Volunteer Work in Southamerica

Volunteer Work in Southamerica

Volunteer Work in Latin America



I visited Ecuador for the first time in 2011, while vacationing with a friend, and from the moment I stepped out of the plane I fell in love this this amazing country.  Ecuador is full of happy people who enjoy a life without luxury.  I toured a majority of the country, getting to know the different customs of the coast, mountains, and jungle.  We made such a strong connection to the country that in 2012 we decided to return and acquaint ourselves with the places we hadn´t visited yet. 

When I got back from my trip, I realized that the country needed many things that that I could help contribute! I began looking to volunteer and stumbled upon the web page for VOLUNTEERWORK LATINAMERICA. They organize volunteer placements in Latin America and have amazing opportunities such as volunteer projects in Peru, work holidays in Chile and volunteer projects in Argentina and other countries such as Ecuador.

Report of Volunteering in Hospital for Kids in Quito Ecuador

As a nursing student, I liked the looks of the volunteer work in el Hospital Pediátrico Baca Ortiz in Quito, and I chose that volunteer project in Ecuador because I felt I had the necessary tools available to help to support children who have to spend a long time in the hospital away from their families, feeling alone, scared, and in pain.   It was hard to watch the children suffer alone because their parents were unable to visit them because they had to work or stay home to care for their other children.  This time I came alone for 3 months, and I worked at this project Monday thru Friday for a month and a half. 

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El Periodico de San Telmo is a nonprofit newspaper that is published every two months.  It is run by a small group of San Telmo locals who handle everything from writing stories to recruiting advertisers. The paper’s goal is to celebrate the neighborhood of San Telmo and create an open forum and dialogue for its community.

San Telmo is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Historically, it was Buenos Aires’s first industrial area that eventually became inhabited by the well to do. However, in 1871 a yellow fever epidemic swept through Buenos Aires and the rich abandoned San Telmo and moved north to Recoleta, Palermo, and Belgrano. 

Volunteer Report of the San Telmo Newspaper project in Buenos Aires
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Volunteer at an independent theater in Buenos Aires

Most volunteer placements include offering help of some sort to the underprivileged. However, in this project you get to work with the hip arty in-crowd of Palermo, also known as the ‘Hollywood of Buenos Aires’.

This small theater prides itself on expressing independent art forms, with none of the commercial blockbuster attitudes that dominate the Hollywood scene. More than just a theater, it is really a cultural center featuring an eclectic program full of live music, theatre plays and art performances. In the afternoons there are also acting classes for children of the neighborhood.

What makes this project so unique is that the performers are encouraged to step out of the box, let their creative juices flow liberally while getting up and close to the audience. The space has room for maximum 80 equally free minded art devotees that all enjoy the personal interaction and cozy living room atmosphere, while having a glass of wine and some superbly prepared canapés by the in-house chef.

Volunteer at an independent theater in Buenos Aires

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Teaching English in Peru

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The organization we work with in Costa Rica offer many opportunities for volunteers to get first-hand experience in the health sector.

Depending on your level of knowledge, specialization, and skill, you may check blood pressure, distribute food and medicine, weigh babies, accompany emergency response vehicles, and help with other first-aid procedures.

Examples of places where volunteers are needed are hospitals, senior care centers, the Red Cross and EBAIS (small clinics in individual communities). Assistance with public health community campaigns and other basic education can also be part of the job.

Health program in Costa Rica – a volunteers testimonial!

The projects provide a wonderful opportunity to doctors, nurses, medical and pre-medical students to become familiar with the challenges and health issues of Costa Rica, and they would benefit the most from this type of volunteer work.

To already get an idea of how a specific volunteer placement is like, read the following testimonial of Christel Bauló Estevez from Spain, who completed four weeks assisting at a senior care center:

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I spent five weeks working for a Colombian volunteer program as a football coach and volunteer after applying through Volunteer Work Latin America (VLA). I spoke only a few words of Spanish beforehand, but with the help of Ed, the director, and his team I was still able to make a difference to some amazing children right from the start, whilst picking up my Spanish to conversational level along the way.

