The organization focuses primarly on supporting refugees walking from Venezuela, through projects at the shelters and mobile aid on the roads, but also on community support, through projects with the vulnerable population in Pamplona. Find out more about each of these projects below.

Refugees Shelters in and around Pamplona

On the Ground International is based in the quaint colonial town of Pamplona, a 2-3 day walk from the Venezuelan border. Though a small town, Pamplona hosts three refugee shelters. OTGI works with two of them, providing regular cash support and food deliveries, and our volunteers assist in preparing and serving meals and cleaning the shelters. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure these shelters can stay open. An hour outside of Pamplona, we also support two more refugee shelters. One is an hour’s car drive away from Pamplona towards the Venezuelan border and the other is an hour away towards Bucaramanga, the closest city.

Inside the Shelters: Vanessa’s

Vanessa’s Shelter provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for the refugees. They also offer a place to sleep and shower. OTGI volunteers work there three times per day, helping with food preparation, cleaning, playing with the kids, and providing basic medical care.

Inside the Shelters: Douglas’s

Douglas’s Shelter is located at the entrance of Pamplona. It provides a safe and dry place to sleep for the caminantes. On the Ground helps at this shelter two days a week with cleaning, picking up trash, and maintenance and repair tasks.

Inside the Shelters: Esperanza Hoy

Located about an hour’s drive out of Pamplona towards Cucuta, two local volunteers offer hot meals and juice with a warm smile to the caminantes passing through.

Inside the Shelters: La Laguna

This shelter is located an hour’s drive away from Pamplona towards Bucaramanga. The walk from Pamplona to La Laguna takes approximately 10 hours and due to the high altitude, it is very cold. The team there offers food and shelter for the night.

Mobile Aid Prep

Every morning, we prepare food for our mobile aid trips. OTGI volunteers bring sandwiches, bananas, hard boiled eggs, and cookies to hand out to caminantes walking towards our shelters. From Pamplona, our trips provide food on the way down to Cucuta or on the way up to La Laguna

Community Projects

Community projects constitute an important part of our work. We support the local community in Pamplona through projects for the vulnerable children of Colombian and Venezuelan families, many of which are trying to settle in the community. These projects include English learning programs, sports, music, and art classes. Because we are based in Pamplona, it is important for us to contribute to the local population through projects that are in line with our work and values.

Language Exchange

OTGI organizes a language exchange for locals to practice English and French through conversation at a local restaurant run by a Venezuelan family. Depending on how many locals participate, there are typically two English tables (for beginners, intermediate and advanced) and one French table. Language exchange ends with a fun quiz or game.