Whether your heart lies in philanthropy or the rush of a spontaneous adventure, volunteering in Buenos Aires will open your eyes to a first-hand and unique view of the porteño city. We’ve assembled a budget-friendly who’s who of the Buenos Aires volunteer world.
1. Un Techo Para Mi País
This Latin American non-profit organization is committed to improving the quality of live in impoverished and slum areas through the construction of transitional houses, educational programs, and the development of a sustainable community.Through the help of their youth volunteers, both local and participants from abroad — Un Techo Para Mi País (UTPMP) has constructed over 70,000 transitional homes in 18 countries around the world.
Participants of UTPMP immerse themselves in not only aid in the construction of houses as part of a team, but go on to teach developmental programs such as education, healthcare, economic development, to legal aid and vocational training. The tools that the residents acquire through these special programs go on to provide them with the tools they need to raise their quality of life.
The valuable education administered to the residents by volunteers of UTPMP, contributes to the cultivation of a sustainable community, where social networks are formed between neighbors and other links to brainstorm with the community to solve problems, create solutions and help achieve area goals.
For US$200 (which covers, bus transportation of participants, some meals and, a percentage of it goes to constructing the houses) participants of UTPMP are able to experience first-hand a new community, a new language, meet and make friends of fellow volunteers and community members, all while changing the world for somebody else. You might need to buy your own airplane ticket, but an adventure awaits you when you land.
For more information on UTPMP, a full list of countries, current programs, FAQ’s and how to participate go to http://www.untechoparamipais.org/english/
If you aren’t so handy with construction work, but lending a helping hand is still up your alley, Conviven is a non-profit, non-governmental, social organization that aids in the development of children, teenagers, adolescents and families who reside on one of the well known shantytowns, “Ciudad Oculta”, in the Capital Federal area.
Conviven’s Family Community Center was founded in 1994 by its current director, Protestant Church missionary, Vlamir S. Vieira, and provides a center for families to seek guidance and the youth of the community to play, learn and be nourished with food and care. Since it’s creation, Conviven has been looking for motivated people, serious about volunteering and providing a mentor, a teacher and a friend to those in the community.
Volunteers of Conviven give testimonial to the program’s work, assisting children and youths with academic support with reading, writing and math, languages like French and English, basic cooking classes as well as artistic outlets like music, dance and art lessons and education.Alongside the constructive education and care provided for those who come to the Conviven center, there are many activities the children and families can participate in such as circus schools, theater and textile arts workshops, even photography.
Knowing Spanish to volunteer for Conviven is not necessary, but it is definitely a plus. Volunteering there has opened many a travelers’ eyes to the harsher realities of Buenos Aires outside of the glamorous neighborhoods and bustling cosmopolitan streets.
Conviven’s website http://www.conviven.org.ar and blog http://centroconviven.blogspot.com/ come in a couple different languages, give detailed information their objective, details about projects and programs, as well as all the contact information you need to get started.
3. Asociación El Trapito
Not unlike Conviven, Asociación accepts volunteers from all backgrounds to assist their volunteer program situated in La Boca, Buenos Aires. Founded in 1935 by a group of Italian immigrants. It was originally a social club where they would organize activities and social events for the community.
In 2000, El Trapito was refounded by the descendents of its original founders, with the objective of working to better the quality of life for the residents of La Boca. They offer various work programs, one of the most important being the Protection of Children and Adolescents, providing social, legal and psychological help to children and adolescents living in the La Boca neighborhood. Since the program’s creation it has assisted over 10,000 at risk children and youth.
El Trapito asks that their volunteer’s Spanish be, at a minimum, an intermediate comprehension level, as the work they will get to do is directly related. They will be able to participate in interviews and meetings with children and adolescents, with the team of El Trapito, dealing with cases, preparing reports and participating in workshops.
Volunteers from around the world, currently Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Holland all work for El Trapito. Volunteering for the program is free, however, living arrangements and other accommodations are the responsibility of the volunteer. Although there is a one-month service minimum requirement, after that, participants are able to volunteer for as long as they choose.
To get more information, history, service details and how to get involved with Asociación El Trapito, visit their website www.eltrapito.org.ar.
4. Buenos Aires English House
If teaching English is specifically what you are looking for, and your are also watching your budget, Buenos Aires English House (BAEH) is a volunteer organization specifically designed for helping children and adults of all backgrounds to learn, converse and hone their English language skills.
The English House only accepts native English speakers as volunteers as their primary mission in Buenos Aires is to teach English to students ranging from the age of five-years old to adults. They may participate for as long as they wish, assisting in drama, literature, workshops, and a variety of other programs.
These volunteers do not need to know Spanish in order to participate, in fact, Spanish immersion programs are offered to all volunteers who want to improve their language skills as well. They are able to participate in social activities with Argentines, excursions, conversation exchanges, tango lessons and much more.
By participating in BAEH, volunteers are able to get to know the city through a different point of view, make new friends and do all of this for free. Housing can be recommended, but is not provided.
The website, http://baenglishhouse.com.ar/eng/teach-english.html, is where one can register, learn more about the program, and read testimonials.
5. Voluntarios Sin FronterasThis completely free, non-profit volunteer organization was started in 2004 to host Brazilian volunteers who visited Argentina and volunteered in the cit of Buenos Aires. Striving to better the quality of life everywhere, Voluntarios Sin Fronteras (VSF) has grown and continued their mission to improve lives, reach out to problems and devise solutions beyond the borders of home.
Projects that VSF undertakes range from local projects to exchange programs. The local projects assist Buenos Aires and its surrounding areas with the purpose to better the lives and assist people who need it. Current projects range from soup kitchens in Villa 3 and volunteering with the Buenos Aires SIDA Foundation to social sports programs and solidarity trips to Patagonia. The fieldwork done by the VSF local projects resonates with the true nature of philanthropy.
Of course, VSF wouldn’t be “without borders” if they didn’t also have an exchange program. VSF offers volunteer leadership exchanges, exchange scholarships to help pay for travels and may other projects outside of one’s own country.
Volunteers from Argentina, Brazil, the United States, France, Spain and numerous others have participated in VSF. Volunteering to aid with VSF will show you a side of Argentina and Buenos Aires that most tourists, expats and porteños will not get to see.
Participation is free, and to enlist, learn about the projects and history of VSF, check out their websitehttp://www.voluntariossf.org.ar/idiomas/ingles/index.htm, where you can read with ease in either Spanish, Portuguese, French or English.