Permaculture Volunteering: Projects, Internships & Work Abroad

Spanish student volunteering in Panama

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can Do More, Volunteer. ~ Author Unknown

Volunteer Opportunities in Panama City, Bocas del Toro and Boquete. Think global, act local: we're good to go!

We're all part of this Social Evolution: you can affect positive change (incremental or by quantic leaps), take the skills back home (or wherever you're headed to), and we can all carry on consciously making the world a better place... TOGETHER, but each in our own FREE way. Now, if you're up to something GOOD, that's super cool. We dig that. We want to help YOU help more. If we can. Or maybe you can help us. Together is what matters. Trust, intentions and synergy. List your Volunteer Project HERE. GET IN TOUCH AND TELL US MORE ABOUT THOSE AMAZING THINGS YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE UP TO! We're always recruiting volunteers and looking for new places where EVERYONE can help. Businesses and NGO's (Non Profit or Non Governmental Organizations): if you're up to something GOOD, we'd love to hear from you. Together we can do MORE and get THERE faster! Where? Exactly. Let's talk: CONTACT US!

Permaculture & Volunteering Programs' Overview

Why Does Habla Ya Recruit Volunteers?
Volunteering will help your students be better persons

Simple: we've always been into volunteering. Since day 1, back in 2005. On a personal level, we volunteered in many different ways. But more importantly, YOU'RE into volunteering, and we want to enable YOU to have a meaningful and positive impact. You see? People want to help other people. So we help people do good in our communities. Simple.

Why Permaculture?

Why Permaculture? Because in our path of helping, we've found that Permaculture offers a natural framework, as well as regenerative design tools and principles, to REALLY make a contribution and leave an impact beyond sustainablility.


"The use of systems thinking and design principles

that provide the organizing framework..."

Quote pauses here and starts again below (this is #freestyle):

to get there.

What? Where?




Quote resumes:

"to consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns

and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of

food, fiber and energy for provision of local needs

Quote ends.

The expansive boldness is just human,
but the enlarged bold fonts are ours...

From: Permaculture. Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. By David Holmgren

Local needs. So, are you helping at home already? If so, please tell us about it and maybe that idea can help us here too!

Obviously there is no final destination. The "there" is a continual evolution. Like a spiral. Just like life. Just like nature. The journey. The now. Carpe Diem herman@.

In search of #Volunteer: Permaculture or Urban Gardening Exper...

Climate change. Inequality. Malnutrition. Corruption. Unsustainable development. A broken system. Divided communities. Access to potable water, quality education and affordable health care. And the list could go on and on. These are just some of the challenges we face today as humans in every part of the world. In tropical countries like Panama we're especially at risk since climate change is already affecting how we live. What can we do about it? ------------------------------------------------- Original post and complete info at >> - For more videos from "An Expat in Panama" you can visit >> - - ------------------------------------------------- In search of #Volunteer: Permaculture or Urban Gardening Expert Needed in Bocas del Toro, Panama Several of us here at Habla Ya believe that change has to first come at an individual level, to then be able to influence what's happening around us, as an ever expanding circle: family, friends, community, city, region, country, world. Connecting with like minded individuals and creating synergy is also key. And as usual, for us, Language Travel, social media, and being exposed to cultures and ideas from all over the world have taken us on a new path, and we'd like to share with you what we're starting at Habla Ya Bocas and invite you to join us on this journey. Hopefully we'll then be able to carry on at Habla Ya Boquete and Habla Ya Panama City too. Obviously we're open to other ideas so feel free to leave a comment and send us your feedback. Maybe you've felt it too, but we've been getting a bit depressed and anxious when we look around the world and witness war, our planet's destruction, humans and animals being displaced, and many other dark things. We've been feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. And we've been asking ourselves, what can we do about it, if anything? Human greed and stupidity don't seem to have a limit. And it's not that we have all the answers, or even the most valid ones, but just like you, we're in search and starting to see specific things we can do that make a difference. And that has completely changed our outlook into a more positive one. Into a more hopeful one. Into one that gives us purpose and motivation. Hearing about what other people around the world and in our own communities are doing, is also very inspiring and creates positive momentum, so please share with us what you and what others are doing too! Once we told ourselves we needed to do something, the answers were quite simple in fact. People from all over the world are coming to Panama to learn Spanish while having the time of their life too. So how about if we can together find and discover new ways to live on this planet and share them with anyone who's interested and has an open mind about different ways to live? And what if at the same time we can also start preparing our communities to be in a better position to face all current challenges and those ahead of us? For us it starts with Urban Gardening and Permaculture. We're learning how to live our daily lives consuming less, reusing the waste we generate (and generating less of it), and by finding innovative ways to feed ourselves and our communities without having to depend on a broken commercial and agricultural system owned by multinational corporations who sell their own seeds (which can't be reproduced), and profit from fertilizers and insecticides that actually ruin our soils, kill our wildlife and poison our fresh water sources. We're finding ways to buy less things that we really don't need saying no to a culture of death, slavery, appearances, superficiality, unnecessary consumerism, and by saying yes to life, relationships and wholesome experiences. There are so many opportunities within your very own reach. You can start with your cleaning and beauty products for example. Do your research (just google it and voila!) and you'll find many eco-friendly alternatives that are cheaper and actually healthier for you and our environment. Or with your diet. Or by understanding how what you consume is sourced, made, distributed, and then by choosing companies who share your values (hopefully local ones to you) and treat their people with respect. Down the line, we also hope to become energy independent through solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, but we currently don't have means to make those investments. We don't own any of the premises where we exist but we're optimistic that we'll eventually find ways to make it happen. Permaculture and urban gardening encompass so many things. We've just dipped our toes into this path and it's truly inspiring. Before the industrial age, many civilizations around the world had already dominated the art of feeding themselves in balance with their surroundings, and currently, in many places all over the world people and societies have and are rediscovering these ways to live. So that's what we're up to. We want to make it count. We want to make it happen. We want the future generations to see that it's possible and that any real change comes at an individual and community level first. We want to lead by example. We want to create more awareness. More compassion. More connections within each of our communities. More consciousness. We're on that route, and we're currently looking for like minded individuals with more knowledge and expertise than us who can help us move faster and increase our circle of influence quicker. If you have many years of experience with Tropical Permaculture, have a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) under your belt, practice Urban Gardening with tested results in a similar climate as ours, have your own Organic Farm or anything related with a proven and demonstrated track record in direction with our own goals, please get in touch >> We're looking for an expert or several experts, who can volunteer in these projects , and in exchange we'll provide you with free Spanish lessons (20 hours per week), accommodation in Bocas del Toro and weekly Eco-adventure Tours. We're looking for YOU! Please get in touch >> CONTACT US TO BECOME A PERMACULTURE OR URBAN GARDENING VOLUNTEER IN PANAMA... »

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How Can We Go? Together We Go. #NoOneIsLeftBehind
  1. If you're a Permaculture Jedi (or Expert, if you're not into Star Wars), we want you HERE. Please read this: In Search of Volunteer: Permaculture or Urban Gardening Expert Needed
  2. If you want to Volunteer and Learn Permaculture, then please fill out this Application Interview.
  3. If you just want to Volunteer in whichever way, then please send us your Volunteering Interview.

What Sort of Permaculture Volunteering Could You Be Doing?

Any of these, at any stage are possible (videos of community projects we're into are coming soon and remember that we flow):

  1. Setting up or working on gardens at local families and schools
  2. Help us spin our own gardens, which we intend to be demonstration centers
  3. Some jungle Permaculture out of town with the local indigenous communities
  4. Permablitz specific areas in our communities
  5. What else? The Big Picture obviously. Together we can figure it out and do. You have other skills too, no? We're good to go.

"Thus, traditional agriculture was labour intensive, industrial agriculture is energy intensive, and...

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Saturday, May 6, 2017

At the end of the day, what you will do, will be defined by who you are (Volunteering Interview please) and what we need at that specific moment. Right now we're tackling TRASH in our community.

And we're thinking about EDUCATION and CULTURE. We're Permaculturing (it's a verb too, no?) those 2 things in our minds, to then go and do what we can.

How Else Can You Help?

We also need the help of artists, writers, content creators, film makers, photographers, translators, influencers and anyone who can help us spread the message and move this forward. We're into exchanges so if you have some of these skills, we might trade for Spanish lessons, accommodation and/or tours. CONTACT US TODAY AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!

What's is our "version or flavor" of Permaculture?

We like to FLOW and we're into OPEN-SOURCE. So there you go. Yes. DUCK, DUCK, GO!

What Have We Been Up To?

Read the following posts and you'll get a better idea about what we're about (or thinking about, and trying at least):

  1. You Can Change the World: Permaculture Volunteering in Panama!
  2. In Search of Volunteer: Permaculture or Urban Gardening Expert Needed

You Can Change the World: Permaculture Volunteering in Panama!

We can change the world... each and one of us! Join our Permaculture Volunteer Program, just like Natalie did. Find out how here: >> - #Permaculture #UrbanGardening #ClimateChange #Community #Education #BocasdelToro #Volunteer #Reset #Caribbean #MeaningfulTravel #LearningVacation #LanguageTravel #HablaYa

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What else?

Permaculture is intellectually stimulating: regenerative design, system thinking, relationships and connections... a never ending list of exciting words and concepts. It's a tool-set for your own context and circumstances. It gives you perspective. Zoom in, zoom out. Touch what you can. Leave what is gone. Flow.

It's practical. Down to Earth. The Earth. Everyone's HOME. Our home today, and the home of our kids' kids and their kids tomorrow. #WeAreOne.

We're also learning to build shelters. Dignified homes built with local materials. Together we can lift up our communities. Our cities. The World.

What about Permaculture Design Courses?

We'll go, get one, and tell you about it.

If you're looking for a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) right now, we can point you in the right direction (with references). We hope to establish an alliance with a training center in neighboring Costa Rica, or within Panama, which you could join before your time with us.

You could also just learn here on the field with us, together, and use some of that hard earned cash of yours to Permaculture our community.

We grow and flow...

