About the Organization
- Are staff members local or international?Sustainable Bolivia has a permanent staff of 9 individuals, 5 of which are local and 4 are international.
- Does your organization have any specific political or religious affiliation?No. Sustainable Bolivia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered in both the United States and Bolivia. We do not have any political or religious affiliation.
- How do I arrange to take Spanish/Quechua classes? What will the hours be etc?Upon arrival we will discuss your language needs and arrange classes accordingly. We will place you with an appropriate professor and make sure the curriculum is tailored to any particular needs or goals you may have. Additionally we will work alongside our partner organizations to develop a time schedule which allows you to take as many hours of class you desire, while still maximizing your work at your volunteer/internship location.
- Does Sustainable Bolivia provide medical insurance to its volunteers/interns?Sustainable Bolivia does not provide insurance but we recommend all volunteers/interns to purchase some form of insurance prior to departure. Travel insurance is always a good idea, as a plan with extensive coverage may cover everything from theft, to doctor’s bills, to emergency return. We recommend that you inform yourself as to the details of your policy, especially if you want to do extreme sports such as mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking or even trekking. A policy that provides emergency airlift evacuation is highly recommended. Please refer to our Orientation Packet which lists a couple of recommended travel insurance providers: Orientation Packet
- What is the nature of Sustainable Bolivia's relationship with its partner organizations?Sustainable Bolivia has partner agreements with over 25 local organizations in Cochabamba; the majority of which are small non-profit foundations. We provide support to our local partner organization through the provision of human resources (i.e. volunteers and interns) and financial resources (through our mini-grant system and donations).
- What level of support does Sustainable Bolivia offer to its volunteers and interns?Both before and during your volunteer stay, Sustainable Bolivia offers advice, support and information regarding your voluntary work, your accommodation, and life in Bolivia. Sustainable Bolivia aims to ensure that its volunteers are placed in appropriate partner organizations which benefit most from their skills and experience. We take an active role in projects that volunteers are involved in and provide advice whenever needed. We wish to foster a reciprocal relationship between each volunteer and their placement organization, whereby the volunteer learns from, and is able to contribute to, their placement organization.
- What age, nationality, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. are your volunteers?As of 2014, the average age of our volunteers is 26. We have had volunteers and interns from over 40 countries and accept individuals of any race, color, sexual orientation, as well as national and ethnic origin. Click here for more information on past volunteers
- What types of activities does Sustainable Bolivia organize for its volunteers and interns?Sustainable Bolivia organizes social and cultural events for volunteers, including lectures, travel, film evenings, and parties. We believe that volunteers should have the opportunity to learn as much as possible while having as much fun as possible, during their stay in Bolivia.
About Your Role as a Volunteer/Intern
- What will my hours be as a volunteer/If I want to take language lessons how will that fit in?The number of hours you work per week is dependent upon which of our partner organizations you work with. Most positions are all day with a long lunch ‘siesta’. Plan on averaging between 30-35 hours a week but we can arrange for more or less depending on your schedule. Many also choose to take language classes while volunteering/interning and we will also work with you to arrange a schedule which provides time for both language studies and voluntary work.
- Will I have free time or days off to travel?Yes. Part of the experience here is having the opportunity to travel and explore Bolivia. We encourage travel and will work with you and our partner organizations to arrange for periodic time off.
- Will other international volunteers be onsite? How many?This depends entirely on your position and which partner organization you will work with. In some instances you will be the only international volunteer, while at other locations there could be as many as 3 or 4. We can provide a more detailed response to this question on a case by case basis.
- Are there vaccinations required or recommended for the area I will be living in?The only required vaccination is against Yellow Fever. In Cochabamba you will not need any additional medication or vaccinations. For those planning to travel to other areas of Bolivia and or South America, we would recommend other precautions. Please see the heath section of our Orientation Packet for more information: Orientation Packet
- Can you accommodate special needs like dietary restrictions and allergies?Yes, we will have no problem accommodating special dietary needs and allergies. If you choose to live in one of our houses you will have the opportunity to cook all meals and we will ask beforehand about any allergies and place you in the correct locations (i.e. without cats, dogs, etc.). If you choose to stay with a host family, we work with many families with experience accommodating dietary restrictions and this will not be an issue. Some flexibility is always appreciated but we will make the necessary arrangements prior to your arrival to assure dietary restrictions will not be an issue. For any additional restrictions, please contact a staff member and we will address these inquiries individually.
