C. rummage sale, bingo nights, member art show and newsletter advertising. If you are interested in becoming a member of the International Women’s Club of Merida, please visit the I.W.C. website for contact information.

Volunteering in the Yucatan Proyecto Itzaes

In 2011, volunteers and contributors helped to open three new Proyecto Itzaes libraries, sent seven first-generation students to the University, brought school supplies to six villages, taught hundreds of children computer skills and changed many lives on the Yucatan Peninsula. Proyecto Itzaes has a variety of programs but they all begin with literacy. Proyecto Itzaes is on Facebook, on Twitter as @MayaHelp12, and they have a website where you can learn more about what you can do to help. It is worthy of note that @MayaHelp12 has the capability of reaching 200,000 people, with Re-Tweets, over a period of only three days.


Children’s Services

Volunteering in the Yucatan Save the Children Save the Children Yucatan

This international organization has projects in four towns in Yucatan and provides services for more than 5,300 children. They are always on the lookout for volunteers. The mission of Save the Children is to achieve immediate and long-lasting change in the lives of the children they assist. Their vision is a world where each child has the right to survival, protection, development and protection. If you would like to help, contact Save the Children Yucatán, Calle 25 No. 198A x 16 y 18, Colonia García Ginerés, Mérida. Phone: (999) 920-55-33. On the Web:  On Facebook: Save the Children en Yucatán. On Twitter: @MIDsavechildren. You can also make a tax-deductible monthly donation on your credit card or deposit a donation into HSBC account number 4042165936.

Yucatan Books Hacienda Chichen’s Mayan Community Support

Hacienda Chichen and Yucatan Adventure have joined together to create and support programs to aid the Mayan children, families and communities near Chichen Itza. To learn more about what they do and how you can help, visit the Yucatan Adventure website’s section on volunteering.



Brazon Abiertos Brazos Abiertos (Open Arms)Brazos Abiertos, HIV Volunteering in Yucatan

It is the goal of Brazos Abiertos to decrease the spread of HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases in Yucatan and to improve access to healthcare. They are also committed to improving the overall quality of life for individuals already infected with HIV. In order to meet these goals, Brazos Abiertos Yucatan has established a peer-on-peer education program called TEAMM, in which American high school and college students facilitate HIV/AIDS workshops in Yucatecan villages, and then return to Mexico a second time to train local teenagers to teach the workshops themselves. Free medical and health information is part of this program, as is free HIV testing. Data is collected to better understand the true impact of this disease in the Yucatan. If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, or if you would like to participate in the TEAMM program, please visit the Brazos Abiertos website for more information on the many ways you can participate.

Oasis in Yucatan Oasis of San Juan de Dios

This organization offers individual attention to local people infected with AIDS or HIV, including providing them with shelter, rehabilitation, defense of human rights, prevention and teaching and funeral services. They also are involved with advocacy and local political issues regarding AIDS/HIV. If you would like to help, please contact Carlos Renan Mendez Benavides. You can e-mail: osanjuanyuc [at] hotmail [dot] com or stop by Calle 11 #101 x 22, Carretera a Chicxulub, Col. San Isidro, Conkal, Yucatan.


Nursing Homes

Yucatan Books Albergue de Ancianos San Joaquin en Progreso, A.C.Nursing Home in Progreso

This is a nursing home located between Progreso and Chicxulub. There are a number of expats who are regular volunteers at this nursing home, selflessly donating their time to visit with the elderly residents. Most of the volunteers speak English, although the residents speak Spanish or Mayan. Despite that, there doesn’t seem to be much of a language barrier as long as everyone is speaking from the heart. The albergue is also in need of food, clothing and cash to help pay the nursing home’s operating costs. You can donate via either PayPal or bank deposit and all addresses are on the site. If you are interested in volunteering, you can call (969) 935-1209, or just stop by the nursing home (between Progreso and Chicxulub, beside Prepa Mexico). If you would like to donate money, please donate via PayPal (donativos [at] alberguesanjoaquin [dot] org) or make a deposit at the La Torre, Merida branch of BANAMEX in the name of Albergue del Anciano en Progreso, A.C., Acct. Number: 7002 3673558, Code: 002910700236735582. (Bank deposits must be in pesos.) You can also visit the website of Albergue del Anciano en Progreso, A.C. for more information and updates. Since this nursing home is a registered non-profit, all donations are tax deductible.