Like a Spiral... #WeGrow #Permaculture #OpenSource #OpenSourcePermaculture #WeLearnbyDoing #WeTry #WeFail #WeEvolve

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Saturday, May 6, 2017

If you're an expert, no donation is required. But if you come to learn with us, then there is a $5 per day donation as a Spanish student, and $15 per day if you're not. It's your call how to use the cash to benefit our community (it's your cash), but we'll obviously give you our local knowledge and advice. You'll do and you'll see where your money goes.

WWOOFING opportunities? How Can I Permaculture Volunteer in Panama?
  1. Wwoofer or not, if you're a Permaculture Expert, we'll happily give you a roof, a community and Spanish lessons (4 hrs a day). Communal kitchen and fridge too. Our place is OK. And our Permacultura attention to you of course. Our honor and grattitude.
  2. If you want to learn Permaculture, then please apply and become a volunteer.

Down the line, we'll also offer Permaculture Courses or Modules or Seminars or Conferences or Workshops or Spanish Learning Immersion Vacations with Permaculture (we have a bag of tricks too, you see?), in our own style. It will be with Open-Source materials and affordable

Our weekly meetings on Fridays are open to the public.

#OpenSourcePermaculture TODOS los VIERNES a las 4:30PM en #HablaYaBocas. Aprendamos UNIDOS haciendo. Feliz semana!!!

A post shared by Habla Ya Spanish Schools (@hablaya) on

How Can Our Permaculture Programs Be So Affordable?

We're already a network of Spanish Schools. We're able to share what we've learned about Permaculture, by taking volunteers under our guidance. Win-Win!

If you have a business or any sort of organization, and see a way to replicate this line of thought in your own version, please do so. Please copy, share, redistribute and take these ideas, blend them with other ones, let them be written in the sky, and may the wind take them far away.

Gracias Give and Surf: FREE English classes every Tuesday and Thursday at #HablaYa! #reset #comunidad #education #activate #BocasTown #volunteers

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Thursday, March 30, 2017

And let's all take it to the next level. Now. Today. Hodie et nunc. An honor. An adventure. A pleasure.

Whether you come as an expert, or as a young padawan, we'll all learn from each other. You'll develop observation, interaction and social engineering skills, as well as autonomy and creativity. You learn Permaculture by being Permaculture. By being.

What Are We Like?

Yes. This is our manifesto. It will evolve too.

We're into culture and learning languages. Into surf, travel, outdoors, philosophy, jiu-jitsu, art, live music, cycles, numbers, open-source and coding too. We're into lots of things because we are many. We are legion. We are Anonymous too... just in the day light because we're only up to good.

#WeAreAllWeNeed. We are HUMANS. We're on the human's team. We're into BEING HERE NOW.

By the way, did you know that we can do more in the language of the locals? Permaculture 101. We're a network of 3 Spanish schools in Panama so it seems you're in the right place.

Join Us TODAY!

Apply as a volunteer if you want to learn by helping or if you're already a Black-belt join us as a Permaculture Expert and we'll do an exchange. Either way, we'll make sure you learn loads of Permaculture ethics, principles, tricks, hacks and designs along the way.

Some Final Thoughts

Where is the Permaculture Wiki we must ask? One where you can DIG DEEP and get answer about all things Permaculture? Is there one? There should be one. We think at least. Do you have the skills to do that? Go and do it or tell someone who can please.

Yes, we know: use small and slow solutions. It's just... context. We cannot deny who we are. We aim big. We fail big sometimes too. Let's see where this goes.

Where Are We Going?

We also play Chess.

A better education for every kid, so ergo Chess.

Yes, you can Volunteer with #BocasChessClub too.

Recuerdos del camino... #GoBasti! El Campeonato Nacional de Ajedrez empieza HOY VIERNES. LIKE y FOLLOW Bocas Chess Club y Chess Sebastian Schnell para seguir la accion. Buen fin de semana a TODOS. Para los corruptos tambien. #comunidad #reset #educacion #ajedrez #BocasChessClub

Posted by El Joules on Friday, May 19, 2017

Remember that we flow? So when you get here, what was written here, will have changed. With the local knowledge and insights we have of our own communities, as a volunteer, you'll be helping where it's most needed. We know where we need to help. And we know how to listen if you think we're wrong. We're already here, remember? Obviously we'll take into account your own skill-set, background and life callings, but if you're good to go, you'll be willing to serve where it's needed.

It's all Permaculture at the end of the day. Everything is Permaculture for us. Will you learn Permaculture with us even though you're a Permaculture Wizard already and we're not? We always learn. And there are plenty fun and games in Panama to make the trip worth your while. We have some tricks too, remember? Some shortcuts. To get there my friend. Maybe we can deploy together. Let's dig DEEP together. #WeAreFungiToo.

Let's stay connected: we're on facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube and all of those.

As follows, is the volunteering section as it was before May 4th 2017 (what a happy coincidence, no?). We flow. We're good to go. May the Force Be With You. #Reset.

What's The Rest of This Page?

Some volunteer projects that we are or were involved with.

Give Your Help Where it's Most Needed

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.

