Volunteer in Colombia - Bogotá
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá
- Accommodation in a volunteer house
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$270 for 1 week (approximately CA$335)
- Affordable Spanish language lessons available
- Between 5 and 20 volunteers start in Bogotá each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Colombia to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Colombia will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Colombia with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Colombia - Bogotá volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá and surrounding suburbs. Volunteers are required to fly into El Dorado International Airport, which is a 5 to 7 hour flight from most major airports in Canada.
Volunteer programs begin on the 1st and 15th of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks
Childcare volunteers are in high demand in Colombia to ease the workload of local workers who care for the children. Many of these children come from overcrowded living situations and are in desperate need of love and attention. Colombia has a very family-oriented culture and orphans tend to be taken in by extended families, or sometimes even by neighbours. Due to wars and fighting in the 1980s and early 1990s, many families in Colombia have been forced from rural areas into the larger cities, without anywhere to live. This puts a huge strain on the families that take in orphans and for this reason, children are sent to centers for a few hours of the day to receive education, interaction, care and food. Volunteers on this project work alongside local staff in providing care and attention to the children, joining games, songs and dance, and assisting with feeding time.
Construction and Renovation
The Construction and Renovation project provides a chance for volunteers to see the results of their hard work and get their hands a little dirty! Some families, schools and even some hospitals in Bogota cannot afford to pay for professional people, tools and supplies to build or renovate. With homes, classrooms and hospital wards bursting at the seams due to increasing numbers of children and patients, assistance is drastically needed for local building projects. This project is currently focusing on schools in poor areas, where there are insufficient classrooms, chairs and desks to cater for all the children. Volunteers do not need any building or renovation experience to participate on the Construction and Renovation project, however you will need to have a reasonable level of fitness and a high level of enthusiasm and determination to participate on the project. Volunteers work alongside a local foreman who will provide guidance and assign tasks to volunteers. Tasks may include knocking down walls, installing kitchens, fixing chairs, painting walls, or renovating roofs. Please note, the Construction and Renovation project has an extra cost of US$35 (approximately CA$45) per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
In Colombia, the elderly get little to no financial assistance from the government as traditionally, the care of the elderly has always been left to younger generations of the family. Due to war, poverty and illness, many Colombian families are faced with crowded multi-generational households with no financial ability to care for the needs of their elderly family members. Unfortunately, this has lead to high rates of abandonment among the elderly, many of whom are left to fend for themselves on the streets of Bogota with dementia or pneumonia. Volunteers on the Elderly Care project work in centers that rescue elderly women from the streets and put them into care. In these centers, volunteers provide companionship, conversation, love, food, shelter, and medication to the women while occasionally helping with cleaning and operational tasks.
Feeding the Homeless
The Feeding the Homeless project offers a truly eye-opening experience for volunteers. As with many developing countries, Colombia struggles with problems associated with homelessness. Homelessness can affect people from all walks of life, whether the cause be substance abuse, mental health issues, unemployment, domestic abuse, natural disasters, or forced eviction. The Feeding the Homeless project gives volunteers the opportunity to reach out and help a diverse range of people of all ages. Volunteers work together with other community members to prepare and serve meals to the homeless. In one day, you could help feed around 200 men, women and children. Please note, as this project only runs four days per week, volunteers will also need to participate on another project one day a week.
In Colombia, many schools are under-staffed and under-resourced and in many cases, the teachers are under-qualified. Volunteers on the Teaching project assist with teaching English to students in local schools and volunteers with an intermediate level of Spanish may also be required to teach other subjects, such as Mathematics, Sciences, Humanities, Music, Sports and Arts. Volunteers on this project play a crucial role in exposing students to new subjects, inspiring them to think about their futures and follow their dreams. This is a highly rewarding project and through sharing knowledge and life experiences, volunteers can demonstrate that with a bit of hard work, anything is possible. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
The program orientation begins on the 1st and 15th of every month and volunteers need to arrive in Bogota the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the El Dorado International Airport (BOG). Canadian travelers do not require a visa to enter Colombia for a duration of 90 days. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Bogota. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Bogota prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation and the local team will provide guidance on this.
