Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Nicaragua
Grassroots Volunteering in Nicaragua
The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:
Nature lovers will enjoy the challenge of working as a volunteer guide leading trekkers around the volcanoes near Leon. Duties include recruiting customers, making promotional materials and cleaning the equipment. With the money they make from leading tourists on adventurous hikes Quetzaltrekkers help to fund locally run charities taking care of at risk children. Guides should have hiking experience and be in good physical condition, have first aid certification and basic Spanish. Minimum commitment is three months.
Where: Near Leon.
Accommodation & Costs: As a guide you receive all expenses and food on the hikes. These is no fee to volunteer but volunteers pay their own rent and food when not on a hike.
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Join this young organisation working on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast with a focus on conservation and volunteer tourism. They run a sea turtle hatchery from July until January, and engage in ecosystem restoration and sustainable resource use.
Internships are available, aimed at students pursuing careers in biology, ecology, wildlife conservation or geography, but anyone with an interest in conservation can join in. Expect to do night patrols, hatchery monitoring and data collection, as well as infrastructure maintenance of the property.
Where: Peninsula Venecia, on the Pacific Coast.
Accommodation & Costs: Interns stay in private tents close to the beach for US$30 per day, which also includes all meals, drinks and other costs, and will need to commit for a minimum of four weeks as they receive a full week of training. A shorter, two week volunteer experience can be had for a higher daily rate.
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Ometepe Bilingual School (OBS)
Do you want to work with kids in the shadow of a volcano on the largest island-in-a-lake in the world? Want to create opportunities for rural Nicaraguans in an increasingly global world? Come to Ometepe Bilingual School where the contributions of volunteers are vital in delivering a bilingual curriculum to their students.
Volunteers work approximately 30 hours teaching English, with responsibilities including assisting the classroom teacher in implementing activities and supporting student learning; leading the class in English language activities; and planning activities (for execution in Spanish or English) at the direction of the classroom teacher. English language proficiency is required for teaching positions. Spanish language skills, teaching experience, and experience working with kids are a plus, but not required. Minimum volunteer commitment is two to three weeks with additionally discounted room and board packages for staying longer than three months. Depending on the needs of the school, other opportunities may exist too.
Where: Hacienda Merida, in the town of Merida on Ometepe Island.
Accommodation & Costs: There aren’t any programme fees associated with volunteering. OBS offers volunteers a subsidised room and board package for $150 per week.
La Esperanza Granada
La Esperanza Granada is a volunteer run organisation focused on improving the lives and education of impoverished children living in Granada. Volunteers go to local schools and learning centres where they assist the teachers, tutor young children, introduce children to computers, teach English and help stimulate an interest in learning. Volunteers work between four to five hours per day, five days per week, for a minimum commitment of two weeks for placements in their learning centres, and a minimum of six weeks if you will be teaching English in the centres. Volunteers that can assist in the office are also needed.
Accommodation & Costs: New volunteers are asked if they could please make a $50 contribution towards administration costs when they arrive. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation costs and living expenses in Granada.
Hostel Work Exchanges
Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:
Hospedaje Central El Indio Viejo
The hospedaje is part of a larger project, promoting solidarity and ecology, which emphasises the promotion of local products and alternative way of life. They can accommodate ongoing volunteers for all sorts of tasks, including cooking, maintenance and housekeeping, gardening, DIY, decorating, etc.
Help Exchange Networks in Nicaragua
Volunteer Latin America – https://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com/volunteer-abroad/nicaragua
Workaway – https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-NI.html
HelpX – http://www.helpx.net/hostlist.asp?host_region=912&network=9
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Nicaragua
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents’ homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free Airbnb credit from us here.
What It’s Like to Volunteer in a Nicaraguan School – Susan Shain spent three glorious months volunteering with La Esperanza Granada, where she worked as a helper in a 1st grade classroom in the mornings, and tutored 3rd graders one on one in reading in the afternoons.
Nicaragua: A First time Volunteer Experience – Teresa Wilson helped build a school with Habitat for Humanity.
Volunteering Abroad – Not What I Signed Up For – Sam Nead had to fundraise £3450 to volunteer in Nicaragua through a gap year organisation, only to meet some of the most selfish, conceited and heartless people she’d ever met in her life. Part Two here.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations
Image copyright Hacienda Merida