Bolivia

Projects Abroad

I came from Canada and did a solo trip so I really didn't know what to expect; lots of nervousness in preparation. That feeling quickly subsided with the incredible helpful staff from project abroad (PA) who gave me guidance in many areas including travel insurance set-up and recommended flights.

The actual trip was even greater. Though I was only there for 2 weeks, I managed to make a bunch of memories and friends with people from all over the world in our host family's accommodation. The host family was set-up from the workers from PA who gave me a thorough description of the home I would be staying in. They made sure to double-check if I had any questions continuously throughout the trip and made themselves available on demand.

The city was beautiful (Cochabamba) and it was well-guided my first few days to figure out the intricacies of the city along with the routes to work.

Could not be happier with my trip and highly recommend using PA for any future endeavours.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Oct 13, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9

Projects Abroad

I am a college student and I wanted to do some kind of service project during my winter break. It was easy to find a project that pertained to my interest areas on Project Abroad's website. I knew I wanted to do something with general care, and I speak Spanish, so going somewhere in South America seemed like a great option! I decided on a care project in Cochabamba, Bolivia where I would volunteer in an orphanage for children with various disabilities. Once I had chosen my project, Projects Abroad staff immediately contacted me about the next steps in booking my trip! After various emails, there were clear and detailed instructions on booking flights, applying for a VISA, getting a criminal background check, etc., which was all necessary before my departure. All of these steps were fairly easy as everything was essentially laid out for me, which was great! I even had the Projects Abroad travel agent book my flights based on the schedule I requested, so that was something else I didn't have to worry about.
When the time for my departure came, every detail about the work I would be doing at my placement, as well as, the family I would be staying with was all on my Projects Abroad website. It made me feel more secure about my trip and I felt relieved knowing what to expect. Once I got to Cochabamba, a staff from the team there greeted me at the airport. It was very easy for us to find each other and I had no issue waiting around. He then took me to my home and I met my family. I was given two days rest to adjust to the new culture and lifestyle and get to know the family I would be staying with for two weeks. After those two days, the staff member who greeted me at the airport showed me around the city and I was able to change money, get to know other volunteers, and the route I would be taking to and from my placement.
The first day volunteering at the orphanage was pretty crazy! The staff member from Projects Abroad seemed to know the site and its staff pretty well, and he stayed with me for an hour or so until I got used to the environment. From then on I was on my own! It was incredible seeing how fast the children warmed up to me and how much they enjoyed my presence. I loved playing with them, and doing some kinds of coloring activities. It was sad that I could only stay for such a short time, and I wish I can go back to Cochabamba and continue my work with the orphanage or another Projects Abroad assignment! It was an experience I will never forget.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Jan 15, 2016
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
9

Projects Abroad

Over the summer I worked in a burn unit with kids in Bolivia. It was an experience I will never forget. I was able to get hands on experience with the kids right away even though I am still an undergrad in the US! It was amazing being able to stretch and massage the burns while also being able to get to know the kids and their stories. These kids were the happiest, sweetest kids I could have hoped to work for.

Outside of work I was able to travel with other volunteers during the weekend. I'm so glad Projects Abroad organized events every Thursday so that throughout my stay I was continuously meeting new volunteers from around the world. I think one of the best nights Projects Abroad organized was learning salsa because a week later I went to a salsa club and was able to use what I learned!

My host family from the very beginning was extremely welcoming. They showed me where they shopped, prepared different traditional Bolivian meals everyday and always was ready to share a story with me. The family helped make the transition to the Bolivian lifestyle very smooth because they knew when all the events were happening around the city and had great advice to give me when I traveled.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Aug 25, 2015
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

My name is Jan and I participated in a Medical Internship program for Projects Abroad, Overall it was an incredible experience. Let me begin with talking about staff support. The staff was very friendly and was available to answer any of your questions no matter what time of the day it was. They were also very helpful in getting you comfortable with traveling around the city by yourself. Another great thing that they did was hold volunteer activities every week. In these gatherings, all of the volunteers would come together and participate in a fun activity such as volleyball, Salsa lessons, or music lessons. This really help on get to know the other volunteers and build a close friend group.
The volunteer community is great. Everyone is very friendly and willing to explore. On the weekends we would travel and get to know the country. It was great that I was able to travel and explore with other people.
The other great part about his project was the host family placement. I was placed with a host mom that was very loving and caring. She cooked, watched telenovellas, and laughed with me. I felt very comfortable.
Overall, it was an extraordinary experience. I learned a lot about the country and myself.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Aug 24, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
7

