Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
→ What kind of work can I do as a volunteer?
We focus on areas such as Education & Social work, Women, and Environment.
→ Can my volunteer work be recognized as an internship/work placement?
In the past, we have had several volunteers, whose contributions were recognized as an internship. Recognition depends on your specific work in Central America, the project’s staff and their qualifications, but mostly on your school or university. We gladly will help you to make this possible, but it is your responsibility to understand your school’s or university’s internship requirements and whether or not they will be fulfilled through volunteering with us!
→ Is there a minimum amount of time required to volunteer?
This depends on the project or partner organization you will be working with. Sometimes it depends on the volunteer’s qualifications or previous knowledge. The minimum time varies from one day to one year and is determined by each partner organization, not by us. You can find more information on the minimum amount of time in each project’s presentation under the category Volunteer Work.
→ Do I need specific qualifications to volunteer?
In most cases, the answer is no. However, there are some exceptions for larger, more bureaucratic organizations. There may also be organizations that require a university or professional degree (e.g. a degree in nursing or an Arts degree). More information can be found in the presentations under Volunteer Work.
→ Do I have to speak Spanish prior to my arrival?
Previous knowledge of Spanish is very helpful, but not necessary. Not speaking Spanish should not stop you from volunteering in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Panama. In most of our locations, you will find very good Spanish classes, which will help you to quickly learn or improve your Spanish. In the rare case where no Spanish school is close to your project, you can simply start your stay in a bigger city (such as Antigua or Granada) for the first couple of weeks. Another option is to live with a host family. In some cases, organizations need volunteers who speak Spanish fluently. You can find more information about the required Spanish level within the respective project descriptions under Volunteer Work.
→ Can I also work directly for Proyecto Mosaico?
Generally, we are always looking for volunteers who are willing to help us coordinate volunteers in Central America. Furthermore, volunteers who support the work of our partner organizations with their skills, such as through fundraising or project management, are welcome to apply. Just take a look at the category “Jobs & Internships at Proyecto Mosaico” to see if positions are available. If you want to help us from your home country (e.g. by translating, fundraising, maintaining our website, or doing PR or marketing), please eMail Sabrina: firstname.lastname@example.org.
→ Is there an application process?
You can find detailed information on the application process here as well as under the category Enrollment.
→ How does the application process work?
You can find more information here.
→ What services are offered to me by Proyecto Mosaico?
You can find more information here.
→ Do I have to decide on my volunteer work arrangement prior to my arrival in Central America?
It is best to choose your three favorite projects in advance. After choosing these, you will submit your choices on your request form that contains your ranking already. We will also need your volunteer profile so we can share it with our partner organizations. If you need help deciding on the available projects, e-mail or call us via telephone or Skype. If you have already paid the fee, you are also able to contact our partner organizations directly in order to get more detailed information. In exceptional cases, it may be possible to change the project. This may happen when the project has changed dramatically or your qualifications and preferences do not meet the requirements.
→ Will I be able to get in contact with my partner organization?
Yes, we will provide you with the contact details as soon as you pay the contribution fee. But remember that this process includes you deciding on your work arrangement, the acceptation of the partner organization, and the signing of the contract. This enables you to familiarize yourself in advance with the work of the organization and to address specific questions directly to the organization’s contact person.
→ Why do we ask for a contribution fee from our volunteers?
We are a nonprofit organization, which means that we are not commercial. Your contribution ensures that we can continue our services for international volunteers and for our local partner organizations in Central America. When you work with us, you will be automatically helping to support our Central American organizations and their volunteer workers in terms of financial, material and organizational aid.
→ Can I receive an official certificate of my volunteer work?
Yes, if wanted we issue every volunteer an official certificate. If you need a certificate prior to your travel to Central America, we can issue a provisional certificate to you after you have signed the binding contract and after we have received your contribution fee.
→ Do I need a visa for Central America?
Most airlines, travel agencies, and immigration offices require a return flight within three months OR a visa. This is not always the case; however, you may find yourself in trouble at the airport if you do not have a “correct” return flight or a visa. However, obtaining a visa is often difficult. It is best to buy a ticket with the option on rebooking and to book the return flight within 90 days. After 90 days you can extend your stay by leaving your chosen country and traveling to Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica (depending on in which country you are and for which country you need an extension) for 72 hours.
→ Do I need a work permit for working as a volunteer?
