Volunteer Work in Southamerica

Volunteer Work in Southamerica

Volunteer Work in Latin America



Becoming a volunteer in South America is an exciting and rewarding experience that will change your life. Prepare before you travel by researching each of the Latin American countries that you are interested in doing volunteer work in. Some specialize in certain types of volunteer jobs more so than others so it is important to be informed.

Tips for working with children! (Part II)

  • It is very important to describe and explain every activity very clearly. In general children here are not very much stimulated to use their own fantasy or creativity, so sometimes it will be necessary to help and guide a little.
  • Learning to work together and creating a good atmosphere is often more important than the activity itself. Make the children feel comfortable and safe.
  • Tips for working with children!

  • Focus on organizing ‘fun’ activities, to give the kids something extra, something they can be proud of.
  • Most of the children are very shy. They will be afraid to say something in front of a large group. Try to make them feel relaxed.
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Tips for working with children! (Part I)

Volunteering with children is an extremely fun and satisfying experience. Sure, your attitude and commitment to the project are the main elements to turn your presence into a great success; however, in order to assure that both you and the children stay happy take notice of the following tips:  

  • Always try to organize activities for the whole group! Everyone must be able to join in. Eventually you can ask children to sign up beforehand and organize a workshop for a certain group. Try to avoid having your little group of favorite children and neglecting the rest of the group.
  • Tips for working with children!

  • Be able to keep a distance. It’s about organizing something, more than being liked by everyone. Usually it is very difficult for the children when you leave after four or more weeks.
  • Most children are a bit behind with learning. E.g. after four weeks of English lessons they sometimes don’t remember more than four words. That’s why continuity is very important. Try to keep a record of what you’ve taught the children for the other volunteers. 
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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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Time spent at project: 1 month

Home Country: Belgium

This volunteer project is all about coffee! You will meet the families of small scale coffee farmers and will actively get to know the coffee farming process. Actively because you will hike over spectacular Inca trails towards the coffee farms passing coffee fields where they have cultivated coffee for generations. The villages are all situated close to Machu Picchu so you could combine your volunteer work with a visit to the spectacular lost and sacred city of the Incas. Read the following testimonial of a former volunteer at this exciting ecological project!

This project was better than I could even imagine! I met some amazing families and learned a huge amount about coffee, fruits and most of all the style of life of a Peruvian family! The moment I arrived in my first family (that lives in Huayopata – about 1 hour away from Quillabamba), I was greeted with a huge hug and offered jugo de platano y papaya (banana and papaya juice) fresh from their garden! That basically describes the whole stay! You will help the family with the work on the farm, anything from watering the plants to cutting a banana tree down! The food you will eat here is all fresh, whether it comes from their farm or the local market. The coffee is amazing! Everything is organic. The family was very warm, in fact I became part of their family and I hope I will be able to go back. They will make you love the Peruvian culture.

 


Ecological Project PQ-SE01 in Peru

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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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Top 10 Things to Bring on Your Volunteer Trip

Volunteers traveling to Latin America will need to bring different things depending on the country and type of work he or she plans on doing. However, there are some general objects that are essential for any trip. Here we describe the top 10 things to bring on your trip to volunteer in Latin America!

Top 10 Things to Bring on Your Volunteer Trip
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Casa Guatemala – an interview with Heather Graham

Guatemala is a captivating country rich with cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes. However, it is also a country whose people have endured a brutal 36-year civil war.  The effects of war continue today, and the Casa Guatemala project aims to assist the most helpless of those affected – Guatemala’s children.

We spoke with Heather Graham, Casa Guatemala Project leader, about the project, its achievements, challenges, and goals.

VOLUNTEER WORK LATIN AMERICA: Can you briefly describe your project and its mission?

HEATHER: Casa Guatemala provides a safe, nurturing home, health care and education to Guatemala’s abused, abandoned, and malnourished children. It also provides an environment that allows its young adults to gain practical job skills through its various business operations.

Casa Guatemala – an interview with Heather Graham

VOLUNTEER WORK LATIN AMERICA: Tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you get involved with Casa Guatemala?

HEATHER: I first came to the project as a volunteer 10 years ago. I planned to volunteer for 3 months, but I ended up staying 3 years! Since those first 3 years, I have worked on and off with Casa Guatemala and about a year ago, I decided to work full-time as Casa Guatemala’s Project Leader.
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Top Tips for Volunteers (Part II)

In continuation of last months ‘Top Tips for Volunteers’, here follows our second installment:

  • Practice your language skills
  • Why not make the most of the opportunity to pick up a new and invaluable life skill – a second language? Even if you only know a few key phrases, do not hold back! The local people will appreciate your efforts and may even teach you some more.

  • Be willing to learn
  • Willingness to learn is an essential trait of any good volunteer. The work you will be doing will be varied and will most likely be something you have never done before. Be ready for a few lessons, and enjoy the journey!

    Top Tips for Volunteers (Part II)
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Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Volunteer Work Latin America can provide you with the information, assistance and insight you are after in order to make your volunteer experience the most impactful and meaningful. Check out the descriptions below and visit our video page to get an idea of what to expect from each project type.

Cultural Projects. These projects are great in allowing volunteers to learn a lot about the customs, culture and traditions of local people, while at the same time making a difference to the community of which they will become part. Placements include youth groups, communal associations, cultural institutions and local media.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Ecological Projects. Conservation often takes a back seat in poorer countries, so volunteers are crucial. The work can be physically demanding, but it is consistently rewarding. Placements include working at an eco-lodge, protecting sea turtles and educating local people about environmental issues.

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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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