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IVHQ Video Tour: Colombia

Next up on the IVHQ Video Tour, George and Kate turn the camera on our Colombia program! Catch up on what they captured here:

We now leave Central America and head to Colombia, the first destination on our journey into South America. Here the IVHQ program is based in the bustling capital city of Bogota. The volunteers live in a lovely “home away from home” situated in the charming neighborhood of Rosales.  

Sunday 25 November

Visiting the local markets in Colombia with IVHQEarly Sunday morning we take a trip to the lively local market where we try an extensive array of exotic fruits such as mangosteen, sapote and guanabana. We eat arepa de choclo (corn pancakes) for breakfast, along with a traditional fruit drink made from passion fruit and milk.

After the markets we head to Hogar de Cristo, a home for elderly ladies run by a group of nuns, Los Hermanas de Madre Teresa de Calcutta. “Abuelitas” (little grandmas) are found on the streets throughout Bogota, abandoned by their families who can no longer afford to look after them. The ladies suffer from a wide range of problems such as blindness, deafness, muteness, arthritis, dementia, and general day-to-day illnesses.  

Visiting the IVHQ Elderly Care project in ColombiaHere the volunteers keep the elderly company, taking them out on walks, playing cards, dancing, reading and drawing with them. Volunteers also assist with the preparation and serving of lunch, as well as a range of other jobs. 

In the afternoon we visit an impressive flea market located in the trendy neighbourhood of Usaquen. The volunteers buy local arts and crafts as Christmas gift for their families.

Monday 26 November

Taking a look at the IVHQ Feeding the Homeless project in ColombiaThis morning several volunteers head off to a local homeless shelter, Hogar Madre Teresa, which is also run by Los Hermanas de Madre Teresa de Calcutta. Here lunch is served daily to around 150 men who are homeless. The volunteers help by preparing vegetables, making juices, cooking rice and soups, as well as serving lunch to the men.

When then take a walk around Bogota’s old town, La Candelaria, where there are many historic sites to visit and llamas graze in the central plaza. For lunch we head to La Puerta Falsa, the oldest restaurant in Bogota, and eat tamales along with a traditional hot chocolate and cheese drink.

Visiting the Colombian MilitaryIn the afternoon many of the IVHQ volunteers are working at a program involving the Colombian military. The volunteers are helping to teach English at the Military College in the North of Bogota to a group of 15 veterans who have been injured in combat. The veterans are aged between 23 and 35 and are now re-training to be English teachers. They are undertaking an intensive 36-week program and on completion some will be given the opportunity to travel to Texas to further their studies. 

In the early evening we take the funicular up Mount Monserrate to watch the sunset. From here some of the most impressive views over the entire city can be seen.

Tuesday 27 November

Our last day in Bogota is spent visiting several of the programs involving children that IVHQ volunteers can be involved in.

The first stop is the Instituto para Niños Ciegos, a school for blind children. Here the volunteers help with general education as well as teaching English to the children. Volunteers also assist on excursions such as visits to the local swimming pool. Today we watch the children practise their end of year production that they will be performing for their families this Friday. 

An IVHQ volunteer teacher in ColombiaNext we head to the city of Soacha, located to the south of Bogotá and home to over one million people.  The volunteers work at a local school, Colegio Ricaurte De Soacha, which is situated in a very poor neighbourhood and houses both a pre-school and an elementary school. Volunteers assist the teachers with organizing activities and playtime, feeding the smaller children, and attending to the children with special needs. With the older children, volunteers can be involved in teaching English and may be tasked to plan the class lessons.

It is currently school holidays so the volunteers are running different workshops and programs for the children. Today they are teaching them a Christmas carol in English.

An IVHQ volunteer working in ColombiaThe volunteers have also been heavily involved in construction work here at the Colegio Ricaurte De Soacha. They have been building an addition to the school to accommodate the growing number of students and to provide a place for additional learning. Jobs may include pouring concrete and digging holes for columns as well as other general maintenance jobs around the school.

Tonight the IVHQ volunteers are heading off to “Gringo Tuesday’s”, a weekly event where locals and foreigners come together in a language exchange over happy hour drinks.


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