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.

Programs & Reviews

Cultural Embrace by API (CE by API) is working together with Colombian government-sponsored and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide vocational English training in job training centers and programs. Student ages range from...
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This build will take place from January 15th through June 1st, 2014 in Choachi, Colombia, about an hour and a half outside of Bogata. We are building 3 houses for group of local family and friends who want to break the vicious urban...
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AMIGOS college volunteers enroll in a two-week academic course on Service Learning and Community Development at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. After completing their coursework, students live and work in a community...
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Pack your bags and come to Colombia! Come see where much of the world's best coffee comes from, explore the beautiful tropical region not far to the west, and unpack your bags in one of the most beautiful coffee growing regions in the...
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Volunteer on the Caribbean coast of Colombia in the stunning colonial city of Cartagena! Enjoy the beautiful beaches in your downtime from volunteering. Look below to learn about our volunteer options in Colombia. Teaching -- As a...
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Join our environmental volunteer community! This is an excellent opportunity to work abroad and get involved with a leading organisation in wildlife conservation, reforestation and research programmes. Colombia is a fascinating and...
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If you're a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, we invite you to join America Solidaria's dream of overcoming poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean. Together we can reduce poverty and inequality in the region. Applications for our...
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In Partnership with the local Department of Education, the Nukanti Foundation is offering short-term opportunities to work with youth in Risaralda, Colombia--the heart of the coffee region. The program runs from August 1 - November 31,...
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Our volunteer program is a unique opportunity to make a difference in Colombia. we look to provide lasting, gratifying experiences to those who would like to explore life in Colombia's Caribbean coast, who want to immerse themselves in...
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This professional and friendly mountain biking tour company is looking for English speaking volunteers to help guide tours. Volunteers receive free private accommodation in the guide house and a food allowance.
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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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Improve your life by improving theirs. Become a Volunteer! Now Open! Be one of us. Become a Volunteer! We're excited to announce our third round of applications for the March 2015-2016 fellow class! Join America Solidaria's dream of...
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Our two main projects in Colombia are the 'Discover Colombia' and 'Best Christmas Ever' projects. In Discover Colombia, volunteers will have the opportunity to work with a school or organisation in a team of other volunteers and facilitate...
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See South America and Visit Colombia! La Mesa is a beautiful small town outside of Bogota, Colombia. A short drive will take you to a very different world. Moving out of the city and up into the mountains you are quickly surrounded with a...
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At the Marina Orth Foundation we invite international volunteers to come and support our teaching of English, leadership and ICT in and around Medellin, Colombia. Our volunteers can expect to run workshops and clubs for students, teachers...
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