Volunteer in Colombia: Bienvenidos!

Map of Colombia
Flag of Colombia

With the combination of events such as the rule of powerful indigenous communities, the European conquest, and Colombia's independence, Colombia has a rich history with a mix of cultures and influences. Today, Colombia's republic still sees internal conflict between political parties and struggle for several marginalized groups.

  • Work/Tourist Visa: Not necessary for less than 90 days
  • Popular Destinations: Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena
  • Poverty Level: 37.2% (World Bank)
  • Colombia is the only country to be on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Health Care: Skilled medical volunteers can be of great help in Colombia. Colombia's health care system has gotten a lot of media and political attention in recent years. In 2012, Colombia will have universal health care. Don't let that fool you though - many disadvantaged citizens are still in great need of help and won't necessarily see benefits from the new health care system anytime soon. One of the country's biggest health issues are deadly diseases like malaria, HIV, and yellow fever. Malnutrition also affects many children in various ways. Whatever your interest in health may be, there are plenty of ways to educate and give greater access of health care to the population as a volunteer.

Conservation: Despite its prime location geographically, Colombia has big environmental issues that volunteers can lend a hand with. From the Andes to the Amazon rainforest to the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, there is tons of worthwhile and fun outdoor environmental conservation work to be done. Deforestation is one of the largest environmental problems in Colombia. Although legal has been taken recently to protect Colombia's environmental resources, need your help. Other areas of conservation in Colombia include fighting pollution, wildlife preservation, ecotourism, and agricultural work.

Education: While there are many universities and schools available in Colombia, not all citizens have equal access. It's especially common in rural areas to find that teachers are often under qualified, resources are lacking, and secondary school isn't always offered. Attendance to primary and secondary school is mandated by law. Many NGOs work to send more Colombian children to school and close the education gap. Volunteers can make a difference by sharing their knowledge and teaching students a variety of subjects, including English.

  • Family Life: Living with a local family is a popular option for volunteers. Similar to many other Latin American cultures, Colombia's family life is very important. Children usually live at home until marriage and even then don't move too far away. With 90% of the country subscribing to Roman Catholicism, it's no surprise that traditional gender roles are still common practice. Even so, Colombians are known for their tolerance of differences when it comes to sexual orientation, religion, and more.
  • Volunteer Support: If your trip is being arranged by a volunteer abroad organization, they will have a volunteer support system in place. Expat communities are a great way to learn from others who are in similar situations.
  • NGOs/Nonprofit/Volunteer History: Most NGOs in Colombia focus on environmental issues as well as law and policy. Unfortunately, NGOs don't have a successful history in Colombia. This doesn't mean that there will be no NGOs to work with, but that they especially rely on the help of volunteers. See WANGO for a complete list of NGOs in Colombia.
  • Best Places to Volunteer: No matter where you choose to volunteer in Colombia, you are sure to have an amazing time. Cartagena is a popular tourist destination that also has need for community development. The capital city, Bogota, is full of nightlife and culture but also has a great need for volunteers. Medellin, an important coffee and agricultural destination, is great for those who appreciate the beautiful outdoors.
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Colombia:

Safety used to be a major concern for foreigners in Colombia due to terrorist activities and civil conflict. Luckily, most areas are much less dangerous than they used to be; some jungle regions are even under military guard on a regular basis. Generally, highly populated urban areas are considered safest. It's well worth your time to research the areas and neighborhoods you will be traveling to and be aware of all possible safety concerns.

Travelers should be sure to check MD Travel Health for vaccination recommendations well before a trip. Recommended shots include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, as well as malaria and yellow fever for those going to rural or jungle areas. Water is safe in urban areas but outside of the major cities only bottled water should be consumed.

Why Volunteer in Colombia?

If you are looking for culture, diversity, adventure, and meaningful travel look no further! Colombia has everything an international volunteer could ask for, so why wait? Check out the numerous options f or volunteering in Colombia to travel and make a difference.

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Programs & Reviews

IVHQ offers a range of highly affordable volunteer programs in Bogota, Colombia. Participants have the opportunity to join a variety of projects, including construction projects, working with disadvantaged children, volunteering to teach,...
9 Reviews
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Child Care Center This is a public facility that provides daily child care services, pre-school and kindergarten classes to small babies and children in this Torices neighborhood in north Cartagena. This center is located close by to...
4 Reviews
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WorldTeach is currently accepting applications for our Colombia Year TEFL program to depart in January 2015, and again in June 2015. This is a great opportunity for those interested in international development and education to get their...
17 Reviews
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Mariposas Amarillas is a small Colombian grassroots organization committed to supporting disadvantaged children and families around Santa Marta, Colombia. We provide services (education, psychological assistance, recreation), supplies (...
2 Reviews
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Volunteer Overseas as an Atlas Corps Fellow! Atlas Corps is seeking the best mid-career nonprofit leaders in the U.S. to apply for a one-year overseas volunteer fellowship in Bogota, Colombia. Candidates will be placed at host...
1 Reviews
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Immerse yourself in Colombian culture as a volunteer with Emerging Voices! Volunteer with various projects to improve the communities of Bogota. Emerging Voices offers a wide range of activities for volunteers in Colombia - from elderly...
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A Broader View offers a variety of social welfare programs for volunteers to contribute in Cartagena, Colombia. These include programs for social welfare/child support in La Boquilla, programs for special needs/disabled support center and...
1 Reviews
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You would be helping hard working Colombians to help the Elderly, Single Mothers and the Homeless in a variety of programs all based in beautiful and safe Ibague, Colombia. Let's Go Volunteer is a Colombian non profit organization that...
3 Reviews
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IVHQ offers a range of highly affordable volunteer programs in Colombia's historical city of Cartagena. Participants have the opportunity to join a variety of projects, including teaching, childcare, sports development, and a community...
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Join United Planet on a long term gap year volunteer project in Colombia! United Planet offers community development and educational volunteer projects in Colombia. Gap year volunteers can join a project from 6 months to a year....
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After years of slow economic development and safety concerns, Colombia has emerged as a leading Latin American nation over the past decade. The Colombian economy has seen considerable growth, and development of modern cities. The Humanity...
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Footprints Recruiting, in conjunction with Partners of the Americas and SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) - a Colombian Government agency - are recruiting paid volunteer English teachers on an ongoing basis for the The Teach English...
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Environmental education has been a fundamental area for ProAve's conservation actions in Colombia. Get involved and contribute to this amazing program that seeks to love and protect birds and their habitats! Make difference. Position...
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Globalteer is a registered charity in the UK providing ethical and affordable volunteering with the amazing children of Colombia. The Colombia Kids project is based high in the Andes mountain range in the vibrant city of Medellin. The...
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Partners of the Americas has joined with its Colombian ally Heart for Change to provide a life-changing international volunteer opportunity! We have two programs, one in Bogota, and the other in the Colombian Amazon. In Leticia, you will...
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