Food Banks

Chicxulub Food Bank La Virgen Asuncion Food Bank

If you are looking for Sharon Helgason and the Canadians (and other expats too), you have come to the right place. This food bank is also known simply as the Chicxulub Food Bank, but feeding those in need is only a part of what they do. Here, individuals and families in need receive everything from vitamins to clothes and shoes. Their services to families in need are explained so well on their website that we urge everyone to visit the website of the Chicxulub Food Bank to learn more about this beloved organization and what you can do to help. If you like, you can also call in Mexico (969) 934-0558 or e-mail shelgason [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Merida Food Bank The Food Bank of Merida, A.C.Food Bank of Merida, AC

A privately funded food bank, the Food Bank of Merida goes the second mile in community service by helping to support the food needs of over 9,000 individuals, including those in a number of nursing homes. Their address is Calle 11 #316, Fracc. I Santa Gertrudis Copo, Merida, Yucatan, C.P. 97305. Phone (with area code): (01-999) 913-8135 or 913-8130. The Director’s name is Maria Elizabeth Vázquez Adame and you can email her at direccion [at] bamac [dot] com [dot] mx



Chuburna English School Chuburna Puerto Free English School

This is the 6th year of operation for the Chuburna Puerto Free English School. The director is Sunny Snow, who has organized and carried out more than a few projects in the Chuburna area. The Chuburna Puerto Free English School is thanking everyone who has made donations of school supplies for the students, who range in age from 8 to 58! The Chuburna Puerto Free English school also teaches cultural topics and holds a variety of events to give students a taste of what  holidays in the USA and Canada are like. The school is happy to report that they are completely full and open enrollment will take place again next Fall. To contact the school, please go to and send a PM (private message) to Nubinskis. 



Merida Verde Merida Verde

Merida Verde is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to work with people in the City of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, to improve the quality of life and preserve their environment. Merida Verde is a group of about 200 volunteers, both expats and local residents, who have volunteered for the following task forces: Climate Change, Composting, Dengue Fever Prevention, Organization of Earth Day, Recycling, Burning Garbage, dealing with plastic bags and PET bottles, Cycling instead of Driving, Green Buildings and Urban Tree Planting. If you would like to help, contact julieh [dot] hoover [at] gmail [dot] com



Artistas De La Playa Artistas De La Playa

Artistas de la Playa is a group of approximately 40 artists who live in the beach communities along the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Not only is their work available for purchase, but the entire beach community benefits from their encouragement of artistic activities, especially among the children in the area. Volunteering with Children and Arts in YucatanAs you can imagine, Artistas de la Playa is always in need of a few supplies. The list includes yogurt containers with lids, string, beads, buttons, crayons, markers, pencils and erasers, recycled paper of all kinds, paper towels, tape, scissors for children, cardboard paper rolls, watercolors, acrylics, just about anything they can make art with, and any old tables and chairs you might have to donate. The group offers free art classes in both Chelem and Chuburna on a weekly basis. The classes are important to the children and they are important to the development of the fabric of life in the beach communities. Contact Ginnie LaRoi at (999) 144-4792 for more information or to make a donation.



Pets in Yucatan Protección de Perros y Gatos de Progreso

This is the protective animal welfare organization for the area in and around Progreso. Anybody and everybody is welcome to join this group but they should know that all business meetings are conducted entirely en español. Donations toward the building fund can be made in USD or pesos only (no Canadian funds… sorry!) and should be payable to: Protección de Perros y Gatos A.C. and mailed to P.O. Box 30, Progreso, 97320, Yucatán, México. This is a hardworking, community-minded group that also contributes support to other animal rescue organizations. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities here… attend a session (details below) to find out what you can do to help.
Location: Flamingo’s Restaurant on the Malecon in Progreso
Dates and Time: All Last Mondays, 8:00 PM
Admission: Free but BYOD (buy your own dinner)Animal Shelters in Yucatan

Evolucion Evolución A.C.

This is probably the most visible of all the animal welfare groups in Yucatan on the internet, which is a testament to the involvement of the local expatriates who have taken it under their wing and publicized it so much. Evolución is not only an animal shelter, but is also one of the driving forces behind the annual spay/neuter clinic, along with Planned Pethood, AFAD and Y.A.P.A. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at Evolución. You can adopt a dog, foster a dog, or even go in and walk a dog. To learn more about this organization and how you can help, please visit the Evolucion A.C. website.

Yucatan Voluntering Y.A.P.A. (Yucatan Ayuda para Animales) of Merida

This is an English-speaking group whose mission is to function as a support and resource group to aid the several Merida animal rescue and care centers. They are currently helping AFAD and Evolución. YAPA assists at spay/neuter clinics, helps promote education about animal care and carries out general volunteer services. Visit the YAPA website to learn more about how you can help.

Yucatan Books AFAD (Albergue Franciscano del Animal Desprotegido, A.C.)

AFAD has animal rescue and adoption programs, and works hard to promote a culture of respect for animals through continuing education and health campaigns among the local Animal Shelter in Merida Yucatan Mexicopopulation of Merida. AFAD needs volunteers to help clean cages and dog runs, as well as walking and feeding dogs, on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM. They also need volunteer rescuers and volunteers to help potential adoptive families through the adoption process. Visit the AFAD website to learn more about how you can help and to contact them.

Yucatan Books Pet Bird Sanctuary

If anyone needs a forever home for a pet bird, any breed or size, there is a very kind expat couple, Sunny and Hank, who will take them in. They have indoor parrots and outside aviaries. They also have a relationship with the state’s wildlife vet for exotic birds. As you can well imagine, they will also be happy to take any used bird cages off your hands. To contact them, go to Yolisto and send a PM (private message) to Nubinskis. If you are not a Yolisto member, now is the time to join the conversation at



Yucatan Books UNASSE Yucatan

UNASSE, founded in 1987, stands for Unidad de Atencion Psicologica, Sexologica y Educativa. That’s a mouthful! It means a place for psychological, sexual and educational attention. No, the letters don’t match the name and we are not sure why. Ni modo. This is a place in Merida that provides services to women and their children who might be in danger because of domestic violence. They give legal support, health care and psychological treatment to those who request it and everything is free. They accept both volunteers and donations. We investigated and they indicated that it’s fine if the volunteer only speaks English but they must know that most people there speak only Spanish.
Offices: Calle 47 No. 487 por 54 y 56 (Santa Ana), Merida
Telo: (999)924-3044

Yucatan Books Impulsur: Hands United to Support the South of Merida

ImpulSur is a project supported by the Fundación Plan Estratégico de Yucatán, A.C., through Grupo de Impulsion del Sur (GIS), an organization that supports the efforts and creativity of women living in the south of Merida. This area includes the colonias of Emiliano Zapata Sur I, II, III, San Antonio Xluch and others. We investigated and they indicated that it’s fine if the volunteer only speaks English but they must know that most people there speak only Spanish.
Offices: Calle 21 Ave. Colón N. 197-A por 18 y 16 Col. García Ginerés , Merida
Telo: (999) 925- 2277  Website:


ChristmasChristmas Gifts for Children in Progreso

Yucatan Books Santa in Chelem

Yes, Santa does come to the beach in Yucatan… and he brings toys for over 800 children who might not otherwise know the joy of receiving a present. This project is funded by bingo nights and generous donations from Santa’s elves who have retired to the beach on the Yucatan Gulf Coast. If you would like to see pictures of Christmases past, visit the Chelem Christmas Dreams blog, where you will also find ways to become part of this most worthy project. You can also contact them via email at chelemchristmasdreams [at] gmail [dot] com


These are the volunteer opportunities that we are aware of in the Merida and Progreso areas. We would like to expand this list as much as possible, and would like to include other areas on the Peninsula. If you know of any worthy and legitimate organizations that accept volunteers, we would love to hear about them. Please either leave a comment on this article or email us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com with your information. Thank you!!

