Here at IPES we we have a range of volunteering opportunities and internships available. Our volunteers contribute to our work through fundraising and promotion, or learning Permaculture and working on our demonstration site. We welcome stays of one month or longer, and have had volunteers stay for years at a time.
There are plenty of opportunities for getting involved in our work, and our volunteers always leave having learnt a lot, developed new skills and had an enjoyable time spent working with our friendly and welcoming team.
For more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Our contact details are available from the ‘contact us’ section above, and we welcome any and all questions. We are happy to provide support before you arrive, making sure you have all the information you need to make your visit to IPES as fulfilling as possible!
Please see our volunteer brochure for more information
So what is it really like to volunteer with IPES you might wonder. Carissa from Iowa volunteered with us the summer of 2012 and this is how she describes it:
I found the Permaculture Institute of El Salvador (IPES) through a dumb, fortuitous Google search. Permaculture seemed to fit pretty well with my interests in human-environment interaction, agriculture, and sustainable living, and I had fuzzy feelings of nostalgia for El Salvador after testing water there for two weeks in high school. So I Googled “permaculture el salvador.” I applied to volunteer right away–the prospect of learning about permaculture, improving my Spanish, returning to El Salvador, doing manual labor, and living with kind of rough accommodations (I perversely enjoy these last two) was really exciting–and immediately got a response. As long as I could get funding, I would spend the summer in El Salvador.
Volunteering on IPES’ permaculture demonstration site was ridiculous. Most days, I’d wake to the incessant crowing of a rooster or to a farmer belting out a romantic ballad. I often felt like a chain-gang jungle adventurer, hoeing with a pick-ax in the morning and machete-ing all afternoon. Or I’d spend all day in the back of a pick-up truck, speeding down the highway in search of ant poop. In addition to absurdity, my experience was full of contradiction.
El Salvador’s a difficult place to live and work, or even to understand. It’s a country of contradiction–there’s intense violence and incredible kindness, it’s beautiful yet terribly damaged, and there’s a simultaneous feeling of sorrow and hope. Volunteering at IPES was no different. When I first tried to sum it up, I deemed it confusing, comfortable, warm, awkward, fantastic, casual, strange, calming, frustrating, and satisfying. I remember feeling completely free and completely trapped in the same day. I often felt like I fit in or even brought energy to the place, but when I didn’t know what was going on (the schedule on the site was rarely followed), I could easily feel ignored, hopelessly confused, entirely useless or bothersome.
IPES is hiring an on-site volunteer coordinator to aid on-site organization and comfort, but even if they hadn’t, I would highly recommend volunteering at this organization. I love El Salvador for good reason and a bit of manual labor, confusion, and bucket bathing is healthy every now and then. More than that, IPES’ farmers are both hilarious and inspirational; their hard work and whole-hearted belief in the power of permaculture will fuel yours.