Volunteer with Children at Social Risk in Chile

Provider: VE Global

VE Global is a different kind of volunteer organization. With no volunteering fee and a philosophy of greater opportunity for both the volunteers and the children we serve, VE Global recruits and trains international volunteers to implement educational programs and act as positive role models for children at social risk in Santiago, Chile. Our projects are created out of a desire to bring equality of opportunity to the children of Chile. By combining the desire for a better world with the determination for concrete results, VE not only dreams of change; it creates change.

Program Info

Location: 
  • ChileSantiago (Chile)
Volunteer Types: 
Education
Program Length: 
3-6 months
6-12 months
1 year+
Cost: 
Free!
See More
Cost Description: 

VE Global charges no fee to volunteer, but you will be responsible for your travel costs and living expenses in Santiago.

Languages: 
Spanish
Housing: 
Apartment
Participants live independently
Application: 
Online Application
Phone / Skype Interview
Age Requirement
Language Requirement

Program Reviews (10)

91%
Positive
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  • Impact
    88%
  • Support
    89%
  • Fun
    93%
  • Value
    89%
  • Safety
    91%
  • Brit_Nancy
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Slough, UK
    London Metropolitan University
    Life Changing Experience
    04/25/2012

    I came to volunteer abroad with VE Global in 2010 for 6 months. The best way to describe my experience would be life changing. I chose VE Global because I would be working with children and not just teaching English which was the case with many other programs. VE work with various institutions including orphanages, homes and schools. I came to Chile to make a difference to a child's life and I felt like I did that but it was also a life changing experience for me too.

    All children no matter what language they speak just want to be loved. I worked in a school, a squatters camp and a girls home. All these experiences were different. The school had structure and I knew what I had to do. I helped children with their school work and I supervised them during their break and lunch time. I was also able to do an English class once a week and the children loved it. Teaching was hard work, and only now do I truly understand how much preparation goes into making one 45 min class. The reward you get when a child understands and remembers the words they had learnt are amazing. I used to stay up late the night before to make sure I completed my lesson plan and it was worth it esp when I had a good class. And when it was a bad class, it taught me things which were not done well, activities which may have been too complex or long.

    At the squatters camp and the girls home it was a lot harder, children didn't have any real routine and I had to think of ways to entertain them. Whether it was playing with them, reading with them, drawing etc...it was not easy to engage the children and sometimes I was just sitting with them whilst they watched TV. I found it was not so much making them do things but just being there with them that was important. So I found I had days when I was in the girls home and the children didn't want to go out, it was too hot, or they didn't want to play/read it was school holidays and they just wanted to watch TV. But for the children it was just about you being there. Every day they came to expect you. I turned up and went with the flow, I would take various bits from VE; books, pens and colours, jigsaw puzzles etc. and depending on what took their interest, we adapted the day accordingly. With the elder girls I did some jewellery making workshops, we made earrings and bracelets and it was a great way to engage the teenage girls.

    Being a volunteer is rewarding but hard work aswell, I felt like I was working harder than I did in my 9-5 job back in the UK. I found my time was filled with volunteering and preparation for the next day, VE meetings and work and then there was also a great social network amongst the volunteers.

    Living in another country was also something I had to adjust to. Where to buy groceries and the best place for this. We had older volunteers assigned to help us with this and they were invaluable in helping to get us settled into Chile. Before I went a friend who did a lot of missionary work had said to me it would take 3-4 months to really feel settled in and she was spot on. Once you are past that point everything is so much easier. buying medicine, getting around in the city and feeling like the children trust you and respond to you.

    What I found was its not about making a difference on a big level, but its the tiny things and it can just be to one child. Spending one-to-one time is so important to that one child. When a child in the girls home who was 3-4 said she couldn't write her name and I said yes she could and dotted it for her and she followed the lines. When she completed it she jumped up and down. The smile and joy on her face was priceless.

