Volunteer in South America
To volunteer in South America was something I had decided to do before I set out to this amazing continent. I also knew I was going to do volunteer work in Brazil before I went to South America, I had read numerous articles about street child problems there and I felt the need to at least give a helping hand for some time.
I arrived in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil in December and I immediately went in search of an organization. There are some very well funded street child care centers that offer volunteer work but when I visited them I got told they did not need volunteers during the holidays (I always thought this a bit strange as street children never have holidays). But I didn't give up.
At one point I got the address of an independent street child care center in Baixa do Fiscal, a neighborhood in the favelas of Salvador. The center is called CEAMAC (Centro de Apoio ao Menor e ao Adolescente Carente) and is led by Luiz Santana (a former street child himself) with very little resources.
I stayed at CEAMAC for six weeks and it's still the most rewarding experience of my life. The love that I received from the wonderful children cannot be put in words. I can highly recommend engaging yourself in volunteer work in South America if your heart is up to it.
www.volunteersouthamerica.net is an excellent website that lists free and low-cost volunteer work in South America. The site is designed for backpackers / independent travelers looking for a real volunteer experience abroad.
Links for Change is dedicated to supporting development, conservation and human and animal dignity through linking volunteers and charitable organizations in South America and around the world. For more information visit www.links4change.com
Street child care centers in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will be delighted to see you offering a helping hand and to make a difference in the life of a child.
© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire