UL Buddy Programme Autumn 2018
International Education Division, UL
Volunteering with us in Bolivia will inspire you, make you laugh & will bring you a new perspective on life. It is in this project that all of life happens - from the youngest to the eldest, the whole community is represented here. There is amazing support & great friendships have been forged here, often in the most difficult of life circumstances.
This fantastic project reaches out to those in greatest need, families on the edge, young people living rough, addicts & street children. It brings them all into a place of hope, understanding and acceptance. The staff provide education, micro-finance opportunities, sports & most of all a sense of belonging.
Spanish lessons are included to help you learn or improve your Spanish skills while you help those in need, and have the adventure of your life!
This is an amazing way to experience the true Bolivian way of life and to get right to the heart of some of the issues that face the poorest communities in Latin America. The staff team here have established a great work that is reaching out to the street children, the homeless & those at risk of offending. It is a project with immense heart and compassion, and a place that will inspire you for years to come.
The needs of the communities in Bolivia are immense, it is the least developed country in Latin America and unlike its' wealthier neighbour Brazil it does not have a share in the wealth that comes from intense tourism to boost the economy. As a result those who are lacking within the communities are often left to fend for themselves, the projects that do exist to support them struggle to find the resources to keep their good work going and so this is where your time with our project can really make a difference.
The project team works in communities on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Cochabamba is a rapidly growing city and the new immigrants to the city tend to establish, either legally or illegally, communities on the edge of the city. Initially, these new neighborhoods lack public infrastructure and the “favela” style homes lack basic facilities such as water, sewers and electricity. Over time, some of the infrastructure issues improve as the communities become more established and the state-run systems begin to operate, but social problems often remain.
The people living in these communities are usually from very poor backgrounds and have come seeking work. Many of the adults are illiterate, work long hours for low wages and are frequently absent for long periods.
The children suffer from a lack of attention and they lack positive role models. Their families are unable to assist with their formal education. Children and adolescents are often required to work and many are left to fend for themselves or are expected to care for younger siblings – in extreme cases you will see 5 year olds looking after 3 year olds for 8 hours at a time.
The primary goals of all of the projects here are therefore:
To provide a safe environment for at least a part of the day
To remove some of the burden of responsibility and allow kids to be kids
To teach and demonstrate values that are at the core of a healthy society
To assist with and augment formal education to improve future prospects
The classroom is equipped by the team and provides essential learning materials for the kids. Each day each child also receives a healthy snack and drinking water that most do not have access to at home.
Typically, in each location, a team of around eight staff and volunteers will work with a group of up to 40 infants, children and adolescents aged between 2 and 17. Although we have rules (made by the kids themselves) and the day has some structure, this is not a traditional school environment.
The children participate on a voluntary basis – they come because they enjoy it and are treated well.
Each day the team offer a program of activities that are both educational and fun for the different age groups. The program needs to be flexible as many kids have other extracurricular activities and responsibilities so you never know who will show up or what special assistance they might need.
Whilst based here as well as the usual provision of accommodation, food, support & training you will also receive Spanish lessons to help you improve your communication skills. This truly is an experience like no other and an opportunity to bring your willing hands and fresh ideas to help a community project that is having a fantastic impact.
You will receive: Airport collection / drop off; Accommodation; Food (3 meals per day apart from weekends); City tour; 24/7 Support; Training; Spanish lessons and more.
2 weeks €600
1 month €1053
2 months €1621
3 months €2154
Is training provided?: Yes
Please note that Garda Vetting is required for this position.
Tasks that the volunteer(s) will be expected to undertake:
During your time in Bolivia you will have opportunity to get involved in a wide range of aspects of the projects' work, depending on your skills and interests. The areas you can assist in include:
Although most children in secondary school have English lessons, they rarely get the opportunity to hear or speak with native English speakers. The team have fun ways to get them speaking, singing and playing games in English.
Many of the children are already bilingual in Spanish and an indigenous language and have the potential to learn English. They are also exposed to the English language through popular culture and the internet and, in many cases, motivated to learn. However, many parents and even their teachers do not take the subject very seriously and lack the skills to help.
The team therefore try and build the self-confidence and communication skills of the children by encouraging them to speak and understand spoken English. Due to the dynamic nature of the group, you will use a variety of techniques and teaching aids including games, songs and movies.
Please contact us if you are interested to volunteer teaching English in Latin America as we are always looking for people with excellent spoken English who can come up with interesting ways to inspire the kids to learn.
