From the candy-colored buildings to the vibrant exuberance of Carnaval, Colombia sings joy into the world. This South American nation is also a wealth of natural beauty, from lush forests and waterfalls to coastal regions populated with diverse marine life. If you’re looking for a meaningful cultural experience volunteering, Colombia is a wonderful place to go. From teaching English to children to helping the elderly receive dignified care, there are a lot of ways that you can make a difference in Colombia. Here are some things to know when choosing a program that will connect you with meaningful work in Colombia.
Know Before You Go
Between 2002 and 2014, more than 6 million Colombians moved out of poverty and into the middle class. As the country shifts from its years-long conflict and into a new era of prosperity, its economic situation is looking more optimistic than it has in a generation. That being said, there are still people in Colombia who are living in poverty and can benefit from volunteers with niche skills, such as teaching English and providing medical care. In fact, as the economy has improved for many residents, hundreds of new organizations have cropped up that seek to promote peace and provide essential services.
Colombia is a democracy run by a president, senate, and house of representatives. The country has a strong trade relationship with the United States and annually imports foods such as bananas and coffee to the US. Speaking of the latter, you can expect to find yourself in the middle of a strong coffee culture during your time in Colombia. The food staples in the country include rice, red beans, ground beef, and plantains.
The climate in Colombia is dictated by altitude. Along the coast and in the north, you will experience tropical conditions. If you venture into the Andes Mountains or other high altitudes, expect cooler conditions and snow.