Frequently Asked Questions
If you would like to know more about volunteering with VE Global, how to apply to be a volunteer, what it’s like living in Santiago, or if you have other general questions about VE, please read the following sections. You are sure to find an answer here. If not, feel free to contact us.
Not ready to apply yet? Contact us and we’ll connect you with a current VE volunteer who can answer any questions you may have!
Living in Chile
At the moment, it is only possible to work within the city of Santiago, Chile. In the future, we hope to expand to other places.
No, we do not currently have the resources to pay our volunteers. The only paid positions at VE Global are the Program Director and the Executive Director.
Each volunteer works approximately 40 hours a week, developing strong relationships with the children, planning activities, and participating in VE committee projects. Volunteers work, on average, 30 hours a week in one of our partner social service organizations and 10 hours a week on VE projects. Volunteers in other roles, such as coordinators, have varying schedules and frequently split their time between the office and their placement organization.
Volunteers’ day-to-day tasks vary greatly depending on the social service organization in which they work. In general, volunteers provide support in childcare, education, mentoring and administration. Tasks can involve leading activities and workshops such as art projects or sports, playing games, and helping the children with their homework. In some organizations, volunteers also provide support to the full-time staff with tasks such as cooking, cleaning and bathing. One of the main jobs of the volunteers is to be a friendly, consistent presence for the children and serve as someone to talk to or spend valuable one-on-one time with.
In addition to their work in the social service organization, each volunteer is assigned to a committee where they can develop existing projects or propose and implement new ones. The duties within a committee vary greatly and the time commitment required changes week-to-week depending on upcoming events. Volunteers on the Resource Development Committee, for example, might be helping with recruitment of new volunteers or organizing an event to kick off VE’s annual fundraising campaign. Volunteers on the Programs Committee might be helping run Festival de Arte or buying the healthy snacks for ¡Liga de Deportes!
Once your application has been approved, you will join one of our volunteer classes. Each year we welcome a new class in September, January, and May with an Orientation Week. During this time you will meet the other volunteers, learn how VE Global functions, receive training on working with children at social risk, and get to know the environment in which you will be living and working. Your work in your placement organization and on your VE committee begins after your ten-day VE Orientation is complete.
Please check back often, as we’re always looking for more ways to involve the global community in VE Global. If you have a specific idea about getting involved from abroad, please contact us.
We consider every applicant age 18 and up. VE does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. There is no maximum age to participate in our program.
First, fill out the online application form and compile your supporting documentation, including your resume or CV, one signed letter of recommendation, three references, and your essay questions. Once we receive your application, we proceed to a competitive selection process which enables us to ensure the safety of the children we serve. If your application is accepted, you will then be asked for an interview via Skype or phone. This process normally takes between six to eight weeks.
VE Global does not charge any application or program fees. However, you are responsible for all of your personal expenses including housing, food, transportation, travel, recreation, etc.
Aside from the minimum age requirement of 18 and the ability to speak English or Spanish at an intermediate level or higher, previous volunteers have exhibited an array of characteristics ranging from creativity, a caring demeanor and the ability to work well within a team. Each of these traits contributes not only to the diversity of the organization, but also to the success of its programming. Below are our requirements.
- Minimum stay of four months (VE recommends at least six months)
- Arrive for one of the January, May, or September classes
- Participation in the ten-day Orientation
- Participation in the Jornada weekend retreat
- Attendance of weekly VE meetings
- Full time involvement in one of our partner organizations (approximately 30 hours/week)
- Welcoming in the next class of volunteers by assisting in their Orientation
- Volunteer fundraising for VE Global
- Criminal background check and medical/health clearance (upon acceptance)
Most of our volunteers speak English and have at least an intermediate level of Spanish. Since you will be in contact with Chilean children almost every day, you will need to quickly learn Spanish or improve your Spanish abilities. If you have a low level of Spanish, we will ask you to take a Spanish class for 30 hours before your arrival and 30 hours of a formal class upon arrival in Santiago. English is not mandatory if you already speak Spanish. Note: During the Skype or phone interview, a few questions will be asked in Spanish to engage the potential volunteer in a Spanish conversation, in order to verify his/her current level. A lower level of Spanish will not be used to determine acceptance; however, an otherwise qualified applicant with a lower level of Spanish may be required to fulfill additional language requirements prior to participation.
Yes. However, each application is considered independent of the other, and should be completed individually. If you want to come with your partner, please indicate it in your application form. Back to topBack to top
Living in Chile
VE Global works hard to find an initial, affordable housing option for each of its incoming volunteers. Most volunteers live either in shared apartments with other volunteers, or in apartments with Chileans or other foreigners. Santiago is a big city with a wide variety of housing options, so you’re sure to find something that suits you! Although your first housing placement may not be your dream apartment, we guarantee that it will be a reasonable, safe and comfortable option. If the housing placement made for the volunteer does not meet his/her needs, he/she will be responsible for finding an alternate option.
