There are hundreds of voluntary and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in Bolivia, but travelers looking for paid work on the spot shouldn’t hold their breath.
For paid work, qualified English teachers can try the professionally run Centro Boliviano-Americano (CBA; 243-0107; www.cba.edu.bo; Parque Zenón Iturralde 121) in La Paz; there are also offices in other cities. New, unqualified teachers must forfeit two months’ salary in return for their training. Better paying are private school positions teaching math, science or social studies. Accredited teachers can expect to earn up to US$500 per month for a full-time position.
Unpaid work is available in several places, and in others, you pay for the privilege of working on a project. (Be aware that some profit organizations offer ‘internship’ or ‘volunteer’ opportunities, when in reality it’s unpaid work in exchange for free trips or activities.)
There are a few options to do genuine volunteer work. Government-sponsored organizations or NGOs such as the Peace Corps offer longer term programs (usually two years) for which you receive an allowance, predeparture briefings and ongoing organizational support; church-affiliated or religious organizations offer short-term opportunities, often on a group basis; and smaller volunteer organizations (often profit-based) offer independent travelers the opportunity to work in community projects. These usually have a two- or four-week minimum for which you pay. This covers a language immersion course, a local homestay and administrative costs.
Some popular volunteer options include:
Animales S.O.S (2-230-8080; www.animalessos.org) An animal welfare group caring for mistreated or abused stray animals.
Parque Machía (4-413-6572; www.intiwarayassi.org; Parque Machía, Villa Tunari, Chapare) Volunteer-run wild animal refuge; minimum commitment is 15 days and no previous experience working with animals is required.
For longer-term volunteering assignments, you’re better off contacting international NGOs in your country or region, including Peace Corps (www.peacecorps.gov) in the USA and Centre d’Etude et de Coopération Internationale (CECI; www.ceci.ca) in Canada.
Interested wannabe volunteers and workers can make a start by looking up the following websites of profit and not-for-profit organizations and NGOs.
www.volunteerabroad.com (this site features a broad selection of short and longer term opportunities)
Few businesses open before 9am, though markets stir as early as 6am. Banks are open between 8:30am and 4pm. Cities virtually shut down between noon and 2pm or 3pm, except markets and restaurants serving lunch-hour crowds. Hours between eateries vary – this book indicates where restaurants and cafés are open for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Most businesses remain open until 8pm or 9pm. If you have urgent business to attend to, don’t wait until the weekend as most offices will be closed.
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