Despite being a city of ‘old money’, only a small fraction of people enjoy this wealth. Behind the colonial façade lies a large indigenous population living in unimaginable circumstances. Sadly, the elderly, infirm, disabled and young are the most vulnerable. In Sucre you will see many children working on the street instead of at school in order to survive.
Fortunately there are a number of wonderful organisations throughout the city providing constructive and worthwhile projects to help improve the lives of the city’s most afflicted.
Various volunteer programs aim to promote assistance in education, healthcare, human rights, economics and the environment. Options include working with children, applying medical skills, teaching English and computer skills, building houses, helping the homeless, social media marketing, and much, much more.
No matter your skill-base, age, education level or length of stay, there are opportunities available to anyone willing to help.
Travelers looking to volunteer in Sucre should be under no illusion that the experience will be easy, smooth sailing or even enjoyable. Placements can be frustrating, scary and difficult, with many tourists expecting to entice change, only to be met with unfair bureaucracy, minimal organisation and lack of funding.
That being said, volunteering in Sucre can also be life-changing, fulfilling and amazing. If approached with careful research, an open mind, flexible nature and can-do attitude, working to help others will allow you to make positive impacts, build relationships, learn new cultures and discover the true spirit of a country; something that can not always be achieved as a tourist.
While volunteering aims to improve the lives of individuals, it is the rippling effect throughout a community which shapes the future for generations to come. You may never get to witness the fruits of your labour, but remember, what may be a small change in your eyes can be life-changing to the receiver.
At the end of the day, if you’re volunteering for the right reasons and with the right attitude, the benefits will be reciprocal. Leave your expectations at the door, listen to concerns, and look for the ways your individual experiences and skills can help to make a difference.
Below we have listed some truly inspiring organisations to consider when traveling to Sucre
Spanish schools that can help find you a volunteer placement include:
You can also read Brigid’s personal experience volunteering with Inti Magazine, helping to improve the lives of Sucre’s working children.
Please note that some volunteer organisations require a basic conversation Spanish level and a minimum commitment of 2 or more weeks, so make sure to check prior to committing.
As an alternative to hostels, some volunteer placements provide the option of a home-stay, giving travelers the opportunity to play an active part in the local community as well as experience the unique customs, traditions, and cuisines of Bolivia. Spending time with a local Sucre family encourages relationship building, providing both the volunteer and host with memories that will last a lifetime.
Volunteers are usually required to cover their own living costs, but most organisation are able to provide guidance in finding short or long-term accommodation, Spanish schools, tours etc.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” ~ Martin Luther King
Have you volunteered in Sucre? Share your experience in the comments below: