Supporting Your Community as an Expat During the Pandemic

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Colombia, Global | 1 comment

Expat Volunteer Opportunities in Colombia

As an expat living in Medellin, Colombia, one of the most important things for me has been getting involved in my community. Whether it is volunteering with a local organization, supporting local businesses, or donating to non-profit organizations, there are many ways to support others either, financially, or by donating time. It is a great way to give back to the place I call home.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and financial pressure have devastated the lives of thousands of families in Medellin and across Colombia. But some expats have risen to the challenge. They started initiatives to help families and local organizations that have been struggling during these hard times. Here are just three examples:

Volunteers in Colombia

Volunteers in Colombia By Andrea Gonzales
Volunteers in Colombia By Andrea Gonzales

There are many opportunities to help with food deliveries, hygiene products, and medical supplies for families in otherwise neglected communities here in Medellin.

Volunteers in Colombia is one of my favorite organizations that connect expats with volunteer opportunities in Medellin. This group was founded by Andrea. She was born in Colombia but raised in the Netherlands. When she saw an opportunity to create a service that connects passionate expats with volunteer openings, Andrea moved back to Colombia to start this non-profit. Thus, the name Volunteers in Colombia was born. During the national quarantine that started March 20th, Volunteers in Colombia have been working day and night to support 25 different local organizations in Medellin. Their tireless work ensures that hundreds of families do not go hungry during this trying time.

Feed the Barrios

YouTube Channel Feed the Barrios By @stevecha
YouTube Channel Feed the Barrios By @stevecha

Another incredibly inspiring initiative is Feed the Barrios. It was started by expat Steve from New York. In a recent Medellin Podcast episode, Steve shared how he was inspired to start this campaign after reading negative Facebook posts about expats who were misappropriating funds intended to support local causes.

Feed the Barrios partners with police, social workers, and local community leaders in this effort. Through his personal contributions and the support from private donors, Steve was able to feed over 300 families. Read his inspiring story on their Facebook page and check out his work!

Proyecto Florecer

Proyecto Florecer is the organization I founded in 2019, with the goal of giving young women the tools they need to be successful in their community. Since the start of the quarantine in Colombia, we have not been able to hold workshops, so we decided to shift our focus to address a more immediate need: hunger and food scarcity.  For the past three weeks, my co-founders and I have been buying supplies to make sandwiches and food kits, which we have been handing out to people in our community. With a small investment of just $5 USD, we have been able to assemble kits with ham and cheese sandwiches, an apple and a cookie. We have been feeding between 12-20 people a day in our neighborhood. Since the start of our initiative at the beginning of May, we have fed over 150 people in Medellin and even have the funds to continue this project beyond the quarantine.

Expat Volunteer Opportunities Wherever You Are

Even when staying home and practicing social distancing, it is still possible to have a powerful impact on your community. Regardless of where you live in the world, I encourage you to look into some ways to get involved and give to those who are most vulnerable during these times.  Please check out fellow expats who are doing inspiring work in your community. Expats are a powerful force.  Ask what you can you do today and get involved in these projects. Your work will make a difference!

Please connect with us, and let us know what you are doing, however big or small, and let us know of any expat or expat organization that you are proud of!

by: Erin Colton-Enberg