Although taking a dedicated volunteer trip or mission trip is a great way to get out there and do good, they can be extremely expensive. A far simpler way to do good while on a budget is to work a simple volunteer project into a trip that you are already taking.
Within Quintana Roo, the area encompassing Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Morelos, etc., there’s an abundance of opportunities for you and your family to make a difference. From providing a nutritious meal to restoring the reef, or working with children in need, it’s likely that there’s a volunteer opportunity that will best fit with your available time and budget. Here are seven easy ways you can help others around the Cancun area.
7 Affordable Ways to Travel For Good in Cancun
Restore the Coral Reef
The reefs of Cozumel are part of the second largest reef system in the world. In order to protect and conserve the reef, The Cozumel Coral Reef Restoration Program is restoring parts of it all around the island. The program relies on volunteers, and there are several ways you can help out in the process of restoring the coral reef in Cozumel.
The program needs divers to work at the coral farm, restoring the coral by hand. In order to participate, you have to take the coral reef restoration course. The course includes the AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Specialty and a diploma as a Coral Reef Restorer Volunteer Diver. It is divided into academic sessions and four open water training beach dives in the restoration areas and in the coral farm. Upon completion, you become a volunteer and can start helping with the restoration efforts taking place in the most affected areas of Cozumel. The course costs $160 USD.
If you’re a diver or you own any diving gear, you can donate the used equipment that you no longer need. Equipment such as regulators, goggles, wetsuits, tanks, or any other type of diving gear is all acceptable.
If you are not a diver, but still want to help in the restoration of Cozumel’s coral reef, you can do your part by giving a monetary donation.
Here’s a video of what you will experience when you volunteer to plant reef.
Plant a Tree
During an extreme jungle adventure at Selvatica in Puerto Morelos, everyone participating is given the opportunity to plant a tree and combat deforestation. Between all the zip lining, off-roading, and swimming in cenotes, Selvatica patrons can take a break from the adrenaline rush and plant a tree. Selvatica’s Seed of Life Program has planted over 300,000 trees! There is no additional cost to take part in the tree planting, so you don’t need to further strain your budget. The tree planting is included in your package, and the whole process is very quick and easy.
Save a Sea Turtle
Punta Sur Park on the south side of Cozumel is a 247-acre ecological park that has reefs, beaches, and crocodile filled lagoons. Cozumel is a major nesting ground for the Loggerhead, Green, and Hawksbill sea turtles. You can find both Loggerhead and Green turtles within Punta Sur. During certain times of the year, you can help ensure the survival of these sea turtles by participating in the Sea Turtle Workshop. September and October are typically when the baby sea turtles start to hatch. Punta Sur is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is an admission to get into the park: Adult $16.00 USD, Child $10.00 USD (Aged 4-12).
Many of the resorts throughout Cancun and the surrounding areas offer the opportunity to participate in a turtle release program in the evening between May and October. In Isla Mujeres there is a turtle sanctuary where visitors are welcome to take part in the release “ceremony”.
Work at an Orphanage
One of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done is work in an orphanage as a family. There is no cost to work in an orphanage unless you decide to donate items or food. Once you are at the orphanage, you will want to be able to provide the children with something, so come prepared.
Cancun Pro Kids
Cancun Pro Kids, also known as La Casita Children’s Home, provides care for 100 kids, sheltering them and educating them. There are many ways to work with Cancun Pro Kids. You can make a donation directly at their facility, and they also accept food, clothing, shoes, socks, diapers, general home and school supplies, personal hygiene items, children’s and adult’s Tylenol, children’s multivitamins, children’s cold/cough medicine, band-aids, toys, educational puzzles and games, sports equipment, stuffed animals and children’s toys. You can donate your time teaching them any trade, like art or music. You can also donate your muscles and do a project like painting a house. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ciudad de Angeles
In Cozumel, Ciudad de Angeles orphanage provides a family-oriented living environment for over 20 children. The orphanage is currently located in multiple rental homes, each with a mother figure to help look after the children. The children come from all over Mexico from a variety of bad situations.
Needs include items like new or gently used clothing, sandals, shoes, coloring books, toys, dolls, personal hygiene, hair combs and brushes, school supplies, puzzles, games, and children’s videos and DVDs. Resort guests or cruise ship passengers wanting to drop off items should email or call at least 48 hours in advance and they will give you the address and the best time to drop off items. If visitors would like to come to the orphanage and meet the children, they can put in a request on the website.
Ciudad de Angeles is in the process of building a permanent campus that you can help with by volunteering for a construction team.
Help a School
In Isla Mujeres you can volunteer at The Little Yellow School House, Centro de Apoyo Psicopedayogico, where special needs children receive a free education. They need help with building projects and small construction projects, like a playground with slides, swings, etc. If you don’t have time, you can simply make a donation. Items needed include basic school supplies like glue, paper, scissors, craft supplies, books in Spanish, and coloring books.
The Little English Schoolhouse
The Little English Schoolhouse is a nonprofit program created to teach English to the children of Puerto Morelos for free. Children are taught at the library in the Colonia.
K’iin Beh School
The K’iin Beh School near Playa Del Carmen provides bilingual education to kids starting from kindergarten through grade 6. This is the first school in this area and they are building one class at a time. You can donate manual labor and help with construction or donate construction materials.
Provide a Meal
Help feed children a nutritious meal in Cancun at Huellas de Pan community dining room. You can also help execute some sort of recreational activity depending on the day of your visit.
Visit Children at the Hospital
One great way to bring some cheer into the world is to visit kids in the hospital. You can visit children at the General Hospital in Cancun. While you’re there, you can pass out stuffed animals, crayons, journals, and coloring books. Simple acts like these are great ways to inspire positivity and give these kids a way to pass the time.
All of these programs and opportunities are fantastic ways to give back to both the people, plants, and animals of Quintana Roo. You might even find yourself having a bit of fun while you work and help out. These volunteer opportunities don’t require you to empty your pockets and stretch your budget. It’s donations and hearty volunteer work that help each and every one of these causes and programs. So the next time you’re on vacation, or if you’re planning a trip to Quintana Roo, consider volunteering a bit of your time and money in an effort to travel for good.
Travelocity’s Travel for Good™ program aims to inspire travelers to give back in ways big and small throughout their journeys. To learn more about the program, get involved in a local community or start planning your next Travel for Good trip, please visit Travelocity.com/TravelForGood.
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