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 31 - 45 of 47 programs
Venture with Impact
Venture with Impact Program
Multiple Countries

Venture with Impact is a coworking program that engages professionals...

Connections
Teach English and Volunteer in Colombia
Colombia

Teachers in our program receive FREE accommodation, FREE Spanish...

Ecos Spanish School
Volunteering at Ecos Spanish School (Cartagena, Colombia)
Colombia

The informal volunteering program led by ECOS Spanish School in...

Amazon Pueblo
English Instruction Volunteer Program in Colombia
Colombia

Volunteers may teach English as a second language to the villagers...

Environmental volunteer at Bioparque La Reserva - Colombia
Environmental volunteer at Bioparque La Reserva - Colom
Colombia

Join our environmental volunteer community! This is an excellent...

Domino Volunteers
Join Community Organizations to Support Underserved Youth in Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia

Work alongside local social work professionals and educators to create...

Minga House Foundation
Volunteer Programs - Colombia
Colombia

Often times, individuals find themselves exploring Colombia...

Domino Volunteers
Assist with Girls Empowerment Workshops & Advocacy in Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia

Machismo culture is thriving throughout much of Cartagena, a UNESCO...

Los Técnicos
Alternative Building in Colombia
Colombia

This build will take place from January 15th through June 1st, 2014 in...

Domino Volunteers
Innovate Alongside Waste Management & Recycling Social Enterprises in Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia

A very small percentage of Cartagena households and businesses recycle...

Juliana's Animal Sanctuary - Food Yoga Academy
Animal Caretaker at Colombia's only Animal Sanctuary
Colombia

Come and help us care for our protected animals, including a cow, ox...

Minga House Foundation
Emergency Medicine - Paramedics Ride-along
Colombia

Opportunities to train and share with Colombian paramedics will offer...

Nukanti Foundation
Teach English in Columbia All Internal Expenses Paid
Colombia

Pack your bags and come to Colombia! Come see where much of the world...

Domino Volunteers
Teach at a Public School in Cartagena, Colombia
Colombia

This is an ideal position for those looking for hands-on teaching...

Fundación de la Santa Cruz
Free Cost Volunteer After School Program Instructor
Colombia

Responsibilities: - Design engaging and comprehensive English and...

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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