Volunteer in a Children’s Centre in Bolivia managed entirely by local families from a small community. Opened in 2004, the aim of the centre’s founders was to establish a community nursery near La Paz, where children could learn through play and creativity. The centre is run by ten local women known as the “Tías” (aunts) and they provide a safe environment for up to 90 local children, including babies aged 6 months to 4 years old. Following the initial success of the centre, an after-school club was established for children aged 7-12 years. Here, children attend a homework club then spend the last hours of the day enjoying creative time. These projects also benefit the community as they enable mothers to be able to take up employment opportunities. The Children’s Centre near La Paz aims to provide a safe and happy integrated childcare program for the impoverished, local community.
Why choose this project?
Volunteers bring enthusiasm, ideas, and an extra pair of hands to the children’s center. Your involvement allows the “Tías” to run a wider range of activities for all of the children, which aids the childrens’ development and brings joy to their days. Volunteers with experience in early childhood education or special education can help to develop the teaching skills of the “Tías” and other staff. This is an excellent project for anyone practising early childhood education to gain experience from working in an intercultural setting.
Role of the volunteer
No day will be the same when volunteering at the children’s centre, so flexibility is important. Your skills and experience will determine what your responsibilities will be, but activities may include:
- working alongside educators to run the nursery and take care of the children
- helping prepare and serve meals – and cleaning up afterwards
- running games and activities with children, aged six months to four years old
- taking care of the children, feeding and washing them etc…
- helping with homework club
- running sport or art activities with children, aged 7-12 years old
- maintaining the website and generating fundraising ideas for the centre
You will be assigned a primary and secondary activity for the duration of your placement. Every volunteer will also be expected to participate in community environment work once a week, either planting trees or clearing public areas. You will also be invited to festivals and cultural activities, which happen on a regular basis.
Volunteers with all levels of experience are welcome. Trained teachers specializing in early years, primary years, TEFL, Montessori or Special Education Needs are welcomed. Volunteers with a passion for art, dance, theatre and music are also sought. All volunteers must be caring, patient, willing to listen and willing to work as part of a team. It is important you respect local methods, even if they are different from your own.
Participants should speak basic level Spanish for this placement (level A1 Basic User of CEFR / those wishing to help with homework will need level B1 or above). Spanish lessons can be arranged alongside your volunteering for a small additional fee. Volunteers will be asked to submit two personal references and your CV/resume before being accepted onto this project, as well as attending a short telephone interview.
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To inspire young children
To be at the heart of a local Bolivian community
To bring joy into your life and to the lives of others
About the Location
Bolivia is also known as The Tibet of the Americas since the majority of inhabitants conserve their ancestral habits. The country is also the most isolated and highest of the Latin American Republics. Your project is based in La Paz, where the high altitude results in a rather cool climate. You never know, this cooler temperature might be well received when volunteering on one of our projects! If you want to avoid the rainy season, then the dry season runs from May to August, with July being the driest month typically.
The Andes mountain range makes up the western side of Bolivia’s highlands that are full of natural wonders to discover. It is here you will find Lake Titicaca, which lies on the Peruvian border. This lake is the highest lake on the planet, it is one of the deepest and it is so wide that it takes 6 hours to cross by fast hydrofoil – a sight not to be missed! Further down in the southwest is the “Salar de Uynui” which is also known as the world’s largest salt flats.
If you don’t know already, Bolivians are well known for their love of parties and fiestas, as they are a central part of Bolivian life. Celebrations take place up and down the entire country so frequently that it would be difficult to miss one, even if you’re only in Bolivia for a brief visit.
Mallasa (pronounced Mayasa) is a beautiful, semi-rural village with a strong sense of community where you will get a good feel for the Aymara culture during your stay. Just 30 – 40 minutes away is La Paz, the highest administrative capital in the world, which boasts wonderful museums, stunning colonial buildings and many interesting craft shops. Here, you will be residing in a volunteer house during your time with Kaya.
You should feel quite comfortable inside the volunteer houses as you will find a well-furnished area, complete with running water, indoor plumbing and electricity. You will be staying in a room of your own, which is great for when you want some peace and quiet. However, there may be the possibility of sharing with another volunteer during the summer months as the projects can become quite busy; having a roommate is a great way to make friends and get to know other volunteers in the area.
What to do in your spare time
In your free time, you can explore those sites as well as the multitude of bars, cafes and restaurants. You will definitely want to sample the local delicacies Bolivia has to offer. Clubs and live music are also popular in the city. We recommend paying a visit to the huge Mercado market, which sells almost everything you can think of! Alternatively, you could seek out one of the smaller boutiques, such as Comart Tukuypai, which sells goods that support artisans from poorer backgrounds. If you want to see some of Bolivia’s natural attractions, then why not spend a weekend exploring Lake Titicaca or the salt flats?
Details & Costs
- Duration: 4-12 weeks
- Cost: £992/$1736 for 4 weeks
Additional weekly fee varies
- Requirements: Age 18+
- Location: La Paz, Bolivia
- Project Activities: working within a school, preparing lunches, preparing activities and lessons, fundraising activities, maintaining the website
- Working Hours: Monday-Friday (flexible)
- Project Availability: 1st & 3rd week of each month
- Arrival day: Monday
What is included
- Accommodation: shared room in a volunteer house (meals not included)
- Airport pick up from El Alto Airport or the bus station in La Paz
- Training: pre-departure information, orientation and project induction
- Support: 24 hour support
- Excursion Planning: staff help organise weekend activities (activity prices may be extra)
- Fundraising Guide
What is not included
- Food, though a kitchen is provided and volunteers regularly cook or eat out together
- Daily transport to and from your project (possible to walk)
- Optional Spanish classes are available
- Police background check: US and UK citizens processed through Kaya (admin fee applies); all other nationalities must provide local police check.
Easy 3-step application process
APPLY ONLINE Click here to apply online and pay your deposit to secure your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW Once we’ve received your application, we’ll be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
GET PREPARED When you’ve been accepted onto your project we’ll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
HAVE A QUESTION?
We pride ourselves on providing you high quality placement information throughout your application process and whilst on the ground. Connect with us if you have any questions.
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