Health and Nutrition:
Many of the children live in communities or housing that lack clean water for drinking. Their diet is often very poor and hygiene standards are generally low. The programme tries to improve the immediate situation for the kids and educate them so they can better look after their own health.
The combination of poor diet and inadequate sanitary conditions put the kids at high risk of both chronic and acute diseases and infections which are entirely preventable. For a variety of reasons, healthcare is not always accessible. Sadly, the children you will work with are also in the high-risk category for physical and psychological abuse. Careful attention is given to appropriate care and support in these cases and you will be advised of the procedures on a weekly basis to ensure that each volunteer and staff member is clear on how to effectly care and work with these vulnerable children.
Each day, for each child attending they are provided with (bottled) drinking water and a healthy snack – fruit, vegetables, eggs, high fibre biscuits etc. They also receive soap and water so each child can wash their hands before eating.
There are regular workshops delivered along with local professionals on different aspects of health – dental hygiene, healthy eating, personal hygiene etc.
The are also regular sessions with the kids aimed at preventing violence and other forms of abuse. The kids should know their rights and responsibilities and should know what to do if they feel their rights are being infringed upon.
The staff team also act as a watchdog. They monitor physical, emotional or behavioral changes that might indicate a problem and intervene if they feel that a child is in need of professional help. They maintain a local network of health and legal professionals who will offer services without charge and there is an emergency fund that will pay for essential medical and other services that the families cannot afford.
Various streets and bridges of Cochabamba have become places of refuge for children and young people who run away from their homes at an early age. Many children from poor families end up on the streets in an attempt to escape from extreme poverty, situations of abuse and violence at home, or as a result of losing a parent or other family members. When ending up on the street, the children are easily accepted by the group in equal conditions. Moreover, they face serious problems such as drug addiction, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and social discrimination.
We believe that sport can be a step of getting children and young people off the street. It is therapy, it helps to keep them away from drugs and increases their self-esteem. You will help the project to coach football / soccer three times a week.
One of the problems faced by the children living in poor communities is that there is simply little time or encouragement for the children to learn skills and demonstrate talents that are not immediately “useful” or lie outside the formal school curriculum.
These gaps are filled by running projects which, although they might not have precise goals for knowledge acquisition or skills attainment, captivate, entertain and inspire the children and at the same time reinforce the core values that underlay all programmes work. These sessions help to uncover and develop talents for art, music, acting, dancing, etc. that may otherwise lay dormant.
Where possible the team also try to augment the teaching of important subjects such as mathematics, sciences, geography, etc. as without parental encouragement, the children are not stimulated to learn and lack role models.
Some examples of projects undertaken to date include:
A theatre production with the children and volunteers doing set design and construction; props and costume design and manufacture; learning lines, stage directions and rehearsing; sound effects; promotional materials; refreshments for the audience; and of course the big day when the parents and community members were treated to the show.
A musical production of the Lion King along the same lines, but with song and dance added.
A project exploring the geography of Bolivia with emphasis on the different climate zones and the various flora and fauna to be found in each.
A project to design, build and fly some “rocket candy” powered rockets. This involved constructing and decorating the airframes; mixing fuel; building and charging motors; preparing the launch site; and, on the big day, counting down (in English of course) and sending them arcing into the sky.
Singing, dancing, percussion and guitar classes.
A mini-Olympics involving teams of children of mixed ages training, practicing and competing against each other in multiple disciplines.
Cycling classes. Thanks to a donation, we have a number of kids bikes of different sizes and teach the small ones how to ride, the larger ones how to ride responsibly and how to maintain and repair the bicycles.
The ideas behind these projects usually come from the volunteers and, as well as helping the children, they give opportunities for the local and for you as an international volunteer to exercise your creativity, showcase your talents, plan and take responsibility for a significant project.
Skills required for this role:
Open heart and flexibility. Some basic Spanish ability would be an advantage but not essential.
Details of time commitment needed for role:
2 week minimum service. Available year round.
Minimum time commitment per week:
10+ hour p/week
Additional screening required for this role:
Interview over Skype, 2 references.
If you have any questions about this role please feel free to get in touch:
Name: Rachael Murphy
Address: Agape Adventures, Shiloh House, Co Wexford
StudentVolunteer.ie enables students to have the opportunity to: enrich your personal development and employability skills, have a fun experience, meet new people, and give back to your community. Sign up now.Register Now