The foundation 'Mijn huis in Ipauratu' ('My Home in Ipauratu') is a registered non-profit organization (NPO) that assists families in a village called Paluato, Colombia. The work that the foundation does is related to improving the living circumstances of disadvantaged families and individuals in Paluato.
The founders Inten and Jeovanny moved in 2002 to Paluato and established their non-profit organization in 2009. For the purposes of education they bought a small finca (farm) and turned this into a school. The organization welcomes volunteers and are happy with all help offered. Volunteers must bear in mind the fact that this is an isolated community so there isn't a lot to do, you are surrounded by stunning nature and trips are possible during the weekends but you are very much a part of the community and need to create your own entertainment in your free time. It is a place where your Spanish skills will improve very quickly as everyone speaks Spanish.
The foundation 'My home in Ipauratu' helps children build a future even when their parents don't have the necessary resources. The foundation is based in a small indigenous village in the north of Colombia (approximately 18.5 km southwest of Barranquilla). The village inhabits approximately 480 people, 200 of which are children. The residents of the village belong to the Mocana's, an Indian tribe who are the original inhabitants of this specific area. As 90% of the inhabitants of Paluato live below the poverty line (meaning that they don't have enough resources to support themselves in general), the children who grow up in the village often do not have a very prosperous outlook for the future and this is where the foundation 'My home in Ipauratu' comes in. By providing education to the toddlers and children in the village, they will be able to start building their own future and get a profession so that they will be able to live independently and make their own living. The project also provides support in the wider community and there are a variety of options where you can get involved.
At this moment the foundation runs the following programs:
Centros de Accion Infantil:
The volunteer helps the teacher with the 2-4 year old toddlers with pre-school teaching. This includes basic hygiene, manners and skills like counting and speech.
Va Pa Esa:
The volunteer assists the football trainer in training children and youth that can't afford membership to an official school. They focus on their football skills, as well as on manners and values that belong to sports and games.
Va pa esa English:
The volunteers teach English to the boys that join the football training. This gives them a step ahead in their future career.
A group of youth from the nearby village comes to the foundation to learn English, leadership skills and to get to know other cultures. Volunteers prepare and perform activities for and with them.
Attencion Social Integral Adultos Mayores:
In an elderly home in the nearby village volunteers play games with the elderly, make handicrafts and sometimes kids from the area pass by to practice their English. This program makes the elderly feel part of society and makes them productive (they can sell the handicrafts they make).
M'Integro and Sumate:
The foundation is strongly concerned with children with special needs. These kids risk becoming outcasts because they can't attend a normal school. Therefore the foundation founded a school for kids with special needs. Volunteers help the teacher by teaching, playing and giving structure. Some kids are too handicapped to come to the school. These kids are visited once a week by the teacher and the volunteers.
Gardening, Painting & Maintenance:
There is always work to do at the finca. Constructing a vegetable garden, decorating the constructions with paintings, improving the road etc.
The average working day is between 4 and 6, depending on the project and the activities
Some of the projects are located outside of the property of the foundation. In this case daily transport is provided to and from the project by moto taxi or taxi - distances are no further then 10 to 15 min.
First Day at the Project
On the first ‘working’ day (Monday) the foundation’s volunteer coordinator will set up a meeting to discuss the volunteer's interests and level of Spanish. According to these the volunteer will be allocated to one of the projects.
Weekly Schedule & Activities
The working hours for the volunteers depend on the exact help that the volunteer provides. Each working day, however, has an average of 4 to 5 working hours. The weekends are free and volunteers are not expected to work unless there is a special event where the help of the volunteer would be appreciated.
It is possible to take Spanish classes at the Foundation. Classes are 5 times a week 2 ½ hours and directed at the actual work the volunteer does. Classes are in the morning or afternoon, depending on the project the volunteer is attending. Spanish classes are only available in combination with volunteer work.
Weekends & Public Holidays
Weekends are free and volunteers are not expected to work unless there is a special kind of activity where your help would be appreciated. Volunteers are not required to work on public holidays, but other activities can be organized such as recreational activities, sports and maintenance tasks like painting when the schools are closed. Volunteers can coordinate this with the project on spot.
Volunteers are hosted by the owners of the foundation, meaning that they will receive accommodation, meals and drinks at the foundation site. There are 2 buildings: one building with 4 rooms, including double beds and one shared bathroom. The other building has 2 larger dormitory style bedrooms (recently built) with bunk beds. All of the accommodations are placed on the foundation's property.
Please note: Please bring your own towel.
We recommend including the transfer from Baranquilla to Ipauratu. The transfer back to Barranquilla can be organized by the volunteer with the organization and has an approx cost of 81.500 COP (or 25 USD) which you pay for locally. Transfer times are restricted to the following period: 07:00 to 18:00. Outside of these times a transfer to Barranquilla and an overnight hostel can be arranged for an additional charge.
Transport from the foundation to the local projects is included and coordinated by the foundation (moto taxi or taxi). All projects are located close by in a range of 10 to max 15 min away.
During the weekends there are various activities that the volunteers can undertake, including spending a day in Barranquilla or Puerto Colombia. Furthermore, there is a variety of small little villages around Paluato that the volunteers can visit. Some of these villages are known for their handicrafts (mainly for traditional handmade baskets), amongst which Quaimairal and Tubera are the best known. In the bigger villages around Paluato there is a little bit more to do, however, please remember that they are still villages.
As Paluato is situated in the mountains, close to various parks, there are also options for walking tours, mountain biking and hikes. It is even possible to visit Tayrona National Park that has stunning beaches and fascinating wildlife. Please note, however, that such a tour will take at least two days.
Volunteers will receive 3 meals a day - 2 warm and varying meals including fresh fruit juice as well as one cold meal. Mealtimes are very social with everybody sitting together, and as the Dutch owner's hobby is cooking, everyone seems to be very satisfied with her cooking skills. Tea, coffee and water will be available all day.
Lunch is always eaten at the foundation.
PLEASE NOTE: In case a volunteer has any allergies or other dietary needs, they will need to inform the foundation in advance.
Internet access is limited at the foundation, because of our rural location. However, it is possible to organise internet access on your smartphone by purchasing an (inexpensive) local simcard.