Projects Abroad

I participated in Projects Abroad High School Summer Medical Special in Bolivia. I am interested in the medical field so I thought this would be a great way to expand my knowledge, which it definitely did. We did medical workshops almost everyday along with activities to help the community. Some of the work we did included spending time with children at a burns unit and just giving them someone to talk to. Another day we went and learned traditional Bolivian dances at a retirement home for one of the resident's birthdays. Among these rewarding experiences, we got real experience in a medical environment that wouldn't be possible elsewhere! I spent one morning observing a consultation doctor's office, and the afternoon in the emergency room watching emergency procedures. We even got to watch a dental surgery. What made it even better was that the group of people I was with were all very friendly and equally as enthusiastic about all the great work we did. Plus, I got to stay with an amazing family which made my Spanish much better! I'm so happy with the time I spent in Bolivia and will never forget the great memories and experiences that I made there!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Jul 21, 2015
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

Quest Overseas

Absolutely incredible company to travel with!! I went on the 6 week Andean Expedition through Peru and Bolivia and it couldn't have been better. We travelled so much and saw so much of the countries, from desert, snow capped mountains, rainforest, canyons, volcanoes and beautiful cities.We also got to visit and help out at the Quest volunteering sites in Lima and the Amazon rainforest. Our leaders were experienced and very knowledgeable of the countries and we always felt safe and got to see the non-tourist routes and interesting places to eat. For the price of the trip and having everything included, the value for money was brilliant. I would recommend the company to everyone. They have an amazing itinerary and approachable staff, also supplying great travel insurance in with the price, I strongly recommend them to anyone.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Bolivia, Peru
Posted: Aug 31, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Canada World Youth

Terribly organized and after studying International Development for 4 years it is a joke to call their work development. I was treated as if I were still in high school and I had just graduated from university - any sense of independence or freedom is stripped from you. I did a lot of sitting around doing nothing, both in group settings and at my volunteer placement because of the way things were run. It was a cheap way to travel since from the 3200 you are supposed to 'fundraise' your flight, accommodation, and food is paid for and you get an allowance - if they give it to you. There are so many better ways to travel inexpensively and would not recommend taking the time to do this program!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Jun 26, 2014
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
2

Volunteers for Peace

One of the strongest memories of my trip to Cochabamba was the first day we spent helping a local farmer clear an area for a garden. At that point we had been joined by several local Bolivian volunteers, two guys from Chile, and a couple from France—it was a true, multi-cultural team effort. Afterward, we compiled an organic meal of avocados, tomatoes, eggs, onions, peas, and various other materials pulled from the land. We sat and talked, while others napped, and shared stories from our respective countries. It was a day that I will not soon forget.

I’m not one to ever feel lonely in a new place, but I’ll admit I was homesick the first two days in Cochabamba. It was less of a culture shock to me because I had been to South America before and was aware of what to expect, but there was a slight miscommunication between the head of the organization and myself, which left me feeling out of place.

Despite that minor setback, I was resolved to make the experience worthwhile. The whole group went back up into the mountains the next day to help out the same indigenous farmer we had helped earlier, but this time we were tasked with tilling a pre-existing garden and to begin setting a natural rock foundation for an eventual house. Again, despite being from very different countries with very different cultures and languages, we worked together to complete the task assigned to us and had a pretty fun time doing it as well.

I would tell every future volunteer that there will be lonely moments, especially if you aren’t fluent or at least advanced in the native tongue, but stick it through until the very end regardless of what happens. That’s what happened to me and I’m very glad I gutted through the difficult times. I can say now that I'm a better person because of it.

I chose the project in Bolivia for several reasons. The first being my desire to help others through meaningful volunteer work. The second was a desire to continue my education in Spanish culture and language. I certainly feel like I received a healthy dose of both meaningful work and immersion in Cochabamba.

As I mentioned before, I’ve volunteered in South American before and I was familiar with just how curious and amicable rural, hard working South American people can be. Having said that, I think I learned more from the other volunteers than I did the people of Bolivia. We stayed up late on more than one occasion debating economics, foreign policy, and various other aspects of our respective countries. Some discussions were productive and others not so much, but I think all of us came away learning something about ourselves as well as our fellow volunteers.

I would be remiss if I spoke nothing to the professionalism and passion of the Volunteers For Peace Organization. When things for me seemed to not be going as planned I considered an early departure, but a random and well-timed call from a VFP coordinator put me back into the right frame of mind. I'm confident that when the next opportunity to volunteer abroad presents itself to me, I'll sign up with Volunteers For Peace.

All the Best,
Clark

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Feb 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

NGO Abroad

When my daughter and I were looking for a volunteer opportunity we had a number of specific requirements: we only had two weeks; we wanted to work in Latin America; we wanted to work in health care; and we wanted a program that could accommodate (a 48 year old physician) and my daughter (an 18 year old high school graduate).

