Refugee support volunteers serving food during meal time in Mexico.

Migrant and Refugee Support Project in Mexico

Give aid and support to refugees and migrants settling and travelling through Mexico

At a glance

  • Provide support for migrants and refugees affected by economic decline and violent conflict
  • Work in an aid shelter with social workers, lawyers, and other volunteers
  • Help provide clothing, hot meals, and a clean living space
  • Collect crucial demographic data
  • Stay in Guadalajara, sample authentic Mexican food, marvel at cathedrals, and explore crystal-blue lakes

Start Dates: 


See Dates

Minimum Duration: 

Two Weeks


18 or over

Is working with migrants and refugees in Mexico right for me?

If you're empathetic and proactive, then volunteering at a refugee and migrant shelter is something you should consider. Many refugees are vulnerable, often fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Most travel in a caravan to Mexico and choose the longer western route through Guadalajara because it is safer than the Central and Gulf routes.

Since Mexico is a Spanish-speaking country, it’s recommended that you speak basic conversational Spanish. This will make conversing with the refugees easier and it’ll make their transition smoother. Although not required, we encourage volunteers with humanitarian work experience to join. 

To ensure the best possible environments for the refugees and migrants, you’ll receive sufficient training from professionals. You'll get to work in an energising and fulfilling work environment, knowing that you're contributing to the better treatment of refugees and migrants abroad.

You can join for a minimum of two weeks but we recommend staying at least four. That's because each volunteer must work a minimum of 132 Hours at the Refugee Center. If you choose to stay for just two weeks, you'll have to work double shifts (around 10 hours per day).

Staying longer will allow you to work shorter shifts. Plus, the longer you stay, the greater your impact will be on vulnerable refugees.

This project runs all year round so you can join throughout the year.

Refugee support volunteers and staff take a photo at the refugee center in Mexico.

Run the clothing bank at the shelter

In desperate situations, many refugees and migrants leave home with just the clothes on their back. The shelter has a clothes bank, supported by donations from the community, where they can find the necessary clothing and toiletries.

A simple shower and fresh clothing has a profound impact and often lifts their spirits during a turbulent time. You’ll be involved in the handing out of these items. You'll need to make sure they're the right size. We also place importance on whether they like the items they're getting. This makes their journey that much more comfortable.

Knowing basic Spanish will help as you'll be able to find what they need faster.

Prepare meals and assist with kitchen duties

While at the shelter, migrants and refugees are given three hot nutritious meals a day. You'll lend a hand in the kitchen whether it be cooking, cleaning or serving. This is a great way to learn how to prepare traditional Mexican dishes. You can even try to cook a meal of your own if you have experience preparing large amounts of food.

Where in Mexico will I work?


You’ll live and work in the western city of Guadalajara, the second-largest city in Mexico. Famed for its mariachi style music and its tequila, Mexico is a country rich in culture and geography. 

When you’re not working at the centre, you can venture into the historic town filled with tree-lined plazas, stunning cathedrals and busy markets. Don’t forget to stop by at the exceptional restaurants where you can try the local cuisine of tortas ahogadas. 

Airport pickup, flights and visas

When you arrive at your respective airport, a member of Projects Abroad staff will be there to meet you. You can find more detailed information on arrival airports, orientation, and visas on our Mexico Arrival Procedures page.

A typical day working at a refugee camp in Mexico

You’ll start the day with a nutritious breakfast before heading off to the centre. Our local staff will show you how to get to the centre and introduce you to the people you’ll work with. 

The centre is run 24/7 but the morning shift starts at 8.30 am where you'll discuss your daily tasks with the shift manager. You’ll generally work Monday to Friday with your weekends free to explore Guadalajara and the surrounding areas. 

You’ll have your lunch with other volunteers, migrants and refugees in the kitchen. This is a great opportunity to learn more about where they come from and the reasoning behind their move. This will give you a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.

Once you are done for the day, you can relax at your host family or head out into town and enjoy one of the many fantastic restaurants.  

What are the aims and impact of this project?

This project aims to provide much-needed support to the migrant and refugee centre and to sensitise the community to the refugee and migrant situation. It's often surrounded by misconceptions and prejudgment. 

With growing instability in the nations south of Mexico, the number of refugee and migrant caravans in Mexico is expected to rise year after year. Therefore, the centre needs volunteer support to cope with the increasing demand for their services.

Assist with care and support, and help smooth the transition for migrants and refugees travelling through Mexico.

 Refugees support volunteers in the back of a van on their way to their placement in Mexico.

Management plans

We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.

Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.

Measuring our impact

Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.

Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.

Food and accommodation

You'll stay with a host family in Guadalajara. They'll welcome you into their home, eager to share their customs and learn about yours. This is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture of Mexico and have a unique experience.

We'll try to ensure you live with other Projects Abroad volunteers or interns at the same host family. Your room will be modest, but comfortable, clean, and safe.

Your programme fee includes three meals a day. This is great news because nothing beats authentic Mexican food. Get ready to sample the most delicious tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas.

Find out more about our accommodation.

Leisure activities and free time

With beautiful beaches, arresting art galleries, and buzzing restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Mexico. You’ll have plenty to do during your free time on your project in this dynamic country.

There’s something captivating about touring through old buildings. If you’re into neo-gothic architecture, treat yourself to a trip to the Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento. It’s a work of art with its ornate steeples and glowing stained glass windows.

There are also plenty of museums, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in the country’s rich history. For something different, you can spend the day appreciating the wildlife and lush vegetation of Las Peñas Ecological Park.

You can’t take a trip to Mexico without tasting authentic Mexican cuisine. You can spend an evening enjoying pozole or tamales at a local restaurant and watching the vivid orange-red sun melt into the horizon.

We have a host of different projects in Mexico so there’ll likely be lots of other volunteers in the area during your trip. So you can choose to travel and explore in a group or on your own. 

Safety and staff support

Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.

Find out more about safety and backup.

This placement is fully researched, safety audited, and risk assessed in accordance with the British Standard BS8848 for the Adventure Travel Sector.

When you apply you only pay $495, which comes off the total price. Flexible payment options and fundraising advice available.

Looking to do more than one project? Call us on 08 7130 3970 to see if we can offer a discount.

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