Although Colombia has come a long way over the past decade, the country is still very much in need of the help provided by international volunteers. The country may have gained quite a bad international reputation, mainly due to the ongoing internal conflicts, but the Government has gone to great lengths to improve the nation’s safety and foreigners are now welcomed with open arms.
There are numerous volunteering opportunities in Colombia, both in the big cities and in the rural areas. Many schools are in need of skilled teachers who can educate the children on a wide range of subjects, from English to mathematics and from sports to music. Volunteers can also opt for childcare programs, which involve spending time with orphaned children at local centres. Other volunteering opportunities include feeding the homeless or caring for the elderly. Those who like to get their hands dirty can opt for a volunteering project in house building and renovating.
Most volunteering agencies will offer participants lodging, meals, orientation classes and sometimes even Spanish courses, in exchange for a certain fee. You could find a programme with a lower fee by contacting a local Colombian volunteering agency, as opposed to working with an international organisation. However, you will be required to make quite a number of arrangements on your own, such as reserving flight fares or obtaining a visa and travel insurance.
The requirements for a volunteering programme vary according to the agency that is organising it, but, in general, you have to be over 18 years old and have a high school diploma. Most volunteering programmes in Colombia last between 1 week and 6 months.