Here’s what you need to know about our placement in Buenos Aires, from how to get there to what to take and about the project.
About the project
What’s it like to be a community volunteer in Argentina?
Come to Argentina and volunteer in the city that never sleeps. The focus of the project is to reach out to socially neglected children in the most deprived parts of the city.
The most frequented community centre is at the Cuidad Oculta, or in English the ‘hidden city’, a ghetto-like suburb, neglected by the authorities and without many of the basic facilities. Many children here do not attend school.
The volunteer group visits provide positive continuity in places where there is so much daily uncertainty.
What will I be doing?
Volunteers travel in a group each afternoon to organise art and craft activities, outdoor informal games and offer one to one positive attention. No formal teaching is required, instead volunteers take on a small group of 2 to 5 children for an activity indoors usually followed by a game or skipping outside.
For many children this is their only chance to be a child in an environment where crime and child rape are commonplace. So bring a smile and some ideas and materials and you will be able to make a real difference.
Make birthdays special
Birthdays are a big event in Argentina and there is a sense of stigma and social isolation for any child whose family cannot provide a spectacular event. Volunteers can help by organising memorable parties for disadvantaged children who miss out.
What additional projects are there?
Fundraising, on the streets of Buenos Aires, is a fun and unique opportunity, which many volunteers get involved with in addition to volunteering. It is a great way to brush up on your Spanish and increase your self-confidence.
Put your name down for a unique trip to a Guarani Indian village in the tropical north, to distribute food and health resources, and take a visit to the mighty Iguazu Falls.
The trip lasts 3 – 5 days depending on whether you include a visit to the Falls or return straight to Buenos Aires. The visit provides a unique insight into the challenges of the marginalised Indian communities.
The trip is monthly but dates are variable to check with the team on arrival and let them know if you are interested. Approx cost for return coach and lodging £130, payable locally.
Free time in Argentina
Volunteers work at the community projects Monday to Friday in the afternoons only. This means you have plenty of time for lazy mornings in bed after a night out or enjoying a cafe breakfast with new friends. Weekends are free and if you are here in the summer, a trip to the beach resort of Mar del Plata would make a great weekend detour. There are lots of things to see and do in Buenos Aires from the famous Teatro Colon Opera House, Plaza San Martin to historic tunnels under 18th century Jesuit buildings.
The best tango show at Manzi.
If you watch one show it has to be at Homero Manzi corner. it also happens to be one of the cheapest. Homero was a poet and a soldier who wrote many tango songs in the 1940s.
The shows offer dancing, singing and excellent musicians. Book in advance and take a taxi.
Allow £30 for two sharing. Restaurant staff will help with booking taxi afterwards.
One of the world’s most famous cemeteries and the site of Evita Peron’s grave.
Centrally located it contains the grave of Eva Peron, Evita and other notable people.
It has been listed as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
Well worth a visit.
Join an official pub crawl and make new friends.
Pub Crawl Tour
Join a crawl leader to take a group round the best bars in the Palermo district. The best way to get to know the night life and meet lots of new people from around the world.
You can also join the group if you are on your own. Friday and Saturday nights best. There’s a gay crawl too.
Book the crawl through www.bsas4u.com £18.
Gaucho ranches can be visited easily from Buenos Aires.
Day on a ranch
Visit an authentic Argentinian ranch in the Argentinian countryside, complete with a Gaucho steak and dance performances.
Transfer from city centre, 9 hours, £50.
Make friends on a guided city bike tour.
Rio Plate Bike Tour
Get up early and join a guided bike tour along the river for a fun day out with other travellers.
Monday to Friday, Starts 09:30
For 5 hours including guide, bike and cycling helmet, £30.
The sightseeing bus allows you to see all the major city sites and get your bearings.
City sightseeing bus
Departing every 20 minutes take the hop on hop off bus to learn more about this incredible city.
Tickets can be bought for less in advance, on the bus £25.
Learn classic Argentinian polo for an afternoon!
