Colombia Volunteer Stories

Here is a sample of experiences from previous volunteers at the Colombia project.
(names of children have been changed for their protection).
"I have already recommended volunteering at the Colombia Kids Project to people I know. It was a great experience and I would do it again."
Rebecca is a British illustrator who volunteered for six weeks at the Colombia Kids Project in February and March 2016. Here she talks about her special time at the project.
Choosing Globalteer
I wanted a travel experience where I could work with local people in a different culture to my own. I chose Colombia as I found the Colombia Kids Project when researching my trip abroad online, and Globalteer came across as a professional and reliable charity. I like the way the charity works – they are very helpful, and they also require all the safety checks I would expect when working with vulnerable people.

Volunteering at the project
My overall volunteer placement was brilliant! The local staff was welcoming, kind and fun, and everyone at the project worked together really well. I was also able to use the Spanish lessons offered by Globalteer, which was a great help at the project and I continued practicing throughout my stay.
 
I most enjoyed taking the children out to the park and joining in on their dance lessons. The foundation made sure they had a lot of different experiences, and seeing the girls perform a traditional folk dance on a rooftop balcony in the city centre is one of my favourite memories.
 
I think the greatest impact I had was being able to tell them about different parts of the world. The children was so interested in this, and asked many many questions about where I’ve been and where I’m from.
 
I was definitely sad to say goodbye, as I had such a good time!

An amazing experience
I think that Globalteer does some wonderful projects and they really look after you even before you travel. I had excellent support via email from Elena, their on-the-ground volunteer coordinator, who is based in Medellin, which helped me settle in before starting my placement.

This project was amazing – it teaches you a lot about the world and yourself, and you will meet some of the nicest people during your time in Medellin.

I have already recommended volunteering at the Colombia Kids Project to people I know. It was a great experience and I would do it again.
"I would recommend a volunteer placement with Globalteer if you are looking to make an international holiday more fulfilling, if you are seeking out a worthwhile life experience, or if you just fancy doing something different that benefits others."
Joe is from the UK and volunteered at the Colombia Kids Project for three weeks in January and February 2016. Here he tells us about his “joyful and worthwhile” experience in Medellin.
Choosing to go to Colombia
 
Despite having a friend that lives in Medellin, all I heard from my friends and family in England about Colombia were stories of crime and drugs. What I experienced in reality, however, couldn't have been more different to these stories. Medellin is a beautiful city with a warm and welcoming people, and a culture that prioritises friendship, family, community and fun. I was embraced by Medellin wholeheartedly and left feeling as though I had found a second home. It is certainly a place I want to return to many times. 
Making a difference at the project
 
Aside from helping with classes and extra curriculum activities, I was also given responsibility to create a series of activities to teach the children about England. Language, traditions, landmarks, music, sayings, food ... we explored many aspects of British culture through art, baking, shadow puppetry and presentations. I thoroughly enjoyed delivering the classes and the kids were eager to learn more (many of the children do not know the world beyond Medellin). They were also engaging, intelligent and willing to try anything. I left the project every day with a huge smile on my face.
 
Globalteer made the entire experience effortless for me. It was easy to pay for my placement throughout the year and I was in regular contact with the Medellin volunteer coordinator. I was met on the first day and my progress was monitored throughout, and if I had any problems (which I didn't!) I was left with no doubt that they would be dealt with promptly. The staff at the project couldn't have been friendlier, and I felt as though I had joined one big family.
 
A life changing experience
 
The entire experience was a joyful one, and one that I have taken a great deal from. It made up my mind that I want to work with children and I am taking myself back to school as a result. I would recommend a volunteer placement with Globalteer if you are looking to make an international holiday more fulfilling, if you are seeking out a worthwhile life experience, or if you just fancy doing something different that benefits others. I promise you won’t regret it!
“Overall, the experience was awesome. The programme really exceeded my expectations and was everything I had hoped for and more.”
Quinn Conover is a student from the USA who volunteered from March to May 2015 at the Colombia Kids Project. Here he tells a little of experience in Colombia! 
Finding the right organisation
I have travelled before to many countries, but had not participated in any volunteering type work before.  I was searching for cities throughout South America, and Medellin appealed to me because of its beautiful landscape.  After looking online I chose Globalteer as I felt that the programme had a lot to offer and the prices were more than fair.

