Projects

Pamplona Shelters

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 two refugee shelters. OTGI provides regular cash support and food deliveries to these shelters, 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, OTGI also supports two other refugee shelters. One is an hour’s car drive away from Pamplona towards the Venezuelan border and the other is an hour away from Pamplona, towards Bucaramanga, the closest city.

Other projects that we support with include helping out at schools in impoverished areas around Pamplona. At these projects OTGI volunteers assist by teaching English, and also doing sports and other activities with the children. Find out more about each of these projects below.

Food prep for the refugees at Marta's shelter

Inside the Shelters: Martha’s

Martha’s shelter is located right when you enter Pamplona from highway 55, the route which the Venezuelans are walking. Martha’s shelter give many people food every day and for some people there is even a chance to sleep here. Martha and the eight volunteers working here do everything they can to help the refugees. On The Ground helps at this shelter two days a week, cooking and serving the food.

Hogar de Paso Marta Duque

Inside the Shelters: Vanessa’s

Located in the center of Pamplona is the second shelter where the refugees can eat and sleep. Vanessa’s provides breakfast, lunch and dinner so at any time of the day refugees are welcome for some food. There are five volunteers working at Vanessa’s, all Venezuelans, and together with the volunteers of On The Ground is the shelter always ready to receive new refugees. Because the refugees arriving in Pamplona have already walked several long days this shelter also provides basic medical care. A lot of the refugees are exhausted, dehydrated or have fevers, so some medical care is much needed. At Vanessa’s there is also a children’s program, where the On The Ground volunteers play with all the kids and give the mothers a much-needed chance to rest.

Inside the Shelters: Esperanza Hoy

Esperanza Hoy is a shelter located about an hour’s bus drive out of Pamplona, towards the Venezuelan border near a town called Bochalema. The five volunteers working here give shelter and food for a night to ‘Caminantes’ passing through on their way to their final destination. OTGI volunteers visit this shelter and help prepare food for the caminantes. Our volunteers are often able to help pick up caminantes and pay for their fare on the bus back to Pamplona. This saves them an eight hour walk, which is one of the most valuable acts that we can do for them.

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 10 hours and it is all uphill, making it a very difficult section of their walk. Due to the high altitude it also gets very cold, adding to the strenuous conditions. The team of three volunteers working here offer food and shelter for the night. OTGI provides the food for this shelter, and when we deliver food we are able to offer lifts to the caminantes, saving them potentially hours of walking.

Christo Rey

Christo Rey is an impoverished neighbourhood in the hills overlooking Pamplona. Liliana, a Colombian woman, has set up the ‘Dharma Project’. Previously the owner of a restaurant, Liliana had to close down at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. With her free time she set up this project to help local families with their children by feeding them and offering the children a place to come and play with each other since they were not attending school due to Covid.

Since June 2022 OTGI volunteers have been helping out here. Although schools are now open again, some of the Venezuelan children are not able to attend school for a variety of reasons, such as not having the correct papers to attend. With the help of the OTGI volunteers, the Dharma project continues to run, providing the children a safe space to come and play and learn English.