    There are so many experiences I got from volunteering; sad as well as joyful when you hear some of the questions the children asked. But what it made me realise is that any child any country could use a role model and for me that's what you are to a child. After volunteering I have never seen life in quite the same way again. I see many opportunities to help others and look at what I can do. I started working with some charities when I got home to the UK. Just going to another country where you don't know the language very well or the customs and adjusting to these and the friends you make along the way change your perspective and outlook.

    looking back the things I miss are the mountains, my flatmates and most of all the smile on a child's face and the big hug you get from them for just being there. I recommend volunteering to anyone, it will change your life in the most unexpected way and only once you go through it will you truly understand how.

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  • nola
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Santiago, Chile
    Other
    An amazing volunteer community in Chile
    04/23/2012

    I have been volunteering with VE for almost 8 months now, both in a children's home and as Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator in the office.
    It has been an all-round amazing experience. I have formed such strong bonds with the children I work with, and it's great to be able to plan and carry out my own activities with them. Working in the office has also given me a lot of great experience and allowed me to help more on the organisational side of VE.
    What impresses me most about VE though is the support provided to each volunteer, VE is all about community and whenever I've had a problem it's been easy to talk to the right person about it and sort it out. There are lots of community events throughout the year which really bring everyone together and help us focus on what we are achieving here in Chile and the difference we are making.

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    Useful: 1 Inspiring: 1
  • SWChileMeg
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Herkimer, NY
    Other
    Changed my world
    04/20/2012

    I volunteered in Chile for 6 months with VE Global, it was the best 6 months of my life, from the work with the children, the support from the staff and the organization and commitment from the fellow volunteers, I couldn't have asked for more. I stayed one more year working for VE Global in a volunteer stipend role as director of programs, and then one year later I am still involved in the lives on the kids I worked with and over 20 other ex-volunteers. It is a experience I will carry with me forever and has changed me.

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    Useful: 2 Inspiring: 1
  • Michelle Newman
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Santiago, Chile
    Other
    Making a real difference every day
    04/19/2012

    VE Global attracts some of the most unique and caring volunteers to work in one of the toughest situations in Santiago - in homes with abused, neglected, or abandoned children. The crop of volunteers is exceptionally well-rounded, international, and just all around fun. The work opens doors for children who otherwise have very narrow access to the world. I have already since the work of VE volunteers break into some of the cycle of abuse and poverty, an incredible impact for such a small organization!

    PS - It also happens to have a great staff that runs the org. thoughtfully and is constantly making improvements on itself. Bravo!

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    Useful: 2 Inspiring: 1
  • Emu32286
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Washington, DC
    Vincennes University
    Learn, Experience, and Grow!
    04/19/2012

    VE Global is an excellent organization for those who are looking to use Spanish, work with at-risk children, and be provided opportunities to get deeply involved in a small, international non-profit. The staff is very passionate about their work, and there is a lot of room to get as involved (or not) as you want, although they always appreciate a self-starter. I was planning to volunteer for a year, but instead ended up running some of the educational programs, and as a 22 year old it was an incredible and challenging experience that I know stood out, both to my grad school and my employer. I highly recommend VE, and continue to be involved in supporting the organization two and a half years after leaving due to my faith in their mission and the positive change they strive to affect on the lives of the children they work with.

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  • Faith
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Asheville, NC
    Other
    Maybe the most special work I´ve ever done
    04/19/2012

    I volunteered full-time for four months with VE Global, at a preschool in an informal settlement. I spent my days playing with children, feeding them, teaching art and other educational activities and getting to know the children and their families. We spent a lot of time laughing and having fun and I realize how special it was to be a part of teaching these children how to create strong healthy relationships with adults, how to learn and be confident and happy young people.

    At the same time, the work was sometimes challenging and luckily VE does an incredible job at supporting their volunteers, and I always felt so lucky to come home at the end of the day and talk about our work with my fellow volunteers and/or VE staff members. And in this way, I see how we were able to make a strong positive impact, being supported volunteers who support the children.

    I would love to return to Chile at some point and spend more time volunteering with VE and I highly reccomend this opportunity to others.

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  • Hillary
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Santiago, Chile
    Other
    A Real Opportunity
    04/19/2012

    I have been the Programs Intern for VE Global for three months now. I work directly with the Executive Director, Director of Operations and Assistant Director of Operations in the Santiago based office. My job is to work closely with the Assistant Director of Operations in executing, implementing and further developing the programs we operate in various partner institutions.