Volunteering in Colombia
I didn’t know what to expect before coming to Colombia.  However, as soon as I arrived at my homestay I was warmly welcomed by my Colombian family who I lived with for 10 weeks. Living with them really was a great experience and a huge highlight of the trip for me.
I spent 10 weeks volunteering with a local foundation for kids coming from broken families. My experience volunteering, without being cliché, was very humbling. These kids keep a positive attitude, and never complain about anything but instead had some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. They used to tell me, “Thank you for coming into our lives, Uncle!”

These kids have made me realise happiness is not going to come from material things, and it felt that putting a smile on their faces would show them that someone cares in their life.

Overall, the experience was awesome. The programme really exceeded my expectations and was everything I had hoped for and more. I fell in love with the Medellin way of life and people, and am beyond excited to return to Medellin.  
"I can’t wait to return. It is one beautiful country. Thank you Globalteer."
American Karen Nordyke already had some international volunteering in Africa and South America under her belt when she decided to devote two months to volunteering with Globalteer’s Colombia Community Project in the beautiful city of Medellin earlier this year. Here she tells us why she chose Globalteer and explains why her return to South America was so unforgettable.

"Over the past 10 years I have been fortunate to do humanitarian work in Africa and South America.  Past travels to Brazil and to Bolivia with a dental organization left me in love with South America, and open to opportunities to serve there. Years of reading about the positive changes in Medellin - as well as the perfect springtime climate - made it my first choice when the time was once again right for travel. So, I chose my location first, and then began looking for the right volunteer opportunity.

"After some research, Globalteer emerged quickly as the best option for me. This was my first time to travel solo, without the support (or hassles) of a large group so staying safe was naturally of paramount importance. Plus, I only had basic Spanish skills. I chose well. Not only was I well prepared and oriented into my new environment, I did not feel in danger at any time during my eight week stay.

"Communication from Globalteer was good from sign up until after my return home. In Colombia I was hooked up with an outstanding Spanish teacher who could not have been better. Much time was given to orienting me into my new city and neighbourhood and my contact person was always just a quick phone call away if I had a question or needed anything. My confidence grew quickly and I even ventured to take a few side trips by both bus and plane during my stay."

The highlights of the trip

"Colombia is an absolutely beautiful country with very warm and kind people. Medellin is a surprisingly noisy city but I can truly say, looking back, that I loved everything about my adventure. The highlight of my trip however, was the time I spent volunteering with the children. They are very curious, open, and ready to learn and seemed to enjoy whatever I wanted to share with them.

"They are kids who come from challenging circumstances yet are very well cared for, educated, and being given a chance for a better life. What is also good is that volunteers have a certain amount of flexibility in determining their schedules and choice of lessons/activities, provided it fits in with the aims of the project.

"I was nervous at first because my Spanish was so limited, but the kids welcomed me warmly, and quickly put me at ease.  I agreed to help them with English if they would help me with Spanish. We made friendship bracelets the first two weeks and it was obvious these kids are very bright. They are well behaved and know their boundaries.

"They really enjoyed the slide show presentations I made for them from my previous travels, and were always full of interesting questions afterwards.  They especially enjoyed the final show of my adventure in their beautiful country, including lots of fun photos of them being clever!

"Another highlight of my time with the kids was a field trip we did by bus to a miniature city set up for children to try out and experience different occupations. They had great fun while learning so much and made memories that will last a lifetime. It made me very happy to see this worthwhile opportunity given to these children. I think any child anywhere would love and benefit from it too. Bravo to Globalteer for giving them this special day.  