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29 Responses to “Volunteering Opportunities in Yucatan”

  1. Lots of opportunities in Valladolid area as well. Translating for the visiting doctors at Clinica San Lucas. Funding and delivering despensas (two weeks worth of food and household basics) in small villages with Casa Hamaca ( Volunteering at the Valladolid English Library (VEL) or teaching pro bono English classes there. Helping with sustainable agricultural and recycling projects. Helping with a summer school program for neighborhood kids. Running daily (Monday to Friday) workshops for neighborhood women. Teaching swimming to all ages. And if you can get a group of about 15 able-bodies individuals plus some funding, you can work with Mano Amiga to put concrete roofs on home of the needy. Mano Amiga ( has been working in Chuburna Puerto and nearby villages and towns every year since 1990 and has put on more than 1,000 concrete roofs on homes, schools and churches.

  2. Thank you for this interesting and important note. I am very surprised though not to find any association or group focused on the problem of violence against women, which is a great concern in the whole country, Yucatan included (see this article just found online: It would be a great service for the whole society of Yucatan to find somebody who addressed ‘concretely’ this problem in situ.


  3. Thank you for including Telchac Eduaction in this list. We have a new website which is At the moment it is just in Spanish….we are working on the English part.

  4. Please provide me with some information in the Riviera Maya area where I can help the people, either with clothes, toys money or my time. I visit three times a year. Areas like Puerto Morleos, Tulum etc. Thank You.

  5. sacbe,

    The lady you need to talk to is Catriona Brown in Puerto Morleos.

    Yucatan Living has an interview with her here:

    She has a blog here:
    This is the charity she founded there:

    and you can e-mail her here: catbrown [at] emppm [dot] com

    The emppm site is wonderful – spells out exactly what they do and what is needed.
    Good luck and hope you enjoy your volunteer experience.

  6. Good afternoon,
    I would like to ask you several questions concerning volunteering program in Merida,mexico. I am from Lithuania and I am studying right now at university in Holland, my boyfriend is Mexican and he lives in Merida, Yucatan. I would like to have some volunteering work in Merida, Yucatan (help children, teach English, help animals, or anything that i could help to do). I am planning to come to Mexico from January 2013 till February 2013. I have a place there to live, so i was wondering where i could apply and how i could know more about volunteering program more in Merida and where is taking place and if i am able to apply for this work?
    Thank you,
    Kristina Lazauninkaite

  7. Kristina, you could ask your boyfriend to help you write an email to the group or groups on this page where you would like to volunteer. We are sure that most of the groups listed here would love your assistance!

  8. I’d like to know if there are Spanish speaking volunteers who’d like to teach me conversational Spanish in exchange for English conversation.

  9. Ed, this is such a good idea that it has been going on for awhile now :-) Every Monday night, you can go to the Merida English Library and talk to Spanish-speaking locals who also want to improve their English. Check out their website for the details or just go there and talk to someone!

  10. Interested in volunteer options!

  11. I will be in Merida over Christmas this year and would like to volunteer on Christmas Day. Is there an organisation that serves meals and/or delivers gifts, that you could put me in touch with? Thanks

  12. Hi There,

    this page has helped me a lot! Thanks! :) I will be in Merida during the summer for 5 weeks and would love to volunteer. Especially the Chuburna Puerto Free English School caught my eye and seems to be very interesting. Could you provide me with the contact details of who to ask about possibilities? That would be great.

    Many thanks,


  13. Nastie, all the contact information we have is in the article. I believe for that school, you need to sign in to and contact one of the other members.

  14. I would like to volunteer in Merida for up to six months. I would like an organization that provides housing or the best advice about the cheapest way to rent on monthly basis. I can only spend at the most $300.00 a month on housing. If it’s cheaper, then thats better. Please give me a recommendation. Thanks

  15. Editor’s Translation: Hello, I’m Cuban. I’m retired from a career in nursing and teaching in cuba. I would like to get to know people in Merida. I live now in Miami and I would like to live and do volunteer work in Merida. Thank you!


  16. Rebecca M
    Check out this website. This is not in Merida but may be worth looking into since you are looking for housing. They speak of short programs on the website but if you email you may find that you can stay longer.

  17. We are a family with two children looking to spend several months in the Yucatan and are searching for volunteer opportunities which welcome children. We are bilingual. Any suggestions?

  18. Hi there! I have been back a month now from “paradise” and did some volunteering with Paws on the Beach and loved it but I have heard of a “retreat for cancer patients/survivors” in the Baca area. As I live not far from there and I have lost a lot to cancer recently, I would love to know who to contact in order to volunteer. I will not be back til December but would like to line up a few opportunities to volunteer. Thanks for the suggestion of Telchac Education as I will be contacting them directly. I don’t know the name of the “cancer” organization but I know it is in an old hacienda with a Thai restaurant in it that supports the centre. Thanks very much for this article in general as I will be coming for longer next winter and would love to do something to make a difference in the lives of the the wonderful folks in the area!

  19. Barb -

    still looking for the retreat – but Bill Lawson swears the food is GREAT:

    the place is called Hacienda San Jose – and this restaurant review has directions for getting there:

    Found it…
    This is what their website says:

    The Fundebien Charitable Foundation (Fundación para el Bienestar Natural A.C.) was founded at the Hacienda San José in Baca, Yucatán, Mexico. We provide free care for cancer sufferers, primarily those of low financial means.

    Fundebien has the aim of giving loving and charitable care to improve patients’ well-being: physically, wherever possible, as well as psychologically, emotionally or spiritually, above all when the prognosis offers no other source of hope.

  20. This is their website:

    Bill Lawson’s Restaurant Review:

    and a review with directions for getting there:

  21. Barb – sorry I posted without identifying that those were the answers to your Cancer retreat in Baca question…

  22. I can’t find any contacts or info on the Chuburna Puerto Free English School on Yolisto through their search engine. Perhaps the school can send an email contact or phone number and YL can update their listing?

    Does Chelem have a free English school? Or any volunteers who can teach English in the evenings? My mechanic in Chelem was asking about this as he deals with English speakers and would like to learn some English to be able to communicate.

  23. Julie – the director of the Chuburna Puerto Free English School is Sunny Snow. You can get in touch with her by logging on to Yolisto and sending a PM to Yolisto member Nubinskis.

  24. Hello, I and my boyfriend would like to volunteer in Tulum or somewhere around in October and November 2014. We would like an organization that provides housing if possible and are open to any kind of work, we speak English and some Spanish. Thank you for any recommendation. Best regards E

  25. Elen, I cannot think of any volunteer organization that offers housing. Especially not in Tulum. However, you could find inexpensive rooms at a hostel in town and then volunteer somewhere. I’ll see what I can find about places looking for volunteers there.

  26. I am interested in doing a day of volunteering on Jan. 14th 2014. Something hands on would be ideal! I’ll be in the Playa area and willing to travel. It’s my 30th birthday, so I’m really looking to do something special, and I think, volunteering is just that!

  27. Kady, if you are in Playa, we suggest you get ahold of someone on this website: There are certainly animal shelters there that would probably love your help!

  28. We are in Merida until March 5, 2015 and would like to help with an area charity fundraiser. Are there any occurring in February. I have lots of experience in this area and can help wherever you need.

  29. Peg, you might consider going to the Merida English Library ( and volunteering your services. They are putting on an Artist Studio Tour fundraiser in February. Also, either AFAD or Evolución (animal shelters, linked at the bottom left of every page here) always need help!


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