    During my time here I have been astonished with the effectiveness of such a small, grass roots organization. The success of VE Global, which is hard quantify but I believe is great, can be directly attributed to the kind of people that work for this organization. The selection of volunteers is done with great care which produces and amazing group of conscious, talented, aware and capable volunteers.

    I have great admiration for the long term staff who 'make it all happen'. The amount of time and heart that goes into running this non-profit is inspiring.

    Through my experience I have seen the whole picture of how VE Global functions. VE Global is true to their values and mission statement and provides a wonderful opportunity to make a real impact.

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  • MariahHealy
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Santiago, Chile
    Other
    A supportive organization with great values
    04/19/2012

    I arrived to VE as a full-time volunteer in December of 2008 and haven't found a reason to leave yet! I've worked on VE's staff for three years now and have never been so fulfilled by a job or inspired by my co-workers and volunteers. VE volunteers and staff are thoughtful, compassionate people who make a true difference in the lives of the children we work with. VE's educational programs provide consistency and unique opportunities for the children, and our volunteers provide invaluable daily companionship, mentoring, and emotional support. VE is also a close-knit, supportive community, acknowledging the need for extensive volunteer training and moments of reflection amongst challenging days with the children. VE truly follows its five values of positivity, empowerment, community, integrity, and responsibility. By avoiding "voluntourism" and prioritizing long-term volunteer stays, VE allows volunteers to build truly meaningful relationships with the children and work towards real progress.

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    Useful: 2 Inspiring: 1
  • Jamie
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Santiago, Chile
    Georgia Southern University
    Six months turns into a year
    04/19/2012

    I began volunteering with VE in September 2010, where I worked in a home for girls that had been exposed to abuse, abandonment and sexual abuse.

    I love working with the girls and found that VE was very supportive, helping me make the most of my experience. VE offers lots of planned educational programs and allows you to also plan your own workshops for the kids. VE is also a supportive community that helps you through the tougher side of volunteering. If anything stressful came up, which tends to happen often when volunteering, I always had another volunteer friend or staff member to help me sort it out.

    After my first six months, I began working full-time for VE as director of resource development. A job I love and know helps make an impact on the girls and children that I continue to volunteer with today.

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  • Natb417
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Philadelphia, PA
    Unforgettable Experience
    09/14/2011

    I volunteered in an orphanage, soccer program, and dining hall for kids. In each placement, I made amazing connections and relationships with all the staff and kids. I will never forget their impact on me and the close friendships I made. I also lived with a host family whom I still talk to today. They were warm, friendly, helpful, supportive, fun, great cooks, hospitable... everything you could ask for in a family. Everyday, I think about my Argentinean family and kids I grew so close to. Thank to Projects Abroad, they will forever be in my heart.

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Alumni Interviews

  • Morning: Wake up and leave to get the subway at 8 to get to work for 9.00, grabbing a quick Nescafe from the local shops and then my colleague and I would walk to school. In class I helped the kids settle and then we spent the morning saying hello to all the children and them practicing the days of the week and numbers then helping them with their morning lesson especially with the children who struggled.

    Afternoon: Supervising the children at lunch time and playing along with them. Getting them back settled into class after lunch we had another lesson where I helped them with their work where needed. Once a week I also taught them English and then it was time to get them ready to go home. Then back home where sometimes had committee with with VE or caught up with family back home or went to the gym for a spinning class.

    Bushra bonding with a student
    Bushra bonding with a student

    Evening: Lots of social gatherings, spending time with flatmates or out in the evening as we lived so close to centre of town we could go out and walk back especially when in large groups. We also had weekly committee meetings with VE and when needed preparing for the next day.

    Highlights: Watching how the English classes got kids excited, particularly when teaching them numbers; I used the song Once I caught a fish alive and the kids picked it up so quickly I was amazed and how they were so keen to learn English and picked up new words so quickly was amazing to see.

