Frequently asked questions about ministering with
Casa de Amor in Bolivia
Updated October 15th, 2011
When can I come?
Volunteers are welcome anytime of the year. Exact service dates will depend on the current number of volunteers.
How do I apply?
Contact Elena Alvarez (email@example.com) for the Casa de Amor application. Background checks will be conducted on each individual and references contacted!
How much does a trip cost?
Short term trips or teams
Contact us if you are interested in a trip less than six months in length
Option 1: Live at Casa de Amor
This includes room & board and all CDA related expenses such as outings with the kids.
Option 2: Live at Casa la Vista (run by a Bolivian/American couple Victor and Elena Alvarez) Amount $250/month all inclusive, plus $50/month paid to CDA for all of your CDA expenses (such as food while working, internet access, etc.).
Option 3: Live with a Bolivian Christian host family
Amount $300-350/month all inclusive, plus $50/month paid to CDA for all of your CDA expenses (such as food while working, internet access, etc.)
Note: Options 2 & 3 do not include transportation which will add about $17/month assuming the host family home is one bus ride away (taking taxis will cost more).
EXTRA EXPENSES for all options:
Airfare (generally $1000-1200 from the US)
$75 CDA application fee (for our work to process) Any personal food or travel expenses
Visa fees (vary, $400-500 estimate) Personal items and souvenirs
Spanish lessons ($10 each lesson and highly Airport taxes & fees upon departure (up to $60)
You do not have to bring all the money you need with you. Getting money while in Bolivia is easy if you have an ATM card. There are many machines where you can withdraw money in Bolivianos or US dollars.
How do I get there?
The best way to come is to book your own ticket to Bolivia. Generally from the states you will fly to Miami for an overnight flight on American Airlines or Aerosur to Santa Cruz or La Paz, Bolivia. From there, it is only a short hop to Cochabamba on AeroSur or BoA. Contact us if you would like help booking the short flight since it is often cheaper for us to buy it for you from here and you can pay us back upon arrival. From Europe or other parts of the world, flights might be routed through Buenos Aires or other cities. Contact us if you need more information.
Do I need a visa?
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In recent years, Bolivia’s visa policy for US citizens is in constant fluctuation. Please contact Elena for the latest information. Citizens of most other countries receive a free 30 or 90 day tourist visa upon entry. If you plan to stay for more than six months, you will need to process a one year visa (currently costing at least $400).
How long should I stay?
We prefer to accept volunteers for a minimum of six months for the benefit of the children, staff, and overall ministry. In certain cases shorter trips are advisable for “checking out” the area and ministry or sharing a certain expertise, but longer trips are best if you plan to really engage in the ministry. The longer you stay the more you will be able to get to know the children and their situations, participate in their care, and make a difference in their lives!
Can I bring my child(ren)?
We will work with these requests on an individual basis. In the cases of older children, many can minister alongside parents if they have been properly prepared. Countless young people have been changed by seeing how another part of the world lives. It is never too early to begin to realize how blessed we are and to share of our abundance with others!
Where would I stay?
Option 1 (see above) is to live in the volunteer room at Casa de Amor I or Casa de Amor II. You can expect to find about the same basic amenities as a house in your country (such as hot showers). Opportunities for Spanish practice are plentiful as you converse with CDA staff and kids. Options 2 & 3 (see above) would be to stay with a Christian Bolivian family in a typical large
Cochabamba “city house”. This provides an excellent opportunity to get to know life here, participate in Bolivian family life—and practice Spanish!
What do I need to bring?
Bedding, towels and such will be provided wherever you are staying. Toiletries such as shampoo, soaps, lotions, feminine products, etc. are available for purchase, but if you prefer certain types or brands it would be good to bring your own.
In Cochabamba the afternoons are almost always warm to hot and the nights chilly. Bring lots of layers! Something warm to sleep in and a warm jacket or two is also a good idea if you'll be here during winter months (May-August). Make sure you have good shoes for walking since you will probably do quite a bit. The church we attend is fairly casual.