"A real discovery for me was how much I liked teaching English to the kids. I was able to arrange to come two afternoons a week just to help anyone wanting or needing tutoring with English. It was great to have flexibility to adjust my schedule around what I was best at."

This is not the end...

"My final lesson was on dental hygiene and the kids cooperated so beautifully and actually stood afterwards to applaud my efforts to teach the lesson in Spanish. They knew all along they were helping me at least as much as I was helping them. Saying goodbye was kind of tough and even a little emotional, but arriving to cheers, hugs, and big beautiful smiles each day made it so worthwhile.  I am already planning to return next year and hope to volunteer at the project in Peru as well.

"I would recommend this volunteer opportunity to others regardless of your background or even if you only have limited Spanish skills. It is an excellent opportunity to study Spanish and be of service at the same time. You can give your time by simply reading to the children or playing ball with them.

"Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of thinking you have to be fluent in Spanish or that Medellin is too dangerous. It is a beautiful, modern, clean, and very friendly city. I found that Colombians in general go out of their way to be of help to visitors in their country. People offered to help me out every single day that I was there, without my even needing to ask. I can’t wait to return.  It is one beautiful country.  Thank you Globalteer."
“They were two of the most fun, chaotic, exhausting hours of my life...a tiny idea and a group of kids who appreciate simple things and an adult's undivided attention.”
Kathryn Boin, a 37 year-old project and event manager from Australia had already seen much of the world when she chose volunteering with our Colombia children’s project for her first ever visit to South America. Despite having no Spanish knowledge when she applied Kathryn was undeterred, and took a few Spanish classes before she left home for the “City of Eternal Spring”, Medellin. Her placement lasted for six week, and here she tells of her personal highlights of her time with us and the inspirational children at the project.

It's hard to single out one experience...

“After six weeks of volunteering with Globalteer’s Volunteer Colombia Kids project, it's hard to single out an experience that stands out above others. Some of the highlights include big occasions like a trip with the kids to a beautiful ecology education farm high in the hills above Medellin, attending the quinceana (15th birthday party) of one of the girls, or visiting the project on family day. Or simple moments like the first time a little person's hand found mine, attached to a big grin and the greeting of 'Hola Tia' (hello auntie), or laughing with my fellow volunteers over a big plate of Colombian pork ribs, or enjoying a quiet coffee in a leafy Poblado street while trying to memorise Spanish verb conjugations.

“But it's my memories of my second day that really stick with me as an example of how most of the days would be: semi-planned but with no real idea of what was going on until somehow the kids and I settle into an unexpectedly fun and rewarding activity.

“On day two, still nervous about the vast chasm between my level of Spanish and a useful level, I met Florence (the project’s former volunteer coordinator) only to find she had to leave shortly for some meetings, leaving me to my own devices for a few hours, without a plan.

Working with the children

“Fortunately, the kids have no such nerves or hesitation. Before long two of the girls were sitting with me expectantly, waiting for me to do something. I got out my notebook and asked them to write their names for me, and they wrote down a couple of the English words they knew. I improvised and folded up some paper, drew a person, then folded it out to one of those strings of joined people. They seemed delighted with this and wanted me to show them how to do it, so we  ended up with a long line of paper people who they decorated with faces, hair and names before pinning it on the wall. So far, so good.

“One of the girls then asked me something which, after asking her to write it and consulting my phrase book, I understood to mean ‘what else can you do with paper?’ The pressure on, I remembered the birthday card I gave to a little friend at home for her 5th birthday the week before: a card that folded out to a cat face mask.

“I drew a very simple cat, cut out some eye holes, and put it up to her face. She smiled then immediately took it away somewhere, leaving me wondering what was going on. She returned with a piece of string, so we could attach it to the mask. Moments after that, I was surrounded by about 15 kids all wanting their own mask. The first little girl took charge as my assistant, set up the tables with paper and pens, I found some pipe cleaners, and the mask workshop was born. All manner of favourite animals became masks, with more confident kids drawing their own and others asking me to draw cats and dogs (easy enough), then penguins and sharks… not sure my version of those was convincing, but the kids seemed happy enough.

