International Work with Children in Bolivia
- Placement locations: Cochabamba
- Types of care projects: Centres for children/adults with special needs, day care centres, rehabilitation centres, centres for street children, homes for the elderly
- Age of children: 0 - 21
- Number of people cared for: 15 - 80
- Role: Volunteers work on achieving the goals set out in the Care Management Plan, including running educational games and group activities, and providing emotional support.
- Requirements: None
- Accommodation: Host families
- Length of placement: From two weeks
- Start dates: Flexible
As a Projects Abroad Care volunteer, you have an important role to play in many of the care centres and special needs centres we work with in Bolivia. Whatever your age, ability, or level of experience, you can make a positive contribution to the lives of Bolivian children. We welcome volunteers who are on a gap year, a career break, a volunteer vacation, or even volunteers who are already retired. All you need is enthusiasm and commitment towards whichever project you work on.
Bolivia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in Latin America. Care centres lack the funds, staff, and structure required to provide more than a basic level of care, which is why Projects Abroad volunteers have such a crucial role to play.
Volunteer Care Centre Work and Community Development with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad volunteers work in several day care centres in Bolivia, all in the Cochabamba area. These placements care for people of all ages with a variety of different needs, from toddlers who live in disadvantaged circumstances to elderly people in a care home. Many of our Care placements work with children who have mental and physical disabilities and therefore are in need of support, care, and stimulation. In addition, we work in centreswhere children have been abandoned or have lost both their parents and need help to get the best start in life. Many of our Care placements have very unique needs and if you have any specific skills or talents then it is really important to let us know.
We have started working with a centre for young girls who have been abused and who are eager to learn different extra-curricular activities to help them on their journey to recovery. So if you are a good dancer, yoga fanatic, or have other artistic talents please let us know.
If you keep us informed about your preferences then we can match you to a suitable placement. Please note that your involvement in specific care activities can be dependent on your level of Spanish, so please inform our local staff so they can find the most worthwhile and suitable placement for you as an individual.
We also have a Soccer and Social Care project in Bolivia that combines coaching soccer with a variety of care work.
The Projects Abroad team in Bolivia organize regular workshops for care volunteers. The workshops will provide you with a valuable insight into the care system in Bolivia and the background of the placement where you’re working. You will also receive advice and suggestions regarding how to achieve the specific goals we aim to achieve at each placement.
Volunteers often work in pairs at a Care placement, which means you can share ideas, introduce more structure, come up with educational activities, and monitor the children and young adults that you are working with. Our staff in Bolivia can assist you with any materials you may need, and a member of staff at your placement will act as your general supervisor and be available for help and advice.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Bolivia Care Management Plan.
Volunteering Abroad with Children in Bolivia
In whichever volunteer care project in Bolivia you find yourself, you need to be ready for a challenge. Many of the children are not used to having a routine and look forward to having planned activities, educational games, and help with their homework and daily chores. At some placements there are children who have psychological or physical health problems and who need a great deal of special attention and help with their day to day activities.
Your main areas of work will vary depending on the age of the children and the centre you are working in. You may be feeding, bathing, and generally looking after babies and toddlers, or you may be helping with homework, music, art, and sports. We encourage volunteers to try new activities and expand the range of games and ideas the children will encounter. Working closely with individual children and identifying their areas of strength is a very important part of your placement. On many placements, you’ll also need to promote awareness and teach life skills like the importance of hygiene, self-discipline, and good communication.
Some children don't go to school so general educational activities - in Spanish - are also welcomed. Let us know beforehand if you can help in this area.
Did you know? Low family incomes and a minimum working age of 10, push children to provide additional income, as of 2014 there was a total of 1 million of Bolivia’s children between the ages of five and 17 working.
At some of the care centres there is also a need for help with building and fixing up garden areas, buildings, and playgrounds. Volunteers have been getting together regularly to work on such community projects, painting walls in the centres, creating a garden, or helping with clearing up and rebuilding.
Volunteering in Orphanages in Bolivia
Over the years, our volunteers have worked with children at orphanages and residential care homes in Bolivia. They have done incredible work at these placements, improving living conditions there and creating opportunities for children by supporting their education and care. However, we have decided to move our focus away from orphanages and homes toward community and family-based care. This is because we believe stable family environments are best for the children we work with. Read more about orphanage volunteering and our position on it.
This means that instead of volunteering in orphanages in Bolivia, volunteers will work in placements like day care centres, kindergartens and schools, or support groups for the elderly and mothers and babies. This will help Projects Abroad build stronger relationships with local communities and – most importantly – help families stay together and flourish.
You can join a Care project in Bolivia for two or three weeks if you don't have time to join us for four weeks or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period. Volunteers joining the project for just two weeks will be placed in one of our partner care centres.
If you have qualifications or experience in this field then we can make use of your skills. Read more about the opportunities for skilled volunteers in Bolivia.