“The experience was so rewarding. It was educational, fun, and helped me appreciate my decision to go to nursing school. It was amazing helping so many grateful people.”
-Jerry L. Schutz, Lewis-Clark State College
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world and is experiencing economic and cultural transition with its recently found civil peace and growing trade with the U.S. Urban areas have made great strides in reducing poverty and providing health care, but rural areas are still in great need of health care, education, and development support.
Equatorial Colombia is situated at the meeting place of Central and South America, and is the only country on the continent of South America with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Tourists are drawn to Colombia’s clean tropical beaches, lush rain forests, snow-capped Andean mountain peaks and fertile coffee plantations. ISL teams serve in the heart of rural coffee plantation country in the central cordillera of the Andes, at an elevation of just under 4500 feet, where the yearly average temperature is a pleasant 78 degrees.
Communities We Serve
ISL serves small villages in the high-altitude coffee region of central Colombia which are too far for regional hospitals to provide health care on a regular basis. These farm working communities mostly live an agrarian subsistence living off the land and harvesting coffee beans that ultimately end up in your coffee at McDonalds and Starbucks. Most adults do not have formal education. The young contend with the difficult decision of leaving home to venture into the cities and continue their education past middle school or begin living their lives as the the new generation of coffee farmworkers to help family. Yet, you will not find seemingly happier people or a more beautiful setting than in the coffee lands of Colombia.
Your Colombian experience will begin with an orientation on the history, demographics, and healthcare system of Colombia. Volunteers will participate in community health surveys, clinics and seminars. Seminars topics include tropical disease, basic triage, suturing, administering injections, and medical Spanish. All ISL teams collaborate closely with local health professionals to facilitate community health education and outreach.
Other activities may include ELS tutoring, attending cultural events, learning about coffee agriculture and other related industries, horseback riding, swimming in natural hot springs, zip lining, hiking and shopping.
Volunteers stay in a comfortable lodging facility in downtown Chinchina. Volunteers are housed two to a room, have Wi-Fi access, and served a hearty breakfast every morning before being transported to rural clinic sites 30-45 minutes away. Near the hotel are a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores, cultural centers, gyms and grocery stores, as well as the downtown plaza and central cathedral. Daily room service is provided and ISL staff is available 24/7.
Your Colombian adventure will begin in Pereira International Airport. Your country coordinator and team leader(s) will meet you at the arrival gate. From there, you will be transported via traditional jeep taxi ride through picturesque coffee lands enjoying the view of lush green hillsides accented by colonial style villas surrounded by thousands of acres of farmlands yielding year-round crops of coffee, papaya, avocado, mango, citrus, bananas, plantanes, coconuts, sugar cane, and giant bamboo. This first trip to your hotel will feast your eyes on what you’re about to experience over your service stay in the Colombian coffee heartland. Within an hour, you will arrive at your hotel in the base-city of Chinchina where you will have access to daily free WiFi so you may check-in with your family and friends to let them know you have arrived safely and begin sharing pictures of your temporary new home away from home.