Shortly after sending our information to Ann at NGO Abroad and completing the questionnaire, she called us and spent time making sure she understood who we were and what we expected. Within days, she contacted us with the name of an organization that fit all of our criteria perfectly.

We have just returned from two weeks doing meaningful, rewarding work in Bolivia. We both felt we made a useful contribution and learned a whole lot about Bolivian culture and way of life. The organizers of the NGO we volunteered with met us at the airport and took us to our host family, where we were welcomed and made comfortable.

We spent our days working with other volunteers and the Bolivian staff visiting street kids and homeless youth with a mobile school that we took with us and which allowed us to interact positively with some of the most marginalized and impoverished people I have ever met. While the lessons were being conducted, I had the chance to do some basic medical assessments and distribute basic medications and vitamin supplements. My daughter and I cleaned and dressed some of the wounds that are an inevitable consequence of life on the street. We also had the chance to do some health teaching, which was well received by the kids.

Aside from the sometimes harsh realities and difficult circumstances we witnessed, there were no surprises and nothing left to chance. We felt well looked after and left Bolivia with positive memories, feeling like we had had the opportunity to meet some remarkable and admirable people -- not just the volunteers and NGO staff, but the resilient, homeless youth that they devote themselves to caring for.

I would highly recommend NGO Abroad if you're looking to find a meaningful, unforgettable experience volunteering overseas that can make the best use of what you have to offer.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Nov 27, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Ecolibrium Sustainable Adventures

If you are considering volunteering your time with Ecolibirum Adventures, please read this review.I believe that people who are already dedicating their money and time to volunteering should not be profited from. I found Ecolibrium Adventures through a mutual friend and made my first mistake by assuming this translated to trust. The founder spoke with me and addressed most of the stigma's about volunteering abroad and did a superb job convincing me that Ecolibrium was different. By the time I got off the phone with her, the questions I determined as key to going were answered and I made my payment. A week later I was on a flight that costed me $3000, to make a difference. After a 24 hour journey to Bolivia I started to find the expectations set by Ecolibrium were falling short. I was promised a detailed itinerary and still did not have it as I landed in a foreign country. I flew on a Friday at her advice and was told I would be taken around and my weekend would pass quickly and I would be more cultured. I arrived at the headmaster's school 2 hours after landing to be told to come back the next day for my first Spanish class and since I had this class scheduled I would not be able to join their weekend activities. I walked back to the apartment jet-lagged and weary and unable to reach Ecolibrium or get on the Internet (I was told finding Internet cafes was the easiest thing and that everyone had wi-fi yet I could not find even one cafe). The next day I waited an hour for the Spanish teacher who did not show up and found out later that she was not informed by the headmaster I had a lesson with her. Monday, my first day of school, the headmaster showed up an half hour late (and did not pick up my calls) and told me volunteers pay for her bus fare. We took an hour bus journey beyond the outskirts of town and she left right after handing a folder to the (other volunteer) teacher. It was shared that I had a background in teaching but after 10 minutes in the classroom I was signaled to follow the teacher and spent until lunch time peeling peas. Many other incidents followed similarly, and by the end of a short 2 week period every question I posed for Ecolibrium and every expectation was not met. Some disappointments were minor while others directly affected me such as how the city was shutdown for Carnival (and I had clearly told her my intention was to maximize my volunteer time, leaving me with 6 days of volunteering) or about being vegetarian (she said there would be abundances of restaurants though I barely found a vegetarian restaurant), or how easy it would be to reach her or get online, or the feeling that I was being exploited when my ride to the airport was included but the headmaster only confirmed it late the night before and informed me I needed to pay for the taxi that picked her up than me and dropped her back off after she "took" me to the airport. What probably hurt the most was my concern for where the money would go which Ecolibrium collected from me. I did a quick analysis and found there must have been a 40-50% markup and when I addressed it, I was informed the profit made was 'fair' to the work involved in organizing a trip. It does not take a lot of money to get by in South America. Overall, I felt the expectations set by Ecolibrium exceeded my dream volunteering experience. The actual support provided and fees charged for it (and the fact that my my trip was planned on the fly by Ecolibrium) fell short of making it the experience it could and should have been. If you are going to volunteer, do not rush into it, ask all the due questions, do not assume everything the organization tells you is going to happen, and explore choices beyond Ecolibirum. These experiences are meant to be memorable, make effective change, and not create bigger gaps between the poor and wealthy.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Bolivia
Posted: Oct 16, 2012
Overall:
4
Support:
3
Value:
2

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