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Section Banner: Unitarian Universalists attending a rally for the 'Stand on the Side of Love' campaign. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Volunteer with Amizade: Explore, Serve & Understand

"My Amizade experience was simultaneously deeply humbling and greatly inspiring, in that I was able to recognize both my own limits and misconceptions as well as ways to start making a conscious change in myself for the better. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, and witnessing that kind of poverty challenged me to look at my own life and try to identify ways in which to better myself and the way I live within the context of our decidedly globalized world; which I believe is something we could all greatly benefit from."Alanna Markle (Bolivia)

A Brief History of Amizade

Amizade is a nonprofit organization that connects volunteers with community-led service opportunities in 13 communities in 11 countries. Our volunteers make a difference working on community projects alongside local residents, explore the countryside and customs of a new place, and build lasting friendships across cultures.

We have partnerships with community and nonprofit organizations in Bolivia, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, Auschwitz (Poland), Northern Ireland, Ghana, Tanzania, the Navajo Nation (Arizona and New Mexico), and Washington, DC. In recent years, Amizade volunteers have worked with community members to convert a stable into classrooms for 200 students in rural Bolivia, renovated two Brazilian community centers serving 300 families, installed water tanks in Tanzania, tutored elementary school students in the Navajo Nation, and helped run a summer camp in Jamaica.

Since our founding over 17 years ago, 4,500 Amizade volunteers have provided more than 100,000 hours of meaningful service. We schedule regular week-long group volunteer experiences that are open to any interested adult. We also customize volunteer placements for individuals traveling alone and offer customized programs for groups of 6 or more. Our programs offer a mix of community service and educational, cultural, and recreational activities, offering our volunteers a unique opportunity to participate first hand in the culture of the region where they are working.

Amizade strives to empower individuals and communities through worldwide service and learning. We do this through our five core values of (1) Community-Driven Service (2) Deliberative Learning (3) Intercultural Immersion and Exchange (4) Consideration of Global Citizenship and (5) Reflective Inquiry.

Examples of locations to serve:

  • Cochabamba, Bolivia: partner with community organizations and work to improve health care and well being of children.
  • Santarem, Brazil: provide vocational skills, counseling, and recreational activities to the growing number of street children in the region, as well as collaborate on building projects such as, a health clinic, a recreational center, and classrooms.
  • Jukwa, Ghana: work in health clinics and participate in community development projects while also meeting community leaders, participating in local cultural events, and exploring the coastal sites (castles and forts that served the gold and slave trade)
  • Pertersfield, Jamaica: experience life in a small, rural community and work with Amizade partner organizations to build a better future for the community.
  • Oswiecim, Poland (Auschwitz): work at the Auschwitz Museum and support ongoing preservation and archival projects, meet Holocaust survivors, and contribute to awareness building efforts.
  • Karagwe, Tanzania: partner with organizations to improve access to water, increase access to basic human rights, and construct a transitional children's home. (Listen to "This Tanzanian Life," an audio recollection of volunteers' experiences)
  • Navajo Nation: learn about the challenges that the Navajo cultures faces while trying to maintain cultural identity and promote economic development in Tuba City, AZ. In addition, you will be able to assist teachers at the Navajo school by providing one-on-one tutoring in reading and math.
  • Tamil Nadu, India: Work with Visions, a global nonprofit organization, that serves youth and communities through education. In Tamil Nadu, India, Visions works to enable students, teachers, schools, and non-governmental organizations to become self-sufficient and capable of participating as leaders in today’s society.
  • Matelot, Trinidad and Tobago: Help develop eco-tourism in the area through restoration of the coastline, local hiking trails and access roads; support leather back turtle conservation efforts; serve with the local fisherman’s association on agricultural education and establish agricultural processing facilities and much more!
  • Read more on locations to serve.

Examples of Programs (Individual & Group)

We offer different types of programs to cater to individual’s needs and preferences:

  • Service Learning Courses are made possible through a partnership with West Virginia University. Courses are open to students in good standing at any college or university and carry between 2 and 6 credits each. Semester programs offer between 12 – 18 credits.
  • Group Volunteer Programs of 6 or more participants are great opportunities for you and your friends/family to make a difference. We work to coordinate a volunteer program specific to your group’s interests.
  • Individual Volunteer Placements connect you with a grassroots community organization for between two weeks and six months.
  • Open Group Programs allow individuals or couples to join and serve with a group of other Amizade volunteers.

Dates & Duration of Trips

We offer many different trips of varying lengths throughout the year. For Service Learning Courses:

  • Spring Break: 1 Week (March 24-31)
  • Fall and Spring Semesters: 12-16 Weeks
  • Winter Break: Week (December 26- January 8)
  • Summer Break: 2-3 Weeks in June, July or August
  • For Open Group Placements: 1-2 Weeks throughout the year

(Individual Placement and Group Programs can be customized for dates that suite your schedule)

Cost & Funding

Program costs vary depending on the travel location:

All programs include food and lodging, local educational, cultural and recreational activities, local transportation (Programs in the Navajo Nation do not include local transportation.), and a local site director. General community sites and program fees are available online. Open-group and service-learning courses range from $849 to $12,000 for semester long programs. Cost includes lodging and meals for the duration of your program as well as multiple field trips/excursions, comprehensive travel insurance and credit cost for Service-Learning Courses. They encourage participants to fund raise through the Amizade website.

If you are a student going on a Service-Learning Course there may be additional financial aid resources available to you.

For more information feel free to explore the Amizade website, and you can contact them at anytime with any of your questions.

"Explore, Serve & Understand"—Amizade

For more information contact youngadultservice @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, February 1, 2012.

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Amizade: Explore, Serve & Understand!

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Amizade volunteer blows bubbles with children.
Explore and serve the world with Amizade!


Amizade volunteer with children in Ghana.
A smile can change the world!


Amizade volunteer visits Navajo Nation.
Seek, Learn & Reflect with Amizade!

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