Vision Trip to Colombia
An estimated 577,000 children are orphaned in Colombia. Over half of Colombia’s children do not attend elementary school. This is a country that for many years has been one of Latin America’s most unequal countries, with the highest poverty rate and inequality rate in the region. You will make an impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Colombia.
Travel to Colombia
We are so excited for you to come alongside us as we answer God’s call and create sustainable change in Colombia! We’ve compiled the below resources to help streamline your experience and answer any common questions! Please reach out to us with any additional questions, comments, or concerns.
About AGCI in Colombia
AGCI’s commitment to intervening for vulnerable orphans in Colombia has changed the landscape of adoption and orphan advocacy on a national level. Since we became an accredited adoption agency in Colombia in 2014, we have united nearly 100 Colombian children with their forever families! Our incredible orphanage partnerships have allowed us to find homes for older orphans, children with special needs, and siblings who want nothing more than to stay together.
Beyond placing orphans in loving homes, we are elevating the level of care in government institutions, giving vulnerable families the tools they need to stay together, and creating safe spaces for older orphans to transition into independence.
In 2017, we began partnering with a community-based organization in Colombia that works with vulnerable families and schools to help children with behavioral issues thrive. This life-changing organization works within a community in Colombia in which 98% of families are in the lowest socio-economic class. Education Sponsorship gives children the tools they need to excel in school through speech therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling.
Additionally, we partnered with the Colombian government in 2017 to establish guidelines for homes caring for youth ages 18-25. Through dorm-style housing, kids who previously would have been on the streets will now have an opportunity to study, live, and learn how to be an adult while pursuing a college degree or vocational training program. Our “Dream Home” for older orphans is the first of its kind in Colombia and will serve as a holistic model of transitional care.
Before You Go
Optional Reading List
If you are interested in reading prior to your trip about short-term trips and the country of Colombia, below are some suggested books.
Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself
Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert: Helping Without Hurting: In Short-Term Missions (Participant’s Guide)
Tim Dearborn: Short-Term Missions Workbook: From Mission Tourists to Global Citizens
David A. Livermore: Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions With Cultural Intelligence
Robert Lupton: Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: 100 Years of Solitude
Eduardo Galeano: The Open Veins Of Latin America
Footprint Travel Guides, Colombia
Tom Feiling: Short Walks from Bogota
Victoria Kellaway & Sergio J. Lievano: Colombia: A Comedy of Errors
“Cómo se dice…?” Learn some helpful Spanish phrases to use during your trip.
Not sure what to bring? Check out our suggested packing list!
If you haven’t received your official itinerary, our Sample Itinerary shows the possible activities your trip will have.
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DO I GET MY PASSPORT?
Please ensure you have a valid passport as soon as possible. If you already have one, check to make sure that it does not expire within six months of the travel date and that you have at least four blank visa pages. If you do not have one, cannot find it, or need to renew it, go to the passport office and file for a new one immediately. The process could take as long as six weeks. For more information, visit www.travel.state.gov/passport. If you have less than six weeks, you might want to consider contacting an expedite service such as www.zvs.com.
WHERE CAN I GET PASSPORT PHOTOS TAKEN?
Most pharmacies or grocery stores with a photo-processing center should be able to help. FedEx, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Costco are a few places that offer passport photo services.
DO I NEED A SPECIAL ENTRY VISA?
Each country establishes their own regulations regarding international entry and exit. An AGCI trip coordinator will inform you of any special requirements in conjunction with your specific destination.
WHAT IMMUNIZATIONS DO I NEED?
Visit your physician or local public health clinic four to eight weeks before departure in order to inquire about vaccines and immunizations. Most vaccines do not produce immunity until two weeks after they are given, so don’t wait until just before your trip. Your physician will let you know what immunizations are needed for your country of travel. Due to liability reasons, AGCI cannot be your immunization recommender. Please see a trained travel nurse. AGCI requires that all team members bring an antibiotic, like Cipro, for traveler’s diarrhea. Talk to your doctor or travel nurse to get a prescription. If you would like to research immunizations for yourself, feel free to check out some of the following resources:
WHO MAKES MY TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS?
AGCI has partnered with Adoption Airfare travel agency, which provides discounted airfare worldwide for missions & adoption travel www.adoptionairfare.com. AGCI will work with individuals to reserve airfare with Adoption Airfare out of Atlanta, Georgia. Team members are responsible for making travel arrangements to ATL. You must get AGCI approval of your complete travel itinerary before purchasing tickets. When planning air travel, all team members must fly out of Atlanta and return to Atlanta at the same time. No exceptions.
HOW AM I COVERED FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE?
AGCI requires each team member to be covered by his or her own primary health insurance policy. Each team member must clarify coverage from his or her own health insurance company, as well as claim procedures to follow, if necessary. In addition, AGCI purchases basic, limited travel insurance to cover each member in case of a medical emergency from date of departure from the U.S. through the date of return. The insurance plan is through Good Neighbor Insurance (www.gninsurance.com). The deductible is $250 if used in-country. For complete details of coverage, claim procedures, and policy exclusions, ask for the Good Neighbor brochure to be e-mailed to you. If you want to purchase cancellation insurance, you must do so on your own. AGCI can provide recommendations.