“They were two of the most fun, chaotic, exhausting hours of my life but at the end I’d learned the Spanish names for scissors, shark and penguin, had lots of happy kids, some beautiful masks, and discovered what else you can do with some paper, a tiny idea and a group of kids who appreciate simple things and an adult's undivided attention.”

For more photos of the project, the children and our volunteers, visit our Colombia Photo Gallery. Or find out how you can come and help by visiting our Colombia Children’s Project pages.
"Medellin, the project, and the travel that has followed have been one of the best experiences of my life, and probably always will be."
Simon Jones (in profile, left), a 31 year-old British volunteer from Cheshire tells us about his two month placement in Medellin.

Like any new experience you can seek out all the blogs, pictures, reviews and counsel you like, but nothing will really give you a fraction of the impression of the unknown that you’re about to embark on.   As I spiralled my way down the Andes bowl of Medellin for the first time, I felt the warmth and beauty of the place fairly quickly. I fumbled my way through a conversation in Spanish with the polite and courteous taxi driver - it didn’t matter that my grammar was probably some of the worst he’d ever heard, his courtesy and friendliness reflected the generosity of spirit that I would experience for the next two months in Colombia’s second city. 
 
My homes from home
 
With Globalteer you can choose to live with a Medellin family or stay in a hostel, I opted for a month of both.  I wanted to get a feel for Medellin in two very different ways, with the hope of getting to know the city more intimately with a family stay for the first month.  I wasn’t disappointed one bit. My family made me feel instantly welcome and comfortable, and it quickly became a home from a home.  I can only put this down to Globalteer really making an effort to be in touch with a family, and selecting an excellent agency in Medellin to make sure they are catering for their volunteers in the best possible way.
 
My first day was a whirlwind of a tour, meeting a lot of the staff and the kids at the project, with Elena, Globalteer’s volunteer coordinator showing me the area and some sights making me feel at ease with the city.  As she brought me up to date with my exact role and resources at the project, I was whisked away to the Museo de Antioquia in the afternoon, the first of many interesting and interactive trips with the children.
 
Getting to know the project
 

A few of the children I started to get to know pretty quickly, slower with others as is always the case depending on individual characters, but there wasn’t one child who didn’t make me feel like their home was my home.  The family spirit and kindness at the project from the staff and all the children still slightly amazes me now when I think back to my time there.
 
When involved in activities with the children I found it best to be relaxed and adaptable.  For me the best approach was to try and inspire a sense of fun with any activity undertaken.  It’s good not to forget that you are essentially in their home, so to try and enforce a strict rigid English lesson upon them felt slightly counter-productive. 

Safety and security
 
In terms of safety in Medellin don’t believe any scare-mongering from friends, family or the media.  Of course you have to be cautious like any big city, but I experienced no problems whatsoever and still to this day travelling Peru and Bolivia.  My friends who had travelled the world encouraged me to live in Colombia more than anywhere else, as they had experienced the same thing, the amazing vibrancy of a culture and it’s people who don’t hold back from day to day in their passion for life.
 
What language barrier?
 
I spent a good 4-5 months prior to the trip with Spanish audio books, a good grammar and verb book which I found invaluable.  Of course more often than not I didn’t have a clue what the person was saying in front of me, and not having a background in Spanish and languages it was certainly a challenge at times , but you naturally fall into a groove to be able to communicate.  For example a fellow volunteer had arrived with no Spanish whatsoever and managed to get by (which I wouldn’t recommend).  What I would say is that if you have no Spanish at all, but then you learn the classroom instructional Spanish that Globalteer provide – which is excellent and well thought out – and a lot of basic sentence construction Spanish, it will really enrich your time at the project. 
 
