I do not know if this happens to many people but to me tourism got old. I do not feel that you really learn much, it is very expensive, you just run from one place to another one and you end up meeting just other travelers which means that you do not immerse yourself in the culture. I rather live in another country but that is not very easy when it comes to legal Jobs and visas.
That is why I like volunteering abroad. You get to know the people, practice the language so much more and learn new skills while you contribute to a good cause. Traveling is also focus on yourself while the focus of volunteering is the others.
An easy and good way to volunteer while you travel is www.workaway.info .
Through this webpage you can fine farm work, language Exchange, ecovillage construction, hostel work and several other random volunteer opportunities for short term. Many of the people that ask for volunteers in this page are people who are changing their lives, they have a dream and they need some arms to reach it. The volunteering period is usually around 2-4 weeks. Even though it varies from Project to Project, the average work is 5h a day 5 days a week and in Exchange you get a bed and food. The food is usually cooked by the volunteers and many of these places and vegetarians and the food is simple.
Another good webpage is www.woof.com which offers volunteers opportunities in organic farms. The difference is that you need to pay for the site for each country that you visit while with workaway you can research any country. Many of the woof farms are also in workaway. By the way, the http://www.woof.com site in Brazil is like from two centuries ago.
With workaway I have volunteered in 2 farms which I highly recommend: Turning Earth in Oregon, USA and Chacara do Sol Nascente in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
These pictures are from Chacara do Sol Nascente:
I also got to know another NGO which is just in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The name is http://www.mulheresemconstrução.com/ , which means, women in construction. It teaches women who are in vulnerable position everything they need to be hired as a construction worker in 8 Saturdays (2 months). It is very cool how they are organized. I took a full day painting class for $70. With that money, they will offer the same class to 10 women who cannot afford it. There is a big need for workers in construction and there are hardly any women. There are also women architects who are interested in hiring teams of women to do construction. Yes, while women have less physical strength, in general, they are also more detail oriented. I hope I will be in Brazil to take their 8 week class.
Another NGO that I worked with was http://www.teto.org/. This NGO blew me away from the beginning. I just learned about them online and I got such a really good feeling about them that I spent $200 to volunteer with them for a weekend and it was worth every penny. They work in the states of Rio, Sao Paulo and Paraná. So, it took a 15h bus ride to build a house with them.
Their goal is to end poverty and their way of doing this is by building houses for people who live in favelas (the poor areas of the cities where people build their own house). The family that you build the house for helps building the house too. That is a very interesting part, you get to know them. During the year, weekly, they go to the favelas and they meet with the people living there and they work on projects that the community feels that they are necessary. They raise funds and later they build houses for the families that need it the most. An interesting part is that the families destroy their own houses so a new tinny house (15m2 or 18m2) can be built in one weekend in the same piece of land. During the weekend the volunteers sleep in a school and the community cooks lunch for them. In our case, there were not showers so we were not able to shower all weekend. It rained nonstop and the place was extremely muddy. We worked 12h a day from 6am to 6pm more or less. It was extremely hard, you had to use all your strength all the time but it was very rewarding. The community was very thankful and it was beautiful to see that another family will have a better place to live.
The NGO has a very good philosophy, focus, and lots of energy. They really work with the community to fight social injustice. They are very humble, they are there for the good reasons, they do not judge the people living in the favelas and they do not feel that they are the life savers that you see in many NGOs. They really do something practical, necessary and they go to the point of the problem and solve it. They do many other actions to end poverty, this is a very well rounded NGO. They started in Chile and they exist in all South America, Caribe and Miami under the name of www.TECHO.org
This is really the ONG that I was looking for and I am going to see how to be able to volunteer with them even though I am traveling. I will volunteer for sure again when I am in Bolivia.