The volunteer apartments offer two options: either having your own room or rooming with another volunteer. If you have a strong preference about sharing a room or not, you should inform VE during your application process. Volunteers who wish to find their own housing will be given support and advice for finding housing that is suitable for them.
You can specify your preferences on where you want to work in the application form. However, for a matter of availability and the specific characteristics of each social service organization, VE Global makes the final decision about the assignment of a volunteer to a partner organization.
Besides your flight to Santiago, you should take into account the cost of living in Chile in order to calculate a sustainable budget for your time with VE. Most volunteers are surprised by how modern Santiago is, and this includes modern prices that are comparable to those in many large cities. Monthly costs can vary, especially depending on your lifestyle, but here is an estimate of what to expect:
Housing: around 200,000 CLP
Food: 100,000 CLP
Transportation: 40,000 CLP
Cell Phone: 10,000 CLP
On average, you should count on a minimum monthly budget of 350,000 CLP which corresponds to approximately $570 USD and €460. Again, these amounts can vary and depend greatly on your preferences for housing and your social life. And remember, you will want to travel. The prices listed above do not include recreational travel expenses.
It is possible to find ways to help fund your volunteer experience. Consider GoFundMe, which gives you an outlet for crowdfunding, or Omprakash, which offers volunteer grants for qualified applicants. Some of our past volunteers have even organized their own fundraiser to help fund their experience. If you’re interested in more information about ways to help fund your volunteer experience with VE, contact us!
Purchasing traveler’s insurance is highly recommended. There are many options available online, which will vary in cost depending on coverage. Some travel insurance will give you the option of combining theft and travel interruption insurance with basic health care (emergencies, medical evacuations). More inclusive travel health insurance will be more expensive. However, if you planning to stay in Chile for a while, it might be worth considering the purchase of Chilean health insurance (around 35,000 CLP monthly).
Foreigners traveling to Chile will obtain a tourist visa at the airport when they enter the country. Some nationalities will also have to pay a “reciprocity fee” (USA $160 USD, Australia $95 USD, Mexico $23 USD and Canada $132 USD) that will last for the life of your passport. The tourist visa allows you to stay in Chile for 90 days. After 90 days, you must cross the border and return to Chile to renew your visa. If you plan on staying for more than nine months, it may be a good idea to obtain a temporary resident visa, which is good for one year. The process for obtaining this visa is complex and easier to begin once you have arrived in Chile rather than from your home country. VE Global will provide support in obtaining the temporary residency visa for longer term volunteers that require it; however, the volunteer is responsible for any costs and fees incurred in the visa process. Fees for this visa vary for each country: for example, it’s free for citizens of the United States, costs $136 USD for French citizens, and $1428 USD for citizens of the United Kingdom.
Santiago is a sprawling city with approximately six million inhabitants which can be navigated with its efficient network of metro and buses. It is a modern, metropolitan city offering plenty of cultural events and entertainment options. There is a wide variety of theatre, film, dance, live music and nightclubs which cater to all tastes. The city has many parks and green spaces, markets to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and a range of good restaurants and bars.
No! As soon as you arrive in Chile, you will be welcomed by other volunteers. VE is a unique, close-knit community of individuals who support each other. VE Global’s orientation week is meant to help you feel comfortable within the organization as well as in the city. Regular VE events such as meetings, Liga de Deportes and training sessions help our volunteers stay connected. Informal volunteer social events are always happening as well, from barbecues and parties to treks up San Cristobal and casual movie nights.
Chile has one of the strongest economies in Latin America, its beautiful scenery has made it a popular tourist destination and Santiago is one of the safest capital cities in the region. Yet it suffers from a drastic income inequality. The country´s richest citizens thrive on its success while its poorest inhabitants remain trapped in the poverty cycle. This disparity in income and wealth distribution results in vital services for children being vastly unequal; the most vulnerable children are served by underfunded and understaffed social service organizations with little hope of changing their situation. VE Global works to ensure equality of opportunity for all children. We want to bridge the income gap in Chile by fostering the development of children at social risk. VE volunteers mentor, educate and support these children; our core programs provide them with educational activities and motivational support; we work closely with our partner social service organizations to offer complementary programing and uphold social justice for youth at risk in Santiago.
Each year, we welcome a new class of volunteers in May, September, and January. The incoming groups are welcomed into the city and the organization with an informative and fun ten-day orientation. About six weeks after arrival, a weekend retreat called Jornada occurs, giving the classes, as well as other volunteers within the organization, an opportunity to spend time with each other away from the hustle and bustle of Santiago. VE classes enable us to train the new volunteers efficiently and provide them with an opportunity to bond. These relationships are essential to the VE volunteer experience, ensuring that every volunteer has a support network in place as they carry out their work.
