Affordable Volunteer Programs in Colombia - Bogota from $270

By IVHQ   Reviews (9)   87% Rating

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, working with the elderly, and much more. While Spanish is not required in order to participate in the program, some conversational skills are recommended. IVHQ can provide discounted lessons to interested volunteers

Current IVHQ Volunteer Programs in Colombia:

  • Teaching
  • Childcare
  • Caring for the Elderly
  • Feeding the Homeless
  • Construction and Renovation

Highlights

  • Volunteers either stay in a volunteer house or with a host-family
  • Volunteer programs are available anywhere from 1 to 24 weeks
  • Programs in Colombia start on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month
  • At any given time there are about 5-20 IVHQ volunteers in Colombia
  • Spanish lessons can be provided for interested volunteers
  • All volunteers receive a culture and language orientation upon arrival

Program Info

Location: 
  • ColombiaBogota
Volunteer Types: 
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
3-6 months
Cost: 
See site for details.
See Additional Information
Age Group: 
50+
Languages: 
English
Spanish
Housing: 
Apartment
Home-stay
Application: 
Online Application
Age Requirement

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Program Reviews (9)

87%
Positive
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  • Impact
    88%
  • Support
    88%
  • Fun
    91%
  • Value
    88%
  • Safety
    91%
  • Zijie Zhu
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Shanghai, China
    University of Bristol
    IVHQ- Bogota, Colombia Program Experience
    05/17/2015

    The two months I spent in Bogota is some of my best time in my life. Many people believe Bogota is a very dangerous city, so as all volunteers I knew in Bogota. However, safety is not a big concern during the time I stay. The neighbour we stay is called El Polo. where is the safest area in Bogota. You will not feel dangerous even at night (although the coordinators will still suggest you ti take a taxi after you back from club). Plus, El Polo is only about 15-minute walking distance from the night life area Zona Rosa, where you can find excellent Salsa club, Shisha bar, cinema and really good cocktail.

    The place we stay is in a flat. 3-6 people share one room, boys and girls use separate barthroom.

    In Bogota you can take different programs everyday, means you can go to kindergarden to play with kids, teach English in primary school, prepare lunch for homeless people, go to military base to practice oral English with local soliders, go to take care old ladies with mental problem or even visit prison to chat with prisoner! It is a really good opportunity to breath culture with local people who has different background and age.

    Anyways, the program is absolutely worth to try, you will gain much more than you think before you leave. (For myself, I have super high expection for this trip but I still feel it was far beyond my expection)

    How could this program be improved?

    Generally speaking the program is excellent, if I have a chance to change one thing that is English teaching program. In one school we teach kids aged between 2-3 English, stay with kids has a lot of fun however I think teach them Egnlish is not a good idea. First, many of them are still learning how to speak spanish, secondly, little kids are really hard to concentrate for long time (maybe even 10 minutes). ALternatively, design some games will be a better idea rather than have a lesson.

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  • Isabel Fuchs
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Switzerland
    Other
    Wonderful Experience
    01/08/2015

    It was such a wonderful but also intense experience for me. I learnt a lot about colombia and its people. The organisation does e really great job and everything was well organized. The porjects are very different and everywhere is help needed. It felt so good to do something useful.

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    Response from IVHQ
    01/08/2015
    Hi Isabel, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your experience volunteering in Colombia with IVHQ. We hope to have you volunteer with us again soon.
  • Tim
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    West Chester,Pa
    Widener University
    Emerging Voices!!!
    03/09/2013

    My experience with Emerging Voices in Bogota, Colombia was life altering. This was my first service trip and I was quite nervous. I arrived at night and an Emerging Voices staff member was waiting for me as I made it through customs. As we headed toward the apartment, Susi the Emerging Voices staff member, let me know some general do's and don'ts of Colombia. The apartment was very spacious and comfortable. The next day I went to my first project at Hogar, a orphanage. While at Hogar, I was so happy to see the kids and they were happy to see me. As they ran up to me and the other volunteers with open arms. My time at Hogar was mostly spent outside playing with the kids! Running around with the kids I quickly felt the effects of the thin air as I was quickly out of breathe.

    Unfortunately, I was only in Bogota for 8 days so I did not get to see a lot of tourist attractions. Although the backdrop of the Andes Mountains was the only sight I needed. It was so surreal to me. As the week progressed I had the opportunity to accompany Monica, EV's Director, to Soacha. On this particular day, I was able to sit in on parent orientation for the upcoming school year. It was at Soacha where I felt I could be the best help. The students are so smart and anxious to learn. I left Soacha with the desire to do more and I plan to return very soon.

