Testimonials

Daniel Alvarez

Switzerland

En Agosto, tuve la suerte de poder venir en Riberalta para ayudar a Bolivia Sostenible. Mi experiencia en la ONG ha sido rica y variada, […]

Sophie Duc

Switzerland

It was my first experience as a volunteer and I’m very happy that I came to Riberalta to work with Sustainable Bolivia. I was a […]

Vincent Lopez

United States​

I had the very fortunate opportunity of being accepted for a graduate internship with Sustainable Bolivia. Working with Sustainable Bolivia and its local counterpart organization […]

Lucie Dabos

France

It was my first experience as a volunteer, and I’m absolutely not disappointed! I would be happy to renew the experience! […]

Chloé Peillon

France

Sustainable Bolivia has enriched my life in many ways. It was really, for me, the adventure of a lifetime. I acquired professional knowledge while working […]

Lily Young

United States

I knew I wanted to volunteer in South or Central America, and I narrowed my search to 3 programs in Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. The […]

Benjamin Wood

Australia

My decision to be a part of the Sustainable Bolivian team was quite out of the blue. I had been traveling already for most of […]

Ran Tan

Canada

When I originally started looking at volunteer programs, all I knew was that I wanted to go somewhere Spanish-speaking – it was really just luck […]

Nicole Suarez

Bolivia

Bolivia is a country that has many things that are still in need of discovery. Before I came into the country, I was interested in […]

Claire Ranyard

England

After volunteering at a shanty town school in Peru for several months my boyfriend and I decided to move on to Bolivia. This time round […]

Jason Pinger

United States

After graduating college, my goal was to take some time off to travel, to go do something fun and adventurous and hopefully learn a language. […]

Sophie Peeters

Belgium

Bolivia Sostenible m’a offert une expérience unique. J’ai été accueillie à bras ouverts par les employés, ainsi que par ma famille d’accueil. La famille Arébalo […]

Sua Park

South Korea

The organization I worked for is called Mosoj Yan, a Christian organization established seventeen years ago in 1991. The organization is based entirely in the […]
 

Wendy McClellan

Australia

I had decided during my first year of studying post graduate occupational therapy that l wanted to work for two years in Australia and then […]
 

Amber Macdonagh

England

I was traveling around South America for 7 months in total and wanted some organized volunteer placement as well as traveling by myself, found Sustainable […]

Denise Lama

Chile

I found out about Sustainable Bolivia on the internet while researching internships on development in South America. The things that motivated me the most were […]

Jesse Lalonde

Canada

I discovered Sustainable Bolivia while browsing idealist.org looking for positions regarding community development in Latin America. I have long had an admiration with Latin American […]
 

Christian Knipfer

United States

My experience with SB exceeded all of the expectations I had for this year of my life. I’ll be taking so many unique things away […]

Jillian Kirk

Canada

Unlike most travelers who think of volunteering abroad, I had not looked into any programs before arriving in Bolivia. I am so lucky to have […]

Henriette Hanicotte

France

I have been studying business administration and economic of development and I was very interested in getting an experience with a microfinance institution. Sustainable Bolivia […]

Abel Gerrits

Holland

I enjoyed most the ease to meet new people in the Sustainable Bolivia houses. There were always people around who are open to talk and […]
 

Jessica Fahey

Australia

Being a volunteer with Sustainable Bolivia is a fantastic opportunity to enhance your travel experience, embrace the local culture and meet loads of great people! […]
 

Clement Dupont

France

Désireux de découvrir le monde de la microfinance, je me suis mis en quête d’un stage dans ce domaine sur internet. Au fil de mes […]

Alicia DePaolo

United States

I found out about Sustainable Bolivia while researching non-profits and volunteer programs in South America during spring of my sophomore year of college. I wanted […]

Antonio de Guadalupe Uceta Perez

Spain

This trip was my second time in Bolivia. I wanted to be based in a single place so I could have the chance to interact […]
 

Emily Dansereau

United States

Like many people, I located Sustainable Bolivia through the internet. My friend Brindha and I were scrambling to make plans for the summer, and applications […]

Robert Cornwell

United States

I came across Sustainable Bolivia while researching legal internships in Human Rights for my first summer as a Law Student. I contacted Erik and asked […]

Catherine Carlstedt

United States

I was looking to volunteer somewhere in Bolivia and with luck, I happened to find Sustainable Bolivia, in the same city where my boyfriend and […]

Anja Brunner

Germany

My name is Anja Brunner, I am from Fuerstenzell, Germany, and I have been a volunteer with INFANTE for about four months. I have been […]

Michael Brossman

Germany

Bevor ich mich dazu entschloss, mich als Volunteer bei Sustainable Bolivia zu bewerben, habe ich sehr viel Zeit damit verbracht, im Internet nach einer passenden […]

Emily Bland

Germany

Das Auslandsjahr in Bolivien ist die beste Zeit meines Lebens. Ich war drei Monate lang Freiwillige bei Mosoj Yan, einer Organisation für Mädchen die keine […]

Charles Beddingfield

United States

Through the options of Spanish classes, a homestay or a house in the middle of the city, a job working directly with or without people, […]

Fernanda Barbosa

Brazil

It was around four in the morning when I arrived in Cochabamba. I couldn’t quite find the right address and, after spending 6 hours between […]

Katelyn Banner

United States

On a whim, I did an internet search for volunteer work and found Sustainable Bolivia. I hadn’t planned to go to Bolivia, but quickly changed […]

Gordon Bae

Canada

As I searched online for volunteer opportunities abroad during the summer, I came across the Sustainable Bolivia website. I found that Sustainable Bolivia offered a […]

Angeline Annesteus

United States

I came across Sustainable Bolivia as I was looking online for a non-profit organization to do an internship. I was skeptical about it in the […]

Joanna Animashaun

England

After travelling around South America for 7 months I
decided to do some volunteering and by searching the
internet I found Sustainable Bolivia, and it […]

Daniel Alvarez, Switzerland

En Agosto, tuve la suerte de poder venir en Riberalta para ayudar a Bolivia Sostenible. Mi experiencia en la ONG ha sido rica y variada, porque Bolivia sostenible tiene la ventaja de trabajar en muchos campos diferentes.

Estudiar la biodiversidad de la reserva Aquicuana fue mi objetivo principal. Para los que estudian biología como yo, ir en la selva es algo increíble y trae mucha experiencia! La reserva es preciosa y el lago San José es hogar de muchas especies. Todavía queda mucho para descubrir y aconsejo está experiencia a todos los que aman la naturaleza.

Bolivia sostenible también trabaja con un orfanato y ayuda los responsables del lugar en varias áreas. Eso también permite a los voluntarios de trabajar en una área mas humanitaria y para los dueños del orfanato, nuestra ayuda es preciosa. Por ejemplo pude organizar actividades con los niños y hacer unos trabajos de reparación con el dueño, una persona muy amable.

Gracias a Bolivia Sostenible y a Ludivine para esa experiencia inolvidable!

Erik taylor

Sophie Duc, Switzerland

Vincent Lopez, USA

Lucie Dabos, France

Chloé Peillon, France

Lily Young, United States

I knew I wanted to volunteer in South or Central America, and I narrowed my search to 3 programs in Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. The reason I chose Sustainable Bolivia was primarily because the price was right and because Erik answered all of my questions quickly and helped alleviate my stress about moving to another country. I am so glad I chose Sustainable Bolivia for many reasons. For one, they were able to accommodate my boyfriend, who spoke no Spanish before arriving. Secondly, they matched me with an organization according to my specific interests.

I worked with the Bolivian NGO Anyisuyu, whose director had prepared a task for me to complete. I got to experience what it would be like working for an NGO in another country, and I had the chance to see the surrounding countryside when I visited the area for work-related jobs. I had the full support of my coworkers if I had any questions. My job at Aynisuyu was to write a comprehensive report to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of one of their programs for children in the area. I did research at the office, but I also interviewed participants in the program, from children to teachers to doctors to district directors of education. I learned a lot, not just about Bolivia, but valuable skills I hope to apply back home.

Furthermore, Cochabamba is a very livable city that was a nice place to come back to after traveling around the country. Living in a house with other volunteers also made us feel a sense of community when we began to miss our homes. The neighborhood was comfortable, and pretty much anywhere in the city was walkable from the volunteer house. We will also never forget the friends we made, and plan to keep in contact with them for a long time. I am glad I chose Sustainable Bolivia, and would recommend it to anyone interested in volunteering abroad.

Benjamin Wood, Australia

My decision to be a part of the Sustainable Bolivian team was quite out of the blue. I had been traveling already for most of the year and was keen just to stay put in one spot for a while. And the idea of volunteering became enticing not just for this fact but also as it gave me a chance to give something back to what was quite an indulgent year. I came across Sustainable Bolivia whilst researching on the internet, and to me it stood out as the best choice as it provided excellent volunteering opportunities that covered a whole variety of fields.

I chose to opt for Centro de Salud Pacata as I am a medical student and thought that it would be a valuable experience for both academic and personal reasons. My experience at Centro de Salud Pacata was incredibly worthwhile. It saw me take part in the Bolivian preventative health approach. I was involved in the vaccination program for all Bolivians; as well as monitoring the health of people, mainly children, that lived in the region. Skills that I were able to practice and hone included suturing, vaccinating, using a sphygmomanometer, and common medical sense with regards to monitoring development of children. Working with the locals though was the real reward, as they are ridiculously friendly and grateful. And the children are absolutely adorable and one can’t help but fall in love with all of them.

Heading away no from the health centre, living with a bunch of other volunteers is, put simply, a lot of fun. The housing is more than adequate, the nights and weekends are as enjoyable as you want to make them, there are opportunities to practice your castellano (with excellent tutors), and the city itself provides many Bolivian marvels and delights. So if you want an unforgettable experience that includes a proper connection with the people of Bolivia, giving you a chance to learn so much more than you thought possible, than do this. Seriously.

Ran Tan, Canada

When I originally started looking at volunteer programs, all I knew was that I wanted to go somewhere Spanish-speaking – it was really just luck that I ended up at Sustainable Bolivia after poking around the internet, and I’m very glad that I did. What most people look for first in volunteer programs is the kind of placement they can get, and Sustainable Bolivia has a large variety of those. I studied business and economics in university and I ended up working for a microloan organization, which was great because it was something I was really interested in. I didn’t end up doing a lot on the financing side, but my friend who I was traveling with and I, in the three months that we were there, ended up designing and evaluating the feasibility of a strategic marketing plan and making a recommendation about whether they should implement it or not.

It was really amazing being trusted with something so important and having so much say in what steps an organization could take, and I don’t imagine you could often have that kind of impact if you were starting a job right out of school. The learning experience was also incredible – there were a lot of things that were pretty frustrating in the beginning because we didn’t speak a lot of Spanish, or because we kept expecting things to get done at a North American pace or in a North American way; but by the end of our time there we were medium-fluent in the language, had adjusted a lot better to the difficulties of working in a different culture, and were changing our own habits to be more effective.

I found it really opened my eyes a lot to why not-for-profits based in the developed world so often have difficulties with the projects they embark on, and why it’s so important that their plans are made based on the specific cultural context they’re operating in. However, what I found most remarkable about Sustainable Bolivia was the community that it has. That wasn’t something that was really high on my list of priorities when I was looking at places to volunteer but I’m so glad that I ended up somewhere where people were so friendly and helpful and just generally people I really wanted to get to know better. It seemed like everyone had done so many cool things in their lives and had a ton of stories to tell – and it wasn’t just the other volunteers, it was everyone: from the staff to the Spanish teachers to the Bolivians who hung out with us.

Plus, if you ever needed anything or had any questions, sometimes it felt like people were falling over themselves to get you what you needed. It made for an incredibly fun-filled experience, from the trips and adventures that we took together, to the parties that we had, to just hanging out and talking about stuff. Cochabamba is also a gorgeous place – I can say one of the things I miss most right now is no longer being surrounded by mountains. It’s got a ton of things to do and good travel connections to other places in Bolivia, and the city is just incredibly vibrant – you see so many interesting things every day and life is never ever dull. I consider myself really lucky that I had the opportunity to have the experience I did, and Sustainable Bolivia was a huge part of making that happen.

Nicole Suarez, Bolivia

Bolivia is a country that has many things that are still in need of discovery. Before I came into the country, I was interested in giving to the community. I contacted Sustainable Bolivia, which helped me learn about what many kids in Bolivia have to go through: abandonment. In the Colonia Ecologica, I shared time with many kids, which came from small cities around Bolivia, or were just part of the neighborhood. I discovered a welcoming family, in which together they worked to go forward. La Colonia Ecologica is a village like place, in which kids are sheltered. But many, including my self, think of a shelter as a place which is not so pleasant.

Colonia Ecologica is the complete opposite of the stereotype many of us think of when we think of a shelter. It is a safe place in which kids ranging from age 2 – 19 are homed. There are over 100 kids in La Colonia, 30 of which get to live there, and over 70 kids that go there during the day. Many of the kids here have parents that left them, or don’t have the capacity to take care of themselves, yet alone a kid. La Colonia is run by a married couple Mr. Francisco Villanueva and Mrs. Maria del Carmen Vargas. Before the Colonia, both of them had normal lives, in which they went to work, came home and took care of their kids, having a healthy happy family. Slowly their family started growing, with kids that weren’t their own. Soon they discovered a new passion, their kids. There are so many kids that are in need of assistance which started coming to them for help, they found it hard to say no.

The turning point in their lives was when they decided to leave everything to dedicate their lives to these kids. They moved to a land they owned by Chiquicollo, where they started from scratch. At the beginning they slept in tents, where they found it hard to keep from the cold and the rain. Slowly they started building little houses in which the kids use as a learning environment, where they are taught important skills such as reading, writing, and using a computer. There are many projects that are still on hold because there isn’t enough money to go through with these projects. One of the projects Mr. Villanueva was telling me about was to have more showers so all the kids can shower, especially during the summer time, when it’s so hot. They are still currently trying to find funding so their plans can begin.

La Colonia has a very friendly and safe environment for the kids to grow up in. The time that I spent with them was very valuable and helped me take away experiences that I will never forget. A normal day in La Colonia consists of many different activities. I got to participate in many of them, I got to cook with the girls, work on the garden with the boys, and play with the little ones. I got to talk with them and all the kids opened up to me, telling me how they got to the Colonia, I heard so many stories that surprised me on how much these kids have been through. But these experiences don’t stop them from being young and happy.

One of the characteristics that surprised me the most is how educated, loving and caring the kids are. They welcome you in such a way that makes you feel as part of the family instantaneously. Helping in the Colonia Ecologica, helped me realize how much kids suffer and go through, but thanks to people such as Mr. Villanueva and Mrs. Vargas that kids are given a second chance.

Claire Ranyard, England

After volunteering at a shanty town school in Peru for several months my boyfriend and I decided to move on to Bolivia. This time round we were looking for a volunteer experience that would be a little more challenging and also more relevant to our skill set (I have background in Marketing and a Masters in Human Rights and Conrad is a Lawyer with a Masters in Criminology).

After much internet searching we came across Sustainable Bolivia who offered a much wider range of volunteer experiences, especially if you are looking for something other than teaching English to school children. The placement which immediately appealed to us was with an organisation called Ayni Ruway who work primarily in the prisons of Cochabamba providing services to the inmates such as legal assistance, psychological assessments, skills training, computer literacy and general social welfare support.

From what little we knew of the Bolivian prison system we knew that this would be a fascinating placement but certainly full of challenges. Conrad and I are both very committed to ideas of equality and social justice and also have very strong views on the failings of the criminal justice system so we were very glad of the opportunity to work with the inmates and to try to help them, but I can imagine that this type of work may not appeal to everyone. Our placement at Ayni Ruway lasted 3 months but I would have liked to have stayed longer as it takes a month or so to get used to the system and to get to know the inmates you are working with. Overall it can be quite an intense environment so a commitment to the inmates and their needs is absolutely essential.

Many rely on the services of Ayni Ruway for all sorts of practical and emotional matters so I wouldn’t describe it as a particularly casual type of placement; we worked every day (Mon-Fri) and also two evenings in the prisons. That said, Conrad and I enjoyed our time immensely, we met some fantastic people, both inmates and staff at Ayni Ruway, and once you become used to the conditions inside the prisons they are not at all scary or intimidating places, quite the opposite actually! Specifically I worked on their small business training programme, I prepared and ran several workshops on product marketing as lots of the inmates produce handicrafts, clothes and furniture to provide an income for themselves and their families. I also helped to organise two artisan fairs to help sell their goods. All inmates need to have a source of income in order to rent or buy their cell and to buy food…unfortunately nothing is free in a Bolivian prison! Also I taught classes in basic computer skills, which was hard work but lots of fun too.

Conrad undertook a piece of criminological research for the organisation which they hope to use in the future to expand their work into the area of prevention. All in all we feel very lucky to have found Sustainable Bolivia and had the opportunity to do this kind of interesting work.

Sophie Peeters, Belgium

Bolivia Sostenible m’a offert une expérience unique. J’ai été accueillie à bras ouverts par les employés, ainsi que par ma famille d’accueil. La famille Arébalo a vraiment été pour moi mon second foyer, et j’adorais passer du temps avec eux. Leur hospitalité fut incroyable, les repas délicieux et abondants, et notre chambre était très confortable et propre. Il n’y a vraiment pas la moindre chose de quoi se plaindre. Les gens en Bolivie sont tous extrêmement sociables et serviables.

J’ai eu l’opportunité de participer et être en charge de multiples projets et activités. Ceux-ci incluaient assister les médecins dans une clinique en montagne, donner des vaccins, faire des présentations sur le SIDA des orphelinats ou écoles de jeunes, prendre soin des enfants victimes de brulures graves, et bien d’autres occupations. Concernant le projet éducatif sur le VIH, on aidait avec l’assistance de l’organisation «Vivo en Positivo». Cette expérience fut pour moi unique et a sans aucun doute été très bénéficial dans tellement de dimensions. De retour de la Bolivie, je voyais le monde différemment, plus de plaintes, heureuse d’être si chanceuse. Etre volontaire avec Bolivia Sostenible vous ouvrira définitivement les yeux!

Sua Park, South Korea

The organization I worked for is called Mosoj Yan, a Christian organization established seventeen years ago in 1991. The organization is based entirely in the city of Cochabamba, and it employs 23 full time professionals plus long term and temporary volunteers like me. The organization serves approximately 100 girls, ages 6-18. The Center provides basic services such as a cafeteria, hygiene facilities, laundry services, and savings accounts, as well as long-term therapeutic services, educational support, information on disease prevention, and skills development workshops.

A typical day began at 8:30 AM and ended in the early afternoon, two hours of lunch break, and finish around 4:30pm. My work primarily was to work in the administrative office. The main building where I worked was 2 stories building consisted with 8 rooms that were occupied with 3 or 4 staffs in each rooms and I worked at the administrative office assisting the director. It was a small office room that only the director and I use privately. The office was somewhat disorganized when I arrived, with years of files and correspondence stored without any particular order. I helped solve this problem by labeling, categorizing, and re-filing the documents. I did not lead any of the workshops held at Mosoj Yan but I provided organizational assistance to several.

I visited the The Center for Girls and Adolescents Who Work on the Street twice a week and I worked there with the other interns to workshops on a variety of issues, including health care, sanitation, and disease prevention. During the workshops, I sat and interacted with the participants and tried to converse in Spanish. Typically, about twenty women attended these workshops and events. All of the young women I worked with at Mosoj Yan had engaged in begging, informal labor, and prostitution. As I look back the moments that I had in Sustainable Bolivia, I feel lucky and blessed. I will miss the times in Bolivia so much. It was simply too precious to forget. I feel thankful to Sustainable Bolivia for letting me to learn, experience and grow even more.

Wendy McClellan, Australia

Amber Macdonagh, England

Denise Lama, Chile

I found out about Sustainable Bolivia on the internet while researching internships on development in South America. The things that motivated me the most were that the program looked very organized, that it was affordable, and that a wide range possibilities were available to choose from. I knew exactly that I wanted to intern with Pro Mujer when I saw it as an option under Sustainable Bolivia’s interning options. After contacting John, National Director at Sustainable Bolivia, everything from there went smoothly and quickly.

I sent in my resume and after a couple of weeks had been accepted to the position with the organization. Pro Mujer is an international micro credit organization for women which not only offers micro credit services, but also training and basic health services to women and young entrepreneurs. I spent 3 months working closely with the Promotions team. During my time there, I was given a great amount of responsibility which allowed me to learn a lot and gain plenty of experience. Every day, I would go to different sites (both rural and urban) to inform women in poverty stricken areas about Pro Mujer’s services.

We would go door-do-door, or with a megaphone, inviting them to a neighborhood meeting that we would hold in a main plaza or shop of the area. After several women gathered, we would give informative meetings which covered the basics of Pro Mujer’s services. Days were very agitated, as we would spend great part of our days traveling by buses and walking long distances to reach as many potential clients as possible. Even though it was hard work, it was very rewarding. Many women would come to our meetings and join Pro Mujer for better opportunities. Besides being constantly in the field talking to women about Pro Mujer, I was also involved in developing a Promotions Manual for the Promotions team. This project was part of a wider proposal presented by other volunteers and I to Sustainable Bolivia and another organization for funding marketing programs within Pro Mujer.

With our proposal, Pro Mujer received enough funds to purchase an amplification system, a tent, bags and uniforms for Pro Mujer promotions staff. Finally, together with the Promotions Coordinator, we organized a public speaking and interpersonal skills workshop for the Promotions staff. I lived in the Sustainable Bolivia main house, where around 10 other volunteers and some of the SB staff live as well. The area in which it was located was perfect, as it was close to a main plaza and to the center. Also, it was very safe. Often, we would go out together or with volunteers living elsewhere.

The SB staff also organized a series of events in the house, and were happy to give us ideas about where to go and what to visit while in Cochabamba and Bolivia in general. They were also very active in keeping us informed about the festivals and cultural parties celebrated in the region. Overall, my experience with Sustainable Bolivia was excellent. The people are friendly, helpful and very positive. I recommend SB to everyone who would like to see Bolivia and work with organizations such as Pro Mujer or others.

Jesse Lalonde, Canada

Christian Knipfer, United States

Jillian Kirk, Canada

Henriette Hanicotte, France

Abel Gerrits, Holland

I enjoyed most the ease to meet new people in the Sustainable Bolivia houses. There were always people around who are open to talk and it was nice to stay in a clean and big house with a large garden after travelling a while in hostels.

Jessica Fahey, Australia

Clement Dupont, France

Désireux de découvrir le monde de la microfinance, je me suis mis en quête d’un stage dans ce domaine sur internet. Au fil de mes recherches et après avoir essuyé de nombreux échecs, je suis tombé sur le site internet de Sustainable Bolivia. Méfiant dans un premier temps – les prix de ce genre d’organisme étant généralement très rédhibitoires – j’ai tout de même sollicité Erik (fondateur de Sustainable Bolivia) pour un stage chez Pro Mujer, un des nombreux partenaires de l’organisation, spécialisé dans la microfinance. La réponse positive a été immédiate, et tout s’est ensuite très vite enchaîné : fixation des dates, choix de l’hébergement, et réponse à la moindre de mes questions ou inquiétudes. Partir seul de l’autre côté de la planète peut en effrayer quelques uns ; qu’ils se rassurent, le staff de Sustainable Bolivia les accompagnera dans leurs moindres démarches et met systématiquement tout en œuvre pour satisfaire aux besoins du stagiaire.

Dès mon arrivée à l’aéroport de Cochabamba, j’ai été pris en charge par John, directeur national, qui m’a emmené dans les bureaux de Sustainable Bolivia afin de me présenter au staff et aux autres volontaires présents. La convivialité se fait immédiatement sentir, et même les plus timides n’auront aucune peine à s’intégrer à la communauté. J’ai choisi de séjourner en famille d’accueil les deux premiers mois de mon expérience afin de m’imprégner au maximum de la culture bolivienne, chose que je ne regrette en aucun point. Sustainable Bolivia m’a, avant mon arrivée, communiqué de nombreuses informations avec cette famille d’accueil afin de me familiariser avec eux et me donner une idée du milieu dans lequel j’allais vivre. Grâce à cette formule, j’ai pu côtoyer le quotidien d’une famille bolivienne, en apprendre sur un pays que je connaissais très peu, mieux en appréhender ses us et coutumes. Pour mon 3e et dernier mois, j’ai voulu vivre au sein même de la communauté de Sustainable Bolivia, avec le staff et d’autres stagiaires.

L’excellente ambiance dans la maison rassurera les plus inquiets, et la rencontre d’autres stagiaires venus d’horizons tous différents est une expérience particulièrement enrichissante. Inoubliables sont les souvenirs de sorties, soirées et autres voyages en leur compagnie… Mon stage chez Pro Mujer s’est lui aussi déroulé dans des conditions idéales : Jimena Vargas, responsable des ressources humaines du groupe, m’a dès mon premier jour consulté afin de connaître mes attentes quant à ces 3 mois. J’ai été affecté en conséquence dans le département promotion, ce qui ne m’a pas empêché de me livrer à d’autres activités. Le travail de promotion consiste en la rencontre sur le terrain de la population en besoin de financement, tant en zone rurale (marchés, porte à porte) qu’urbaine (fêtes de villages, déplacement dans les campagnes reculées). Le contact est primordial afin de cerner les attentes de ceux à qui la microfinance propose son aide.

Parallèlement à cette activité, nous avons été chargé, avec un groupe de quelques stagiaires, de redéfinir la stratégie marketing du groupe à l’échelle régionale, et de le doter d’outils permettant le redressement de certaines activités aux résultats insatisfaisants. Nous avons du travailler en collaboration avec les différents services de Pro Mujer Cochabamba, ce qui m’a permis d’avoir une vision globale du groupe et d’en comprendre les rouages. Ce stage a ainsi répondu à toutes mes attentes : appréhender les enjeux, les forces et les limites de la microfinance en tant qu’outil d’aide au développement des populations les plus défavorisées. De façon plus générale, mon expérience à Cochabamba m’a en tout point ravi : découvrir un monde radicalement différent de celui dans lequel nous évoluons, autrement que par le prisme touristique, est un avantage inestimable et incroyablement marquant.

Cochabamba mérite amplement son surnom de « printemps éternel » ; l’ambiance qui y règne, l’accueil chaleureux des habitants, sa position géographique centrale, ses marchés colorés et ses délicieuses spécialités culinaires sont autant d’atouts qui en font l’une des villes les plus agréables du pays, dont il ne faut se priver sous aucun prétexte. A la question « si l’expérience était à refaire, y retournerais-tu ? », je vous laisse deviner quelle serait ma réponse, et ne peux qu’inciter quiconque à en faire autant !

