Bolivia is the highest and most remote country of Latin America. Its geographical and climatic regions range from snow capped Andean mountains to immense low-lying savannas and jungles. It has a large native Indian population that has preserved its indigenous languages and much of its traditional life style. Santa Cruz (or Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is the second most populous city in Bolivia. It is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country. Comparable to the capital city of La Paz and other major Bolivian cities located high in the Andes, Santa Cruz is situated at an altitude of 416 meters (1365 feet), and its climate is distinctly tropical. The city has preserved an attractive frontier feel, with palm trees, beautiful colonial buildings, open markets, and friendly people.
About the project
Established in 1996, the Orphanage is a non-profit organization that provides a community service in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. All of its government funds and donations go to benefit orphaned and abandoned children in Bolivia. Their mission is to provide support for the development of orphans and neglected children. The orphanage operates "villages" that offer a secure, lasting, and protected upbringing with a suitable education to facilitate future employment and self sufficiency.
The children's villages consist of individual family units, each lodging a mixed gender group of 10-12 children of various ages. Each house is managed independently by a foster mother. Each unit provides the environment of a traditional family with a mother and siblings, and related siblings are kept together. The children that grow up in these villages are raised and taught in school based on strong moral and religious principles.
Once the children have reached age 15-16 and completed middle school, they live in divided boys' and girls' residences. Most of them will go on to study a technical or professional career, and a few will even continue to higher education at the University. Each child makes their own career decision based their individual talents and intellect.
Volunteer work and contribution
As a volunteer you will be involved in the following work tasks:
Working in the kitchen, cleaning, washing dishes, etc
Assisting children with homework.
Joining in the activities and experiences of the children who live in the project.
Helping children with their personal care and hygiene.
Preparing workshops - informal education such as handcrafts, English, art, music, theatre, etc.
Taking the children to the park, market, zoo, etc.
Playing games with the kids or engaging them in entertaining activities.
The project is open to new ideas or skills like painting, carpentry, music, sports or whatever the volunteers can do.
Working hours and days: normally volunteers work 4 to 5 hours a day from Monday to Friday. During school hours the volunteers work with the children age 4 and under. Work with the older children (5 to 10 years old) begins after school at 2:00pm, and involves assisting with homework followed by playing games, workshops, sports, painting, etc. (Activities are planned with the coordinator of the program) The project is open if the volunteer would like to share some weekends with the kids.
Accommodation & Food
As a volunteer you will be provided with a family homestay in a good neighbourhood with facilities nearby, (e.g. internet and phone, buses, etc). The homestay, along with the projects, are located in the tropical city of Santa Cruz. Most families have space for 2 - 4 volunteers at the same time in shared rooms for 2 volunteers. Bathrooms are western style with hot water, toilet paper, sheets, and blankets are provided but volunteers should bring their own towel.
The family will provide you breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is mainly Bolivian and contains vegetables, rice or noodles and/or potatoes, (occasionally red meat, chicken or fish) so vegetarians shouldn't have any problem with the provided cuisine.
Time away from your volunteer project can be spent exploring Santa Cruz's many museums, cathedrals, and spots for picnics and swimming. Weekends are great for exploring nearby rain forests and 18th-century Jesuit missions.
Min age 18
Good level of English
Basic Spanish (classes can be taken for an extra cost)
Good physical fitness
Motivation to work with children
Full travel & medical insurance
Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
To apply for this program, see Orphan Children Program