Login | Register | Subscribe to the GG RSS Feed

Volunteering in the Dominican Republic - Part 1

Create your own travel plan or go with an organization?

I decided to go with an organization and signed up to teach English to young children in an impoverished area just outside of Santo Domingo for 12 weeks. The organization that I travelled with required that all teachers complete a "Teaching English as a Foreign Language" course ($1,000). It was also required that we pay in advance for the cost of our accommodations and food (which included 2 meals - breakfast and supper) at approximately $1,000 per month.

By Canadian standards, these amounts seemed fairly reasonable, however when we shared with local Dominican people how much money we spent on our Dominican Republic VolunteeringDominican Republic Volunteeringvolunteer experience, they expressed complete shock at the amount. The response consistently left our group of 6 volunteers feeling a little embarrassed and taken advantage of, definitely dampening the "do good" feeling of the experience.

We didn't share the fact that the refrigerator was not working and our food spoiled regularly so we often ate out. We didn´t elaborate that the food that was delivered once per week did not equate to the combined contribution of 6 paying people. Nor did we share that our travel fare to our placements weren´t included in the placement costs. For example, my placement required that I take three separate cars and a motorcycle ride, which cost over $200 pesos per day (approximately $6 dollars per day). By Dominican standards (and actually mine too) this is a lot of money when you're volunteering.

The best part of the story though was when we told locals we were sharing a one-bedroom with three bunk beds!! Yep, 6 women with lots of clothes, shoes, suitcases, make-up and jewelry shared one room and one bathroom.

Our apartment was behind a posh house in an upper middle class neighbourhood and we made friends who rented a three bedroom executive condo down the road. The condo was fully furnished with air conditioning, stainless steal appliances, a security guard for $2,000 per month - we were paying $6,000...

But I was still fairly happy that I chose a tour organization the first time around though.

Our coordinator was fantastic and really helpful. She tended to a few medical emergencies, called family during a tropical storm, arranged weekend travel plans, answered endless questions, translated, mediated personal conflicts between volunteers and on and on.

And to be honest, I actually liked our cozy little room, it made for some great stories and close bonds. Without a TV, we talked a lot more than we would have otherwise.

If you decide to volunteer with a company, ask a lot of questions. If you're a little more adventurous and want create your own plans, start by contacting your country's embassy in the destination country for recommendations of accommodation and reliable and safe organizations to volunteer with. Also, read the online classifieds to get an idea of the cost of housing and connect with not-for-profit organizations.

That is just a start... but even better, if you can talk to a local - they will tell it like it is.

About Kelly McIntyre

Kelly holds a Masters Degree in Counselling and has nearly ten years professional experience working directly with individuals to facilitate action toward their employment and life goals. In 2007, Kelly faced her deepest fears, developed new personal truths and followed her dreams of living in the sun and moved to the Caribbean! Now as a Career/Life Coach, Kelly applies her knowledge of how to create a life you love at Discover Your Life Purpose.  

More of Kelly:

Read Part 2 ~ The Children
Read Part 3 ~ Transportaion in the Domincan Republic

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or email us!

Related Stories

Rate This post

Comments

Well, you should specify about the rents on the room you rented, I mean, RD$6000 or US$6000 for a room? if it was pesos, in a upper-middle class neighborhood, it wasn't so bad, but if was US$, you were being ripped off royaly :( not uncommon for foreigners. Next time you decide to do this, there are a lot of options for accommodations on family houses on our country. You could ask religious institutions for that, and you could end paying a fraction of the cost you had :D. More money on your pocket means, you can workout more help for the people, and also you get to know people who can take you to tour the country, which by the way is beautiful, cheap to do, and wonderful people to meet. My mom for example, runs these services for missionaries that came oh her church. Regards, Angelo

Post new comment




GoGirlfriend Recommendations

Travel Planning

Fodors
Lonely Planet
Frommers

Register

Membership is free and with it you can set up a profile, vote on stories and post your opinions.

Already a member?
Login

Not a member? Join!
Register


Most Recent Comments

  • On 6 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) in Self-Isolation, admin said "Thanks Bat-El for the great tip. We've included your link in our Bonus Ideas from our Community section so others can enjoy. I really enjoyed the Stonehenge tour ... it's on my bucket list!"
  • On 6 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) in Self-Isolation, Bat-El Galor said "My name is Bat-El, and I'm working in collaboration with Travel Trend website. We've recently published a post -"Top 100 virtual tours around the world". After looking at these wonderful tips to survive in self-isolation; It occurred to me that our post could also contribute to your readers with further virtual tours resources. The post includes 100 links to virtual tours and unique experiences around the world. Feel free to check out the link and enjoy your travels ... https://www.trvltrend.com/technology/virtual-tours/ Cheers,"
  • On Cuba Travel ~ 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go, admin said "Thanks Gordon for the update ... and given most routes to the resorts on the coast are an hour+ and it's Cuban warm, that money for a beverage is a great tip!"
  • On Cuba Travel ~ 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go, Gordon Mitchell said "Over the last few years The $25 departure tax has been included in your airfare. Make sure you convert your cash at the airport so you can buy a cold beer on the bus on your way to the resort. They will take canadian money but not loonies and toonies. "
  • On Lesbian Adventure Travel, Debbie Clarke said "If you're considering New Zealand, then New Zealand Awaits is lesbian owned and operated (yes I'm the founder, owner, and guide). We run active and not so active tours for lesbians, as well as some LGBTQ mixed trips. We create itineraries for travellers wanting to self drive, and we have private guides. Come see us! "


Blogs We Love

beautiful Vancouver, British ColumbiaCheck out our GoGirlfriend Facebook page to follow us as we seek new adventures and create memories in our own part of the world.








Advertisement