From the rule of powerful indigenous communities and European conquest to Colombia’s independence and colorful culture, Colombia has a rich history with a mix of cultures and influences.

Combine that with an easy to learn version of Spanish, and a variety of development initiatives taking place in Bogota, Cartagena, and beyond, and Colombia becomes a wonderful place to volunteer abroad. Whether you're interested in volunteering in Colombia as a teacher, research specialist, or skilled medical professional, start planning your trip with this guide today!

Healthcare

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.

Recently, an initiative by the Colombian government to bring more native English speaking teachers to classrooms has resulted in the TEC program. Through the program, you can volunteer teach in Colombia in exchange for a small stipend (roughly $400 / month).

>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. Staying with a homestay family, therefore, is a great way to fully understand Colombian life.

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.

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.

Volunteer Programs in Colombia

Volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful
Displaying 1 - 15 of 47 programs
International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Colombia from $270
Colombia
9.41 •34 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Trusted Homeless Support Projects with IVHQ
Multiple Countries

Are you interested in providing support to help combat community...

United Hatzalah Colombia
EMT Volunteer Program - International EMT Certification (Optional)
Colombia
10 •26 reviews

Learn First Responder Skills, Save lives and Experience Colombia. We...

Globalteer
Great Value Teaching and Community Projects from US$114 per Week
Multiple Countries
10 •12 reviews

Do you want to volunteer to help children and communities with a UK...

International Service Learning
Global Health, Service Learning, and Medical Volunteering in Colombia
Colombia
10 •5 reviews

Assist in providing community and medical services to those in need...

Cultural Homestay International
Volunteer Teaching Group or Private Classes in Colombia
Colombia
10 •1 review

Join Cultural Homestay International as a World Explorer in Colombia...

Emerging Voices Colombia
Volunteer in Colombia with Emerging Voices
Colombia
9.33 •3 reviews

Immerse yourself in Colombian culture as a volunteer with Emerging...

Biodiverse Development Foundation
Unique Volunteer Experience in Colombia: $300 a week with meals, accommodation & more
Colombia
8.5 •4 reviews

Live close to nature a sustainable (farming) experience and have the...

Fundacion Mariposas Amarillas
Fundacion Mariposas Amarillas - Volunteering in Colombia
Colombia
10 •2 reviews

Mariposas Amarillas is a small Colombian grassroots organization...

Fundación Marina Orth
Volunteer in or close to Medellín Colombia -stipend provided
Colombia
9.33 •3 reviews

At the Marina Orth Foundation we invite international volunteers to...

United Hatzalah Colombia
Train as Firefighter in Colombia
Colombia

Have you got what it takes to be a firefighter? We are proud to offer...

Let's Go Volunteer
Let's Go Volunteer - Volunteer Program in Colombia
Colombia
7.67 •3 reviews

You would be helping hard working Colombians to help the Elderly...

America Solidaria
Fellowship for Latin America and the Caribbe
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

America Solidaria seeks Fellows who are interested in implementing...

AIESEC Australia
Volunteer with AIESEC Australia in Colombia
Colombia
8 •1 review

Our two main projects in Colombia are the 'Discover Colombia' and...

Sueños Compartidos
Sueños Compartidos- Volunteer Teaching in Colombia
Colombia
9 •1 review

Sueños Compartidos was formed with the idea of promoting cultural...

What People Are Saying

if you want to get action, help people, and get out of your normal comfort zone I strongly recommend go stay with Hatzalah Colombia! these guys are not for the faith hearted, they work day and night...

Elias

Hola a todos! My name is Andreas, from Denmark. I joined Hatzalah Colombia to learn how to save a life! i work in a big telemarketing office, and many times someone get injured, sometimes bad, and i...

hatzalah team

I wanted to be a nurse since I was a kid, did apply last year but had more than 2000 people applying and the school only accept 145 students, so unfortunately I did not get in. The student advise told...

dog in an ambulance

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