On the Ground International (OTGI) is on the front lines of the Venezuelan refugee crisis in Colombia. They work with international volunteers and local partners to provide aid and relief to the Venezuelan refugees walking across the country.
OTGI is a grassroots humanitarian aid organization based in Pamplona, Colombia. Their projects include supporting and operating shelters along the route, providing first aid and medical care when able, and providing food. The organization depends heavily on local and international volunteers to keep projects running. Volunteers will stay in a volunteer house with the other volunteers and one of the coordinators. Each day will bring different tasks such as helping out in the different refugee shelters that are worked in. This can involve helping to cook food for the refugees or cleaning the shelters. Other projects might involve volunteering in local schools.
During a volunteer's free time, there are plenty of things to do. Cafes and restaurants are easily found in Pamplona. There are also some shopping streets with a lot of clothing stores, but also many hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the town. There are a number of gyms in town with day passes of 5 mil (around 1USD) or monthly memberships for 40-60 mil (8-12 dollars). Some volunteers go to weekly yoga classes, take salsa lessons, or hire a local private Spanish tutor in their free time. All volunteers have Saturdays off, so they often organize activities together such as hiking, visiting local waterfalls and hot springs, and exploring the neighboring towns.
|Average Fundraising Goal||$5,500|
|Living Allowance||$150 per month|
|Requirements||2+ years of college, 18+ years old|
|Language||English required and Spanish helpful|
|Timeline||Must start after June and end before the following June due to visa requirements|
Volunteers in the volunteer house share some provided food items like fruit, beans, rice, milk, etc. This does not cover all food expenses though. Volunteers purchase personal food at the local markets or there are many restaurants in town that charge $2-5 USD for a meal.
Volunteers will stay in a volunteer house with the other volunteers and one of the coordinators. Bedding is provided in the house including sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels.
OTGI has rented a volunteer house in Pamplona and can offer shared accommodation to volunteers for 30 mil per night - approximately 5-6 USD, including some food. This price is covered in the money fundraised by an SM and covers internet, utilities, and house necessities such as soap and toilet paper. There is a fully furnished kitchen, including a stove, oven, refrigerator and freezer. It is important to note that this house is shared accommodation, with the possibility of up to four people per bedroom.
Weather in Pamplona can be chilly. Bring warmer layers, including a rain jacket. Please also remember to bring appropriate clothing for volunteering: no sleeveless shirts, shorts, or revealing clothing.
Outlets in Colombia are two-pronged. If you have three-pronged electronics, you will need to bring an adapter or buy one once you’ve arrived. Adapters are cheap and easy to find in Pamplona.
Some US cell phone carriers offer data plans that are free in Colombia like T-Mobile. Others charge a daily international fee or charge per data usage. If your mobile carrier does not offer data or you choose not to pay the international fees, OTGI requires that you buy a SIM card for your phone when you arrive in the country. This costs around $1 USD and can be loaded with a basic data plan, around $7 USD for two weeks. Being able to communicate with volunteers when they are out on a project or at a different shelter is very important not only for completion of tasks but for the safety of the volunteers.
OTGI volunteers are responsible for their own transportation expenses, including airfare and transportation from the airport to the service location. Once in town, volunteers cover their own taxi or bus expenses. The local bus costs 1.2 mil (30 cents) and a taxi to anywhere in town costs 4.5 mil (about 90 cents).