Volunteer in Colombia with International Volunteer HQ today. IVHQ’s local staff in Colombia require volunteers NOW! IVHQ has a wide range of volunteering projects available in Colombia, including Teaching, Childcare, Elderly Care, Construction and Renovation and Feed the Homeless.
LOCATION OF COLOMBIA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
IVHQ has volunteer placements located in Bogota and surrounding suburbs of the capital city of Colombia. This town is extremely popular with volunteers and has a lot of work available. Projects are based in a variety of areas in and around Bogota ranging from projects in slums to work in nicer suburbs of the city. Specific placements are dependent upon placement choice and availability when you apply.
START AND DURATION OF COLOMBIA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
Volunteer programs begin on the 1st and 15th of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 of one week to 6 months.
COLOMBIA VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the beginning of the program and have at least a high school education. All volunteers must provide a criminal background check to IVHQ partner staff on arrival in Colombia.
We recommend that all volunteers regardless of their Spanish language ability (unless they are extremely fluent), take advantage of the very affordable Spanish lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our program staff in Colombia. Past volunteer feedback has shown us that volunteers feel they can contribute far more with some Spanish ability. Spanish is NOT a prerequisite for our Colombia program, however on certain placements the level of work a volunteer can do will be restricted with limited Spanish. Our local staff in Colombia offer hugely discounted Spanish lessons to our volunteers and a wide variety of options.
SAFETY IN COLOMBIA
Throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, Colombia did not create a good reputation for itself as a safe and secure country. Thankfully, that is now in the past and since the mid 90s, Colombia has really developed itself with the help of a large amount of US investment. In 2002, Álvaro Uribe Vélez became the president of Colombia and since his election, the country has developed a great deal in regards to safety with a massive turnaround in security. Just like every city in the world, Bogota of course has its troublesome areas, but you are highly unlikely to go wondering through them accidentally. As soon as you arrive in Bogota, the local team will conduct orientation and training with you about everything from the city to the projects. You will also receive a welcome pack that will show you where and where not to go. There are plenty of places and areas throughout Bogota to visit with impressive nightlife. Many volunteers that have travelled extensively throughout South America, have commented that Colombia is the safest South American country they have been to. Prior to departure, IVHQ staff in New Zealand and local staff in Bogota will be there to answer any queries or worries you have via phone call and email. Once you arrive in Colombia the local team will be there to look after you.
HOW MANY OTHER VOLUNTEERS WILL THERE BE?
Last year IVHQ placed a little over 150 volunteers on our Colombia program, making us one of the most popular volunteer organizations in Colombia. Between 5 and 20 volunteers start on our programs in Colombia each month. What does this mean for you? More people to socialize with and travel with, more people to meet from different cultures, more people to volunteer with, more projects to work on, more staff support, better infrastructure for volunteers and lower fees!
COLOMBIA VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIALS
"I had the time of my life. From being blessed by the homeless at the soup kitchen to the kids not letting me go and telling me not go from the orphanage - it was a humbling experience and one that will affect me for the rest of my life! I can't wait for the next trip." - Lupe Aguilar (Feeding the Homeless)
Click here to read more testimonials from IVHQ volunteers in Colombia.
COLOMBIA VOLUNTEER PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS
In Colombia there are many schools that do not have enough staff, money or equipment and in many cases the teachers are under-qualified. This problem is not just primarily with the teaching of English. The children here might never have a chance to learn a wide range of other subjects, therefore Colombian volunteers will assist with the teaching of as many subjects as possible. In Colombian schools the teaching of mathematics, sciences, humanities, music, sports, dance and art are just as important. The volunteers are not only here to assist and teach these subjects but to encourage the children to find their dreams. The children need to have a goal and even though they might come from the poorest backgrounds we want to make the children believe they can be the doctors, teachers, sport stars, artists and mathematicians of the future. This work is highly rewarding. As soon as you walk into that classroom you will realize just how much this means to the children. We want our volunteers to share their knowledge and experience and show them that with a bit of hard work anything is possible. NB - Volunteers DO NOT need to be a qualified or experienced teacher.
