Our latest team of 17 returned home from Nicaragua late last night. What an action packed 12 days! A roller-coaster ride filled with laughter and emotion, with the start of new friendships and new beginnings.
This was one energized team, that worked and played hard. During our time in the garbage dump we worked alongside the locals to build 4 homes. 3 of which were for single mothers, while the 4th was for a young family with 3 children.
Listening to the mothers share their stories was over whelming, with the one mother telling us that she had been living in the most unbearable conditions for over 10 years. Living conditions where water is leaking through the roof and floors! I cannot imagine waiting for a home that doesn’t turn into pools of mud for 10 long suffering years. She stayed close all day watching and smiling as the walls of her new home went up.
The second mother, a petite and gentle lady that giggled all day from excitement. She found it particularly entertaining when the Canadian giants took a picture with her outside of her new home, I think she reached our belly buttons! She allowed us to take pictures of the inside of her old home and 3 of our team members cried when they saw her living conditions.
Words cannot describe the horror these people live in. The first night, after we had completed 2 homes it poured making our working conditions on day two extremely wet and muddy. As I lay in my comfortable bed listening to the rain, all I could think about was the families who were lying in pools of water and mud.
Due to the poor living conditions many children suffer from breathing problems and this was the case with a little 6-year-old boy, who’s home we built on day 2. This little guy desperately wanted to help build but every time he exerted himself he would start to wheeze and cough.
After the homes were built, we spent some time at The Centre, which is a place of refuge for the children that live in the surrounding slums. We painted walls and fences and the girls painted fingernails (which was a huge hit). What a privilege to be able to love on these people and to help support them as they pull themselves out of poverty.
Every time I go back to this country I feel more connected with the people and the culture – coming back to Canada gets harder and harder (especially when the temps are -15😊)
A huge thank you to each volunteer that worked their butt off to make this team a success, we had such an eclectic group of personalities and ages, but everyone worked in unity to make our time in Nicaragua a success - 5 parents and 10 children’s lives have been changed based on your belief in the work we do.
A special thanks to our donors for supporting our efforts to change lives, without you guys none of this would have been possible. We love you with all our hearts!
Have you been thinking about volunteering in 2018? Picking the right organisation to partner with is extremely important. There are hundreds of companies to choose from, but not all are created equal.
Understand their target market. Is it for young adults, seniors, short or long-term volunteers? Some companies specialize in large travel groups and others only work in countries where they have the most experience. If you are planning on volunteering, it is important to partner with a firm that fits your personality and personal values.
Choose an organisation based on reputation. Ask around…. Who do you know that has volunteered with this organisation? If you don’t have anyone in your network, ask for at least 2 references. If they are not willing to share past client experiences with you, then keep looking.
Volunteering overseas is about making a difference. Is the organisation involved in relief or rehabilitation work? When you are considering short term volunteering you want to carefully consider how this organisation is impacting the lives of the people in need. A lot of damage can be done in high risk communities, if the organisation does not understand the difference between relief and rehabilitation work.
Is it safe? Find out exactly what is expected of you and where you will be travelling. What is their communication plan in case of an emergency? What cities are you travelling to? How much physical labor is involved? How far are you from local hospitals? Make your decision based on their responses. These questions should be easily answered.
Get an idea of cost? Are their any hidden surprises? How clearly is the cost structure broken out? Your volunteering experience shouldn’t cost the earth particularly if you are staying in modest accommodations.
Volunteering is ideal for anyone who feels like life is overwhelming, or for someone searching for something meaningful. It is an ideal way of finding perspective. Our volunteers have returned home with a new lease on life along with a greater appreciation for their own – it truly is a life changing experience!
Saving The Hungry just hosted our 4th fundraiser and we sure had a lot of fun in the process.