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Biodiverse Development Foundation

About

Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the stimulation of socio-economic development by the exchange of knowledge, experience, culture, and language. The main point of focus is to establish a way living with the local youth, which provides them prosperity and healthy life by using the local resources in a sustainable and creative way. Further, does the Biodiverse Development Foundation participate in connecting, developing and integrating of existing initiatives within the 'Mercado de la Montaña' for example.

You can contribute to the achievement of our objectives by: carrying out projects designed in cooperation with the local community and the foundation, participate in the daily life of living with nature, learn about the principles of permaculture. No special skills or competencies are needed, everybody has their talent and can contribute. We are looking for enthusiastic, well willing people with a great passion/interest for our objectives and related activities.

Reviews

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Nikolas
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Permaculture & Community Development Project!

I was able to spend a week in August/ September 2018 at the beautiful finca which is easily accessible from Cali (Jeep drops you in front of the entrance). Most of my work was focused on developing the finca itself and driving the development towards full self-sufficiency. The tasks included building a second cabin, diggin swales on the steep hill to establish terraces for agriculture, flattening an area for camping/ tent, cleaning out the certain areas from unwanted weeds and helping around the house. I was able to learn a lot about permaculture which was very interesting to me.
Furthermore, I was lucky to take part in additional activities: ecotour to a beautiful waterfall in a nearby national park, spiritual session/ chakra alignment on the finca as well as the local community market which is also part of the BDF project (locals from the mountain area are encouraged to produce and sell their own handcrafted/ artisanal products at this market once per month).
All in all a great project in a beautiful landscape setting that allows you to learn a lot and get involved with hands-on farmwork.

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Franz
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Colombia

Good connection from Cali.. The accommodation was good and the food delicious, mostly vegetarian but I prefer that... The information about permaculture and application of it were interesting. What I liked most were the mountain life and nature, a lot of hummingbirds! No phone network in the mountains but there is wifi at the finca (not always working because of rain) I had a great time and would like to go back

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Julliet
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainable farming project

Good experience, working in touch with both the organisation and the Colombian farmers in these beautiful mountains! Maricela is a really sweet and welcoming woman and mother, full of energy and open to everyone, good opportunity to learn and improve your Spanish! I spent a time at the finca with Maricela and the other volunteers trying to improve a new sustainable farming project. Good vibes and good working spirit with the team, we spent our time in bio-construction, the purpose was to build up a nursery and various composts on a permaculture design and with bamboo in order to turn the finca in an organic productive one. The community is pleasant, they have a strong motivation to turn self-sufficient and to live in an organic lifestyle. Finally, the local market they created is beautiful and already full of good products. Hope the next volunteers will carry out and extend both the sustainable farming project and the organic market!

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Eva
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank you!

Me and my boyfriend had an amazing experience during our project in Colombia. The volunteer coordinator Maricela, made us feel very much at home (we even had our private wooden cabin). In the morning we waked up with the nice sound of singing birds and sometimes children ;)

During our stay we helped to build a nursery and a compost area, this was nice to learn.
Our stay and activities were well organised so we definitely recommend people the volunteer projects of the Biodiverse Development Foundation.

Thanks a lot for everything Robert and Maricela!

Abrazo!

Eva

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Robert van de Griend

Job Title
Founder/Director
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Robert is born in The Netherlands and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science. He has various travel experiences around the world – across Asia, Africa, South-America, and Europe.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Going to Ghana in West Africa is my favorite travel experience since I gained the most from it both professionally and personally. I traveled to this country to carry out my final research on the environmental impacts of tourism in a small traditional village there.

After I finished the research and completed my degree, I initiated my own project. I wanted to work on an alternative source of income for the locals while conserving the biodiversity and minimizing the negative environmental impacts of tourism at the same time.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I grew personally and professionally in the last six years. During this period, I started becoming stable financially, emotionally, and physically. This resulted to my establishment of the Biodiverse Development Foundation in the spring of 2017. Since then, the project in Colombia has accelerated, and results have been achieved.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

What I always find fascinating is the transformation in perspectives, opinions, and thoughts of volunteers/visitors, before and after having participated in one of the activities or programs of the BD Foundation.

The objectives of the Foundation are very ambitious and broad. Nevertheless, participants discover ways and means to contribute effectively to them.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

At the moment, the Biodiverse Development Foundation only offers one volunteer program in which many sub-projects are designed. All projects are multidisciplinary and interrelated with each other, and all contribute to the objectives of the Foundation.

The project that draws my interest most is organizing workshops, courses, and activities for locals (young and old) where there is an exchange of various forms of capital (financial, produced, intellectual, human, and social & relational capital).

One of the activities that I like most is the maintenance of the permaculture based swale system with the local inhabitants of the region. They have so much knowledge about nature and life in general. However, they still like to learn many more "new" aspects of life.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What makes the Foundation and her project unique is the multidisciplinary and local approach of it.

We are convinced that every volunteer/participant has his own talents and interest, and that the best results are gained when somebody works with passion and joy on something.

The project offers various possibilities to explore your own talents and skills in cooperation with the local community and the BD Foundation.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Being successful depends on the definition of success. With regard to the Foundation and her objectives, in my opinion, to be successful is to take the interests of all stakeholders (volunteers, local community, biodiversity etc.) in consideration. If the Foundation succeeds to balance all relevant interests in a transparent and honest way while carrying out her activities, she will be successful.