Having acquired this amount of Spanish I was asked if I would like to teach English at the local school round the corner with the assistance of Globalter’s volunteer coordinator, Elena.  This was not on my radar before starting the trip, but I’m really glad I picked a fair amount of Spanish to be able to get more involved.
 
So many highlights
 
I found it immensely rewarding, lots of fun, and a confidence boost to know that with my limited Spanish I could hold the class’s attention, (most of the time!) and engage them in English learning with games, written tasks, and general interaction with all the children.  This was a surprise highlight for my time in Medellin.  Not to mention endless funny afternoons in the nearby park with football, basketball, skipping (I’d forgotten the joy of communal skipping) ice-creams and day-trips out to the cinema, the sustainable living and butterfly sanctuary site, local universities - one including a photography project of the children, and a massive rave in the project for one of the girls’ Quinceanera (15th birthday – it’s a big deal!), the list could go on.
 
Another volunteer who had been to the project prior to my stay had said the following words to me when considering whether or not to book that flight and pay the deposit…
 
"…don’t even think about holding back, just go for it."
 
Now I know exactly what he meant.  Medellin, the project, and the travel that has followed has been one of the best experiences of my life, and probably always be.
My volunteer trip was a life changing experience that I will never forget
When 21 year-old Kevin Jalbert undertook a six week volunteer placement with Globalteer’s Colombia Children’s project, it was the first time he had travelled outside of his native United States.

But Kevin was already pretty familiar with the Colombian way of life – he has many Colombian friends at home in the USA, had already enjoyed many delicious Colombian meals and heard many tales of the wonderful Colombian cities of Bogota, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin.

As the oldest of ten children and a regular volunteer at his local YMCA children’s summer camp, Kevin had also pretty much spent his life surrounded by lively, boisterous children, so when the grind of school and work left part of him feeling empty and that he was not living life to its full potential, volunteering with needy children seemed a logical next step.

With his desire to help underprivileged children, and his love of Colombian culture, Kevin was really looking forward to experiencing the “real” Colombia as he set off for Medellin in May 2011.

Here, Kevin tells us all about his experiences with Globalteer in Colombia:

The long road to Colombia.

“To be honest I had never heard of Globalteer before volunteering. But when I was looking for volunteer projects in Colombia, Globalteer’s project stood out to me because compared to other projects in the region the mission statement seemed the most genuine and had the best laid out long term plan for improving the quality of life of the children of the city.

"My journey to Colombia was an exciting experience. It was my first time outside the United States and also the first time in many years that I have taken a plane. My favourite part of the journey was when the plane was descending and I could see miles and miles of beautiful Colombian country side".

Settling into Medellin

"Medellin was nothing like I expected it to be when I got there. I was pleasantly surprised to see how modern parts of the city are. And I was extremely impressed with its modern, integrated transportation system. 

"I stayed at the Black Sheep Hostel in Barrio Patio Bonito in the Poblado area of the city. The staff were friendly and helpful, especially the two owners Kelvin and Yadi. Whenever I needed something - directions, or even help with translation the staff went above and beyond to help.

"Getting to the two project sites meant travelling by the metro and city buses. The metro is an amazing above ground train system integrated with local bus lines linking various parts of the city really cheaply and quickly. What I did expect, but I hadn’t realised how hard it would be to see it in person, was the level of poverty some of the children are experiencing".

The highs and lows of volunteering

"I believe that volunteers like me help the children develop a more positive worldwide view and interest in social works projects. I would not say any individual task helped me have this impact on the children but being able to help while having a positive attitude will hopefully help inspire them.

"The biggest personal challenges for me were to overcome the language barrier and become comfortable teaching. I overcame the language barrier by learning how to describe more complex words with the basic words I did know and asking clarifying questions. I become more comfortable teaching over time.

"Initially I also struggled communicating with the locals. At the time I had a very basic understanding of the Spanish language. However, by the time I had left, the language gap was easier to work around by picking up more basic vocabulary and learning how to communicate describing the words I did not know.

"One of the most fun memories of volunteering  was the day we went to Parque Norte, a theme park in Medellin, with the children and staff from the project. We spent the entire day riding roller coasters, driving bumper cars and taking simulated flights to Cartagena".

Colombia makes a lasting impression

"On my last day went to the local playground and played games with the children and afterwards I taught English to both the students and staff. What made it special for me was that I integrated a traditional worksheet activity with colouring and a vocabulary game. The staff, students, and I all had a lot of fun.

"It was hard to leave because the children were sad to see me go and I was having such a fantastic time working there. After leaving I felt determined to visit again. My volunteer trip was a life-changing experience that I will never forget”.

After his volunteering trip in 2011 Kevin returned to Medellin for a second volunteer placement earlier this year. He is now planning to return a third time and stay even longer.

“I plan on moving to Colombia in the upcoming year to teach English and while I am there I wish to spend substantial time helping the children to make big strides in understanding the English language”.
This was my 2nd Globalteer volunteer trip...
Colombia is an amazing place. Our first day with the kids at the project, we took 13 kids to the zoo. Some had never been before. We bonded with these kids and were able to discuss English names of the animals. This set the pace for the week to come. We taught English in small groups, which varied by age. The kids were very receptive and loved to learn. We read stories, used flash cards, drew pictures and labelled the pictures with English names. I know that we made a huge impact on the kids, and they made a huge impact on us too.

Daily, we would walk a group of kids to school and take a group home. When they got out of school, they would run up to us shouting, "tio, tio."  They were so happy to be greeted and on the walks home, I would ask, "what did you learn today?"

The house where these kids stayed was filled with love, hugs and friendship. While there were so many different personalities, the underlying value was love. This is one truly rewarding way to spend a holiday.

Neil, USA
My experience with Globalteer was totally amazing...
I was assigned to teach English and Art to the kids. Interacting with these kids was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. We had several groups of kids each day.

As we were teaching them English, they were teaching me Spanish! It was  really fun. The last day, we had art class, which I loved. We did Origami, to our surprise the little kids really got really involved. Overall, these kids are fun, smart and hopeful. I would definitely love to come back and say "hi" again.

Richie, USA
Ceilidh dancing in Colombia...
"Though the overall security situation in Colombia has improved considerably in recent years, the threat of terrorism is still high in many parts of the country."

Reading the official line on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website the day before leaving made me anxious. Too late. My leave, flights and accommodation were all booked - no going back now. And anyway, why should something like the risk of being mugged, or even kidnapped by guerrillas, stop me from fulfilling a long held dream to volunteer with kids in Colombia?

Usually a confident traveller, my nerves really kicked in when I arrived at Medellín airport, alone and at night. The fact that heavily armed police lined the road into the city hardly helped.

However, walking around the city the following day, my fears quickly evaporated, and I stopped clutching my bag after about two minutes. The locals were disarmingly open and friendly, and keen to explain that the vast majority of Colombians are law abiding and respectable. Strangers in the street, unused to seeing many Europeans, asked what my friends and family thought about me coming to Colombia, and what their impression of Colombia was. They're painfully aware of their bad press.

Now comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, I started work at the day centres. Colombian pupils go to school either in the morning or in the afternoon, leaving disadvantaged children vulnerable for half the day with no one to care for them. Living with their families in cramped, run down accommodation, these children are also exposed to the temptations and dangers of the city streets. Local university students wanted to address this issue, and set up two day centres.

The day centres, located in the heart of the city and high up the mountainside, provide a safe haven and are run by dedicated and caring co-ordinators who organise activities and teach kids about respect, hygiene and the value of education. They are supported by volunteer psychologists, nurses and social workers, as well as supermarkets, which provide enough food to ensure that each child has at least one square meal a day.

