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Voluntourism Tours in Cartagena?

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We were lucky enough to have found this wonderful tour. We were on the Equinox In January. I can only say that I agree with all of the comments posted here and can confirm that this was a life changing experience for us. We saw many things there that on first impression were very negative. How ever when we interacted with these wonderful people and experienced their zest for life,we saw the positive.

For them it is the love of family that is foremost. But thanks to Dan and Berit, their quality of life and education is going up.

As stated before, take this tour if you can. Ships glitz is fine but it is always nice to see what the ships are hiding from you.

Lenny And Phyllis

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The Equinox was in Cartagena for two days in mid-April. We spent half of the first day on a Dora tour that included the church on the mountain, sightseeing and a walking tour of the old section.

On the second day, we took Dan's & Berit's tour, also in the morning. They met us at the dock where the other tour buses were. I think the cost was $20 each, which was a bargain. Dan had written that we could bring our own things to donate, so we brought the soaps and shampoos we'd appropriated from the ship and other travels in the States. They were very appreciative. We spent most of the time at the community center dancing, listeing to the band, playing dominoes, helping with English. A 20 year old young man spoke to us about how the center had changed his life. He was easy to understand. Because of the center, he's now working at a tourist hotel.

The philosophy of the charity is to give folks a hand, not a hand-out. For example, before we left the center, we went into the gift shop where the kids design and hand-paint cloth bags. They learn the responsibility of creating things, scheduling their day, staffing the store and selling the bags. After the center, we drove to a family house where they were growing raised garden beds of plants that are sold to various places. Again, the family was self-sufficient. We then drove to a pre-K school. Everyone was yelling "hola" (hello) with their big smiles. I'm sure we disrupted the teachers.

When we got all done with that, we drove to the old town and took a long walking tour throughout many streets. We got back to the ship in plenty of time. We always felt safe, especially since we were on the bus and not driving (meaning that the motorcycle folks drive on all sides of the street.)

Dan and Berit also serve as translators if anyone has to get off the ship for medical reasons.

In summary, this was a highlight of the trip. Very safe.

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We were in Cartagena in mid April on the Celebrity Equinox which made an overnight stay. On the first day we enjoyed walking around the old city independently taking tons of photos of the beautiful buildings and lunching at the ceviche place that had featured on an Anthony Bourdain show. We took a horse and carriage ride at sunset which was fun but I couldn't help but feel bad for the horse although I understand that steps have been taken recently to improve their working conditions. The next morning was the highlight of our stay in Colombia when we took the Friends of Colombia tour with Dan and Berit Wick . They met us and about 16 other cruisers right on the pier in an air conditioned bus with driver. We went to Granitas de Paz (Grains of Peace) foundation, one of many local non profits working to provide a helping hand to the people living in the poor neighborhoods of Cartagena. We had a wonderful time dancing and listening to some elderly gentleman musicians, some of us played dominoes with the same gentleman, some of us interacted with children teaching them some English words, and we had an opportunity to purchase crafts hand painted by young adults. There was also a pregnancy clinic in progress while we were there. Afterwards we toured a preschool providing a safe and educational environment for young children while enabling the parents to work. Beautiful children all wearing school uniforms. The highlight of the tour for me was the next stop to the backyard of a neighborhood home where, along with about 700 other families, every possible square inch was used to grow herbs and vegetables in raised beds. The mint, basil etc. is sold to the high end restaurants and hotels in Cartagena and provides an income to the family. Last stop was a walking tour in the old city which was enhanced with Dan and Brit's local knowledge. We enjoyed learning about their lives and their decision to move to Cartagena, and very much enjoyed the company of our fellow tourers. We fell in love with Cartagena and Hope to go back one day. I would highly recommend the http://www.friendsforcolombia.org tour.

Edited by ChocolatCat

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Just back from a cruise stopping in Cartagena. As in previous posts we were fortunate to be able to meet up with Dan and Berit of friendsforcolumbiadotorg

Although there were delays they waited for us at the exit for the port and took just the two of us on a tour of a couple of the foundations that they help.

We were caught in a downpour that added to the experience and although we were there on a Saturday afternoon (most activities close at noon) we were able to visit the seniors home and visit areas of the city that travelers do not usually experience. They were able to take us to places of interest to us and had a wealth of knowledge about the city and its people. An interesting and worthwhile alternative to the more touristy offerings.

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In March my went on a two week Panama Canal cruise and our day with Dan and Berit Wick ofFriends For Columbia, was the highlight of our trip. We had a group of 16 people and everyoneagreed that the tour far exceeded our expectations. Dan and Berit were waiting for us at the portand off we went for a day full of information, fun, and unforgettable heartwarming experiences with the people of Rafael Nunez Barrio. We were greeted at the foundation with livemusic and dancing performed by the senior citizens and children of thefoundation. Of course we got to joinin. We also had the opportunity to playgames with the children, learn a little about Colombia’s unique languageexpressed through hand movements, speak with young adults who grew up in thebarrio, visit the foundation’s school. We also visited a home of a woman participating in the “patio garden”program. The foundation has helpedpeople start gardens in their backyards, creating successful businesses thatsell produce and herbs to local restaurants.

We ended our day with a walk through Cartagena’s OldTown, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Danand Berit introduced us to some of the local candies and treats.

Thework that Dan, Berit and the foundation has done is truly impressive. It was exciting, special and meaningful to bea part of it for the day. I highlyrecommend you take advantage of this opportunity and book a tour with FriendsFor Colombia

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