Education and Community Development Projects with UCB

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About

Are you seeking a meaningful volunteering opportunity, supporting education and community development projects in Bolivia? Are you keen to obtain useful new skills and experiences? Our volunteers leave having felt a true sense of belonging within the community, and taking with them skills, experiences and memories that will remain with them forever.

Volunteers participate in different projects. They might teach English in the local school, or support at the Equine Therapy Centre, a foundation working with young people with special needs. Placements are also available at La Paz Zoo – a refuge centre for animals who have survived trafficking, or at Our Valley of the Moon Children’s Centre, where volunteers support the running of the nursery.

We have other projects which are offered when required by the community, which you can view on our website. We are also interested in professionals with skills in education, social media, physiotherapy, or the environment, amongst others.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 3 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Erin
10/10

A truly reciprocal volunteer program!

I was lucky enough to volunteer with UpClose Bolivia for 2 months at the beginning of my one year journey in Latin America. UpClose is the perfect place to volunteer if you want to be integrated into not only the kind, modest town of Jupapina, La Paz but also the family of the program facilitators, Emma and Rolando. From the moment you arrive you are greeted with open arms and autonomy of how you contribute to the sustainable programs. I participated in the programs at the Children's refuge, Football (soccer) coaching, the Equine therapy centre and the Children's Centre. The programs integrate all levels of skills and experiences, and being a small organisation, you really see the results of all the volunteers hard work and how valued your time is valued by the modest and LOVELY people of the community of Jupapaina and Mallasa. This is another great thing about this program, is the authenticity of the relationships with the local people, i was shocked by the generosity and love of the people in these communities and it really has gone on to shape my life. Other activities offered include English classes which would be great for experienced or studying teachers, especially if they have a foundation of Spanish and assisting at the ever entertaining Zoo. Also during my volunteering period, varied skilled professionals contributed to the programs including Art therapists and Fashions designers. This programs are transparent and you see where the funding goes, the Children's Centre built by the program is truly amazing and really does need volunteers to assist the lovely Chef in keeping the young Bolivianos well feed. This programs gives you the foundation to learn, grow and build lasting relationships with locals and other volunteers. The friendships i made here from all over the world really will last a lifetime and the housing arrangements where beautiful. If you want to be part of a warm community and learn about the Bolivian culture this is the perfect place to do so. I could not recommend this place any more. If you come with an open mind and heart you will be overwhelmed with sadness when the time comes to leave!

How can this program be improved?
It is perfect as is. I hope i can return soon! Also the pic of me is so cute on this hehe :)
Yes, I recommend this program
Photo of Steph Dyson
Steph
10/10

Worthwhile volunteering project with excellent staff to support your stay

I spent a month volunteering with Up Close Bolivia teaching English classes at the school in Mallasa, as well as helping out with some of their social media and communications and I had a FANTASTIC time.

Not only are the founders Emma and Rolando probably some of the kindest people you will ever meet - they will invite you into their family home for dinner and take a real interest in your experiences on the project - but the projects themselves are meaningful and are having a real impact in the local community. The fact that Emma and Rolando live in the community (the volunteers do too!) means that everyone is committed to the work of UCB and the results of this are noticeable. You feel welcomed by everyone in the local community who appreciate that you are giving your time to help in whatever way you can - believe me, in other volunteering projects I've worked, this isn't always the case!

Working in the local school was wonderful too as the children are so keen and attend the classes outside of normal lessons because they are desperate to learn which makes for really motivated and hardworking students and fun and interesting lessons as a result.

The accommodation and general support that you receive through UCB is brilliant too. Your fee covers super comfortable shared housing and means that you get the support of Anita, the Volunteer Coordinator. She is absolutely wonderful and fully committed to making sure you have the best experience and can be of use to the projects and community. She is exceptionally friendly, speaks impeccable English and will go out of her way to make all volunteers feel welcome.

This is a fantastic organisation who offer a great range of projects that are having a real impact here. You will honestly have a wonderful stay if you choose to volunteer with UCB!

How can this program be improved?
Splitting the English classes into beginners and advanced groups. I understand this is not currently possible due to numbers of volunteers but it would be really beneficial in the future if there were more volunteers to teach the classes.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Judy
10/10

UpClose Bolivia- interesting and useful projects in a fun, caring and beautiful setting

I had a fantastic experience volunteering with UpClose Bolivia. As an older, retired professional I wasn't sure how I would find the experience of living and working alongside a lot of much younger travellers, but I loved every minute! The projects involve work which is important within the small community of Mallasa and UpClose staff work hard to ensure that volunteers are supported to be involved in work they like and which uses their skills and experience where possible. I worked in a Children's Centre and an wonderful Equine Therapy centre and, as a psychologist, I had the opportunity to be involved in parent groups and nursery staff training, as well as working with the (incredibly cute) little ones, which was amazing. The project provides lovely housing in a beautiful area and Emma and Rolando who run the project really go the extra mile to make sure volunteers are supported and cared for. The project is in a rural area, so night life needs a taxi to La Paz (about half an hour away), but when I was there the amount of barbecues, parties and other fun events on site and locally meant no-one was ever bored. I even got the chance to learn Tinku dancing to participate in the local carnival. All in all a fabulous project- highly recommended.

How can this program be improved?
Hard to say, it was nearly perfect for me. I could nit-pick - there were some frustrations in working in a different culture, where things were done differently and plans sometimes didn't work out as planned, but I learned to go with the flow. Volunteers need to be flexible!
Yes, I recommend this program

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Meet the Alumni

About Up Close Bolivia

Up Close Bolivia is a family-run enterprise which has been welcoming volunteers into the small community of Mallasa, near La Paz, for the past ten years. Everything that we do is based upon the principle of “reciprocity”: we wish to ensure that the...