The centers for children in Colombia are not organized the way most people are used to seeing in the USA, UK or any other Western countries. Colombia has a huge family-oriented culture and orphans tend to be taken in by extended families or are even sometimes taken in by neighbors. Children from all over Colombia find themselves here in Bogota due to displacement from the more rural areas. Wars and fighting in the 1980s and early 1990s have forced thousands of families to flee their homes and head to the large cities. Without anywhere to live they have to share with whoever they can. These added men, women and children put a huge strain on the families who take them in and so the children are sent to ‘centers’ for certain hours of the day to receive education, interaction and food. Volunteers must understand that the children usually do not live at the Centre and are only there for a few hours in the day. We need as many volunteers as possible to ease the workload for the local workers who care for these children. These children are in desperate need for some love and attention and volunteers are the perfect people to get the job done.
CARING FOR THE ELDERLY
In the large majority of Western countries, our elderly have homes, centers and care workers readily available for them. However, in Colombia there is very little or no financial help from the government to help their own elderly people. Once again due to war, neglect, poverty and disease, families may find themselves living in homes with up 8, 9, 10 other people. They cannot afford to feed every mouth and with about 70% of elderly folks suffering with one or more form of long term illness, the families simply cannot afford the medication either. This unfortunately leads to more and more elderly people being abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the streets of Bogota and when suffering from certain illnesses such as dementia and pneumonia, this is extremely difficult. This is where volunteers can assist. Our volunteers support centers for the elderly who literally rescue women from off the streets and put them into care. Here the ladies can receive love, food, shelter, and medication. With the help of our volunteers the local staff can increase the number of women they can look after. The volunteers can help with everything from medication to feeding.
IVHQ EXAMPLE PLACEMENT: Hogar de Cristo
This is a home for elderly ladies. These ladies are found on the streets throughout Bogota and have normally just been left by their families who cannot afford to look after them anymore. The ladies suffer from a wide range of problems such as blindness, deafness, some are unable to talk, arthritis, dementia and general day to day illnesses such as the flu and colds. There is never a dull moment whilst volunteering here. The volunteers main job will be to keep the elderly company and to keep them entertained. There is not really a lot arranged for the elderly to do here and that is why the volunteers are required. They can play a wide range of games (such as bingo) and board games with the elderly, whilst also arranging drawing and painting activities and even reading to the ladies. The ladies also love to dance which is a great form of exercise for them. The volunteers can bring their own music if they wish but the ladies prefer the traditional Colombian music of course. They need to exercise at least once a day so dancing is by far the most effective method of doing this as they enjoy it. Some of the elderly are in wheelchairs and thus are unable to dance but they need exercise too, the volunteers can take the ladies for walks but there are also physiotherapy facilities available. The ladies also have monthly trips to the doctors, the staff need as much assistance as possible from the volunteers here. At around 11.00am it is time for lunch. The volunteers help take all the ladies upstairs to the dining area where they will serve the food and drink. Once finished the volunteers can help wash and tidy away the dishes. When lunch is finished it is usually about 1.00pm. Finally, there is also maintenance such as painting, cleaning and sweeping to do. Anything just to ease the workload for the staff here. The sisters work there too and they are almost fluent in several languages which makes it easier for the volunteers. NB This is only an example placement which is one of many offered by IVHQ in Colombia and not necessarily the one you will be working at.
FEEDING THE HOMELESS
This project is one of the most eye opening that IVHQ has to offer. As with many developing countries, Colombia struggles with problems of homelessness. Homelessness can affect people from all walks of life, whether the cause is substance abuse, unemployment, mental health issues, domestic abuse, natural disasters or forced eviction. This project offers volunteers the opportunity to reach out and help a diverse range of people of all ages.
CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION
COLOMBIA PROGRAM COSTS
One of the strengths of IVHQ is our extremely affordable fees. Click here to see the program cost to volunteer in Colombia and what you receive in exchange for your fees.
ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
In Colombia volunteers live together in an apartment in one of the safest neighborhoods in Bogotá. The apartment is located near several transportation hubs, providing quick transit to both the projects or just excursions into the city. It is also conveniently located near several points of interests, such as parks, shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters and much more. Volunteers share a common living space, kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, and single-sex bedrooms with up to sixteen other volunteers. Each bedroom is furnished with bunk beds and storage places.
Your program fee covers breakfast, lunch and dinner during each day of your program. The meals provided at the apartment during the week by our cook are authentically Colombian. You will have the opportunity to try everything from exotic fresh juices to traditional dishes, such as Bandeja Paisa or Ajiaco. Apart from the main meals, snacks are always available in the kitchen. If you have special eating needs, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you. Although there is no cook on staff during the weekend, food supplies are stored in the kitchen for volunteers to use to prepare their own meals. Remember that you should be open to trying new foods and be flexible with your eating habits. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of.
Orientation will be held on the 1st or 15th or the following Monday should the 1st or 15th fall on a saturday or Sunday. For instance, if the 15th falls on a Thursday, orientation will be held on that day. However, if the 1st falls on a Saturday, orientation will be held on Monday, the 3rd for example. Orientation will be conducted by staff in the main Bogota volunteer apartment and cover everything you need to know for your volunteering placement in Colombia — Introduction to Colombia, Colombian Customs, Basic Language Training (Spanish), Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities throughout Colombia and Introduction to your projects and placements. You will receive a welcome pack that can fit into your pockets so you can carry it with you always for times of need. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
Spanish language courses are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. The IVHQ Colombia team strongly recommends these for all volunteers unless they are extremely fluent. If a volunteer's Spanish is none to basic and they are staying for a period longer than two weeks, he/she should strongly consider these courses as they will allow them to work and communicate with all parties much more efficiently during their stay. These language courses are organized on your arrival in Colombia at the program orientation. The language course is tailored to each volunteer's current level of Spanish. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers at COP$20,000 per hour (approximately US$12 an hour). There is also ample opportunity to participate in conversation exchanges if your Spanish is at a more advanced level.
Basic Language Course - 10 hours per week.
2 hours per day, 5 days a week.
Advanced Language Course - 15-20 hours per week.
3-4 hours per day, 5 days a week.
First Day: On the first day of the volunteering program, volunteers will be escorted to the project and introduced to the staff at the project where you will be working.
Weekdays: While our programs are flexible and can be fitted to your requirements, an example of a typical day is as follows.
- 7.30am Breakfast with the other volunteers in the volunteer apartment.
- 8.30am Volunteer leaves home and takes a taxi or catches a bus to the project and joins with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work. Work and hours are dependent on the project and the location that you are participating in. For projects that require volunteers until late in the afternoon, volunteers will eat lunch on-site or take sandwiches made by themselves at the apartment. Otherwise, volunteers will return to the apartment for lunch.
- 1.00pm - 3.00pm Work at the project usually ends. Volunteers at this point are free to visit and see places or do shopping. You may also want to hang out with the kids until around 4.00pm.
- 6.30pm Dinner with the other volunteers.
Weekends: During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local district and Bogota. Long weekends can be taken to go and explore Colombia or to travel further afield to places, such as Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia. If volunteers wish to volunteer over the weekends they can visit the projects to spend time helping the local staff.
Colombia Volunteer Fees
|Volunteer Period||Program Fee US$|
|1 Month (4 weeks)||600|
|2 Months (8 weeks)||1050|
|3 Months (12 weeks)||1560|
|4 Months (16 weeks)||2080|
|5 Months (20 weeks)||2600|
|6 Months (24 weeks)||3120|
To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
The construction and renovation program also has an extra cost of US$5 per day for labour (site foremen) and materials. This will be included in the fees quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
What do my fees pay for?
Registration Fee (Refundable if you choose not to go*) – 24/7 support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – Airport pick up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer placement period, In-country 24/7 volunteer support and In-country administration costs.
What additional costs will I have?
Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), transfer back to the airport at conclusion of program, vaccinations, souvenirs, spending money (volunteers in Colombia generally find US$40 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses).