Our Mission
Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama is dedicated to empowering individuals worldwide through the encouragement of self-exploration through social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy and education as powerful forces for worldwide change. Be the change!

Important to Know

Preparing Yourself

As well as being very rewarding, your volunteer work can be physically & emotionally demanding as you adjust to the cultural immersion. Before you travel, we suggest you read the volunteer journal section to gain an understanding into your upcoming experience. You can also chat with other volunteers on our Facebook Pages at Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama & Global Volunteer Network - Panama. We can also arrange for you to contact previous volunteers directly. You have the opportunity to have your questions answered by someone who has gone through the volunteer program and is able to share their knowledge with you. If you would like to get in contact with a previous volunteer make a request to your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator.

Volunteer Work Expectation
Volunteers are encouraged to work 25-30 hours per week and hours will depend on the project of your choice. Some run Monday through Friday, while others have services on Saturdays & Sundays. Volunteers are able to work beyond this minimum commitment and are encouraged to be engaged and creative with their ideas & solutions, while taking into consideration cultural differences. It is vital that you are flexible and willing to adapt to situations as they arise. You cannot predict what each day may bring. We also ask that you are prepared to follow any rules set by us or our partner organizations to ensure continuity of the program. New initiatives you may wish to set up at your project should be discussed with UMMP and your local project supervisor before implementation to ensure that what you set up is appropriate for the project.

Free Time
Boquete offers an amazing variety of tours & activities and is know as the Ecotourism capital of Panama! UMMP can help make your trip full of adventure both during your volunteer time & your free time. 

Click here for your Volunteer Enrichment Guide and start planning your activities today! Work hard, play hard!

Finding your feet at your project

In any placement, getting to know the people you work with is crucial, just as it is important for them to get to know you. Your first point of contact will be with the local project supervisor where you will be placed. Building a strong relationships with the local employees is greatly encouraged as it will help you understand more about the project, its history and its direction the organization is moving toward. The supervisor lives with the project night and day and can see what is best for its future. Also developing relationships with the staff will help you organize and apply your skills. Come into the project with a positive attitude of humility, and respect for your peers, and leave knowing you did the best you could with the skills you have been given. On arrival at your project, your first task is to meet with the supervisor to establish from the outset what it is that they want you to do, where immediate assistance may be required, or what children or patients (for example) may need particular attention. If appropriate, ask to shadow the local staff at the project and assist in the work that they do and look for opportunities to take on yourself.

Sometimes there will be a volunteer in your placement who has started in a previous month; they are an excellent source of information and direction. In most cases, you will be placed with one or two other volunteers; however there are some projects that can only take one volunteer at a time. For long term volunteers, ask to organize a meeting once a month with the supervisor to see what long term differences or activities you can be involved with and to make sure your skills are being used in the best way possible.

Project Binders & Daily Journaling

Volunteers are required to complete daily journaling for their project placement. The journals are a great way for the volunteers to communicate with one another and are used as orientation material for upcoming volunteers.

Student Research Projects

Volunteers who wish to conduct formal research projects while in Panama should consult with UMMP prior to arrival. Research proposals need to be submitted prior to the volunteer's arrival to allow enough time for the proposal to be processed & accepted. Completing the proposal will allow UMMP to plan accordingly for your research and give us the details we need to connect you with the best possible people to support your research. Please contact your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator for more information.

Children in Need of Surgery

When volunteering you may come across a child in desperate need of a major surgery (due to a deformity, an injury that healed incorrectly etc.). We access to an organization that may be able to help. If the child is approved, Children's First Foundation, will pay for the child's airfare, medical costs and rehabilitation to have the operation in Australia. Children's First Foundation's mission statement is:

The Foundation seeks to help those children primarily under fifteen years of age that have operable conditions but are ineligible for assistance from larger aid organizations due to their country of origin, remoteness or the severity of their illness.

Children's First Foundation asks that volunteers keep an eye out for children in need of operations. Therefore, if you find a child that desperately needs an operation please contact your volunteer coordinator for more information about Children's First Foundation. For the referral form, click here: www.childrenfirstfoundation.com

Assigning Projects

UMMP works diligently to get you placed in the proper volunteer position to ensure your success in the program. In order to do that, the more information we have on your past work and volunteer experience will be greatly helpful, along with information on things you are passionate about, hobbies and interests you may have, and any educational background information.This information is gathered by filling out the Volunteer Questionnaire.

Your accommodation is organized before you arrive in Panama, and your volunteer schedule will be finalized upon arrival after orientation. With your welcome email you will receive your Volunteer Questionnaire. Here you have an opportunity to provide us with your placement preferences. So, start thinking now as to what type of volunteer experience you are looking for. Our program offers a great deal of flexibility and variety, and can accommodate your preferences wherever possible. Please note, while we do everything we can to assign volunteers to the type of placement they are looking for, we do not guarantee that volunteers will always get their first preference. At times it is necessary that placements are assigned based on where the need is the greatest and your acceptance to serve where needed is greatly appreciated.

Program Schedule

Volunteers can participate in the program for a period of 1 week to 6 months (180 days) and may start their placements on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month. Extensions past 180 days are available in Panama pending visa regulations.

If your schedule is limited to one week, program placements may be more limited. If you are not able to start volunteering on a scheduled start date, we can make special arrangements for you to start on any day throughout the month. Please contact your UMMP Volunteer Coordinator to coordinate off schedule placements.

The Children's Programs, Literacy, Community Outreach, and Animal Rehabilitation and Care programs are available year round. School-based programs, such as the Children's English Program are on summer break January -March.