Polo club tour
Argentina is famous for its polo. Make a day trip to the countryside and learn to swing a polo mallet and unwind afterwards in an infinity pool. Includes all meals. Minimum two bookings required.
Pick up and transfer from city centre. £100. Book through viator.com
Health, safety and support in Argentina
Is Argentina a safe country?
Argentina is a safe and mostly developed country. Volunteers spend most of their time in Buenos Aires, a large modern city with all the usual facilities and would not feel any different to any other large European city.
Will I be safe whilst volunteering?
Volunteers travel together as a group in the afternoons with the local team to the community centres so you will be in safe hands and won’t get lost on the way!
Do I need to speak Spanish?
Knowing some basic phrases and numbers for money will help whilst out and about but there is no need for Spanish with the children. In fact in can be better that you don’t speak any Spanish. That way they can pick up some English as an extra advantage for them even if you do not teach them English. Spanish lessons can be organised after arrival if you would like some, allow £5 – £7 per hour depending on group size and frequency.
What level of support is provided?
There is a local English-speaking team to support you whilst volunteering and if you need any advice regarding medical attention or accommodation. Due to city-living in a modern environment, it is expected that volunteers make friends as a group and organise themselves in their free time and it is easy to do this.
Do I need a visa?f
No visa is required for British passport holders (and most European passport holders) staying less than 90 days. Other nationalities should check with their nearest Argentine Embassy/Consulate for requirements.
Two young girls outside at the community centre project. There is an outdoor space volunteers can use for games
Are meals provided?
Argentina is a self-catering project. Meals may sometimes be prepared by the host family for a small extra contribution.
What to take
What do I need to bring for the children?
Because of the cultural emphasis on the importance of the Birthday, anything connected with Birthday celebrations would be most appreciated, from balloons, banners, to table cloths, party games, gift bags and party games. For ordinary days at the project, the children love art and craft activities and outdoor games (there is a small concrete space outside). You might like to bring craft kits, face paints and skipping ropes, hula hoops. The boys can get a little overwhelmed with the emphasis on cute craft activities, so you may like to take two technical kits and get the boys to worked in two teams to see which team can make something fastest, perhaps for a little prize. If you are not able to bring anything with you because of lack of space in your luggage, basic art and craft items can be bought cheaply in the local area.
Do I need to bring anything for me?
Volunteers are not expected to bring anything specific to make their stay more comfortable. Everything can be bought easily in the city if you need something or have forgotten something from home. Clothes-wise, it is safe to say it is hot between November and March with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius. The coldest months are June to August where it is not unknown for it to sleet or even snow. Between summer and winter the weather can change between warm and chilly considerably so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the forecast just before travel and pack accordingly. For volunteering at anytime of year, jeans, t-shirt, hoodie and trainers is the most practical outfit. You may like to bring some smart outfits for going out to the restaurants, bars and clubs, which are a strong feature of Buenos Aires life.
How will I get around?
Transport is organised for volunteers to get to the projects and all volunteers travel together. Allow approximately £25 per week to cover transport to the projects. All local transport, buses and taxis are available and nearby should you need it. Shops, supermarkets, banks etc. are all close by, within easy reach. Health
What do I need to protect my health?
Other than some boosters you may need, there are few of the diseases encountered in developing nations that you need to be aware of. Anti-malarials are not needed unless you are travelling into Bolivia and Brazil after your stay. There is a doctor close by and a hospital should you need the use of one, the co-ordinators will be happy to help you with your transfer there.
What happens on arrival?
Volunteers fly directly into Buenos Aires. Once you arrive at the airport, there will be a local co-ordinator or their regular driver waiting to pick you up and take you to the volunteer accommodation.
Where will I be staying?
In Argentina, accommodation is provided. Volunteers stay together in apartments in the Recoleta district. The apartments include internet access, cooking facilities and bedding. Home-stays are also available for any volunteer wishing to soak up the Argentinian way of life although there may be an extra charge as meals are usually provided for practicality of living with hosts.