No, because volunteer work is unpaid. However, if your stay is longer than the 90 days of a regular tourist visa, you will have to extend your visa.
→ What do I have to bring with me? Are there things I should buy in my home country?
We will send you a list of items as well as tips on how to pack your bags for those things that may be expensive or hard to get in the country you have decided to stay in. Generally, most products (e.g. mosquito net, bug spray, adapter) are available in Central America. European or American products (e.g. electric devices) are more expensive in Central America and should be brought with you. As well, we recommend that you bring the things you need for the first few days in order for you to feel comfortable.
→ Do I have to prepare myself for my stay/work?
You should prepare yourself for Central America by learning about the respective country (i.e. culture, customs, history, political situation, etc.). You can find useful information (e.g. about safety) in our detailed information package and orientation package, which you will receive before you travel. Please read these packages and the FAQ carefully before flying to Central America. As well, you should read about your organization (e.g. history, philosophy, funding) to make your start a bit easier. We will also give you your chosen organization’s contact information ahead of time.
→ What immunizations do I need?
Whether you need immunizations and what kind you need can be found on your Department of Foreign Affairs’ website. You can also ask your doctor or the institute for tropical diseases.
→ Where can I get travel insurance?
We do not offer any health and/or travel insurance. We recommend that you visit your local travel or insurance agent at home to discuss your options.
→ Is it possible to receive scholarships or other financial aid to support my living in Central America?
We can only offer financial support to our partner organizations to help continue their projects. We do not arrange financial aid for the personal spending of our volunteers. Unfortunately, we cannot give any information about financial aid. As well, many of our partner organizations are very small and just do not have the money to pay any compensation. The best way to collect money for your volunteer work is to create a donation group or start a fundraiser. Friends and family, as well as local organizations or companies may be willing to support you and your work.
→How do I get a cheap flight? How much is a flight to Central America?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find cheap flights to Central America. Sometimes you can find them in travel agencies or online, but the flights will not get really cheap. Depending on your home country, flights can cost from US$400 up to more than US$1,300. If you are a student or teacher with ID (ISIC or ITIC), you may be able to receive a discount through your airline. Ask when booking your flight.
During your Stay
→ Will I be safe during my stay in Central America?
In Central America, the majority of people live in poverty. This (together with political problems, organization of the police, and drugs) creates a range of social conditions that may lead to robbery, fraud, or even violence, which is very different from many Western European regions. Whether or not your personal security is at risk depends mainly on where you stay and how you spend your time in Central America. When picking our partner organizations, we always assess the local security risk. Therefore, you will not be living in highly dangerous regions. For further information on regional security issues, visit the website of your home country’s embassy. We will inform you in advance about any security issues and will advise you regarding local behavior. Most of our volunteers have never encountered any criminal behavior. However, we cannot guarantee your complete security. That being said, in the case of an emergency, our local staff will of course help as much as possible.
→ Where can I live?
There are various possibilities: you can live in a Hospedaje (a small hotel, which often comes with a small kitchen), hostel, or hotel, or live with a host family or share an apartment. Sometimes you live on-site at the project or at the organization you work with. It depends on your region and your organization as to the kind of accommodation provided and its cost. For more information, please check the category Volunteer work and the different project presentations.
→ Do I receive board and lodging as a volunteer?
In some cases, this may be possible. For instance, if you are willing to work for a longer period (more than 3 months) or if you have certain qualifications and experiences. Please remember that these accommodations are often very basic. Many of our partner organizations just do not have the money to pay for lodging and boarding. In any case, Proyecto Mosaico will help you to find accommodation. We know of wonderful host families or can help you to arrange sharing an apartment.
→ What costs should I expect while living in Central America?
Monthly living costs range from around US$400 to US$800. Of course, spending around US$400 or less depends on how you live; eating out or partying often will add to your expenses. Traveling will add to the cost as well. Living in cities such as Granada, Leon or Antigua is more expensive than living in rural areas. In general, Nicaragua is a bit cheaper than Guatemala. Costa Rica is the most expensive of our countries offered. As you can see, the living costs thus heavily depend on where you work and the kind of lifestyle you prefer.
→ Is there any information about other Proyecto Mosaico volunteers in my location / country and can you give me their contact information?
As soon as you sign the binding contract and pay your contribution fee, we will be happy to share the contact information of former volunteers who have worked in your organization (if the volunteers do not mind) or of other volunteers who are in the same place or country you will be during your stay.