Experience Portugal Differently – as a Volunteer

Are you considering to become a volunteer? When we talk about volunteering abroad, we normally hear about Asia, Africa or South America – but why not volunteering in Europe, in Portugal? Portugal has over 900km of coastline with more than 2800 hours of sunshine a year, making it the perfect place to enjoy a stay abroad. Besides the beautiful beaches and nice weather, Portugal has a lot more to offer, like its great cuisine, wonderful people and impressive history. But, like any other country, Portugal is also struggling with some social and environmental issues. You can help and make an impact by volunteering in a program that you are passionate about! In this article, we will introduce you to some of the volunteer programs that you can find in Portugal with ImpacTrip.

Building the Future in Portugal

In Portugal, over two million people are at risk of living in poverty, including 500.000 children and their families. Building the Future in Portugal is a program aimed at helping people in need to rebuild their houses in order for them to have a place they can comfortably call their home. A place where they can live a happy, safe and comfortable life. Together, the volunteers transform entire houses by painting doors, repairing rooms, floors or fixing the kitchen or bathroom. And the best thing? You don’t have to be an expert in construction, as there is always a supervisor to help you with your tasks. The results of the work are tangible and truly meaningful from day one, and the smiles on the families’ faces returning to their “new homes” are absolutely priceless.

Fighting food waste and hunger

This program contributes to fighting food waste and hunger in Portugal, feeding over 3000 people a day! The volunteers support a network of local centers which collect food in good condition from local restaurants, supermarkets, and cafes. Then, they re-distribute it among families, elderly and homeless people in need. As a volunteer on this project, your tasks will be to help the centers collect the food, packaging it, assisting with sorting and storage of any food and distributing it to the families. This is a more than rewarding experience, which really lets you feel the impact of your work. It is also a great way to get acquainted with Portuguese people because there are a lot of locals helping out at this program as well!

Wolf Conservation

This program was created to help the Iberian Wolf survive in Portugal, as it is considered an endangered species! The Iberian Wolf Recovery Center is located in Mafra, a nice little town just 30 km outside Lisbon. The Center is located across 17 hectares of forest, providing the wolves with the most natural sanctuary possible. The volunteers in this project will participate in a wide range of day-to-day tasks at the center, including assisting with feeding the animals, checking the water, maintaining the center’s infrastructure, fire prevention, forest cleaning, and observing the wolves to check their health status. The volunteers will be accommodated all together in wooden houses located right at the center, where they can hear the wolves at night. If you like animals, you’ll really have a magical time here, as there will be a professional guide around 24/7, allowing you to ask any questions and learn as much as you can from this experience.

Marine Conservation

The Marine Conservation program is the perfect project if you care for nature and the sea! Taking part in this program, you will discover a new underwater world and contribute to cleaning up the ocean by collecting trash while diving. Volunteers on the Marine Conservation program have the opportunity to join a variety of conservation efforts focused on the protection of the marine ecosystem along the Portuguese coastline. The program is put together in collaboration with a diving school with a special emphasis on local environmental protection. This program offers internationally recognized diving certifications, the opportunity to explore the Portuguese underwater world, and the sincere possibility to learn about the marine ecosystem and about how to protect it. There will always be an experienced diver around to provide the volunteers with the most comprehensive training, to supervise and to introduce them to all secrets of the marine world! Anyone can participate in this program, whether beginner or advanced. The program guide will adjust to your skills and make sure that you are perfectly comfortable at all times.

Youth Support

This program aims to support underprivileged babies, children, and teenagers through different projects, supporting their way towards a brighter future. Volunteers help different NGOs in promoting several and diversified extra-curricular educational initiatives, which will help these kids taking on new life approaches. The volunteers’ tasks can include implementing and designing new extra-curricular activities and support existing ones, teaching a new sport, culture, language, instrument, game or arts and crafts. Surely, these moments are always great fun, and approaches that may seem difficult or awkward at the start often lead to great friendships and the willingness of the volunteers to return!

Homeless Support

Unfortunately, homelessness still constitutes a major problem in Portugal. Especially in big urban centers, the poverty and social inequality persistent in Portuguese society become both visible and tangible. A significant number of people lack access to basic social services, employment and housing and find themselves in very vulnerable situations. Our Homeless Support program attempts to fight poverty and reduce those inequalities by supporting people in need to live a life in dignity. Volunteers join a local non-profit that offers shelter, food, clothes and medical care. As a volunteer, you’ll help with preparing, cooking and distributing meals for homeless people, developing sports and recreational activities or any other daily activities at the centers. Together with other volunteers, you can contribute to providing these people with some warmth and comfort and with a place that may somewhat feel like a home. You’ll participate in creating meaning and value in their daily lives and therefore really have the chance to leave a strong positive impact for them!

These volunteer programs will certainly make your experience in Portugal a lot more unique and impactful! Doing something for the community or the environment while traveling is a way of life that not only enriches us but makes travel even more interesting, letting us experience the countries we visit in a meaningful way that we would otherwise never encounter!