Children and volunteers enjoying the monthly group birthday party at the project. Birthdays are an important cultural event in Argentina.
Child at the Ciudad Oculta, or Hidden City, community project which volunteers visit. It is the most deprived suburb of Buenos Aires.
Not on your own
We will put you in touch with others going around the same time when you book. It might be possible to fly out together if you are both travelling in the same month. Although some volunteers travel with friends, the bigger majority travel alone. This project also receives volunteers from other countries – so even if there is no one arriving at the same time as you from the UK, there is a good chance you will meet volunteers coming from elsewhere.
OV volunteer plays with a young girl from the community project
OV volunteer after activities with the children at the community project
What happens after you have booked?
As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Argentina volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to.
You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations.
Below is an example timeline for a volunteer travelling in July 2019
At anytime : As soon as you are registered and have received your confirmation email, get flights to Buenos Aires airport to arrive before 4pm between Monday and Wednesday. If you are travelling overland from elsewhere in South America, shortly before you travel we will put you in touch with your volunteer coordinator to arrange a suitable meeting point/pick up point.
Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
Join the volunteer community onFacebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates.
April: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel) or our travel health section. Malaria tablets are not required for this region of Argentina.
June : Arrange suitable travel insurance – further advice is provided in your emailed welcome pack.
No visa is required before travel for Argentina for UK passport holders. If you require a visa – contact us if you require letters of introduction which we can prepare for you.
As soon as you have flights to Buenos Aires: Email your flight to us and we will organise your pick up on arrival for you.
At anytime : pay for your volunteer support contribution – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
We will organise your pick up and transfer from the airport automatically when we receive your flights.
Argentina at a glance
Argentina is the second largest country in South America. Argentina’s continental areas are between the Andes mountain range in the west and in the east the Atlantic Ocean. Bordering from the north is Paraguay and Bolivia and from the northeast, Brazil and Uruguay. Chile borders to the west and south. The earliest evidence of humans from Argentina dates 11,000 BC. In 1826, a new Constitution was enacted when Bernardino Rivadavia was elected president.
Argentina is a vast country, where all the attractions are on a huge scale. It is a traveller’s paradise stretching almost 3500km from Bolivia to the tip of South America. Argentina encompasses a wide array of geography and climates, and is almost the size of India. Nature-lovers can climb South America’s highest peak, walk amongst thousands of penguins and witness the world’s most amazing waterfalls.
Buenos Aires with its tango, colourful Boca district, lively nightlife and world famous cemetery La Recoleta-all a must-see. Time permitting, a long weekend would allow a visit to the sub-tropical Missiones region on the Brazilian border to visit the remarkable Iguassu Falls. A return coach can cost as little as £50 return for the 30 hour journey.
Festivals: Tango festival Buenos Aires late February, Gaucho festivals early/mid November. Climate: Mostly temperate; subtropical in the far north, cold-temperate in the far south. Seasons are the reverse of those in Europe (higher temperatures October to April-for beaches at Mar del Plata arrive December-February). The Ski season is June to September. Time difference from UK: GMT -4hrs.
Argentina weather is very varied. Mostly temperate; subtropical in the far north, cold-temperate to sub-arctic in the far south! Seasons are the reverse of those in Europe (higher temperatures October to April-for beaches at Mar del Plata arrive December-February). The Ski season is June to September.
Buenos Aires temperatures vary from 35 Celsius to 10 Celsius. The winter months in Argentina are June, July and August. In the summer months, the sun can shine for up to 18 hours a day.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions big or small on any aspect of the volunteer programme in Buenos Aires or would like to check available dates please contact us at the earliest opportunity as we only have limited spaces available.Alternatively complete an easy enquiry form with your contact details and we’ll be in touch asap!
Placement at a glance
18yrs+ on arrival
Playwork and activities with children in community centres in city
Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support
Buenos Aires and suburbs
Homestay with volunteer coordinator and extended family.
