Philosophy
 
Via supports local engagement as a participatory process in which individuals identify community needs and organize themselves to take the actions necessary to improve quality of life. It is not a linear process but a "caracol de desarrollo" or spiral of development that advances and retreats both individually and collectively...Slow and inclusive, integrated community development values patience, persistence, and respect and helps build paths to self-reliance for an interdependent world

Since 1975, Via has fostered community initiatives based on the ideals of sustainability and well-being that support local community members to teach nutrition, develop family gardens and address local environmental issues. What naturally evolved from this programming was a realization among participants that economic sustainability and well-being was needed to maintain quality of life improvements. As a result, micro-credit loans became an avenue to enhance family income as well as build community through solidarity loan groups. 

Via's expertise lies in developing relationships at the grassroots level and listening and responding to the needs of each community. As a result, much of our current programming has been initiated through the needs and desires expressed by project participants themselves. Other program areas developed through this participatory approach include a university-credentialed leadership education program as well as our educational travel programs that integrate and educate student visitors in community sustainability efforts.



Via's Four Key Principles






 
  •  Safety in Community with Expert Local Knowledge & Supervision
  •  Long-term Relationships with Local Partners
  •  Hands-on Learning through Immersive Education
  •  Sustained Impact through Integrated Volunteer Service


  

  


Safety in Community


Safety is a priority to Via International and we focus on a combination of resources to provide safe volunteer travel experiences and community engagement. Our over 40 years of experience in the field has taught us to employ local experts engaging in community projects and cultural exchange through group activities. Our team in each location is a 'family' and when you travel with us, you become a part of it. This is possible due to the fact that Via supports programs that are responsive to locally defined needs, relying on close partnerships with local organizations and the leadership of local residents. 

 


Long-term Relationships

 

Via International's participatory development process helped to establish and in some ways define the early stages of what has now become broadly known as voluntourism. By integrating volunteer service as a strategic and appropriate extension of community outreach we offer travel experiences and service learning opportunities to meaningfully engage with development initiatives around the world. We are proud to work with a host of dynamic local partners oriented toward long-term engagement of complex socioeconomic challenges with a commitment to work toward community level solutions.



Hands-on Learning

 

We believe that service and cultural exchange helps to raise awareness of the complexities and interconnectivity of these unique communities while simultaneously providing a vehicle for transparency, support, and an influx of much needed energy.



Sustained Impact

 

When joining Via International, you become part of an extensive support network reaching an estimated 25,000 people each year in communities around the world.  We now support international development initiatives through our Integrated Volunteer Travel Programs with international volunteering opportunities in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. In addition, we have domestic programs in San Diego, New Mexico and Appalachia. Each of these is designed to improve quality of life through nutrition and ecology training, community leadership education and/or microcredit and micro-enterprise support.