We are fiercely committed to providing the children we serve with consistent, long-term mentors. The impact made on the children’s lives by longer-term volunteers is evident in the positive relationships they create with the volunteers. Bringing short-term volunteers in and out of the children’s lives could be destructive rather than productive since many of the children we serve have not had consistent and positive care. While most volunteers apply to our four month volunteer program, the majority tend to stay longer. Volunteers find that four months is about the amount of time it takes to get to know the children and gain their trust as well as get used to living in Santiago and speaking Chilean Spanish. Volunteers leaving after four months often feel frustrated that, although they may feel close to the children, they haven’t had the chance to accomplish everything they had hoped to achieve. In fact, most of our four-month volunteers willingly extend their stays past their original commitment, just as Robin, Jess and Faith did. Read their blog entries How Four Months Turned Into Eight, Why I Extended my Stay in Chile and How Four Months Became a Year and a Half to find out why. We understand that it may be financially challenging to spend six months or more in another country with no weekly paycheck, but due to the reasons above, we recommend at least a six-month stay. In the end volunteers find that longer stays are more rewarding and worth the penny pinching! Read Isabelle’s blog to find out how she was able to fund her volunteer experience with help from Omprakash, and even decided to extend her stay. And if you’d like to volunteer with us, but worry that you don’t have the resources, consider applying for a grant from Omprakash or consider other fundraising opportunties, such as GoFundMe.
No. While many of VE’s partner organizations are children’s homes, VE Global is not involved in the adoption of children.
There are many ways to get more involved with VE from home, including organizing fundraising events and spreading awareness about what we do! Of course, we are always happy to accept donations as well.
Yes, you can find them here.
We understand that international volunteering is expensive: the opportunity to volunteer abroad comes with significant costs, especially when considering a minimum commitment of at least four months. We appreciate the significant personal financial resources that volunteers invest in the experience. VE Global feels that our volunteers should be empowered to make their own financial decisions regarding their major personal costs involved in international volunteer, because these are different for everyone. By doing so, we believe we empower you to better advocate for our work as an organization, and ultimately, improve outcomes for the children at social risk that we support together.
If you look around and do some comparison shopping of international volunteer program opportunities, you will see that there is great variety in both how much an organization charges and what services they typically provide. Some organizations may charge as much as $US 2,000-$US 3,000 for a short, two- or three-week volunteer trip. And, you don’t have to look terribly hard to find other organizations that charge $US 10,000 for their 10- to 12-week programs. Transparency is difficult when companies and nonprofit organizations try to explain the program fees they charge without providing fee information until you register or actually begin to apply. Unlike other organizations that charge program fees, we prefer to provide you with as much information as we can up front, while at the same time encouraging you to understand that there are actual, justifiable costs involved in running an international volunteer program.
VE Global is a nonprofit organization with a clear mission of supporting the development of at risk children and youth in Santiago, Chile. We do this by training and empowering volunteers to be the best volunteers that they can be. We do this with an annual current operating budget of less than $US 75,000. As an organization that values responsibility and integrity, we take the use of our financial resources very seriously. Please check out our webpage about Volunteer Fundraising. We provide resources there that we hope will help to encourage a more serious, educated conversation about this frequently-asked, dangerous “overhead” question.
VE Global currently operates in Santiago de Chile with a full-time staff of just two professionals: an Executive Director and a Program Director. One other volunteer coordinator receives a small stipend, but beyond that, all of our work is carried out by volunteers and interns who receive no financial compensation for their labor. Donations and contributions to VE cover basic operating expenses: from rent for our office space, utilities and salaries for our small staff team of 3, to art materials and other supplies for both volunteer training and volunteer workshops with the children in our partner organizations. VE also provides year-round support and training to three classes of full-time volunteers every year to fulfill it mission, which means financing our orientation and training programs and providing in-country emergency support to our volunteers in the field.
As an organization that values responsibility and integrity, we believe every member of our community, from board member to volunteer, needs to participate in making our work financially possible. We recognize and value our volunteers’ financial contributions by covering the direct costs of their stays while in Chile, but we can’t provide the support and training that make our volunteers successful without additional financial resources. As direct recipients of the support and training we provide, we believe our volunteers must be creative and committed to being personally involved in the fundraising process, which will allow VE Global to continue as a quality program that doesn’t have to charge its volunteers a program fee. We believe that we can meet our needs as an organization without charging a program fee if everyone in our community plays their part, and volunteer fundraising is a crucial piece of the puzzle. It encourages all of us in the VE community, including our volunteers, to be a key part of the operations of our small nonprofit organization.
Of course. We understand that some people may prefer to make a personally significant contribution instead of fundraising, although we do feel that our volunteers and their personal networks of friends and family directly benefit from the experience of personal fundraising. Donations of this type can be made offline or directly on our webpage.