Where have You Volunteered?

JHB1216

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I have been here for over a year and have too much time on my hands. I would love to be able to volunteer somewhere to help the local community.

A few months ago, I volunteered at LIFE which is a non profit that tries to help the children of the Villas. The reason that I stopped going is that I could not afford to volunteer as they require that you pay for your transportation to the Villas. The people working there were great with a lot of English speaking tourists and Expatriates.

I am looking to hear about other people's experiences with volunteer organizations.

TIA
 

RWS

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I've helped at an animal shelter near the Congreso and at a church in Belgrano. There are shelters and churches throughout the city, and I'd guess that each would welcome any assistance, JHB.
 

igor

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I've heard several times from people that volunteering here is expensive. There is a good review of non-profits at argentinastravel website. For most of non-profits you actually have to pay to volunteer. Frankly, I don't quite understand this approach. If people are doing something valuable for the community, why charge them for that?
 

RWS

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igor said:
. . . . For most of non-profits you actually have to pay to volunteer. Frankly, I don't quite understand this approach. . . .
Nor do I. For what it's worth, neither the shelter nor the church I mentioned above said anything about a monetary donation, let alone a fee to volunteer!
 

JHB1216

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igor said:
I don't quite understand this approach. If people are doing something valuable for the community, why charge them for that?

I "think" that they might find it hard to raise money here. Also there is less of a chance of the money needed being used for other than charitable purposes. I think those paying and donating their money "might" take things more seriously. But this is just my opinion.
JB
 

oxente!

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JB -
If you are under 30 years old I would highly recommend Un Techo para mi País for doing construction projects. Habitat for Humanity works mostly in Luján and earlier this year had monthly construction brigades but because of some funding problems it appears quite stalled. If you spanish is good there are several groups working in Villa 31 but most would like solid spanish and a commitment of at least 4-6 months. These projects are mostly after-school help, art classes, and playing soccer with the kids.
Send me a PM if you want more info!
 

kwelly1214

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Hey guys, JB is right...
I have been with a volunteer agency (Voluntario Global) for about 4 months now. They do charge a donation fee...which I was unsure about at first but figured it was taking the place of Spanish classes. You can pay by the week or pay one lump sum and volunteer indefinitely, which is what I did. The majority of the donations go directly to aiding the projects themselves, while a small portion goes toward administrative expenses in order to keep the agency running. I didn´t understand paying for a volunteer at first, but now that I´m involved, I completely understand! Since I´ve been with them so long, I have gotten to visit all the projects and am now working in the communications and fundraising department. To say the least, fundraising is extremely difficult here...

Anyway, if anybody is interested in Voluntario Global, visit their website or send me a PM for more details! www.voluntarioglobal.com.ar
Un beso,
Kelly
 

oxente!

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I am glad to hear that Kwelly is having a good experience with Voluntario Global however I know that a lot of the fee is not for the organization but rather it operates as a business. They work with tourism agencies and offer commission to sell the "volunteer packages" with the seller making pretty good money.

I have worked with many organizations and many times for organizations to take on inexperienced volunteers without fluent Spanish it can be a huge drain on resources at these cash strapped places so I do think it´s ok if the organizations themselves ask for some contribution but the middleman that packages up and sell volunteer experiences like Voluntario Global just doesn´t sit right with me. However, it´s certainly not like Voluntario Global is the only "organization" that operates this way in Buenos Aires - they are a dime a dozen -- and for good reason as the are the first things that pop up on Google and have webpages in English.
 

RWS

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I suppose "oxente!" to be exactly right: almost all entities that ask money of wouldbe volunteers do so to turn a profit. A genuine charity may decline the assistance of one who has no needed skill, but it almost never will ask him to pay to give it help.
 

Moxon

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Exactly, most of the well known organisations that offer volunteer positions to foreigners are offering an 'experience' for the volunteer. Its delusional to think the organisation (which may be doing useful work outside of this) is getting anything out of the volunteer in most cases (hence the fee). Playing with the kids from the villas and helping in the kitchen are hardly specialist skills requiring trained extranjeros.

Foreigner gets to play overseas development worker, organisation makes a buck to fund its real activities. It is a tourist industry
 
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