Alicia DePaolo, United States

Antonio de Guadalupe Uceta Perez, Spain

Emily Dansereau, United States

Robert Cornwell, United States

Catherine Carlstedt, United States

Anja Brunner, Germany

Michael Brossman, Germany

Emily Bland, Germany

Charles Beddingfield, United States

Through the options of Spanish classes, a homestay or a house in the middle of the city, a job working directly with or without people, and work with or independent of an open and friendly staff, Sustainable Bolivia helped me tailor the exact amount of support and help that I wanted in a foreign country with foreign culture, while still advising and monitoring my stay enough to make it a perfectly enjoyable and educating experience.

The other volunteers at Sustainable Bolivia were also tremendous help. Whether it was someone to take me to my first bar, or someone with whom to discuss Spanish adverbs, to someone to loan me food when I ran out, the members of Sustainable Bolivia were the perfect combination of mentors and friends. I must also say that the selection of my job was professionally and carefully done. The staff of Sustainable Bolivia found me a volunteer position that matched my interests very well, while still being exciting and challenging. The follow-up by the office staff provided me with numerous chances to ask for help, advice, or a new position.

I can’t imagine how my stay in Bolivia would have been without the help and support of the Sustainable Bolivia program. They are dedicated to working towards their goals in the country, while still being friendly and human and accessible. When the Executive director lives in the same house, and makes a quesadilla for you when you’re hungry, when the Director of Volunteer programs teaches you how to use the Microbus system and then negotiates your job with your new boss because your Spanish isn’t quite up to par, you know that you’ve found a good place. Bolivia is an amazing country. I can honestly say that it has changed me thoroughly and has taught me things that I couldn’t have learned at home.

The people are a unique blend of familiar kindness and exotic toughness, and will make you see the world in a way that no one else can. And the perfect way to touch this culture, to interact with these people is a volunteer position helping some of the problems we all share, and the best way to become a volunteer in Bolivia is through Sustainable Bolivia. Whether you are independent but inexperienced, like I was, or a savvy traveler who wants to work with people in a concerted effort, Sustainable Bolivia can offer you the perfect blend of exposure and support, in a friendly, familial setting that you can’t even find anywhere else in Bolivia.

Fernanda Barbosa, Brazil

Katelyn Banner, United States

Gordon Bae, Canada

Angeline Annesteus, Haiti

I came across Sustainible Bolivia as I was looking online for a non-profit organization to do an internship. I was skeptical about it in the first place but after talking to one of the Sustainible Bolivia staff (Alex) I was sure it was the right place for me.

Upon my arrival I was received by a warm welcome from the Sustainable Bolivia staffs and the Cochabamba georgeous’ weather. Interning with Sustanaible Bolivia helps me better understand how fantastic Bolivia is specially when it comes to its amazing culture and people-great restaurants, movie theathers, touristic places, discoteques, and so on. Everything is just at a walking distance from the Sustainable Bolivia office and housing.

Cochabamba itself offers many sites to explore and food is just delicious. I was specially thrilled by the variety of Bolivia’s fresh and exotic fruits.

The organization I was working with is called Instituto de Estudios Internacionales de Bolivia( IDEI-Bo). The staff there are just great and they warmely welcomed me when I first met them. IDEI is an organization partner of Sustainable Bolivia that aims to promote economic and environmental sustainability while providing global educational opportunities and work experience. IDEI works and commits to teaching, conducting research, and analyzing and providing legal assistance to people. The first week of work at IDEI might be hard and bit boring specially if someone does not speak the language and is not interested in political science, law teaching, and international studies. But the staff are so friendly and understanding that you might not even notice so but rather find your way through and get self-oriented/sufficient very quickly. Working with IDEI I was able to contribute to its review (writing/publishing articles), do fundraising, make calendars, film and take picture of its events, working on linking IDEI with other international organizations/ institutions, help designing a course program on defense and security, develop guidelines for IDEI’s best search/use of themes of its interest in its partner organization’s website, among others.

I found such a great opportunity in Bolivia and got hands-on experience in those things because of the variety of programs that Sustainable Bolivia offers. I definitely recommend Sustainable Bolivia to any potential volunteer/intern that wish to learn, teach, and serve/help others while at the same time exploring the unique beauty/culture of Bolivia.

Joanna Animashaun, England