Amigos de Boquete Nutrition Program

Volunteers can help from many different projects in Panama City, Boquete and Bocas del Toro, Panama. You can help at orphanages, public schools, wildlife rescue centers, environmental organizations, elderly homes, or you can work with handicapped children and adults, literacy projects, you can teach English and so much more! Most of the volunteer projects are based in Boquete, Panama City and Bocas del Toro, but some take place in David and its surrounding areas.

Volunteers can choose to work in any of the following areas:

Spanish students can volunteer during half of the day (when they are not having Spanish classes), while non students can decide to join part time (1 to 4 hours) or help out in full day volunteer projects.

We are determined to place each volunteer in a position of interest and passion where you can best use your knowledge, skills and talents. The sooner you fill out your Volunteering Interview, the sooner we will be able to place you as a volunteer. If you would like to volunteer in Panama, but do not see a perfect fit with the projects below, we encourage you to contact us because there is always someone who needs your help! With that being said, we are also extremely grateful for the volunteers who are able to perform the volunteer positions and duties that are currently needed. Each project can only have a limited amount of volunteers at any given time.
Top of page

Childrens' Volunteering Projects

Help a Kid Have a Better Future

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.

In every country of Latin America (and Panama is no exception) there are unfortunately many children who have been abandoned to their own luck, born in homes with no love, abused, or suffer poverty and sickness. These children need a loving heart, attention, education and friends who can help them find a better life full of opportunities, be successful and most importantly: happy!

Volunteers' tasks within the Childrens' Programs may include:

  • working in orphanages assisting with daily activities such as laundry duties or cooking meals, and childcare duties such as feeding or bathing the children
  • working with teenage mothers and their newborn children
  • helping kids from public schools with their homework
  • running sports' lessons, giving computer instruction, and music, dance and singing classes
  • helping to prepare meals and secure funding for schools' dining rooms
  • playing with children during their breaks
  • assisting health professionals to take care of ill children
  • teaching English or other subjects in a classroom
  • being a mentor for a group of children once per week

For certain volunteer projects, materials are not provided and each volunteer is encouraged to purchase them before arriving to Boquete or Bocas del Toro, Panama. Many volunteers organize fund raisers before flying to Panama.

Childrens' projects include:

Por Los Niños
Por Los Niños

Por Los Niños main goal is to increase the overall well being of the children at Casa Hogar Trisker. Some children at Trisker are orphans and others use to live in socially challenging conditions and that is why they are taken to Hogar Trisker.

A team of volunteers go to the center twice per week to spend quality one-on-one time with the babies, giving them the love and attention they need at such a crucial time in their lives. Other volunteers can teach skills to the older children (up to 18 years old) or work with children who have autism or other handicap conditions.

This is a part-time program and operates year-round (excluding public holidays). It is suitable for those who have previous experience caring for children. The primary volunteer responsibility is organizing fun activities for the children. Basic Spanish is useful, but English speakers are welcome.

Casa Hogar Trisker also accepts full time volunteers if they can commit for at least 1 month.

Amigos de Boquete
Amigos de Boquete Volunteer Nutrition Program

Amigos de Boquete is a charitable foundation formed by a group of Panamanians and non-Panamanians to assist the school children of Chiriqui Province. The Boquete area has a large, generally poor, indigenous population in which malnutrition is a problem. Amigos has found that when food is provided to a school, attendance often grows by over 30%.

The first two schools to which Amigos provided food were Palo Alto and Jaramillo Arriba. By 2006, the number of schools served by Amigos had increased to five with the addition of Estrella Ballis, Alto Quiel, and Jaramillo Abajo. In 2007, Volcancito and Palmira Arriba were added for a total of seven schools. In addition, during 2007 Amigos began providing food to the Medalla Milagrosa and Hogar Trisker orphanages, to Casa Esperanza, and to Buenos Vecinos which aids Boquete residents who are elderly or infirm. In the school year beginning March 2008, Amigos began supporting five additional schools: El Frances Abajo, El Frances Arriba, Pueblo Nuevo, Pueblo Caldera, and Alto Boquete, bringing the total to 12 schools serviced by Amigos. Amigos is now feeding over 1,100 children each school day. In 2008 and 2009, Amigos donated $10,000 to Buenos Vecinos de Boquete to assist it in achieving economic stability as it works to feed over 50 families in great need.

Music Program
Leaf International Music Program in Boquete, Panama

Through this music program we empower youth through music, arts and by connecting to their cultural traditions. Music is a powerful tool for children's self-esteem, healing, learning skills, positive development, fine motor skills, and creates a healthy happier community. This music program is currently held at Casa Esperanza in Boquete, Panama.

We are currently seeking skilled musicians to teach the children participating in the project. The project currently has access to a basic keyboard, child guitar, violin, bongos, plastic recorders, tambourines, and some miscellaneous percussion, electric keyboard, adult sized guitar, accordions, drum kit, xylophones, and finger cymbals. The project days and times are flexible pending on volunteers schedule. Spanish conversational speaking skills are needed to effectively communicate with the children. This program operates year round, excluding National Holidays. It is available for volunteers with a commitment of 2 weeks or longer.

