ANN IN COLOMBIA
My name is Ann and I am in Bogotá, Colombia for six weeks working with Fundacion Renacer.
MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS
My first impressions of Bogotá were that it is a very lively, crazy but fun city. Also I found that Colombians were always happy to help and generally really nice and friendly.
Fundacion Renacer run two different programmes, one aimed at the victims of sexual exploitation and the other for prevention. Currently in Bogotá there are two permanent houses where children who are involved in sexual exploitation live with the aim of rehabilitation. There is also a day centre for the victims of sexual exploitation so the children arrive at the centre in the morning and participate in various activities such as sports, arts and computers. Also they receive psychological support and lunch, and leave the day centre late in the afternoon. The aim of the day centre is to keep the children off the streets. There are also two day centres for children who are not involved in sexual exploitation where they can participate in various activities before or after school which are aimed to educated and also raise awareness about sexual exploitation.
MY ROLE IN FUNDACION RENACER
I work in one of the day centres for the non-victims of sexual exploitation. Every day is never the same as I am involved many different activities, from helping children with their English homework, playing games and singing English songs with the children helping to serve lunch to assisting in workshops such arts and crafts, reading and dance. I really enjoy working the children as not only are they helping me with my Spanish but I am teaching them new words in English! The age range of the children ranges from five years to seventeen years and in a day the day centre can receive up to 100 children needless to say to can be quite tiring but nevertheless lots of fun!
MY HOSTING SITUATION IS
I live with a host mum and another volunteer from Germany. I have loved living with my host mum as she is the sweetest woman ever. She doesn’t speak English but that has helped loads with my Spanish as I am forced to speak Spanish! She also feeds me lots! Also living with another volunteer has been great as she helped me a lot especially in my first few weeks of orientating myself in a new city.
WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO WHEN I’M NOT VOLUNTEERING
Exploring Bogotá……lots of shopping as things here are sooooo cheap! I have weekends free so I spend my time sightseeing, going to cinema, going to shopping malls and generally hanging out with friends. And of course going dancing which is a must in Colombia! I try and spend some time brushing up on my Spanish which can involve meeting up with friends or doing some reading. I have also been attending church which has been great as it’s helping me with my Spanish and it has allowed me to meet new people.
THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT LIVING & VOLUNTEERING IN COLOMBIA IS
The language barrier…..it can be quite tough communicating with limited Spanish and wanting to communicate more with people but no knowing the words in Spanish. Learning Spanish has definitely been a challenge but a fun challenge and having to speak Spanish no matter how good it is you so find that you do improve!
THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING AND VOLUNTEERING IN COLOMBIA IS
Colombians, they are so lovely! Colombia is such a diverse country with lots to see and do. I have also enjoyed eating here!