- Does your organization receive couples? Is your organization family-friendly? Do you accept youth volunteers?Yes, our organization is ‘family-friendly’ and we often receive couples (married or unmarried). We also have experience working with children under the age of 18 but will not do so unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
About Living Abroad
- How do I get to Cochabamba?The two international airports in Bolivia are La Paz and Santa Cruz. If you happen to fly into one of these locations and wish to carry on directly to Cochabamba, you have two options. You can check with one of the airline companies with daily domestic flights (BoA, TAM and Aeurosur) and see about purchasing a ticket to Cochabamba. There are many daily flights and they are reasonably inexpensive ($35-$55 one way). Please communicate with us if you purchase a flight so we will have someone to pick you up at the airport upon arrival. The second option is to travel by bus. You will need to make your way to the bus terminal where you can purchase a ticket to Cochabamba for $4 to $10. The ‘bus cama’ option provides for a more comfortable ride and is recommended. The ride from Santa Cruz typically takes about 10 hours while the ride from La Paz takes about 8 hours. Busses leave all day beginning in the early morning until about 10:30 PM.
- Can, or will I be living near my volunteer project? If not, will I have access to transportation?Yes, in all instances you will be living in close proximity to your volunteer site. Our office, volunteer houses, and host families, are all located close to the city center allowing for easy access to all our partner organizations. During the orientation, we will accompany to your volunteer site, via public transportation, to show you how to navigate the city. Many volunteer locations are walking distance from housing, while most will be within a 20 minute bus ride.
- What type of electrical current does Bolivia use and do I need to bring a adapter/converter?Bolivia’s standard electric output is 220V and the electrical outlets are typically of the two pin variety but vary. For those coming from countries which use 110V as the standard, a small travel converter might come in handy for certain electrical devices such as a hairdryer. Otherwise adapters are quite common and can be purchased in many locations in Cochabamba.
- What should I bring (e.g. bedding, toiletries, etc.)?All bedding (blankets, sheets, pillows, etc.) and general housing supplies will be provided except a personal towel. You are welcome to bring one personal use laptop as all of our houses and the office come with wireless internet access. Do not bring more than one laptop as entry customs could levy a charge. We also have computers available at our office for those without a laptop.
- What should I expect (e.g. what are the shower/toilet facilities like, will I have access to electricity, is a computer or internet access available, etc.)?All housing situations will provide comfortable shower/toilet facilities with access to hot water. In all instances you will have access to electricity and internet. Additionally you can use an internet-based (Vonage) phone to call your home countries at any time. For more information on housing please see our accommodation section complete with pictures: Accommodations.
- Are meals provided? Can you accommodate dietary needs and restrictions?3 home-cooked meals are provided when staying with a host family. If one chooses to stay in one of the volunteer houses, then food is not included and must be purchased and prepared by each volunteer/intern. In both cases dietary restrictions are not an issue and most all dietary needs can be accommodated.
- How can friends or family contact me while abroad?We have an internet-based (Vonage) phone which allows all volunteer/interns to call home whenever they want. Additionally we maintain both a US and Bolivian telephone number which any family or friend can use to contact volunteers/interns whenever necessary.
- Is there a local doctor, clinic, or hospital I can go to in case of emergency?We work with local qualified doctors and will accompany you to the hospital in case of an emergency.
- What will the weather be like/what clothing should I pack?Cochabamba is famous for its temperate weather all year round. The climate in Cochabamba is never too hot or cold but surrounding areas can be quite extreme. If you plan on doing a lot of travel in Bolivia, and South America in general, be prepared for extremes of both hot and cold and pack accordingly. For more information on what to pack please refer to our orientation packet under the “What should I bring” section: Orientation Packet.
- Do I need to get a visa to come to Bolivia? If so how do I get one?This varies from country to country and is dependent upon exactly how long you plan to volunteer/intern with us. Generally speaking, individuals do not need a visa before coming to Bolivia as they will be granted a 90 day tourist visa upon entry. This visa can then be extended by leaving and re-entering the country or one can choose to overextend and pay a small fine before leaving. As of 2008, US citizens do require a visa and this can be purchased at the border, airport, or in the US prior to departure. For more detailed information about visa requirements, please refer to the “Visa” section of Orientation Packet or contact Sustainable Bolivia via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.