The story of an Aussie coaching Columbian kids how to score goals, on the field and in their daily lives!

Ed also runs a tour company and knows all the best things to do in Medellin. He can also help you with trips to the many other incredible destinations Colombia has to offer. Before settling in Medellin, I spent two weeks traveling Colombia’s Caribbean coastline filling my time lying about on white sandy beaches, taking mud baths and searching for lost cities. I could relax and have a great time, safe in the knowledge that VLA had already found me some long term, cheap accommodation in ‘el centro’ of Medellin with three meals a day provided! If you wish, VLA will also help you arrange Spanish lessons at the local University; something I would strongly recommend doing if your Spanish is only basic.

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My volunteer experience really began before I even started my work. I decided to volunteer in Buenos Aires, Argentina to improve my Spanish and give back to the world. I think that this is something that is very important for everyone, especially young people to do in their lives. I prepared for volunteering at the project by spending some time living in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina and exploring everything that it has to offer. It is full of food, such as great steak, and culture, such as the famous MALBA Museum. I also prepared by studying Spanish at AMAUTA Spanish School and what I learned was very useful as a volunteer!

My Volunteer Experience with teenage girls in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Now, I have been working for four weeks at an Hogar for girls between 10 and 20. It was very challenging work and I enjoyed it a lot. I would have liked to stay longer. Just when you feel that the girls are starting to trust you it is time to say goodbye. There are about 20 girls living at the hogar for various reasons. Some do not know their parents because they left them behind when they were little and some have parents that cannot or do not want to take care of them. Also, some were abused and some lived on the street before coming to the hogar. There are also some of them who are mentally disabled. A few girls had just arrived and others had been there for several years.

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Soccer success for Colombian street kids thanks to volunteers

A fantastic project in the second largest city in Colombia, this venture was founded to provide children affected by poverty, addiction and violence the opportunity to participate in sports, recreational and cultural activities with an aim to guide the process of social integration.

We spoke with Dutch coordinator Ed Veldhuisen about the inspiration behind this project, the challenges that it has faced and the impact that it has had on the lives of so many of the young people in this city.
 
 

What was the inspiration behind this project?

Ed in Action, What was the inspiration behind this projec?

I came to Medellin to volunteer with children on the street and instantly realized the difference you can make to their lives.
The activities I organized quickly became very popular with the kids and I did not want to just abandon what was proving to be such a success!

 

 
 

How is the project run at present?

How is the project run at present?

We are working with children from several institutes who participate voluntarily in the activities we organize.

We run an array of activities including regular football matches, ´Cooperation & Communication´ workshops, music lessons, performances and recordings, and even produce a regular newspaper written for and by the children of the shelters.
 
 
 
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Volunteer Work at a Clinic for Disabled Children

In January/February 2011 I worked at a clinic for mentally and physical disabled children. In my first weeks I took care of the patients (which I now call friends) by brushing their teeth, changing their clothes, entertaining or feeding them. As most of them suffer from severe handicaps I was really unsure if I was going to handle my work well. After my first day of work I realized that I really did not have any “problems” working with the kids; I did not even see their disabilities any longer. We really had the same goal: being happy and laughing as much as we could. Their joy struck me and opened my eyes and attitude towards certain issues.

Volunteer Work at a Clinic for Disabled Children
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I started my volunteer work at the FBAS, after four weeks of Spanish lessons at the Amauta Spanish School in Palermo. This was a great choice as I was really needed, and it gave me the opportunity to see a totally different side of Buenos Aires. As a volunteer at FBAS you get involved from the first minute you enter the office, from that moment on, you are one of them. 
On Thursdays we used to hand out condoms on the streets and visited houses where the transvestites and prostitutes live.  I was glad to see they really appreciate our work. We advise them to let them be tested for HIV. It is important know how many people are infected  in order to decrease the number of HIV infected people,. To assure them that it´s free, anonymous and secure we hope to convince them of taking a test. If  HIV is detected, they´ll get medicines for free. 

Voluntary Work in Buenos Aires at the “Fundación Buenos Aires SIDA” MAY 2010
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