Dec 19, 2014

Our latest volunteer interview!

Name: Nigel Smith
Nationality: New Zealander living in Australia
Age: 58
- How did you find out about La Esperanza?
As if by fate, I heard about La Esperanza at 5:30 in the morning in bed, listening to the radio show 'Australia Down Under'. Pauline, our director had phoned up from Nicaragua to talk about the organisation.

- How long are you volunteering with La Esperanza? 
I am volunteering for a month. This is my 3rd visit.

- What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza? 
Teaching  3rd graders in the Summer School.

- What has been your best experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
When the whole class is paying attention.

- What has been your worst experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
None to speak of.

 - What do you like most about Nicaragua?
Without a doubt, the apparent happiness of the Nicas and their easygoing attitude towards life, often in the face of adversity.

- What do you like least about Nicaragua?
The grey water in many of Granada's streets - though I was told there is a work in progress to pipe it underground.

Oct 29, 2014

Our latest volunteer interview!

Name: Nick Bayly-Jones
Nationality: Australian
Age: 25 
- How did you find out about La Esperanza?
Internet research                             

- How long are you volunteering with La Esperanza? 
2 months

- What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza? 
I am an English teacher.

- What has been your best experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
 My best experience with La Esperanza has been seeing my students have the biggest smile and see their confidence grow after learning something, like forming a sentence. When this happens, the students are so proud and go around too all their friends, and other volunteer teachers. This is also a very proud moment for me and the team I work with as it means all the hard work is worth it.

- What has been your worst experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
 My worst experience has been the lack of structure between what past volunteers have taught and thus what students have already learned, and what new volunteers are to pick up on and continue. Although there is a meeting every Friday to plan class with a an established program, there is a need for a smoother transition for new volunteers and less disruption for students.

 - What do you like most about Nicaragua?
 I like how friendly the people of Nicaragua are, they will help you however they can. Furthermore I enjoy how cheap and easy it is to see different amazing parts of Nicaragua on the weekends.

- What do you like least about Nicaragua?
I dislike how dysfunctional the government and particularly the education system is, often with how often classes are cancelled and a lack of funding in schools for new supplies etc. However I understand this a problem that is being addressed and over time will hopefully improve. 

Oct 14, 2014

Our latest volunteer interview!

Name: Lea Jung
Nationality: German
Age: 25

- How did you find out about La Esperanza? 
I was searching for volunteer organizations online and came across La Esperanza on After doing some research I found only positive recommendations so I decided to apply.

- How long are you staying here?
I am staying for 2 months in total.

What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza?
Most of the time, I am tutoring first grade students of the school “Nueva Esperanza”, one of the poorest schools in this area.

- What has been your best experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
One day I was tutoring a boy who had a very hard time calculating math problems. He could hardly concentrate and did not appear very motivated to me. However, when he saw me the next day he immediately ran to me and hugged me and asked if I can tutor him again this day. After working with children in Europe I was really surprised how thankful children are here for your help and how excited they can be about learning new things. They do not take anything for granted.

- What has been your worst experience working as a volunteer at La Esperanza so far?
One of the worst experiences I had occurred while the teacher distributed food to the class. One boy did not stand in line with the other children so I asked him if he was hungry. He told me that he is but that he does not have a plate. I told him that I am sure this is not a problem so I brought him to the teacher who then said you cannot eat if you don’t have a plate. There was no consideration that two children could share one plate or that he could eat when another child is finished.

- What do you like most about Nicaragua?
It is a great place to travel. There are many beautiful islands and nature reserves that you can visit on the weekends and even inside of Granada there are always a lot of things to do and see.  

- What do you like less about Nicaragua ?
In comparison to other Latin American countries like Chile I have the impression that white people are often treated very differently here. We have some kind of special status which can be either positive or negative and which makes it harder for us to integrate. However, it is always up to you to what you make of your time here in order to learn the language and get to know the Nicaraguan culture. 

Oct 9, 2014

An interesting blog from one of our volunteers. She talks about her first week volunteering with La Esperanza Granada and the beautiful Laguna de Apoyo!

Floating in a Volcanic Crater: Laguna de Apoyo

It was difficult, as I lay floating in the crystal blue water, to imagine such a violent event had created such a peaceful place. I came to Laguna de Apoyo after my first week of work with La Esperanza Granada, and I was exhausted. But I learned long ago that the best remedy to my fatigue is a dip in a clean body of water. And so here I was.
Twenty three thousand years ago a volcanic eruption here left a crater six kilometers across. Over time the crater filled with water from rain and natural subterranean aqueducts. Today the walls of the crater are covered in dense greenery, and the water is astonishingly clear and thermally vented. At two hundred meters deep, the bottom of the lagoon is the lowest point in Central America.
We took a taxi from the center of Granada straight to our hostel at Laguna de Apoyo for less than US$3 per person. Hostel Paradiso lives up to its name, with a beachfront bar, two lovely eating areas, cozy private rooms, and a clean, airy dorm with crisp white sheets and a view of the lagoon. Paradise indeed.
While that first swim was the most necessary, the wind had kicked up some impressive waves on the water, and I retreated to a comfortable chair on the beach to enjoy a beer in the sun. Around eleven at night four of us decided to swim out to a floating dock anchored by our hostel in the lagoon. The night was so quiet and the water so calm that I nearly fell asleep as I laid my head back into the warm water. I collapsed on my bed with damp hair and a silly smile, only to wake up in the morning to a lagoon so still its surface seemed to be made of glass. What else could I do but swim back out to the dock? There I sat facing away from the beach pretending that the entire blue crater was all mine.
The day went by lazily as I moved from floating to swimming to lying on the dock to floating again. Then it was time to squeeze our large group into a small van and head back to Granada.
The best part? The entire excursion – including accommodation, 2 days worth of food, drink, and transportion – cost less than US$25 – an expensive weekend by Nica standards.
Oh, I could get used to this.

Jun 17, 2014

Home Renovation

Recently, La Esperanza has had the fortune to welcome John Hart and his friends to Granada. John discovered La Esperanza through his mother, a recent volunteer in the La Esperanza office. Arriving with John were several of his friends with a common goal, to renovate a local family home.

    It took John and his friends a month of planning, fundraising, and organizing before they headed to Granada. The group was unsure of what to expect until they arrived, “once we showed up to our placement we were blown away by the conditions of the family's home”. The house is home to five children and their parents. All of the kids are currently attending school, ages between 6-15, and grades between 2nd - 6th grade.

    Before the improvements done by John and his group, the house was held together by branches with a cardboard interior and with a structure that seemed ready to fall over at any moment. It took a week of hard work, starting early every morning and ending late in the afternoons to get it all done. It took the help of the group, local craftsmen, and the family, who assisted in every possible way. The parents helped with labour, while the kids brought joy during breaks which were often spent playing soccer with the volunteers. At the end of the week the group had spent $1,250 renovating the house, and the results were astounding. According to John, “it was one of the most positive experiences I've had volunteering abroad in a couple of years”. It only took the duration of a week, the cost of an average monthly rent in the U.S, and a lot of hard working volunteers to change the lives of locals in Granada, an experience no one involved will ever forget.

The first few photos are from before the house was renovated. The last two are of the house fully renovated. Thanks to all the volunteers, locals, and family members for helping out!

Mar 20, 2014

Our latest Volunteer Interview!

Volunteer  Interview
©       First Name Mary
©       Nationality Canadian
©       Age 27

©       How did you find out about La Esperanza?  
Via the Internet – searching under NGO’s in Nicargua

©       What attracted you to working with La Esperanza?
They seemed like a well-organized, up-to-date, information is readily available with regards to information on the school structures and teacher opportunities, there was a lot of information with regards to investment into the community and transparency about the cause and assistance within the community.

©       What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?
Realistic Expectations and openness to learn ‘more than teach’

©       What is your current volunteer role with La Esperanza, briefly describe  your typical day.
Teachers Assistance in pre-school
My typical day is to wake up at 6.30am as I teach in the morning walk to school with the group, assist the local teacher with my class, walk home around 12.30pm, make lunch I the provided apartment, take a Spanish class, head to the gym, study, dinner and pass out through exhaustion ready for the next day!

©       How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)
Currently in my 3rd of 4 weeks

©       Have you volunteered before?
§  Where?  I have volunteered in many places in central and south America – the most relevant  was Ecuador given they are Spanish speaking country
§   How long? 2 months
§  What did you do?  Teach English to children and adults, after school programming, teach yoga
§  What did you like about that program to encourage you to volunteer again? The close-knit community spirit and community connection
§  How does La Esperanza Granada differ from the last volunteering program? There are so many volunteers with a huge range of experience, opinions, ages and abilities!

©       Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer – Positive Attitude, listening more than taking, realistic expectations

©       What difference do you feel you have made so far? Shared some smiles, laughter nd gave attention to the kids who needed an extra high –five!

©       Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with La Esperanza? A little, but I came to learn more
If Yes: Do you think it is important?  Yes, you feel more useful and able to communicate, you feel more engaged and more engaging to those around you.
       If no:  Did you find it difficult? I am still learning so it can be difficult but being emersed in the language is very useful
©       Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with La Esperanza?
©       Yes, given I am taking the Spanish lessons and spend 6 hours a day at least sp

eaking the language with the children it has, but I’m constantly learning.
©       Describe in 3 words your experience here at La Esperanza
Individual –There are a large number of volunteers which makes it difficult for the organistation to  engage with you individually with progress although the large numbers means you have great group around you to share your experience with though.

Challenging – Each day provides me with the opportunity to push myself a little bit further even when you don’t think you have much left to give!

Eye – Opening -  Each day when I see and NGO trying to make a difference with the minimal resources to hand, an ever changing volunteer base and in an education system that sometimes seems disorganized in fascinating and inspires me to try and make a difference where-ever possible!