The Casa de Amor volunteer handbook and travel guide with much more information will be sent upon your acceptance!
What would I do?
If your passion is children, this is the place for you! Many of the Bolivian staff members work 24 hour shifts on, then 24 hours off on a continual basis regardless of weekends or holidays. As a volunteer your schedule will vary according to need, but your main role will be assisting national caregivers in the fulltime job of actual childcare. Life is rarely glamorous with children, but it is rewarding! These are kids just like any you know, but already carrying extra challenges and fears due to difficult backgrounds. Many of our children also have special physical and/or emotional needs.
Volunteers provide invaluable assistance to our work by helping the very busy staff take care of perpetual “to do lists” including purchasing items, painting, decorating, repairs, special
cleaning/organizing, research (especially with health needs), etc. The volunteers are also an integral part of trips to doctors and dentists, special outings to the park or birthday parties, and teaching English. Depending on level of Spanish, responsibility, and desire, there are also opportunities to help in the administration of Casa de Amor Children’s Homes.
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For those whose skill or talent lies in other areas (social work, education, medicine, etc.), we can discuss in what ways that could be applied to our ministry here or that of others in the area. Highly motivated, self-starting individuals who are willing to do anything and everything are especially welcome!
Contact us for a list of former Casa de Amor volunteers who wouldn’t mind chatting about their
experience in Bolivia!
Will I have time on my own?
Aside from volunteering you will have chances to explore more of this fascinating country. Besides chances to savor Bolivian and international cuisine at one of many local restaurants, you may visit Cochabamba’s huge outdoor market, hike mountains, tour local attractions - or just walk city streets! Much depends on your interests and sense of adventure. Those here for longer amounts of time will obviously have more of a chance to see the area and become comfortable using the widely available public transportation. CDA volunteers stay busy with church events and outreaches, too.
Do I need special training or skills?
We believe strongly in the value of experience and a willingness to learn and serve! Knowledge about almost any practical subject can be useful in the ministry and outreaches of Casa de Amor.
Do I need to learn another language?
Spanish is the main language so the more you speak and understand, the more you will be able to fully enter into life here. Two other indigenous languages (Quechua and Aymara) are official languages in Bolivia, but most of the people we interact with in Cochabamba know or at least understand Spanish. We are happy to arrange Spanish tutoring for your time here.
What can I study before coming?
The more you prepare yourself, the more you will be able to give and to receive during your time in Bolivia. Read all the books you can find on Bolivia, South America, Latin American culture, Spanish, etc. There are also many excellent books on subjects such as serving the poor, third-world lifestyles, working with disadvantaged children/orphans/street kids, etc. Two websites containing excellent resources are www.viva.org and www.tilz.info.
Can friends and family send packages to me in Bolivia?
When it comes to packages, think small and insignificant! You will have to pay customs if your package weighs more than 2 kg, has a value of over $100, or is sent by certified mail. It is also possible that your package could be completely lost. We recommend cards and letters, but the choice is yours!
Can I collect donation items?
To collect or purchase items for use at Casa de Amor, write us for a current list or brochures. We purchase many items here in Bolivia at a much lower cost than abroad, but certain products that are higher in quality or easy to travel with are welcomed, such as clothes and shoes.
And how will I get these items to Bolivia, you ask? Your luggage! Most airlines allow two check-on bags, so pack one for yourself and one for donations if you so choose. If you are coming from the North Texas or Memphis, TN, we would appreciate your availability to take already collected items.
How can I pray?
We covet the Lord’s blessing on this ministry, which will take care of every need, large or small. Pray that we would have wisdom in our daily operation, grace to help our special needs children, continued adoptions, special insight on how to minister to the families God brings us, and continued funding and monthly sponsors. Each staff member is in need of prayer as well as they carry out their respective Casa de Amor Children’s Homes, Cochabamba, Bolivia 3
duties. The vital roles that they play in this ministry take a lot of strength and perseverance.
Thank you for lifting us up before His throne!!
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