How to Volunteer in Colombia

Colombia es pasión, Colombia es progresión! It only takes a few glances upon the warm, smiling faces of Colombia’s 44,000,000 citizens to understand the pride felt by Colombians for their country today. Following nearly forty years of insecurity, Colombia has emerged in the last decade into a leading Latin America country. Medellin itself is now considered one of the safest cities in Latin America. The only risk is wanting to stay! 

Colombia is one of the real up and coming places to volunteer abroad and is now very safe to visit. Colombia was in the news in the 1980's and 1990's because of various drug and social problems which really didn't help its image as a tourist destination but in the last decade that has all changed. There has been large scale investment into Colombia in recent years and the security situation has improved dramatically. This country also has impressive beaches, great cuisine and a lively nightlife. There is something for everyone and compared to other countries to volunteer in South America you will find Colombia very safe. It is also a lot less touristy compared to other countries in this continent but this is a good thing as there are lots of opportunities to get off the beaten track.

Please don't be put off by negative stories in the past. You can immerse yourself in the culture of the county and do more than just sightseeing by applying to volunteer. When you fly into Colombia you will be able to feel the warmth of the local people and if you speak basic Spanish this can really make your experience volunteering here more enjoyable (view our Spanish language courses in Colombia).

One of the benefits of spending time working in Colombia is being able to see both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, visit both and see which is your favourite. There are now currently global advertising campaigns promoting Colombia all around the world and millions of people visit every year, so what are you waiting for, apply to volunteer - you won't regret it!


Country Profile:

  • Population: 44.2 million
  • Religion: 90% Roman Catholic, 10% Other
  • Language: Spanish
  • Poverty Line: 47% of people live below the poverty line


Why the Need for Assistance

Despite Colombia’s newfound levels of peace and prosperity, Colombia still bears many scars from the past. Nearly 10% of Colombia’s population has been displaced due to the many years of armed conflict, making it the country with the second highest level of internal displacement in the world.

In addition to displacement, one in every three Colombians has in some way been negatively affected by the armed conflict. Colombia also suffers from great wealth disparity, leaving much of the country in poverty. In fact, one fifth of the population lives on less than two dollars per day, and nearly half of the Colombian work force derives income from the small scale informal economy, working as street vendors and garbage recyclers.


Location of Projects

Most projects can be found in the larger cities including:

There are also opportunities available in rural areas of the country.


Community Volunteer Programs in Colombia

Colombia has seen dramatic improvement in recent years but there is still visible poverty in the country. There are approximately 35% of people living below the poverty line and you can play a role in improving life for the poorest members of society. Popular options include joining group building and construction projects where you can help communities especially in rural areas. There are also options to help homeless people by working in community centers cooking food and helping people in need. On these programs you will get to share your ideas and learn new skills


Volunteer with Animals in Colombia

Approximately 10% of the world’s species are found in Colombia, boasting more endemic species than any other country on the planet. This country has a beautiful natural environmental and there are options to work in places like the Andes and the stunning Amazon rainforest. These placements are perfect if you are looking to experience life outdoors and you can play a role in help local organisations which fight illegal logging and poaching. Some NGO's aim to help sustainable tourism and the environment through awareness and eco tourism. You can also join marine conservation projects where you will get to go scuba diving and help protect marine animals like sea turtles.


Medical & Healthcare Volunteer Programs in Colombia

Gain medical and healthcare work experience working in hospitals and helping children affected by HIV and Aids. These placements can be quite emotional and so you will need to be ready for this. There are spots for both skilled and un-skilled participants. In the last few years Colombia has introduced free universal healthcare to its citizens but there are still people who need help from disadvantaged backgrounds or who live too far away from medical institutions. As a healthcare working in Colombia you will get to help prevent and help people with HIV, yellow fever and malaria.


Conservation & Agriculture Projects

The Choco Bioregion is a world reservoir of biodiversity which runs from Panama to Ecuador, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Andean mountain range. Some organisations have a two-fold mission which is: to communicate the natural wealth of this bio-diverse hotspot, and to create awareness about increased poverty levels and marginalization of its inhabitants. They are devoted to the sustainable use of natural resources and the life quality enhancement of the people of the Bio-geographic Choco region. For over ten years, our partners have been working in 3 main areas which include fair and green markets, communication and environmental education and capacity building.


Volunteer in Colombia for Free

You can choose from free and low cost projects which are available through local NGO's and charities but you can also apply through an international sending agency which will be a more structured experience. 


Eligibility & How to Apply

Wondering if you can participate if you don’t speak Spanish? We recommend you try to pick up the basics. You will learn. In a very short amount of time you will learn the basics for getting around the city, buying your own food and taking your transport. Your exchange manager will assist you with this, and you will find you will build your confidence in speaking the basics of Spanish that you need in a short amount of time.

Search our featured projects or contact local NGO;s, charities and organisations - there are start dates start dates throughout the year and you can apply in advance to join a program through our website in the next 2 years. If you are worried about safety or would like everything planning for you then a group program through an international organisation is a good option. They will always be help available in country and via telephone if there are any emergencies.


Colombia Volunteer Reviews

Have you ever been to volunteer in Colombia? Would you like to review an organisation or project? Contact us with your testimonials.


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