Casa Esperanza
Casa Esperanza Volunteer Program in Boquete, Panama

Casa Esperanza is one of Panama's most important NGOs (Non governmental Organization) when it comes to fighting against child labour in Panama. In the urban areas like Panama City they work to keep kids off the streets and in rural areas like Boquete they give their parents alternatives so that they do not have to take their children to the farms where they work at.

Each year more than 3,500 children and 1,500 parents benefit from Casa Esperanza's projects.

The children of those parents who are contracted and cannot afford childcare are referred to the Casa Esperanza Center through the employers at their worksite.

Casa Esperanza Volunteer Program in Boquete, Panama

Of seven integral services centers one is in Boquete (the rest are in David, Coclé and the other four are in the province of Panama). At these centers multidisciplinary teams provide children and teenagers with academic support, primary healthcare, nutrition, personal and social development, sports, culture and recreational activities. As a volunteer you can assist these teams in their daily tasks such as teaching the kids, playing with them, helping them with their homework, taking care of them when they visit places outside of the center and organizing birthday parties amongst other things.

Casa Esperanza works with children and teenagers in extreme poverty conditions with a focus on those who must work to contribute to their family incomes. They provide children and teens with academic support, primary healthcare, nutrition, personal and social development, sports, culture and recreational activities. Child laborers are referred to the Casa Esperanza Center where there are educational alternatives aimed at reducing their participation in the work force.

Casa Esperanza is currently in need of volunteers to help with homework, sporting activities, food preparation, life skills, literacy, etc. Long term volunteers may also assist the organizational staff to come up with creative solutions and ideas for the challenges being faced by the organization and participants.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and offers special activities on Saturdays.

This is a full time placement, available for volunteers with a 2 week or longer stay only. Conversational Spanish is required. This program operates year-round, except the months of January, February and all National Holidays.

Youth Development Sports Project
Sports Volunteering Project

The Youth Development Sports Project helps children develop team building and social skills, promotes hard work and improves the kid's self esteem, leads them towards a healthier lifestyle, and obviously gives them a wonderful chance to play, laugh and have fun, just like all kids should do... kids should only have two jobs: study and play! When a child can run around with freedom all his troubles seem to float away...

Volunteers can assist at public schools, day care centers or at orphanages. Volunteers can expect to practice and teach soccer, gymnastics, baseball, basketball, kickball and many other sports.

This program is part-time and will need to be combined with other projects to make up a full-time schedule. If you like to play, run around, and let that inner child in you loose, then this project is for you!

This program is held both in Boquete and in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Había una vez... Reading Project
Casa Esperanza Loco por Leer Reading Project Readers 2 Leaders

Había una vez... (Once upon a time...), our local reading and book-lending program, began recently with the involvment of the Club Activo 20 - 30 branch of Boquete, (a Panamanian non profit organization). The original idea started back in December of 2008 with fomer local expat Richel Brown and her "Loco por Leer" program at the library in Palmira Centro, and has now expanded to other places within our community.

Literacy levels are very low within the indigenous communities of Panama, and those who do learn to read, aren't overly enthusiastic about books. Había una vez... promotes the joy of reading and provides many children with the opportunity to spend quality time with someone who gives them love and respect.

Every Saturday morning, Había una vez... offers a program of reading in small groups: exploring topics through writing exercises, information organization and creative activities. Each session ends with the children choosing a book to check out and take home for one week. Había una vez... owns a library of childrens' books in Spanish donated by Books for a Better World, the Boquete Rotary Club, the Active 20 - 30 Club of Boquete and many other generous individuals.

The Había una vez group is always in need of advanced level Spanish speaking volunteers to read with the kids on Saturdays and project leaders whom wish to start their own Había una vez group. Book donations are always happily received.

Public Schools in Boquete and Bocas del Toro, Panama (March - December)
Volunteering at a Public School in Panama

Volunteers can help at several public schools in Boquete and Bocas del Toro such as the Escuela Josefa Montero de Vásquez, Escuela de Alto Boquete and Escuela República de Nicaragua.

Volunteers can work supporting English teachers, kindergarten teachers, sport teachers and the Multiple Challenges classroom where there are kids with special needs.

Public schools are open en Panama from March to December and kids attend schools either in the mornings or afternoons.

Each program is unique and has its own needs. Some projects have many children, others have a few. Some have plenty of resources available yet others have almost none. In some organizations you'll receive abundant help and you'll have specific tasks and duties and other projects require self-motivated individuals that can lead their own way. As schools close from December to March, certain projects don't run all year long.
Top of page

Community Outreach Programs

Let's Make the World a Better Place

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.

Habla Ya is extremely passionate about collaborating with local based organizations who day and night work hard to build a better community for every single Panamanian. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with the disabled, animal and wildlife programs, nutrition and empowerment projects, and community recycling. As some of the projects are not full-time, volunteers may take part in a flexible schedule, which includes a combination of projects.

Projects include:

Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Volunteer work starts in late February preparing everything for nesting season and goes throughout September when the last turtles hatch. The peak of turtle activity generally takes place in June and July. Volunteers are required to commit to at least 7 full weeks. Spots available to volunteer are limited so to ensure placement sign up and commit in advance. If you can't commit to this amount of time, but would still like to see the turtles nest (or hatch), this can also be arranged upon arrival to our Spanish school in Bocas del Toro.

Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Being able to watch a giant sea turtle lay its eggs on a sandy beach during full moon is certainly one of nature's most magical and humling experiences. Four species of marine turtles are known to be in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. These include the Green Turtle, Loggerhead, Leatherback and the Hawksbill Sea Turtles (of which mostly the Leatherback and Hawksbill nest in Bocas). Nesting season, from March to July, is the only time the females ever return to land during their lifetimes, and they'll always return to the same beach where they emerged from their eggs as tiny hatchlings, and crawled into the sea for the first time.

Bluff Beach on Isla Colón, Playa Larga within the Bastimentos National Marine Park, the beaches of Cayo Zapatillas, and on the mainland at San San Pond Sak Wetlands, are Bocas del Toro's most important nesting grounds.

As a volunteer studying Spanish at Habla Ya you'll most likely support the efforts at Bluff Beach on Isla Colón, although during the weekends you can also head out to other places. Volunteers at Bluff Beach cover their transportation costs each evening back and from Bluff Beach to Bocas Town ($25 USD per round-trip for a full taxi). Many students also end their program by going to Playa Larga or Playa Soropta on the main land, where facilities exist to accommodate the volunteers. In this case $195 USD per week is collected to cover the costs of meals, accommodation and transportation, in addition to one payment of $10 to cover the National Park Entrance Fee (paid one, only for Playa Larga in Bastimentos).

Most of the work in this region is coordinated by the Sea Turtle Conservancy. As a volunteer you'll patrol the beaches at night, and you'll have to cover 6 to 12 kms per night. Normally shifts take 4 hours long but it will depend on the amount of volunteers. When you or your team spot a turtle, you'll tag and measure the turtle and wait until it lays its eggs. Depending on where the eggs were laid, you might also be required to relocated the eggs to a safer location.

Turtles don't have any natural predators, but coastal development puts in danger their existence. Artificial lights can disorient the nesting females and hatchlings, not allowing them to return safetly to sea. Sea turtles are also hunted for their eggs, meat and their shells. Conservation efforts are necessary to protect these endagered species.

REAL Boquete Recycling Center
ReAL Boquete Logo

REAL (" Reciclaje, Ambiente y Limpieza de Boquete" ), a non-profit ecological organization founded in 2001, has set itself the goal to educate the community of Boquete about the importance of protecting our environment.

REAL started as a small but commited group of Boquete residents who saw how the garbage in our community was alarmingly increasing. This group decided to start recycling. First of all they secured buyers (mostly in David) for several materials such as plastic, glass, aluminium, paper and cardboard, and afterwards they presented a plan to Panama's Ministry of Education in which the children of several public schools would be responsible of sorting out and classifying the materials that REAL would collect (REAL has a drop off point in the center of Boquete). In this way Boquete's youth would learn and be educated about waste and about recycling, and the funds obtained from recycling would go back to each school and each school would decide how to use the funds in their own school (something really needed in our Public Schools).

Recycling Center in Boquete, Panama

As of now, REAL Boquete works with five local schools and the last Saturdays of each month are known as recycling day in Boquete.

REAL is continually looking for volunteers. Volunteers can give speeches about recycling at local schools, train teachers so that they can then educate their students about recycling, organize the sale and weighing of materials to be recycled, monitor the recycling programs at each school, classify and receive materials at the recycling center, transport the materials to David, help with sales and marketing about recycling, management tasks, translations, promote recycling in Boquete and Panama in general, to seek more efficient ways to run the recycling center and to expand their operations.

Medical and Healthcare Volunteering Programs

For those doctors, medical students or healthcare practitioners in general, who would like to volunteer with Floating Doctors or have an internship (practicum) at a hospital or health clinic in Panama, it can be arranged as long as we receive your volunteering interview, complete résumé and a transcript of the highest or current level of medical education completed and/or a scanned copy of your medical license.

Volunteer with the Floating Doctors
Every opportunity to help and cure is also a learning opportunity

Many patients in Bocas del Toro, Panama can't "just go to the hospital". Oceans, mountains, jungles, politics, economics, and bigotry separate our patients from their basic human right of ACCESS to care, so we come to our patients' communities and to their homes, traveling by boat, by foot, by dugout canoe, horse, and rescue panga.

Volunteering with Floating Doctors provides experienced clinicians and students alike with the unique opportunity to see advanced and unusual disease cases, hone their clinical diagnostic skills, and challenge their ability to provide the best outcome possible for a patient, even with limited resources (and to practice their Medical Spanish!). More importantly, however, is the opportunity to practice medicine from the heart—to treat each patient with dignity and compassion and care. This experience, along with increased diagnostic skills and clinical confidence, is the gift that Floating Doctors intends our volunteers to carry back to their practice in the developed world, and one that will benefit clinicians and patients well beyond the locations we visit.

