There are two soup kitchens we work with in Buenos Aires, one in La Boca and one in Barracas. Where you get placed depends on availability at the time. Lots of people work in the soup kitchens, but there is never enough help and the volunteer’s collaboration is crucial.
The project in Barracas neighborhood started in 1994 driven by volunteer mothers and teachers of Villa 21 (Slums 21). Villa 21 is a large unstable housing settlement south of Buenos Aires. It mostly lacks paved roads and sewerage, many houses are made of perishable materials and have no running water or drainage. The neighborhood faces serious health problems as it is located on the creek that divides the capital city of the province, and is highly contaminated, causing respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases that primarily affect children. We also noticed that a large part of the population is of Paraguay origin (some of whom do not speak Spanish), adding a factor of cultural diversity to the existing problems of poverty, overcrowding, violence and general health. The dining room is visited by approximately 50 people from the neighborhood for lunch every day. The space is available to support teenagers when there are volunteer teachers willing to help them.
The community center in the neighborhood of La Boca is about 30 minutes from our Volunteer House in downtown Buenos Aires. The center provides educational activities and workshops, but it also has small cooperatives, micro enterprises, and the kitchen that receives more than 100 people every day to eat.
All volunteer projects start on Mondays. You should, however, plan to arrive in Buenos Aires on a Friday as you have a Welcome Package. This is an excellent introduction to the city of Buenos Aires and a great way to start your volunteer project. It includes a welcome drink, free Wi-Fi, a bike tour and a walking tour of either Recoleta, Palermo or San Telmo.
On your first day you will be shown round the whole community center. You will get to know each area and worker - there are over 80 people who work in the center.
Generally five days a week from Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 14:00, but you can discuss this in your introduction meeting, and agree to work more if you want. However, once you commit to working more hours you have to respect the schedule you have chosen and never miss work. You should always work the minimum number of hours required and in some cases the NGO also recommends a maximum number of hours. Please remember you will also use time travelling to and from your project.
There is an informal meeting every week where you will have an opportunity to talk with the team about your volunteering program. Volunteer activities include:
The volunteer’s "hands" are always welcome in the kitchen, helping to prepare lunch and learning the secrets of traditional Argentinean food.
Also helping serve the food and drinks and collect the plates.
The people who work in the different areas of the community centre have lunch in the centre every day and so volunteers have the opportunity to mix with the locals and practise speaking Spanish not only with the people who work in the kitchen, but with everyone who comes to eat.
Volunteers will not only help the people who have lunch in the centre, but also many school children from the area.
The project is not available the last week of December and the first week of January.
You have the option to add either 4-or 6-hours of Spanish lessons per week. Lessons are one-on-one or in pairs, and each lesson is 2 hours long.
Minimum age of 18
Volunteer application form that is approved by the volunteer organization
Accommodation during the volunteering weeks
Free internet and Wi-Fi access
City bike tour
Walking tour (Recoleta or Palermo or San Telmo) or a nightclub ticket
Briefing and 24/7 assistance from the volunteering organization
Donation to the project
4- or 6-hours of Spanish lessons per week, either one-on-one or in pairs (if chosen)
Daily transportation to/from the project (you can use public transportation)
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities.