700 Youth to Spend Summer Volunteering in Latin America

Jun 22, 2010, 17:09 ET from Amigos de las Americas

HOUSTON, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 700 teenagers and young adults from across the United States will volunteer for six to eight weeks in Latin America this summer with Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS). They will live with host families in more than 250 communities to work on community health, education and environmental projects in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.

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Youth will live with host families in rural communities with one or two other volunteers. They will partner with their host community on community-based projects such as safe water and environmental projects in Nicaragua, the construction of fuel-efficient stoves in Paraguay and technology training in Mexico.

AMIGOS was founded on the belief in the power of youth. In 1966, AMIGOS founder Guy Bevil said "[Youth] are just waiting for a challenge. If you give them responsibility, an opportunity to do big, important things, they will always meet the challenge with responsibility," and this has provided the basis of AMIGOS' success. Over the past 45 years, more than 20,000 young leaders have participated as AMIGOS volunteers, and AMIGOS has become a leader in the international volunteering field.

Few other programs, if any, offer the comprehensive training, support, and health and safety structure that allows participants to take on so much responsibility at such a young age.

Participants train and fundraise for months with one of the 25 AMIGOS chapters across the United States to prepare for their summer in Latin America. Those who do not live near a chapter have the option to prepare online through the correspondent volunteer program. Once in their host community, the volunteers collaborate with the community members to carry out the projects. Veteran volunteers, usually in their early 20s, serve as the project staff who manage the local programs and oversee the volunteers.

To ensure the sustainability of the volunteers' work, AMIGOS partners with NGOs and governmental agencies in Latin America such as Plan International, Save The Children, and Ministries of Health.

AMIGOS seeks to create global awareness and to build cross-cultural bridges by engaging youth from across the Americas. In addition to the volunteers and project staff from the United States, several hundred Latin American youth will participate alongside AMIGOS volunteers within their home communities, and 38 Latin American youth will participate as full-fledged AMIGOS volunteers outside of their community or their country. Additionally, a veteran volunteer from the Dominican Republic will serve in Panama on project staff.

For more information, visit www.amigoslink.org.

SOURCE Amigos de las Americas