Volunteering in Santa Cruz Bolivia information

Trip Start Jan 12, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, June 3, 2006

I am dedicating this page to people who are interested in volunteering in Sata Cruz in Bolivia. Please also see my entry on this blog under Santa Cruz for personal insights on my experience.

Are you from Austria? Have you been searching for volunteering opportunities in Bolivia on the internet? Finding it hard to locate volunteering opportunities? Let me save you some time!!!
I was recommended to an organisation called FAMUNDI, (Familias Unidas en Dios) an organisation based and funded out of Austria. Sounds religious? they are but i did not feel ANY religious pressure at all during my stay.

FAMUNDI is based in Rancho Nuevo, which is about 15 minutes from the centre of Santa Cruz. The foundation is committed to poor families who cannot afford to feed their families, primarliy focusing on single parent families. The foundation is currently committed to 36 families who have 120 children between them! Some with 11 children each!!
I was the first travelling volunteer FAMUNDI had received and what a great experience it was. I was fortunate enough to be there on the 5th day of the month which is when FAMUNDI hands out the monthly food portions to each of the 36 families. The portions consist of:
3kg of potatoes
3kg of onions
1kg of flour (2 due to winter when i was there)
1kg of pasta
1kg of sugar
1kg of rice

Each of the 36 families arrives to pick up their portions on the 5th. I was able to meet 26 of the 36 families during this exercise. My role was to measure up the contents of the handouts and to greet the families. (see my pics under my Bolivia, Santa Cruz entry on this blog.
We also spent a whole afternoon making and baking bread!! (see pics). I had never done this before so it was a great learning experience. We made over 400 rolls and over 70 empenadas with onion and Cheese which are handed out to 5 families per day until the ingredients run out.
Other roles i played was entertaining the kids. I played cards, marbles (bola as they call it) and football (or Pelota as Bolivians call it). The kids are starving for attention, and will hang outside all day just to kick a ball or help you improve your spanish!

The foundation was brilliant and really looked after me. There was a group meeting called to formally introduce me to the families where i had to say a few words. Accomodation and food was all supplied, unlike other volunteer organisations you didn´t have to pay a cent for anything! No administartion fee´s, no accomodation costs, no food costs, nothing. Any dontations you want to make are greatly accepted but NOT required. I gave my host family who put me up and fed me some meals a lot of fruit as the kids needed the nourishment. I also gave the foundation money so that next month every family could receive a portion of fruit along with their current portions. I am also returning in 2 weeks and am taking and taking 90 of the kids to the Circus!!! Will be unreal and a real treat for them!!!

If host families are not your style then from September 4th FAMUNDi will have 2 X 6 bed dorms available for volunteers on the grounds. They are beingt built right now, i saw the construction and they look great. One dorm has an on suite bathroom with a very cool jet bath!! The other has a toilet and shower seperate. there will be a kitchen and a common room. Also, the roof is being converted to an outdoor common area where barbeques or sunbaking can be had. All brand new and very modern and clean.

Transportation is not a problem either as Ruthy´s (the coordinator) husband (Lolo) is a cab driver and can take you anywhere (at a cost of course).

The requirements are minimal:
You must be from Austria
Basic Spanish to be able to communicate as none there speak english.
Experience with kids is a great advantage but not a necessity.
Ability to teach English again is a great advantage but not a necessity.
The desire to play with kids, drawing, playing, talking etc. kids rannge from 2 months to 20 years old.
A Phsychologist is really required, so if you posses these skills please help.
Committed to help. There are no strict rules or hours of work, you decide how much or little you want to do.
A strong will to want to help and make a difference in a community that needs it.

If you Austrian and are interested in finding out more here are the contact details:

1st point of contact in English, Spanish or German:
email - bolivien_famundi@gmx.at

2nd point of contact in Spanish only:
email: famundi_bolivia@hotmail.com

I highly recommed the organisation and feel their offering is exactly what travellers are looking for. A rich rewarding opportunity to give back without having to fork out expensive ´fee´s´that you never know where they end up. I know where all my donations will go and that is unique and amazing. The cultural experience and the opportunity to ´give back´ make FAMUNDI a great choice of volunteer organisations.

Feel free to also contact me with any questions - paulsemale@hotmail.com.
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