Volunteer in an orphanage giving care and support to children in Mexico

  • Work with children in a reputable children’s orphanage and care home
  • Volunteer to teach English and provide extra-curricular activities and homework support to the children
  • A volunteering opportunity on the coast of Mexico
  • Suitable for gap year students, under 18s and those with experience of working with children

Project summary

This is a vibrant, professionally managed children’s orphanage based on the edge of Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The children are all officially referred to the home by government agencies, having been removed from broken homes, situations where they are under threat of abuse or from families no longer able to cope.

The refuge provides a caring and stable home for the children, offering discipline and structure that supports them back into education. The success of the programme has meant that an increasingly high number of children are finding foster homes, which is the ultimate goal of the projects.

Children are currently aged from 2-13 years old. They are homed in an attractive hacienda style building that has a reasonable number of facilities and play areas, thanks to the support generated by the Director.

The primary and secondary age children go out to school in the mornings, while the toddlers attend a kindergarten in the afternoon. Volunteers remain in the refuge to help with the youngest ones in the mornings, and then support the school age children who return to the centre in the afternoons.

The refuge is run by yet another inspiring woman who is a huge supporter of young volunteers – loving the energy they bring, how well they relate to the young children and the opportunity to try new ideas. It is a great place for volunteers to shape their own role, with the support of enthusiastic and professional staff. Volunteers are welcome to attend in pairs.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

The Director of the orphanage is very keen that volunteers do not get used in general maintenance duties, but rather that they use their energy and talents to help educate the children of all ages through structured play, lessons, homework support, reading, arts & crafts, music, drama and games. A particular focus should be on activities that stimulate the children to speak and communicate with others.

The Director would expect volunteers to put thought and a degree of preparation into the types of activities they could deliver and how this would help the children of different age groups. This might be a simple objective of using arts & crafts to teach colours/shapes/animals with younger ones, or the use of music or drama to promote education in health or the environment. The only limit is your imagination. The Director is your biggest supporter.

Some of the children go out for physiotherapy and there is the opportunity for a volunteer to observe and practice these techniques so that simple physio can then be repeated more frequently back at the home.

How you can make a difference

The children of the orphanage are from difficult backgrounds of neglect, abuse & poverty. They have not had the best start in life and you have the opportunity to help improve things, little by little, by sharing your knowledge, care, energy and support in a respectful and considered way. The energy and additional resource you offer means more individual care and support to each child, which can make a real difference to their lives and yours.

What is distinctive about this project:

The professionalism and energy of the Director make this a very appealing project for a volunteer. Her passion for receiving proactive volunteers means you will be encouraged to stretch yourself in this rewarding placement, with the chance to make a really personal impact.

Blue Tiger Features:

In this project it is important to be proactive in your activities and have a basic grasp of Spanish so as to integrate better. The nature of working with disadvantaged children means it is not appropriate to just turn up and expect to play with the children. You will not be given freedom with the children until you have proven that you are trustworthy and sensible in your approach as a volunteer. It is a serious project, but one therefore that becomes all the more rewarding when you commit to it and make a real difference.


The project is open all year round, although the number of children at the refuge in school hours will vary according to school term times.


Spanish is spoken by both the staff and the children and an intermediate level of Spanish is recommended.

Experience required:

No specific experience is required to work in this placement, but experience of working with children and a desire to work with disadvantaged children or in social services would be appropriate.

Good to know:

Puerto Vallarta enjoys more than 300 days a year of sunshine with an average temperature of 25 degrees C, which can make for warm working conditions but explains why Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination for those attracted by the beach, water sports, nightlife and culture. It is a good place to enjoy your time off.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks6 months

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, excursion. One week of 121 tuition in a small group.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Whale watching
  • Beaches
  • The Old Town

Country co-ordinator

Greta Ruiz

Greta lives close to our project base in Puerto Vallarta and has been working with us since 2006. She lived in London for three years where she completed her MSc in veterinary science. In addition to supporting our volunteers she now works as a Pilates instructor. She is brilliantly organised and works relentlessly to improve our programmes and offer support to the Mexico volunteers.

About Mexico