Spirit of the Andes is a not-for-profit organization that trains indigenous women from marginalized neighborhoods in El Alto, La Paz, and Cochabamba to knit high-quality products from Bolivian alpaca, llama, and cotton yarns.Spirit of the Andes works with its volunteers to create a personalized schedule.In addition to providing knitting expertise and a market for the products, Spirit of the Andes also allocates a portion of the proceeds to go to projects that seek to empower women by improving their health, knowledge of their rights, and their ability to exercise them.
Spirit of the Andes manages several projects, including identifying and training women for the knitting project, registering women and their families with the local health center, training the women who are already involved with Spirit of the Andes in health and human rights, and creating a support network for those who suffer domestic abuse. They also run a day care center for the women who are knitting.
Specific volunteer needs vary; Spirit of the Andes works with its volunteers to create a personalized schedule. English-speaking volunteers can respond to English emails and Skype calls, help identify and reach out to international markets for the organization’s products, and assist with inventory management and quality control. Spanish-speaking volunteers can work with children in the day care or with women in the cooperative.
Spirit of the Andes is located in Sopacachi, a great neighborhood in La Paz, within walking distance to restaurants, gyms, and clubs. Spirit of the Andes can also arrange Spanish lessons for those who want to brush up on their skills.
Spirit of the Andes
Sopacachi, La Paz, Bolivia
Application Process: There is a contact form available online. There is no minimum age for volunteers.
Cost: There is no cost to volunteer, but estimate US$200/month for housing.
Placement Length: Volunteers are encouraged to stay at least three weeks, to allow time to adjust to the altitude and make a meaningful contribution.
Language Requirements: None, although Spanish is always helpful.
Housing: Spirit of the Andes has an apartment (US$200/month) on-site for volunteers, which includes a do-it-yourself breakfast, wireless Internet, and use of the kitchen and washing machine.
Operating Since: 1994
Number of Volunteers: Four in 2012