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  • Darrell
    Age: 51 or older
    Male
    Burnsville, NC
    Wonderful Experience
    03/01/2013

    The staff and accomodations were excellent. This experience was life changing. I felt supported and was regularly updated and assisted. The staff were always available in person or by phone. A staff person travelled with us each day to the different programs. All of the programs expectations were clearly met.

    How could this program be improved?

    I can't think of anything I would change.

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  • Voyager
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Austin, Texas
    You get out what you put in
    02/11/2013

    -Prior to traveling, pro travelers as myself ask questions and raise concerns regarding the safety of our destination. Though that is not my priority, it was to several volunteers that I shared my experience with. I can candidly state that I NEVER felt unsafe in Bogota. The location of the apartment is in a residential area with great access to the public transportation.
    - I think for every volunteer considering this trip, you should remember that public transportation costs gradually accumulate. When budgeting, do no forget to include taxi, bus, and transmillnium cost.
    -Next, the food at the apartment. Great food! Meals were provided 3 times a day. Do know that weekends and holidays (even if the holiday falls on a weekday, which is basically every other Monday in Colombia) YOU are responsible for your food. As far as snacks, there are some available at the apartment, but when considering that there could be 16 volunteers at once, who knows regarding the abundance of the snacks. The cook is very good with catering to any allergies one may have or dietary restrictions.
    - The work cites/projects are varied. You can work anywhere from childcare to working on English with wounded soldiers. I titled this review "you get what you put in" because of the volunteer experience. If you desire to establish relationships and network while in Colombia, the opportunity is there. But if you decide that you are a little shy, or quiet and just want to keep to yourself, you may not enjoy as much as you could. Basically, do not let yourself get in a bubble. If you are afraid to step out of your comfort zone, this will be a great challenge and experience for you.
    - The social scene is amazing! Dancing, drinking, networking, meeting other foreigners! All really great experiences. Along with other volunteers, you would have almost created a little family. I still remain in communication with other volunteers. Go if you are able to. You will not regret it.

    How could this program be improved?

    - Don't be as transparent with the economical struggles of the program to the volunteers. Then the volunteers will almost feel guilt tripped.

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  • HomelessinBogota
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Working with homeless in Bogota
    12/05/2012

    Before coming to Colombia I had no idea what to expect from neither the country nor the volonteer programs. From the very start the staff at Emerging voices made me feel welcome and comfortable.

    I decided to split my time between two programs; feeding the homeless and teaching in Soacha. I absolutely LOVED working with the homeless and only wish I could spend more time with the wonderful staff and thankful homeless people that I got to work and hang out with there. Theaching in Soacha was also great fun and the kids wonderful! However, due to the christmas holiday the teaching was not really as I had expected. Instead of ordinary classes there was a group of kids coming for "workshops" three days a week. Although I enjoyed playing with them it would have been good to know in advance (perhaps on IVHQ's web page) when there are holidays at the schools and so on. For me personally this wasn't a big issue - since I mainly worked with the homeless - but if teaching would have been my first choice this would probably have made me a bit disappointed.

    Since the accommodation of Emerging Voices is located in one of Bogota's richest and safest areas I never felt unsafe or scared of leaving the house by myself. However, being in a safer area naturally contributes to higher costs and although the Colombian prices are lower than in my home country I soon discovered that it was hard not to spend more money than planned.

    In general I really enjoyed staying in Bogota and I am so glad I came here! At first the crowded apartment (we were 16 volonteers when I came), the curfew and the preset dining hours made me feel like a teenager at a summer camp. However, the lady that runs the organisation, Monica, and her staff were really understanding, professional and caring and felt more like friends than supervisors.

    I would definitely recommend others to come and join EV in Bogota, most of all working with the homeless.

    How could this program be improved?

    As mentioned above I would advice Emerging Voices and IVHQ to be clear on when the ordinary programs are closed or modified due to holidays (for example during christmas holiday).

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  • Mona from Poland
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Warsaw
    Other
    Colombia - go there! You will love it!
    05/09/2012

    I would definitely go again!

    The staff, the apartment (in one of the safest and nicest neighborhoods of Bogota!) and food was excellent.

    My favorite project was working with blind kids. They are adorable! I miss them so badly!

    Bogota never sleeps, like New York ;). You will like it!

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  • MmmmHmmm
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Queensland, Australia
    Queensland University of Technology
    I did not enjoy my experience in with Emerging Voices
    05/08/2012

    If you are looking for freedom, this is not the program for you. At 19 years old I have honestly never felt so over-parented in my life. The woman who runs the place, named Monica, lives in the apartment with the volunteers and holds the only key to the front door. Prospective volunteers should be aware of the cultural differences in colombia which seemingly dictated her ridiculously over-protective actions. We were told that in Colombia you are a child until you get married and have children, which was evident in the way we were treated like children.

    Volunteers are not allowed to drink inside the apartment, and there is a curfew 7 nights a week. We were also not allowed to hang out in a room together with someone of the opposite sex, be it watching a film or anything, it was reason to be kicked out. Volunteers are rarely allowed to go out alone and must inform Monica where you are going, how long you will be gone for etc every time you leave the house.

    A few days after I arrived I had the immovable feeling that Monica hated me. I found her incredibly intimidating and unreasonable and when we had continuing problems with communication at our placement she always assumed it was the volunteers who were at fault. She would organise expensive trips and outings that many of us could not afford and then get angry when we said we couldn't go. There was often not enough food for breakfast and dinner and she constantly made us aware that she was having financial problems in an effort to guilt trip us or something. She treated the volunteers very personally, if she liked you, she would be your best friend but if she didn't, she would make it known.

    This experience would be great for someone who does not have a rebellious spirit like mine. Admittedly i have never been great with authority figures, and some of the other volunteers would say that they had a great experience. It is my view that if you work hard all week you should be able to party hard on the weekends. I hated being treated like i was 14, but a positive minded person who is well disciplined would still gain a good experience out of this.

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    Response from IVHQ
    12/07/2012
    We are sorry to hear you did not enjoy your experience in Colombia. The safety and comfort of all our volunteers is of utmost importance to our local staff, which is why curfews are implemented. We have passed your feedback on to our local staff and we hope you were still able to enjoy your volunteering project and your time spent with the other volunteers.
  • Margaret
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Sydney, Australia
    University of Canberra
    You will love Colombia...
    05/08/2012

    I partipated in the 6 week program and then extended as I was enjoying it so much. I initially signed up for teaching children but at orientation the founder Monica shows me some other projects and I ended up choosing to work with injured military veterans.

    The soldiers and officers in my class were learning English to become English instructors with the hope of attending a more advanced course in the USA.

    My daily routine consisted of breakfast at 7.30am with all the other volunteers, preparation for my class and then class between 10am and 1pm. I would then often stay at the military to provide additional tuition to the students or other soldiers learning English.

    I also had the opportunity to work at some of the other project - cooking lunch for the abandoned Grandmas and helping with a self defence class for the teenage girls at the orphanage.I also organised for my military class to go on a field trip to the orphanage where they taught an English class. It was a proud moment for me and both the soldiers and kids loved it.

    In terms of safety and fun, I found Bogota to be safe, especially in the area where our apartment is. There are lots of opportunities to visit the local attractions and plenty to do! The nightlife is so much fun - everybody dances and has a great time!

    I took Spanish lessons twice a week which were very affordable at 30,000 for 1 hour 30 mins (about $15).

    Finally, Colombians are so friendly, fun and welcoming - there is so much need in Colombia but you will also have a great time too. I think that is the perfect mix!

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Alumni Interviews

  • Volunteer teaching in Colombia
    Happy happy handcrafts!

    Morning: I usually got up at 7:00 am. A half hour later we started preparing breakfast for all volunteers. That was a very nice part of the day. We discussed plans for the day, joked about each other and enjoyed arepas, fresh fruit juices and other Colombian delicias. At 8:30 am the apartment was empty, everybody went to its volunteering projects.

    Afternoon: It was a nice time - after work and before dinner. We talked with other volunteers about the kids, what happened during the classes and how we spent the day. I usually prepared activities for the next day - English lessons for the kids in the school in Soacha close to Bogota or games and ideas for handcrafts for blind kids from the institute in San Cristobal (an impoverished zone of Bogota). Sometimes we practiced origami to show it to the kids on the next day or singing or dancing. We had a lot of fun!

    Evening: We used to say that Bogota is like New York - never sleeps ;o). During the evenings we enjoyed the city, went to salsa clubs or bars, or we stayed at the apartments. We played cards, dominos, or other games. That was also the time to talk to friends or family via Skype (there is a 7 hours time difference to Europe), time for reading, watching movies or listening to music, normal stuff...