    Overall coming back from a week away with fellow volunteers and on the boat back from South Chile, just watching the mountains in the distance was the most amazing sight and just made me realize how gorgeous Chile really is.

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

    Lynn: I volunteered in Chile from September 2009-March 2010. I am from Queens, New York and currently live in Manhattan. I am 25 years old and work in Development at New York University. I am also a candidate for Masters of the Arts in International Education.

    Why did you decide to volunteer with VE Global in Chile?

    Lynn: After studying abroad in Spain, I knew I wanted to return to a Spanish speaking country after college. I also knew, from previous volunteer experiences, that I wanted to work with children, specifically at-risk children. When searching online, the first thing that attracted to me about VE Global was that you didn't have to pay to volunteer. I also appreciated that the focus of VE is not on teaching English, rather on helping the children in a variety of ways.

    View of Santiago, Chile
    Explore Chile while volunteering!

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Lynn: Everyday was completely different (as it is, I am sure, for most volunteers!). I worked in a hogar (home) for at-risk teenage girls so they, for most of the year, had school during the days and I would go to the hogar around 2:00pm. I also worked on the Resource Development Committee in the office.

    In the mornings I would walk around the city or run to Cerro San Cristobal (the big hill in the center of the city!) then either work on a fundraising event (drafting solicitation letters, going to businesses asking for raffle prizes, viewing venues for space, etc) or set up a project for the girls. At the hogar, we would greet everyone as we arrived, and chat about the girls' days. The girls had a scheduled homework hour everyday. That usually consisted of me helping them with their math homework, and sometimes history or Spanish. After homework hour, we would hold our workshops.

    The workshops varied from math lessons, educational card games, sports tournaments, cooking lessons, arts & crafts, gardening, reading, dance, english, etc (in our conversations with the girls, we decided what they needed/wanted the most). Then we had "once" (essentially tea time). After once, there was usually about an hour or so that we were able to take a group of girls to the nearby playground to run around playfully or lay in the grass and chat. A lot of the days consisted of holding these workshops but the most memorable were when we just sat around and talked about our lives, or translated lyrics of their favorite songs. It often felt like we were good friends, or even sisters, just hanging out.

    What made this volunteer experience unique and special?

    Lynn: VE Global is a unique organization for 2 main reasons. First, the organization is structured so that the volunteer immerses themselves in the institution and finds what the kids truly need. The minimum 4 length stay helps us really get to know each other. We have standing programs but the volunteer is able to delve deeper with the kids. It helps to create a more sustainable impact for the children as opposed to teaching English for a week and leaving.

    One of the hardest parts of my experience was leaving the girls because it was like saying goodbye to a good friend. We had so many great memories of laughing together, being silly, crying, etc. The other great thing about VE is the support from the staff and other volunteers. They do an incredible job of creating a family for us in Chile. They are supportive of all the work we do as well as our emotional health. I had a constant feeling of euphoria throughout my experience. Also... Chile is a beautiful country :)

    How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

    Lynn: I can honestly say I have never felt as fulfilled and happy as I did during my time with VE Global. It taught me how caring and resilient people are. It also helped me figure out what makes a great experience for volunteers and children both. I have continued to volunteer in NYC with children and sense more compassion and patience in my work which the girls in Chile taught me. I have also gained a new respect for the Spanish language and Latin culture; which is, fortunately, easily accessible in NYC!! I am currently pursuing my Masters degree in International Education with the hope to give others an experience similar to mine in the future!

About the provider

VE Global (VE) recruits, trains and organizes international volunteers to achieve our mission of fostering the positive development of children at social risk in Chile. VE has successfully integrated over 450 full-time volunteers from more than 35 countries into our network of 6 local children's homes, community centers, schools and preschools in some of the most vulnerable areas of Santiago. VE volunteers help implement our four educational programs: !Vamos a Leer!, Festival de Arte, Liga de Deportes and English in Motion. Each volunteer is placed in one of our partner social service organizations where they mentor children in a variety of ways, from assisting with homework to playing games to creating and running their own workshops and activities. Volunteers build strong relationships with the children for whom they provide support, friendship and the chance to just have fun and be a kid.