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Volunteering opportunities in Bogotá: my unique perspective

Volunteering program
Audria Sarmiento

Audria Sarmiento

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, scientist by trade, but inspirationally passionate about volunteering and traveling. I have volunteered in seven countries, travelled to 48. Colombia is a very special place for me not only its culture, but most importantly, amazing people.

Volunteering in Bogotá is one of the best ways to interact with local people and to experience and learn about its culture!

My first experience in Bogota was in 2014, volunteering with Emerging Voices. Colombia was the fourth country I volunteered in and the projects, people, and culture is what kept me coming back. 5 years later, I still find my way back to this phenomenal country.  What kind of volunteering are you interested in? There are many large organizations where you can volunteer with such as the Red CrossUNICEF, and YMCA. The great thing with Emerging Voices, is that you have the flexibility to work with as many projects you are interested in and for how long you, please. Read on to learn more about Emerging Voices, and the different projects available.

Emerging Voices is very unique and will leave you with unforgettable experiences that will keep you coming back. 

Emerging Voices is a local Colombian non-profit organization with its first pilot project launched in 2007. Its mission is to work to develop culturally sensitive projects that will enrich the lives of those whom they serve and for their volunteers. Since it’s a pilot project in 2007, Emerging Voices has grown into one of the most reputable, safest, and most affordable places to volunteer in South America. There are various projects that are aimed to cater to both the local communities and for volunteers from all cultures and backgrounds. Let’s take a peek into the projects that Emerging Voices offer. 

Childcare—The littlest interactions can make the biggest impact

This project is for those who love to be around children—especially toddlers and babies! Emerging voices works with a local foundation that serves as a transitory home that aims to ensure the right to life for pregnant mothers who have decided to give up their children for adoption. Volunteers have the opportunity to interact with the children and help them with homework, teach English, play games, and feed and care for the babies. This project is really incredible, to have the opportunity to interact and play with adorable babies, and to see toddlers help to care for the babies is absolutely heart-melting. 

Volunteering in Bogotá
© Photograph by Audria Sarmiento

Feeding the Homeless— ½ a cup of smiles, ½ a cup of happiness 

© Photograph by Audria Sarmiento

There are multiple projects that emerging voices partnered with for feeding the homeless. If you want to deal with packaged foods, one can volunteer at a local food bank, where volunteers can help collect, sort, and make small food packages to be dispersed. Another project that runs in every morning is with another local foundation.  Volunteers get to help prepare, cook, and serve local Colombian food to about 70-120 people every day. If you want to dedicate your Saturday evening preparing, cooking, and serving food to people in various parts of Bogota that would almost be impossible to visit without the recognition and escort of local staff of this partnered project. Volunteering in the morning or Saturday night projects are really unique experiences and one of my preferred projects because you really get hands-on experience and while you help prepare the meals, you learn a lot about local Colombian ingredients and food. The best part of the project is seeing people enjoy the meals you helped cook. 

Working with vulnerable adolescent boys—Motivation and inspiration can go a long way!

© Photograph by Audria Sarmiento

Emerging voices is partnered with a local foundation that houses and supports adolescent teens between the age of 7-17. Volunteers have an opportunity to help motivate the boys by helping them learn English, work in arts and crafts, science experiments, sports, games, cooking, and learning about different countries and cultures in the world. The boys at Mama Yolanda love how volunteers help motivate and inspire them to stay out of trouble. One thing I really appreciate about this project is how the boys are very open and accepting to the inspiration and mentorship volunteers share with them. I remember I did a couple of fun interacting science experiments with the boys and it sparked their curiosities and a lot of them gained a new appreciation for science!

Working with the elderly—Reading a book, painting their nails, or even a dance.

Volunteering with elders
© Photograph by Audria Sarmiento

Emerging voices is partnered with two foundations for working with the Elderly. One is a non-profit that works towards eradicating poverty and assist vulnerable people of all ages. Volunteers will have the opportunity to help prepare hot meals for approximately 70 people. Along with preparing the meals, volunteers have an opportunity to spend time with the abuelitas (grandmothers) for most of them do not have family or have a family but hardly visits. Another project volunteers can work with is provides homes for abuelitas who are found in the streets in Bogota, most of the abuelitas are abandoned from their family because they suffer from a wide range of illnesses such as blindness, deafness, muteness, arthritis, dementia and other day-to-day illnesses. There is never a dull moment volunteering here, volunteers find themselves keeping the elderly company, taking them out on walks, help feed the abuelitas, and play cards, dance, and or read to the abuelitas. What I really enjoy about this project is the kindness and innocence of the abuelitas. The simple task of talking with them and dancing with them really brightens up their day.

Construction and Renovation—Made with Love and Care

© Photograph by Audria Sarmiento

If you are the type of volunteer that likes to get your hands dirty, construction and renovation is the project for you! There are always ongoing projects with construction and renovation. Depending on what current projects are happening, volunteers have a wide range of activities from getting down and dirty with constructing the foundation of a community center to painting a finishing project. Just to give you an idea of what projects Emerging Voices helped construct are a computer lab, a playground, a football field, and a gymnasium. When I wanted a break from being in the bustling city of Bogota, I would choose this project and it is really a wonderful experience working hand-in-hand with local community members, putting your heart into the work both you and them are doing. 

How to Volunteer with Emerging Voices or with other projects around the world!

Now that you have a better idea of some awesome volunteer opportunities that Emerging Voices offer, if you are interested in volunteering in Bogota, you can register at International volunteer HQ—IVHQ. IVHQ is the worldwide leader in volunteering abroad at an affordable price and attracts people from all over the world. IVHQ has over 40 volunteer abroad projects in countries all across Africa, Asia, South America, Central America, North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. 

My journey for volunteering started seven years ago, and since then I have never stopped. Volunteering is something that I am very passionate about and truly enjoy. Volunteering in Bogotá has by far given me the best experiences and I know I will be coming back again next year, and who knows, maybe we will have the opportunity to volunteer together one day! 

Keep reading our articles to know much more about Bogotá and all it offers! Visit our homepage here.

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