Havana is an exciting city with many interesting neighbourhoods. However, to experience the "real" Havana you should stay in Habana Vieja (old Havana). Here you are located next to the best bars and nightlife, and during the daytime you will be living among the real Habanos working in shops, bars, art galleries and going about their daily lives in this atmospheric part of the city. Havana has a unique distinction, being the safest city in the Caribbean and Latin America generally. There are a number of reasons for this, but what it means for the curious traveller is that you will be able to enjoy unprecedented access to local people as you wander around the ‘barrio’ that makes up Habana Vieja.
Below you will find more information for this 2-week program and volunteer placement.
Your Spanish classes take place in the morning from Monday to Friday 09:00-11:45. The sessions comprise of 3 x 45-minute lessons spaced with 15 minute breaks, which makes 15 hours per week. The lessons are held at Casa Jakera by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements. We cater for students at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Our volunteering begins with a group ‘orientation’ walk around Habana Vieja & Centro, during which we stop and visit our projects; to discuss the issues and bring everyone comfortably up to speed and feeling welcome. Work begins the next day, and depending where our need is greatest will include a combination of the following projects:
InSurgentes is our newest volunteer partnership with local communities in and around Habana Vieja. At the moment our volunteers are helping to create a green space at Sol420 - Aula Ecológica (Ecological Classroom). Other InSurgentes projects include recycling organic materials into educational games at Fábrica de Bicicletas y Juguetes. This ambitious collaboration with DVV International includes a commitment to produce bicycles with wooden frames and other initiatives to raise ecological and environmental awareness - Eco Urbanism - in this vibrant neighbourhood.
The sports complejo has been the main sports facility for all the schools in Habana Vieja for generations. It is a very established facility but lacks basic facilities. Sports run at this location include; baseball, volleyball, athletics, wrestling, basketball and judo in the near future. We support sports in Cuba whenever possible, the benefits sports bring to society are well known to Cubans and we follow their lead. Our work as volunteers includes, renovation and maintenance of facilities, donating equipment, assisting in sports training and hosting sports events and matches.
Suspiro Community Center
Suspiro is an energetic and forward thinking community center, which serves both children and adults in the local community. The majority of the services are allocated to kids between 5-18, acting as a center for extra curricular education, supporting nearby schools and providing other supports to those students in need.
Activities the center runs for the kids include further school education as well as social care and social education. Qualified social workers support qualified teachers and local volunteers at the center, in an effort to give all the children the required attention.
Our volunteers have an important role at the center, assisting local staff and teachers in their social work and furthering school educational activities - adding fresh energy to the environment. Our volunteers also upgrade the facilities to help improve the functioning and aesthetics of the centre.
Paseo Del Prado
Weekends are generally free but we also include activities to help you enjoy your surroundings. On Saturdays, weather permitting, we take a trip to the beaches that lie 30 mins by ‘collectivo’ taxi or bus, immediately east of the city, known as Playas del Este. Sunday afternoon from 12:00-15:00, we take a short walk to the famous Paseo del Prado, where a collective of local artists give free ‘arts and crafts’ lessons to local kids. We bring supplies to donate as well as helping out, depending what’s going on. It’s all very casual and a great way to enjoy and learn about the diversity of local art, as well as mingling with the locals and helping out the kids.
Three Cultural Tours are included in your 2 week program.
Hop onto a Wah-Wah (fume belching local bendy bus) or Colectivo (classic car/communal taxi) and take to the streets to discover the real Habana. Understand how Habaneros live; the practical day to day issues they face living in this complicated country at this exciting time, and help us take away some answers to our own ‘first world’ problems!
We take you on an adventure to help you understand and enjoy the history of Cuba and Habana. Understand the source of her amazing wealth, the rich cultural mix, marvel at the faded patina of Habana’s famous gorgeous neo classical architecture, the rumble of classic American cars, curious soviet era high rise buildings, ubiquitous live music on every street, dance, exotic religions etc etc the list is endless.
You will quickly feel at home, gain the knowledge and confidence to enjoy the city during your own time, with new found traveller and Cuban friends. You have been immersed into the Cuban culture - enjoy!
NOTE: Donations from abroad
We ask for all participants to bring a small amount of needed equipment, for donation purposes, when coming to Cuba. The local team will then undertake the responsibility of distributing the needed donations amongst the various outlets with whom we work. Recommended items for donation include sports equipment and arts & crafts, and can be second hand or new. Thank you.
For two weekends you will be accompanied on a daytrip to a beautiful white sand beach directly east of Havana. Journey time is 30 minutes by bus and you will enjoy the exhilarating rollers that break on these pristine sandy beaches.
- Spanish lessons each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45, you will receive intensive Spanish language tuition comprising of 3 x 45 minute lessons spaced with 15 minute breaks. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements.
- Breakfast and lunch
- Three ‘Discover Cuba’ cultural excursions.
- Volunteer placements and support per timetable and descriptions above.
- Two weekends will feature a guided trip to the beach.
Police Clearance Certificate