Volunteer in Nicaragua: Bienvenidos!

Map of Nicaragua
Flag of Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a country that is sure to amaze any visitor, even the most adventurous of volunteers. Sometimes called the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes, this tropical country is becoming increasingly popular as an international tourist destination for many reasons. Ethnically diverse, with cultural leftovers from the Spanish rule hundreds of years ago, Nicaragua offers a variety of attractions. As one of the poorest Latin American nations, volunteering in Nicaragua is a great way to make a difference while experiencing an exciting new culture!

  • Population: 5,869,859 (2011)
  • Poverty Level: 46%
  • Avg. Cost of Living: Monthly rent per person is about $175 USD (Numbeo)
  • Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the Americas, after Haiti
  • Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and Lake Nicaragua is the largest body of freshwater in Central America
Volcano in Nicaragua
Discover volcanoes in Nicaragua

Health Care: The maternal and birth mortality rate is especially high in Nicaragua. Another large problem for Nicaraguans when it comes to health is lack of access. Whether it's because of remote locations or high prices, many local Nicaraguans never receive the health care they need and only 6% of the population is insured (according to WHO). Volunteers with a background in medicine and health care are encouraged to use their skills and expertise to help the situation in Nicaragua.

Teaching: Education is free in Nicaragua but that doesn't mean that it's readily available or accessible to everyone. The Nicaraguan government has also created campaigns to promote literacy. Volunteers can make a difference just by spending time with vulnerable young students. Whether you want to teach English, coach sports, or assist with extracurricular activities, there are plenty of opportunities to teach students in Nicaragua.

Community Development: From building projects to supporting small businesses, there is plenty of work to be done to support Nicaraguan communities, especially with such a high rate of poverty.

Volunteer teachers in Nicaragua
Volunteer to teach at a school in Nicaragua
Volunteer History in Country:

According to the Worldwide Association of NGOs (WANGO), there are 20 nonprofits based in Nicaragua. Each NGO has a specific focus and works to better the community - from fair trade to economics to education, there are all kinds of NGOs to volunteer with in Nicaragua. You will also find large, international nonprofits working in Nicaragua that you can help out with, like Habitat for Humanity for example.

Know Before You Go:

It's a good idea to know enough Spanish to get around before spending time in Nicaragua. Unless you're in an overly touristy or expensive area, no English will be spoken. In many areas of Nicaragua, Creole, Spanish, and indigenous languages can be heard.

How to Save Money While Volunteering:

Cost of living is pretty affordable in Nicaragua, especially for someone coming from a more developed nation. Although rent is relatively low in Nicaragua, many volunteers go through an organization that finds them accommodations like home-stays. If you are paying for accommodation through a volunteer provider, there are other ways to save money - one of the best and easiest being to skip the restaurants. Food will most likely be your biggest expense to stick to small, locally-owned and operated joints as well as the popular markets. Not only will this save you money, but give you a more authentic Nicaraguan diet.

Best Places to Volunteer:

Leon is a great destination for volunteers interested in Nicaragua's cultural history. Full of the nation's most magnificent churches and museums, Leon is also a great place to explore local nightlife. Much of Nicaragua also offers beaches, reefs, jungles, and volcanoes for the adventurous and outdoors-y volunteer.

Surfing in Nicaragua
Spend time at Nicaragua's beautiful beaches
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Nicaragua:

Crime is low in Nicaragua, but of course foreigners should use caution, especially in crowded areas. Always be aware of your surroundings. Tap water is safe in certain areas of the country but your best bet is always filtered, bottled water.

Why Volunteer in Nicaragua?

Any Central American country, especially Nicaragua, is a good bet for someone looking to get away from big cities without breaking the bank. Unfortunately, this tropical destination is still one of the poorest around and its economy is mostly supported by agriculture. Visit Nicaragua and see what a difference you can make - as well as what kind of change Nicaragua will inspire in you!

Contributed by Katie Boyer

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Programs & Reviews

Matagalpa is in the cool, mountainous, coffee growing region of Nicaragua. Volunteers are assigned to support the work of three partner agencies: the Centro de Servicios Educativos en Salud y Medio Ambiente (CESESMA), UCA San Ramon, and...
9 Reviews
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Join a group of enthusiastic volunteers this November as they volunteer at Finca Esperanza Verde (FEV) in San Ramon, Nicaragua. This unique project combines the comfort of a retreat with the satisfaction of service. Volunteers will be...
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Granada sits on Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest and most scenic lakes in the world. Granada is still off the beaten path for the typical traveler, and as a result, the ancient city's enthralling local culture continues to shine through...
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Join Vida in Nicaragua with their veterinary volunteer programs. Vida currently offers 1-2 week long programs in Nicaragua for pre-veterinary and veterinary school students and recent grads. Volunteers will work with experience...
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You can become a part of our work! Share your time, experiences and ideas with our partner projects and their participants. You can help improve the local situation, raise awareness, and protect the environment! On our homepage, you can...
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Combine exciting adventure travel with a project placement and experience the best of Central America on an unforgettable adventure trip with Frontier through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Travelling with a group...
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The Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos home in Nicaragua was founded in 1994 as the fourth NPH home in Latin America. In 2005, the home was relocated due to volcanic activity on the island where the home was located. Since then, NPH Nicaragua has...
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SchoolBOX volunteers join a friendly and dedicated staff of Canadians and Nicaraguans to build schools in some of the most challenging areas of Nicaragua. On the 10-day adventures, volunteers will spend time directly interacting in the...
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Power to the People brings small groups of "voluntourists" to rural regions of Nicaragua to install off-grid solar electricity systems on community buildings. Volunteers work alongside community members over several days to install solar...
3 Reviews
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Whether you're looking for a change of pace (or scenery!) from your current medical/healthcare career or are looking for an exciting way to fulfill your internship responsibilities, The Roberto Clemente Clinic in Nicaragua presents a...
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Volunteer in Nicaragua with La Esperanza Granada and help us achieve our goal to improve the quality of life in the local communities where we work. There are no program fees to volunteer with La Esperanza Granada, but you are required to...
9 Reviews
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Volunteer with SOS to help refurbish a kindergarten classroom in Las Escaleras, Nicaragua! This project will continue the work started by another SOS volunteer group in May to improve the educational structure. During the trip, volunteers...
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As a country emerging from years fo civil war and economic turmoil, it is most of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. Plagued by disease, malnutrition, deforestation, and many other issues, Nicaragua is a country desperate for...
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Aid Nicaraguan communities by implementing and maintaining renewable energy technologies in rural communities. With Global Nomadic's sustainability internship abroad, you will be building and maintaining solar panels, improving the local...
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Women's leadership training program, promotion and protection of human rights among maquiladora workers, advocacy program, and the micro-credit program. The beautiful city of Granada, located on Lake Nicaragua, retains its colonial charm....
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