WHO DO I MAKE PAYMENTS TO?
Mail checks to:
All God’s Children International
1400 NE 136th Ave Suite 201
Vancouver, WA 98684
You may also make trip payments online, here.
WHAT DO MEALS CONSIST OF?
Most trips have buffet-style meals on-site at the guesthouse and/or at restaurants. Many guesthouses have breakfast included in the stay. Ask about your particular country location. Please let your trip coordinator know if you have any food allergies.
WHERE DO I SLEEP?
Each country has different hotel/guesthouse arrangements. Accommodations will range from guesthouses to local hotels. Ask your trip leader about arrangements for your particular country location.
WHAT CLOTHING DO I WEAR?
Clothing should not be revealing or skimpy. Women should wear modest dresses, skirts, pants, capris, bermuda shorts (to the knees), and men should wear long pants. Sleeveless shirts or sleeveless dresses are allowed, but please no revealing or thin-strapped tank tops. For shoes, you will want to have at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes that are close-toed, but it is acceptable to wear flip-flops or sandals. We also suggest that you do not bring anything of particular sentimental value with you since there is the risk of theft or loss (i.e., watches, rings, jewelry, lots of camera equipment).
CAN I CORRESPOND WITH MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY BACK HOME?
Most locations will have access to the internet in the hotel or guesthouse where you are staying, or at local Internet cafes. Most cell phone companies have international roaming which can be set up at a cheaper rate if you call ahead of time. If you have a GSM phone (SIM card) you can simply buy minutes on a SIM card in-country at a fair price (www.safari.com). We recommend you keep your Internet and phone use to a minimum.
WILL I BE SAFE?
There are intrinsic risks to travel, but AGCI is committed to doing all we can to provide you with a safe and memorable travel experience. Our trip coordinators and leaders are experienced in international travel and will do everything in their power to provide the safest journey possible. More than likely, this trip will stretch your comfort level and challenge your flexibility, but your safety is our primary concern. Be sure to study this handbook. It was created in order to ensure you are prepared for your trip. It will provide you with information so you are aware of the risks, know the precautions to take, and understand the processes. If there are any unique risks or extenuating circumstances for your specific host country, your trip coordinator will be sure to make you aware of them and do all they can to give you the necessary safety information. We are also constantly tracking the United States travel advisories, and we will only move forward with a trip if there are no advisories in effect. We encourage all participants to visit the United States Department of State Website (www.travel.state.gov) for themselves to learn of any recommendations for their specific host country.
WHAT IF I GET SICK?
Getting sick is always a concern when you are traveling internationally. Be sure to check with your doctor and revisit the immunization section of this handbook before you travel, in order to take the necessary precautions against common diseases in your host country. If you follow all the recommended precautions, take the proper immunizations, and listen to your group leader, you will cut down significantly on your chances of getting sick. Your group leader will do all they can to ensure the food you eat is safe while in your host country. If you get sick while traveling, notify your group leader immediately. They will be able to get you the medication or medical attention you need. The primary reason individuals get sick when traveling is from eating food prepared by street vendors. We require that you bring anti-diarrhea medications with you.
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I NEED AND HOW DO I EXCHANGE IT TO THE LOCAL CURRENCY?
The cost of the trip covers meals, transportation, translation, lodging, planned relief projects, tours and trip coordination/leadership. Therefore, you only need money for souvenirs, snacks, and miscellaneous optional items. On average, individuals bring $50 to $100 to cover these costs. It is possible to be part of a trip without spending extra money, as all essentials are covered by trip fees. Go to www.xe.com to check the monetary unit and exchange rate of your specific destination. Do not attempt to convert currency until you have been advised to do so by your group leaders. In many locations, group leaders will make an exchange for the whole team to avoid conversion fees per individual transaction. At times, you will be able to convert currency at your hotel. You can also pre-order foreign currency through your local bank ahead of time. Check on the requirements of the country you are traveling to for bringing currency through customs.
If necessary, credit cards are accepted for some hard currency purchases. The most widely accepted credit cards are American Express and Visa. If you plan to withdraw cash on your credit card while out of the United States, you will need to inform your credit card company, before traveling, to ensure that your card is set up for international cash withdrawal and not frozen in reaction to fraud precautions. Please bring newer crisp bills for the best exchange rates in country. One hundred dollar bills that are 2006 and newer receive the best rates.
CAN I KEEP IN CONTACT WITH PEOPLE I MET ON THE TRIP?
While on your vision trip you will no doubt develop many relationships and friendships you would like to continue after you return home. Please ask AGCI staff if there is a way to correspond with any of the children you met at the homes. This may not always be possible, so please ask your leader what is appropriate. If you wish to donate funds to a particular orphanage or ministry, please contact AGCI staff to facilitate this request.
Download and keep these forms, including:
- Country Summary and Helpful Phrases
- Packing List
- Sample Itinerary
- Safety and Emergency Info
- In-country Staff Partnerships
Download and return these forms, including:
- Media release
- Foreign travel release
- Confidentiality statement
- Child protection policy
- Anti-trafficking policy
- Medical release
- Cancellation policy