With the day centres closed for holidays, I spent Easter week at an orphanage, which has been set up by a local lady. Usually packed to the brim with 70 youngsters, the majority had returned home to their families (there are few actual orphans, rather children whose parents are unable, or unwilling, to look after them). We looked after the 15 or so who remained, taking them on day trips and running themed sessions and workshops.

Overseas volunteers play an important role in widening the kids' horizons, raising their awareness of the world beyond the Andes by giving them an insight into different cultures, customs and traditions.  As well as teaching English and organising sports and crafts, we explained how we celebrate Easter in Europe, and organised egg painting and an egg hunt, much to the amusement of the locals.

Colombia was one of the most incredible countries I have visited. Beautiful colonial cities, colourful buses, fruit stalls everywhere you look and impressive countryside make for a varied and fascinating experience. But it was the people who made the most impact.

And hopefully my tales of Loch Ness Monsters, horned, hairy cows and skirt wearing men still linger...and those Ceilidh dances haven't quite been forgotten!

You can read the full independent blog here:

Shoena Payne, Scotland
I had a fantastic 3 months working with the staff and children at the orphanage...
I arrived in Medellin, Colombia in January with the intention of spending three months working with Globalteer on the project. When I first arrived, I had all these thoughts in my head, "Was the country safe?" being the main one and of course my family were quite concerned also. As soon as I arrived in New York airport, in transit, I met the most welcoming Colombian family who were catching the same flight as me on to Medellin.

They were so happy that a tourist was coming to their country and they insisted that I get a lift with them from the airport to the black sheep hostel where I was to be staying. They very nearly gave me Colombian pesos because they were concerned that I only had $US dollars on me. I ended up hanging out with one of the sons of the family and he took me all around the city and out to the country to coffee region and that is the real Colombia, fantastic, warm and welcoming people.
 
The city of Medellin is fantastic. It's a great place for young people and outside of the project hours, there are plenty of fun things to do and great places to visit which you would have time for.

I was lucky enough to meet Jim on arrival at the hostel. He was staying in Medellin sorting things out at the Colombia Kids project. He gave me my orientation and the next day, I headed down to the project, which is an orphanage which houses 69 children, between the ages of 2/17, boys and girls. I only spoke very basic Spanish at this point but the kids were just great.
 
We spent the first few days, hanging out with the kids and shopping for materials, games, paper, stationery, with the view of starting up English classes for the children. We then sorted the children out into groups and started the classes which were great. All of the kids were really keen to learn unlike they would be here in England. The couple who started up the orphanage have got a dream of the children having the opportunity to go to University some day and as the city of Medellin is turning around and becoming bilingual, it is us that are giving the opportunity to do that.
 
I had a fantastic 3 months working with the staff and children at the orphanage and will miss them all a lot but I hope to visit them all again next year, when maybe they will be able to converse with me in English??

I spent my last few weeks in Colombia on the Caribbean coast which was just beautiful. You would be totally surprised by the amount of backpackers travelling in the country and yes, it is safe to travel by night buses overland.

Cat, British
I have never seen children with so much love to give...
Thankyou very much for giving me the opportunity to work at the Colombia children's project, I enjoyed every minute of it and I have never seen children with so much love to give. It was lovely to see how happy they are at the orphanage, and how everyone seems to work like one huge family.

The kids all look out for each other and the older ones often go out of their way to take care of the little ones. The staff have done everything they can to provide a happy and loving home for these children at the project. They have provided them with many opportunities and a new hope for the future that without this project would never have seemed possible.

Thanks again,

Helen, UK
One of my most rewarding and thought provoking experiences...
Volunteering with Globalteer in Colombia has been one of my most rewarding and thought provoking experiences. Globalteer gave me a chance to see how Colombian people work hard to improve the lives of children living in poverty and enabled me to play a small part in that process.

Claire, British
The experience of volunteering abroad was wonderful for me...

The reputation of Colombia in the UK is still of an extremely dangerous and hostile environment. People I spoke to before leaving always said - "How brave/why on earth are you going to Colombia?/it is so dangerous there? Aren't you scared? "etc.  Because my husband visits Colombia regularly 2-3 times a year/does business there and had good friends there I know that the situation today is very different.

