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Working and volunteering

Volunteering

There are a lot of opportunities for volunteer work in Belize, especially on environmental projects. In some cases, you may have to pay to participate (costs vary).

Belize Audubon Society Invites volunteers who are available to work for at least three months to assist in the main office or in education and field programs. Divers can volunteer for marine research projects. For rural sites, volunteers should be physically fit and able to deal with rustic accommodations.

Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic Offers short-term internships in wildlife medicine for veterinary and non-veterinary students. Various scholarships and work exchanges are available for students with sincere interests and skills, and the clinic is flexible and always interested in speaking with potential interns and long-term volunteers.

Oceanic Society Paying participants in the society's expeditions assist scientists in marine research projects at the society's field station on Blackbird Caye and elsewhere.

Cornerstone Foundation (www.cornerstonefoundationbelize.org) This NGO, based in San Ignacio, hosts volunteers to help with AIDS education, community development and other programs. Most programs require a two-week commitment, plus a reasonable fee to cover food and housing.

Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Monkey Bay's programs provide opportunities in education, conservation and community service. It also has many links to other conservation organizations in Belize.

Earthwatch (www.earthwatch.org) Paying volunteers are teamed with professional scientific researchers to work on shark conservation projects.

Help for Progress (www.helpforprogress.interconnection.org) A Belizean NGO that works with local community development organizations in fields such as education, gender issues, citizen participation and environment.

Maya Mountain Research Farm The 70-acre organic farm and registered NGO in Toledo offers internships for those interested in learning about organic farming, biodiversity and alternative energy.

Plenty International (www.plenty.org) Opportunities for working with grassroots organizations (such as handicraft cooperatives) and schools, mostly in Toledo District.

ProWorld Service Corps (www.proworldvolunteers.org) Like a privately run Peace Corps, ProWorld organizes small-scale, sustainable projects in fields such as healthcare, education, conservation, technology and construction mostly around San Ignacio in Cayo.

Volunteer Abroad (www.volunteerabroad.com) A sort of clearing house for volunteer opportunities around the world. The database includes a few dozen organizations that work in Belize.

Work

Unemployment and underemployment is rife in Belize so visitors should think twice before taking on paid work that could be filled by a local.

In order to legally work in Belize, a work permit must be obtained from the Labor Department in the district where the business offering employment is located. Note that the US$1200 fee means that taking on an odd job to earn some extra drinking money is not a particularly viable option.

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