Up Close Bolivia
Welcoming, sustainable and offering volunteers a chance to become part of the community
Submitted by Steph Dyson - Radstock | October 27, 2015
You hear stories about social organisations working in South America who seem to have missed the point of international development: the work they do is either not sustainable and often is geared towards attracting well-meaning (and lucrative) volunteers, meaning their end result falls very short of the mark: the projects are neither sustainable or ultimately beneficial to anyone.
Up Close Bolivia is the absolute opposite. Run by Rolando and Emma (a Bolivian-British couple) who have years of experience working in sustainable and effective international development, the concept of the organisation is strongly rooted in working with local people. Through these powerful links (as the family itself lives in the community) can the impact and sustainability of the projects and the hard work of years of volunteers be seen.
I taught English classes to young people in the local high school in Mallasa, and although I was only able to commit to a month (I generally feel that volunteering with young people in any context deserves a longer commitment), it genuinely felt like the work that I was doing was having a positive impact upon those children.
The other projects are all also so deeply linked with the community (the Valley of the Moon Children's Centre is run by the local families and is such a calm, educational and overall wonderful place for the children, you really do need to see it) that you have no doubt that they will continue supporting the local people's capacity to develop solutions to improve the issues that they face, in collaboration with the knowledgeable and humble support of Up Close Bolivia.
I would strongly recommend committing as much time as you can to working with Up Close Bolivia. Not only do you feel part of the Up Close Bolivia family, but you become part of the local community who welcome you and your enthusiasm, delighted that you would give up your time to work with them.
Program: UP CLOSE BOLIVIA
UpClose Bolivia- ethical, sustainable volunteering in a beautiful small community
Submitted by Judy Waters - Wylam, Northumberland | August 24, 2015
I had a fantastic time volunteering with UpClose and any fears about being an older volunteer were unfounded. The organisation is based on a clear, sound ethical position and work contributed to projects is as sustainable as possible. The small-scale nature of the organisation means that everything is done at a personal level and the UpClose staff work hard to ensure that volunteers with their individual personalities, skills and experience are well matched with projects and enabled to make the best possible contribution. As a psychologist I was enabled and supported to run parent groups in an Equine Therapy Centre and a Children's Centre and to deliver staff training in the Children's Centre, as well as working with the (adorable) children. Volunteers are accommodated in lovely housing and Emma and Rolando who run the organisation could not be more caring and supportive of the volunteers in every way. The beautiful, rural location of the projects means that the nightlife of La Paz is a half hour's taxi or bus ride away but there are plenty of barbecues, parties and other community events on site and locally and I was certainly never bored! UpClose provides volunteers with a wonderful experience and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Program: UP CLOSE BOLIVIA