It is much safer than the popular view in UK (and much safer than even Colombians imply). This is particularly true in Medellin and Antioquia. Potential volunteers should be informed about current security there - I felt totally happy travelling with a fellow volunteer to Jerico by bus and taking advice from people at the Hostel.

I like the Globalteer philosophy, the way in which money is spent/distributed and obvious care for local customs/conditions etc.

During the school holidays, at my placement, you had to think on your feet and be prepared to be totally flexible - but the kids were fantastic, resources and support provided were excellent and I had a wonderful time. Medellin in a lovely City in which to work and from which to explore parts of Colombia at weekends - and I felt totally safe there all the time.

The experience of volunteering abroad was wonderful for me - not only the placement but also the opportunity to live and work in another City/country and practice another language. The children are used to short term volunteers coming and going (which is good, makes it easier for volunteers and kids alike). They certainly appreciate volunteers when they are there and we all had good times together. From my point of view, the project, the placement and the service provided by Globalteer were perfect and exactly fitted my needs - so it was good value.

Will certainly recommend to friends.

Maggie, UK

Don't hesitate, go for it!
During the summer of 2009, I spent five fabulous weeks in COLOMBIA! I stayed at my native girlfriend's house in Medellin for the most part, whilst also travelling across the lush and plant-filled landscapes and trying as best as I could to immerse myself in a completely new, and rather 'wild' environment.

One way in which I thought I could get to know people from in and around Medellin was through volunteering. Globalteer was one of the first projects I found searching online for ideas before the summer began. Although working with these children sounded challenging, I thought it could be a worthwhile experience, for both myself and the children.

For about a week and half, I worked at the orphanage, not long after I arrived in Colombia. My Spanish was (and still is) pretty basic, but enough to communicate and get the message across. I was rather nervous on my first day, unsure of my role to play in the orphanage, although my nerves quickly passed after an hour or so. What I came across was a warm and welcoming environment, with children coming and going to school, and immediately I felt at home.

The children I met throughout my time were very open to me, and although they often spoke rather fast and all at once, I felt that we had found a common ground by teaching each other our mother tongue and enjoy each other's company. Whilst the English lessons I slowly put together and took part in were sometimes difficult and the children distracted, I think I managed to teach them some basic phrases and give them a chance at a productive future.

The most enjoyable part of the experience for me was simply spending quality time with the children; coming into their space when appropriate, talking, playing games, sharing ideas or thoughts and so forth. That time for me is often where most of the learning can be achieved. In a way, I wish I had stayed for longer, and if I do come back to Colombia next year, I am sure I will come back to Antorchas to a crowd of beaming smiles!

My advice to you if you are thinking of signing up for Globalteer... ? don't hesitate, go for it! Just remember to learn a bit of Spanish as it will help you tenfold!

Tom, 21, UK
Honestly my favourite place in the world now...
Honestly my favourite place in the world now. Colombia is such a great place. It's funny, I remember seeing somewhere that the only risk in Colombia is that you won't want to leave. Its very true. I will be making many return trips to Medellin in particular.

The people are in all honesty the nicest people I've met. My brother and I had to buy new clothes their while our others were being cleaned and so when we went to the mall I ended up seeing an Adidas and said they should have some good clothes.

When I finally found the right clothes and we got up to the counter, I was very sad to find out that the price of the clothes was going to end up being about 290.600 pesos. When we told the guy we didn't have enough for that and were looking for something cheaper he actually took us around the mall looking for a different store that I could buy clothes from. And he actually stayed and made sure I was happy with my clothes. And then he helped us find another place to buy souvenirs. This is just one example of the many nice people we met in Colombia.

Also the first night we were there we already made friends that we ended up going out with for the rest of the time. Lastly the kids at the project were the greatest. It was very very hard to leave.

Joshua, Canada
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