As a volunteer with Floating Doctors you'll have the opportunity to join our:

  • Mobile Clinics
  • Multi-Day Mobile Clinics
Every child's smile is worth the world

In Bocas del Toro, our Mobile Clinics take place every Tuesday and Thursdays on Isla Colón in the storage units by the airport. The mobile clinic is the backbone of the Floating Doctor's program and not only acts as acute treatment and long-term patient management, but also forms the basis of the community acceptance that make the Floating Doctor's activities possible, and most of our other projects evolve from situations encountered during mobile clinics. As a volunteer you're asked to make a $10 donation to Floating Doctors for each day you take part in their Mobile Clinic.

The Multi-Day Mobile Clinic functions the same way as our day long mobile clinic but leaves us in the community for 3 - 4 days living, working and sleeping with the patients that we are serving. This provides a unique opportunity to get to know the people whom you're serving on a level that is much deeper than a day long clinic provides. You can be sure to treat a lot of patients, be introduced to amazing cultures, and make a lot of friends along the way!

There is a $25 USD application fee that helps offset some of the administrative costs associated with running a volunteer program. If you're accepted the fee will be credited towards the requested volunteer donation. The fees of those not accepted at this time will go to support the fuel costs for our mobile clinic deployments to remote communities. If your application is not accepted initially but you come at a later date, your original application fee will be discounted from your participation donation at that time – you'll not need to pay an application fee twice. The donation requested by Floating Doctors is $400 USD for 1 week, $700 USD for 2 weeks, $900 USD for 3 weeks and $270 USD per week if volunteering for one month or longer (minimum $1,100). This donation covers your lodging.

The following video gives you a good idea about what Mobile Clinics are like.

Volunteering at Public Hospitals and Clinics in Panama
Changing a suprapubic catheter blocked after 11 months of neglect

Depending on the length of your internship you might be a volunteer at a MINSA (Panama's Ministry of Health) rural clinic in Bocas del Toro or Boquete, Panama, the Caja de Seguro Social in Boquete, or at one of the public hospitals in David. Your responsibilities will depend on your medical education, experience, level of proficiency in the Spanish language (YOU NEED TO AT LEAST HAVE A BASIC CONVERSATIONAL LEVEL OF SPANISH) and on what your supervisor decides.

Some participants will be allowed to shadow doctors, others will be asked to contribute with administrative tasks and yet other will be able to have a more hands on role. Remember, you're here to practice your Medical Spanish and help in anyway that's needed. Don't forget to bring your own white lab coat!

Please remember to submit your volunteering interview if you would like to participate in this part of the program.

Fundación Pro-Integración: Boquete Handicap Foundation
Fundación Pro-Integración, Boquete Handicap Foundation

The Handicap Foundation of Boquete, founded in 1989 is one of many chapters of the main office in Panama City. It is a non-profit organization established in 1983 with funds from the 20-30 Teletons.

All chapters such as ours are volunteers (including handicap family members) interested in helping the handicap community (especially the most economically depressed) improve their life style. We are able to supply wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, canes, occasionally hearing aids, and funds for children to attend special education classes, physical therapy, doctor's appointments and medications.

Fundación Pro-Integración, Boquete Handicap Foundation

There are no dues and the only requirement for membership is a desire to be of assistance to the handicapped community. This can be offered through professional skills such as teachers, medical personnel, physical therapists, or personal time in reading to children, playing games, doing handcrafts, or anything that would interest the specific needs of each handicapped child or adult.

Our funds are raised through projects such as the sale of prepared food or used clothing, raffles and auctions as well as donations from community members.

The new facilities are located in Alto Boquete on the east side of the Boquete to David road approximately 500m south of the Guadalupano School. It is a blue building with a red roof and surrounded by a cyclone fence.

San Vicente Elderly Home Care Center in Bocas del Toro, Panama

The facilities at our local home care center aren't the best but keeping company, providing conversation and entertaining our elderly will definitely be very much appreciated.

Space available in certain projects is limited. The amount of hours to volunteer on some projects is fixed, hence, if you would like to volunteer for a certain amount of hours per week your choice for projects might be limited and/or you might be required to work on several projects. Volunteers can work beyond their commitment. It is vital that you're flexible and willing to adapt to situations as they arise. Once you complete our Volunteering Interview we will be able to discuss your Volunteer Project Placement(s).
Top of page

English Program - FREE OF CHARGE

The Gift of Opening Doors to a Better Future for Others

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.

English Teaching Volunteer Program

The ability to speak and understand spoken English, and to read and write, has always been vital for many Panamanians since an important part of our economy is based on services to foreign countries. And nowadays, with the growth of the tourism industry, English is becoming even more and more important. Not knowing English, limits ones opportunities considerably.

Knowing the importance of English as a second language, Habla Ya Spanish Schools lends its premises after office hours to the English Volunteering Program in Boquete and Bocas del Toro, Panama... and the match turns out to be perfect because those who really want to learn English normally have a job and are only available at the end of the afternoons.

A teaching qualification is not necessary but patience and leadership are. Volunteers can teach children or adults, either in a group setting or through private lessons.

Many years ago, Habla Ya also had an English Program (for profit) and the English Volunteering Program has benefited from that initial syllabus, course contents and materials. Nowadays, we always need English teachers to volunteer and there is not setup fee or daily fee as there is for the rest of our volunteer projects.

If you're going to study Spanish at Habla Ya Spanish Schools and would like to teach English in Bocas del Toro or Boquete, Panama, just let us know. Or if you don't plan to learn Spanish and would just like to teach English, please pay us a visit once you're in town.

The days and times vary. It generally runs Monday - Friday, but for some students, on Saturday's also. A minimum 3-week commitment is required for this program. Please note, Childrens' English Classes are on break January - March. The Adult Program operates year round, and observes National Holidays.
Top of page

Internships and Work Abroad in Panama

No Paid Positions Until You're Legal

If you prove to be a successful volunteer for at least 3 months, we'll hook you up with an internship (an exchange with accommodation included) and provide you with legal advice to get a work permit.

How will we hook you up?

We're part of this Laterally Connected Network called Humans. You too.

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.
Top of page

Volunteering Fees

Are you a good fit to Volunteer? Maybe. Please have a proper meditated read about Why Permaculture is at the heart of our volunteering efforts, and you will know if you're ready or not. If you want to volunteer, please read and find out a little bit about what you're getting yourself into. Otherwise, you're not good to go.

50% of Daily Volunteer Fees go directly as a donation to each NGO

Habla Ya's role is essential because most NGO's (Non Profit or Non governmental Organizations) in Panama do not have the ability to place and manage volunteers by themselves. Setting up your volunteer project with us ensures a meaningful placement in which your skills and talents will be fully exploited.

There are two fees associated with volunteering in Boquete, Bocas del Toro and/or Panama City, Panama: Daily Donation Fee ($5 USD per day for students, $15 USD per day for non students) and Placement Fee* ($75). 100% of students' daily donation is given directly to the NGO where you'll be working at (75% of non students daily fee is donated as well).

Volunteers are encouraged to give an additional donation to the project where they'll be working at. At the end of the day, it's not about you feeling good or special. In such a short period of time its difficult to make a significant impact: a monetary contribution will really make the difference in these places!

Click here for more information about why you should pay to volunteer...

Children who volunteer under the supervision of their parents, volunteer for FREE!

Placement fee covers: airport or bus station pickup at volunteering location (volunteer placements in Boquete and Bocas del Toro do not include transfer from Panama City nor pickup in Panama City, but pickup can be arranged for $45 extra, and transfer by bus or plane can be arranged at your cost as well), transfer to home stay (home stays in Boquete include pickup in David and transfer to Boquete), organization orientation session, training, volunteer goal setting session and lodging setup (but not lodging itself - click here for lodging options - and for those doing a home stay, no additional home stay setup fee has to be paid). The Daily Volunteering Fee also covers on-going support from the partner organizations, permanent contact with Habla Ya's Volunteer Director either at the school or by email and telephone and access to Habla Ya's staff on every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Also included in your volunteering fees: extra activities such as opportunities to attend weekly salsa lessons, wifi access, regular social gatherings and a certificate of completion.

Volunteering Fees for Habla Ya Students
Amount of weeks more weeks means lower rate per/week...
Days per Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Each Extra Week
1 $10 $20 $30 $40 $50 $80 $85 $90 $95 $100 $105 $110 FREE!
2 $20 $40 $80 $90 $100 $110 $120 $130 $140 $150 $160 $170 FREE!
3 $30 $80 $95 $110 $125 $140 $155 $170 $185 $200 $215 $230 FREE!
4 $40 $90 $110 $130 $150 $170 $190 $210 $230 $250 $270 $290 FREE!
5 $50 $100 $125 $150 $175 $200 $225 $250 $275 $300 $325 $350 FREE!

Rates are in US Dollars.

Volunteering Fees for Non Students
Amount of weeks more weeks means lower rate per/week...
Days per Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Each Extra Week
1 $30 $60 $90 $120 $150 $165 $180 $195 $210 $225 $240 $255 FREE!
2 $60 $120 $165 $195 $225 $255 $285 $315 $345 $375 $405 $435 FREE!
3 $90 $165 $210 $255 $300 $345 $390 $435 $480 $525 $570 $615 FREE!
4 $120 $195 $255 $315 $375 $435 $495 $555 $615 $675 $735 $795 FREE!
5 $150 $225 $300 $375 $450 $525 $600 $675 $750 $825 $900 $975 FREE!

Rates are in US Dollars.


* Student's volunteering fees apply when you sign up for at least 10 hours of Private Lessons or for 20 hours of Group Lessons. The only exception to these fees is when you volunteer for 5 days or less in which case there is no placement fee: only a $10 USD per day (students) or $30 USD per day (non students) fee. In this case 50% of the daily fee goes to the volunteer organization where you'll be working at and these daily fees do not cover the home stay setup fee if students decide to live with a local host family.

Volunteer orientation sessions take place whenever a volunteer arrives to Boquete, Panama City or Bocas del Toro, and volunteer placements can start on any day of the year. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive on the Friday before their placement to have the weekend to explore the area and gain comfort with the culture. You may stay for one week to twelve weeks. Your stay can be extended beyond twelve weeks on a case-by-case basis (depending upon visa requirements). Fees can be paid upon arrival. Your program fee does not cover your accommodation nor the transportion from your accommodation to your volunteer project each day.

Top of page