    Highlights: The highlight of my volunteer experience was meeting the blind kids and accompanying them to the swimming pool twice a week. At the beginning it was frightening to me, I didn't know how to act, how to help the kids with changing clothes and everything. They didn't know me so they were shy and distrustful, but with the time they got used to me and we had a lot of fun in the water. I loved to play with them, to laugh and to teach them swimming. They were incredible. Could you imagine swimming in the water without being able to see? I couldn't do it! Seeing the happiness of those kids I was the happiest person in the world.

    The highlight of my overall experience was meeting other volunteers, from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands... It was a dream team! We had a lot of fun with each other and I was so lucky to have the opportunity to meet them, to work with them and to enjoy the Colombian life with them.

  • Man in Colombia
    Timothy in Colombia!

    Why did you decide to volunteer with IVHQ in Columbia?

    Timothy: I chose IVHQ because they were affordable and I had read numerous reviews that were positive. In addition, through Facebook I was able to get in contact with previous Colombian volunteers who ensured my safety. The reason why I chose Colombia was due to its lack of publicity. While reading through reviews I came across a lot of reviews from Africa, but there was not a lot on Colombia or Latin America. So I decided to change that by venturing to Colombia with intentions of promoting Colombia. Furthermore, the weather is nice and the thought of the Andes Mountains as the backdrop was all I need to know.

    What made this experience unique and special?

    Timothy: Being that this was the first time I have ever traveled by myself to a different country was special in itself. The staff at Emerging Voices made my experience so special because I could tell that they truly cared about me and my reasons for wanting to volunteer in Colombia. In a way I feel like words can not describe the feeling I felt while in Colombia. With anything you do you get out what you put in. This was true for my stay in Bogota. It was up to the volunteer on how much they wanted to work. There was a white board in the apartment where one could sign up for different projects. Some projects were held in the morning and some were in the afternoon. The project at Soacha was the entire day, Soacha was the project I really felt like I was the most help. I also loved going to Hogar de Maricia, which is an orphanage. While at Hogar we mostly played with the kids and this was quite rewarding.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Timothy: While my trip to Colombia has definitely made me appreciate being American, I will always have Colombia embedded in my heart. If the opportunity presented itself I could see myself devoting my life to Colombia. The people are so amazing and extremely happy for what they have and don't put up a guilt trip. The love I felt was extremely infectious and I can not wait to return for a long term commitment.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with IVHQ in Colombia?

    Colombian children
    Colombian kids keeping it cool

    Medardo: I decided to volunteer abroad with IVHQ because two of my friends traveled to Colombia through IVHQ the summer of 2012. I knew they planned on returning, so I simply asked if I could tag along. Additionally, I researched the project beforehand and communicated with the director of the program in order to ask any questions that I had

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Medardo: My day-to-day activities remained consistent. From morning into mid-afternoon was when most of the volunteering took place. The volunteering work was very diverse. Emerging Voices has various relationships with non-profits, in the country. After volunteering, the group of volunteers would go around exploring the city (Bogota) and surrounding cities.

    What made this experience unique and special?

    Colombian women
    Elderly women in Colombia

    Medardo: What made my volunteering experience unique and special were both, the people I volunteered with and the people of Colombia that I met. Firstly, the people I volunteered with were from all over the world. We all got along very well. Everyone was very outgoing and we all took back so much from the gracious people of Colombia and our experience. I would consider the group of volunteers I shared this experience with as my international family. In fact, many of us still remain in constant communication.

    Secondly, the people of Colombia. Whether it was a simply good morning or a good bye, the Colombian people always demonstrated laughter, joy, and a big smile.I do not know if it was because we were foreigners, but we were always treated with great respect, and open arms. A tremendous appreciation for life and love of life was also an aspect of the Colombian people that helped make this experience so unique and special.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Medardo: Personally, this experience has helped me step out of my comfort zone even more and it has provided me with great, hands on volunteering that cannot be experienced unless one travels abroad. The impact it has had on my future is also tremendous. I have a better idea of what career and aspect of the non-profit world I would like to pursue after I complete college. It also provided an avenue of prospective volunteering opportunities based on the relationships I established

About the provider

IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ) provides safe, unique, meaningful and extremely affordable volunteer programs in 30 countries around the world, with a constantly expanding base. Programs are available in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where IVHQ works alongside local NGOs to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. Currently, IVHQ has programs in Bali, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Morocco, China, Nepal, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Victoria Falls, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Laos, the Philippines, Romania, Italy and Fiji!

Whether you're taking a volunteer vacation, a gap year, or on a career break, IVHQ has a wide variety of programs ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks to fit anyone's schedule. Browse through the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.