Travel doesn’t just have to be about seeing sites, checking off a list of must-see cities and taking the perfect shot. So often it’s the people that leave the greatest mark on us. For those looking to leave a positive mark during your travels, perhaps working as a volunteer in Colombia might be your thing. Here is a list of foundations, not-for-profits and grassroots organisations that you might like to visit while in the country.
1. Varsana Eco Farm
Less than an hour from Bogota is Varana Eco Farm. Here you can reconnect with nature as well as get involved in volunteer activities including organic gardening, environmentally-friendly design projects and taking part in educational programs for the children in the local community. In exchange for four and a half hours of work each morning, you will receive three vegetarian or vegan meals per day, accommodation in the volunteer casa, and access to many of the farm’s other activities including daily yoga, hiking, cinema, cooking classes, philosophy class, various spiritual workshops and more. A small donation of $5-8 per day is appreciated to cover the volunteer’s costs.
Techo is an organisation that works to stop poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean through volunteer programs, community development and youth services. They currently have volunteer positions available in Bogota and Cartagena. The organisation has helped facilitate more than 800 workshops and have put more than 15,000 children through educational programs.
3. Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia
For those interested in conserving Colombia’s national parks, then volunteering for Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia is for you. People are welcome to become volunteer park rangers in order to learn more about the process of conservation and also contribute knowledge and time to the protection and maintenance of the national parks. Volunteer activities include: recording of climate data, hosting workshops with communities and maintaining and upgrading local infrastructure.
4. Fundacion Servir
“Because it’s better to give than to receive.” That’s Fundacion Servir’s motto and they’re certainly putting it into practice. Through community activities, Christian values and spiritual development they work to assist some of the community’s most vulnerable and in need in Barranquilla.
5. La Hacienda Agualinda
Situated in Sesquilé, to the north of Bogota, La Hacienda Agualinda provides full-time residential accommodation and daily programs for adults and young adults with special needs. Volunteers share cooking, painting and gardening activities, as well as going out on outings, and don’t they look like they’re having a blast while they’re at it?
6. El Amargal
El Amargal is a natural reserve in Choco, on the Pacific coast of Colombia which runs entirely on donations. Volunteer’s fees goes to the nearby biological station, which requires frequent maintenance because of the humid weather conditions and work five hours a day in areas of maintenance, construction of nature trails and research.
7. Colombia Para El Futuro
Colombia Para El Futuro is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the quality of life for those most in need of support in the country. Through community projects, environmental protection, sustainable tourism projects, humanitarian aid and with the help and support of volunteers, they leave a mark on their community and help build brighter futures. Volunteering costs around $100USD per week, with funds going towards projects, transportation, utilities and administration costs.
8. Fundacion La Vecina
Cartagena’s Foundation La Vecina assists underprivileged children through educational programs and ongoing support. Volunteers are expected to be available 2-4 hours a week and are required to both work either in their on the ground projects, or spread the word about their efforts on social media through media manager roles.
9. Finca Carpe Diem
A 50-minute drive from Santa Marta, Finca Carpe Diem is a hostel which, as well as offering accommodation, provides opportunities to do volunteer work in exchange for board. If you can help in areas of gardening, organic farming, cleaning the Tayrona ruins or know a thing or two about construction and can help for 4-6 hours per day, you can receive your accommodation and food complimentary.
10. Fundacion Viracocha
Civil war, armed conflict and the drug trade has left countless people displaced in Colombia. Fundacion Viracocha works to assist people in the area of San Agustin, including children. Their mission is to create a sustainable platform for people in the area to live in harmony with their environment and be empowered by their ability to become self-sustainable.
11. Mission Gaia
Mission Gaia first begin out of Director Diana Benencore Reyes’ desire to provide care to Minca’s pet population. This later evolved and became the Mission Gaia foundation, which focuses on sustainable tourism, animal health and well-being and educational programs for the local community about how to reduce negative impacts on the environment.
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Have you ever worked as a volunteer in Colombia? What other projects, foundations and not-for-profit organisations would you suggest people get involved with?