Usually afternoons only
Some Spanish required
Getting to project
Flight to Buenos Aires
All year except 2 weeks Christmas/New Year
When to apply
As soon as possible to avoid disappointment
£125 per week & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again)
Airport pick-up service
Airport pick-up service £22
Shop 20 minutes
Bars 20 minutes
Chemist 5 minutes
Bus nearest stop 10 minutes
Taxi rank 5 minutes
Cash machine 20 minutes
Bank 20 minutes
Pay Phone 5 minutes
Internet Access 1 hour
Laundry- On-site + small fee
Basics, what to take?
Summer weight sleeping bag
Volunteers are accommodated with the volunteer coordinator and other families in Buenos Aires.
Bedrooms are 2 – 4 sharing.
Good usual city amenities can be found on your door step.
Think London or New York moved to South America – that’s Buenos Aires!
Lillie is also the community project manager so you will not be better placed for an in depth knowledge of the programme.
Lillie started the programme from scratch nearly 10 years ago following a passion to provide the children in the roughest neighbourhoods with a safe place to play games, make friends and celebrate a birthday party. Lillie started by offering large group parties for the poorest children to experience a big party and the programme has grown from there.
Her daughter Victoria also helps with co-ordinating and fundraising.
Birthdays are a massive socio-cultural event expressing social status amongst all levels of society and there is tremendous pressure to invite the whole class, something the poorest families cannot afford so may do nothing in place of the big party they cannot afford. Children who do not have big traditional parties can be left feeling socially isolated and lack confidence.
The benefits of your local in-country team
What is a volunteer coordinator?
Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking.
What experience do volunteer coordinators have?
All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.
9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).
If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!
Who are volunteer coordinators?
At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.
Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.
Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.
Is there only one volunteer coordinator?
Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.
Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out
The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!
What do coordinators do?
Airport pick up
Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.
Liaise with local projects
If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.
Help organise specific placements
Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.
Show you around and help you to locate things
Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.
Provide an orientation on arrival
Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.
This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!
Help you when things go wrong
We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.
If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.
But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.
For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.
Help you when you feel unwell
Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!
Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.
While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.
For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.
Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.
Return transfer back to the airport
Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!
Is experience needed? Experience is not required for this project. The focus of the volunteering is helping out at after-school community centres in the city’s poorer districts. Volunteers work together as a group either supervising colouring and craft activities or playing informal games outside.
Where will I be staying? Volunteers share a volunteer apartment above the coordinating teams’ office. When busy, volunteers may share an alternative apartment closeby.
Will I be met on arrival? All volunteers are met at the airport in Buenos Aires on arrival.
What are the facilities like? Modern apartment, modern bathroom, kitchen, dorm style bedrooms.
Will I need a visa? UK/Most European passport holders do not require a visa for short stays.
What are the start dates? Volunteers can arrive on ay day at any time. Mornings best.
Can I stay with my friend? Everyone arriving together is placed together.
I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone? We can help you find someone to travel together – use our Buddy List or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up of travel buddies.
Will I need any jabs? Although few are needed for Argentina you may need some boosters. We advise to consult your trained travel health nurse a few weeks before travel for advice (Taken from the nhs website fitfortravel 21/08/13).
Do I need to bring anything for the children? Lots of art/craft materials and outdoor games equipment will be definitely used and appreciated.
Should I bring anything for me? Casual clothes are ideal with a couple of evening outfits if you want to take advantage of the city’s nightlife. For volunteers arriving between April and September, do bring layers of clothes as this is Argentina’s winter and temperatures can vary between 15 and 22 Celcius.
How can I keep in touch with home? Internet access is available throughout the city in internet cafes.
Contact us for specific questions
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email [email protected] to get the answers you need!
Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would absolutely, volunteering helps you to learn about yourself and the world around you. I am definitely a better person for it.What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Just do it. Thr...
Hi guys, here's my review as requested...Why did you want to volunteer?
The most amazing thing? Making friends with the children in the shanty and giving them lots of support. Some really need it and come in a terrible state each day.Best memory?
The birthday party we organised and seeing the children’s fac...