Volunteer in Colombia
Volunteering in Colombia is your chance to travel one of the most naturally and culturally diverse countries in the entire world. Its equatorial position offers lush jungles, vast coffee plantains, Caribbean beaches and of course the peaks of the Andes. From trekking to scuba diving and whale watching, you will have multiple possibilities to take in the breath-taking nature around you.Volunteers in Colombia are able to protect this beautiful nature and support your host communities at the same time. Volunteering at a small coffee farm is perfect for all outdoor (and coffee) lovers. Get up and start exploring this South American gem!
Why volunteer in Colombia? There are many reasons to choose this country for your volunteer travel. Colombia is a lively and colorful place with a huge biodiversity which makes it a paradise for nature enthusiasts with its beautiful coasts and tropical rainforests. There are also the fascinating cities like Bogotá or Cartagena that you can visit. At the same time, Colombia faces problems in various fields and needs the help of volunteers for further development. Volunteering is the perfect way to offer your help. You can also learn some Spanish while you experience this interesting country. Colombia’s tumultuous past has created poverty, a lack of educational opportunities, epidemics, and unemployment. This plays a major role in defining the kind of volunteering opportunities in Colombia. If you are ready to turn off Narcos and go experience the real Colombia then read on to learn how you can make a lasting impact by supporting local projects on-site.
There are many different volunteer opportunities in Colombia so no matter where your interest lies, there will be a project that matches it. This can be either working with children in a teaching program, helping at an organic farm or supporting local sugarcane farmers. You want to learn more about the different programs and volunteer tasks? Then keep on reading.
Volunteering at a Colombian school is a great way to combine traveling abroad and gain some teaching experience. Poor infrastructure and flooding can often prevent young people from going to school for many months at a time. As a teaching volunteer in Colombia, you’ll give children who don’t have access to education a chance to learn.
Volunteers who support a program in this field provide maybe the greatest impact on those who need it most. Quality education is the key to the positive development of a community.
As a volunteer in education, you might teach local children a variety of school subjects such as
The younger children do not speak English, so it will be necessary for you to communicate with them in Spanish.
Another project you can participate in is a project supporting Youth Centers which offer after-school support and activities for children in their community to provide them with a safe place to stay and learn English.
While Colombia is a country rich in natural resources and picturesque beauty, it also has a variety of environmental issues to deal with. Volunteering in Colombia at an environmental conservation project will give you as a volunteer the opportunity to contribute to agriculture and ecotourism development abroad.Especially volunteers who want to experience the life of an eco-village should consider joining a program as a volunteer in Colombia. You can engage in sustainable activities at an organic farm or help coffee and sugar cane farmers to harvest their products and keep farming alive in the community. Colombia is the third biggest producer of coffee in the world, but for small farmers, the market is very hard. When they face problems like heavy rains, coffee tree diseases and changes in the world prices of coffee, it often ruins them. As a farming volunteer in Colombia, you’ll help the small farms to keep the production alive and your ideas and research will also help to increase the production. You’ll work with the community to educate people about farming and learn from them as well. There are also some farmers that have started eco-farming and practice a new approach to agriculture. They are more than happy about help from volunteers. While volunteers will do hard work in these programs, the experience is one of a kind.
While you work at an environmental program you can engage in many activities such as:
Depending on the project you might also be able to assist in a vegetarian restaurant-kitchen, or working with art and educational programs for the children living in and around the community. No matter what your project offers, you will be able to make a lasting contribution to the local community as a volunteer in Colombia.
The suggested daily budget for living abroad as a volunteer in Colombia is between US$23 and US$31. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the services you might need and things you might want to buy. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can be prepared and save the money you will need.
Additional costs you should consider will be:
When you travel to a different country for volunteer work it is important to familiarise yourself with its culture and social characteristics. This helps you to settle in quickly and avoid misunderstandings. These are some tips that you might find helpful when preparing for your volunteer work in Colombia.
Colombia is not as bad as it once was, but you need to use common sense and caution to stay safe. In February 2010, the French government declared parts of Colombia to be “safe”: adding Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Tunja, Bucaramanga, as well as the Zona Cafetero departments of Quindio, Risaralda, Caldas to Cartagena and San Andres as destinations approved for travel. Nevertheless, you should keep the following safety guidelines in mind at all times during your volunteer work in Colombia:
Colombia is a country situated in the northwest corner of the South American continent. It has a land border in the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and in the south with Ecuador and Peru. The territory of what is now Colombia was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples. These indigenous cultures included the Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona.
Because of this diverse and multicultural background, Colombia is ethnically diverse but religiously homogenous.
95% of the Colombian population considers themselves members of the Roman Catholic Church. They attach great importance to Catholic sacraments and their religion is an important aspect of everyday life. More than 85% of Catholics in urban parishes attend mass regularly. In the countryside, you might find Catholic practices and beliefs combined with indigenous customs. People often pray to a patron saint and rural villages have a patron saint who is honored each year with a fiesta.
When traveling in Colombia you should be aware that the official language is Spanish. All Colombians speak it except some of the indigenous populations. In major cities, you will also be able to communicate in English but outside urban areas, Spanish is virtually the only medium of communication. In addition to Spanish, over 200 indigenous languages and dialects are spoken in Colombia.
Going abroad always includes some issues and precautions that need to be taken into account, especially if you are traveling to a country with tropical temperatures and wilderness. The risks to health whilst traveling abroad will vary between individuals and many depend on your activities, length of stay and general health.
You might have noticed by now that there are many different projects that require different skills and abilities from their international volunteers. While you can find out the specific requirements for each project on their profiles on Volunteer World, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer opportunities in Colombia:
You have made it to the last section of this guide, which is another really important aspect while planning your trip: getting your volunteer visa for Colombia.
Please consider that the following information is based on a best practice approach, which has been made according to the best of our knowledge and in cooperation with several volunteer organizations. That’s why you should please make sure to discuss your visa requirements with your contact person on Volunteer World. If in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the Embassy of Colombia or consulate in your country.
There are some general requirements you should comply upon your arrival:
Colombia grants 90-day tourist visas to residents of 95 foreign countries without prior application. Among others residents of Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand or the European Union, you are able to work as a volunteer on a tourist visa for up to 90 days. If you’re from a country other than those listed above, check with the Colombian embassy or consulate website .
If you are planning to volunteer in Colombia for more than 90 days, you have to apply for a volunteer visa (Special temporary visa of a cooperator or volunteer of a non-profit entity or non-governmental organization). Make sure to apply for this Visa before entering Colombia at your closest embassy or consulate of Columbia.
To start your application process, you need to prepare a few things in advance. Make sure to have these things ready:
For more information please check the Colombian Embassy website.
So you’re ready to volunteer in Colombia but you’re not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your volunteer work in Colombia and an unforgettable adventure abroad:
Once this is sorted, let’s take a look at the practical steps:
We recommend getting both health and travel insurance to all our volunteers. In fact, this is even a requirement for most projects abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.