Orientation is taken by our Colombia team at the volunteer apartment in Bogotá. Orientation is held on your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Colombia – Introduction to Colombia, Colombian Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Colombia, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. Volunteers typically work in morning and afternoon shifts that last around 3 to 5 hours each.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day is as follows:
7.30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8.00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.
8.30 AM - 1 PM Volunteer work and a lunch break.
1.00 PM - 3.30 PM Spanish lessons and volunteer work.
6.30 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.
Please note, this is an example schedule as work hours are dependent on the project and placement. Volunteers on the Bogota program can easily take part in a range of the projects if they would like to, this can be arranged with the coordinators.
Evenings: To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer apartment, a curfew of 11:00 PM has been put in place from Sunday to Thursday and a 2:00 AM curfew for Friday and Saturday.
Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer house with other volunteers in the safe neighborhood of El Qurinal. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds and volunteers can expect to be sharing a room with up to 7 other volunteers of the same gender. Bedding is not provided, so you need to bring your own sleeping bag and fitted single sheet, towels and toiletries. Living is comfortable and the volunteer apartment has electricity, running water and western bathrooms (generally with hot water). For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer apartment are available for an additional US$20 (approximately CA$14) per night. Private rooms are subject to availability.
WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the volunteer house. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.
Volunteers in Bogotá are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Monday through Friday served at the volunteer apartment. Breakfast is varied and can include pancakes, fruit, eggs and aepa (corn bread). Lunch and dinner include a range of traditional dishes, such as Bandeja Paisa or Ajiaco. Tea, coffee, fresh juices and toast is available in the volunteer apartment throughout the day. Purified water is available in the volunteer house, however we recommend that volunteers purchase bottled water for drinking at their placements. During the weekends, volunteers can prepare their own meals using the ingredients provided, or can eat out at one of Bogotá’s many restaurants. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
“As much as I prepared for the trip, I was not prepared for the lasting effect it would have on me. Little did I know that as I write this testimonial two months after my return home, I would already have a plane ticket back to Bogotá. First, the projects. I took part in construction, feeding the homeless, and teaching in Soacha. Volunteering with IHVQ was one of the best choices I have made in my life. In the short time I was there I made lasting friendships with volunteers from all over the world, and began to get to know a beautiful country which I previously knew little about. I can’t wait to be back!” - Elizabeth Delfing (Feeding the Homeless Volunteer in Colombia-Bogotá)
During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Bogotá and wider Colombia. Ride the cable car to Cerro de Monserrate, boasting breath-taking views of all of Bogotá. In the center of the city, walk the cobblestone streets of La Candelaria as you explore the Botero Museum, Gold Museum and Emerald Museum. At the Usaquen Flea Market, pick up souvenirs for friends and family, listen to live music, and stroll down cobblestone streets set amid colonial architecture. Further afield, explore the coastal paradise of the Caribbean region, the numerous hiking adventures of the Andes region, or the natural wonders of the Orinoquia region.
See our Colombia Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Colombia.
|Currency||Colombian Peso (KES)|
Weather and climate: Given Colombia’s proximity to the equator, the country experiences little variation in temperature throughout the year. However, the climate does vary greatly with changes in altitude, creating various climactic zones from hot, coastal lowlands to freezing, mountainous peaks. Bogotá has a mild climate that is generally characterized by frequent cloudiness and occasional drizzling rains throughout the year. Days are cool (averaging 19°C/65°F) and nights can be cold, due to the altitude (average 5°C/40°F).
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Bogotá.
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Colombia - Bogotá volunteer program, however on certain projects, such as Teaching, volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Bogotá. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Bogotá.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.
Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ recommends these lessons for all volunteers unless they are fluent in Spanish. Volunteers with a basic level of Spanish should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons are organized upon your arrival in Bogotá during your 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$40,000 per 90 minutes. There is also ample opportunity to participate in conversation exchanges if your Spanish is at a more advanced level.