NPH USA

NPH USA

About

Founded in 1954, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH, SPanish for "Our Little Brothers and Sisters" strives to create a loving and safe family environment for vulnerable children living in extreme conditions. Through comprehensive education, healthcare and spiritual formation, NPH gives the children opportunity to develop their potential, sharing better futures for themselves, their families and communities. NPH supports more that 5,000 boys and girls in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

Volunteers are important members of the NPH family. Our volunteers serve alongside the local staff, and provide services that are hard to find in Latin America. All volunteers hold a job during the day and spend time each evening with children. Our volunteers come from around the world, and live in community at the NPH homes. We accept single volunteers, married couples and families.

Volunteers must commit to 13 months!

Website
www.nphusa.org
Founded
1954
Headquarters

134 N LaSalle St, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60602
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Ruth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I did Physical Therapy at the Haiti out patient clinic at the school for 2 weeks. I did mostly stroke out patient. Most patient were open and glad to have me help them. A highlight was getting daily hugs from the school children that attended there.The biggest obstacle was no translator and most staff did not know English. The staff was awesome and helpful. I was able to spend one night in Kenskoff in the orphanage. What a joy to see the children happy and content. There was so much ongoing maintenance work to be done that I felt a handy man from the states could do easily. My overall experience was one that changed me forever and I will always have the love of Haitians til the day I die. Thanks you Gena and Norma for making this happen

What would you improve about this program?
A translator
Default avatar
SFienHelfman
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best year of my life - This program had a huge impact on my life, personal development, and my current work and aspirations. I made friendships with the girls and other volunteers that have lasted long after the program's end, and I've already been back to Guatemala twice to visit.

If you're someone who likes adventure, and is willing to give your all for a year - but get a lifetime of experience back in return - this is the program for you.

Default avatar
PT
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'm so thankful for the 13 months I spent volunteering at NPH Honduras as a physical therapist. The community of international volunteers was wonderful support and also a lot of fun. My role as the physical therapist was fun and challenging, but the best part of the year was being a part of one of houses of girls. Every evening and every other weekend each volunteer spends time with their "family" of kids. I love those girls. We did homework together, got their school uniforms ready, played games, read books...
The NPH Honduras orphanage, the Ranch, felt very safe to me. Everyone other weekend the volunteers had free and we saw some other parts of the country. You won't regret spending a year with NPH.

Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

NPH provides a wonderful home for children who have had a hard life. The volunteer program is a great experience and you really make a difference for the children. You will form amazing relationships- guaranteed! I volunteered in 2008. When I was there, the volunteers worked 10 days, then had 4 off to travel, relax, whatever. The volunteers live in the NPH home, but have a separate house. Free room and board is a huge plus of this program compared to many I found in Nicaragua. There are volunteers from all over the world, but mostly the US and Europe. The other volunteers are great support because they are going through the same issues you are adjusting to another culture and being away from family and friends.

During a normal weekday, you would spend the majority of the day doing your "job" - English teacher, tutor, therapist, etc. The late afternoons and evenings are spent hanging out with the kids in their homes. During the weekends the volunteers often help plan games and activities for the children, as well as simply spending time with them reading, playing cards, or watching movies.

The Nicaraguan home is brand new; the children moved from the old location on Ometepe in 2009 and 2010. Some non-essential buildings are still being constructed, which makes it an exciting place to be. Every time I go back to visit there are new changes. The new home is already very nice and the changes just make it nicer. The home itself is completely safe.

Nicaragua is a great country that is very welcoming to travelers. The NPH home is located in a great area for travel. The buses are cheap and you can go all over the country. Nicaragua is actually a pretty safe country. It's important to take normal traveling precautions, but I never had any problems in my whole year there, or in any of my other trips to Nicaragua before or after.

Overall, I completely recommend this program to anyone looking for a volunteer opportunity that really makes a difference for kids. Plus you can stay connected to the organization once you get back. I sponsor a girl I worked with during my year of volunteering, I've helped out with fundraising events, and I've returned to visit. You really become part of the NPH family.

Default avatar
Monica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My decision to volunter at NPH was the best life decision I have ever made. The organization is the best I have seen for anyone looking to volunteer abroad.

Some important highlights:
*There is no fee to volunteer. Room and board is included along with a month stipend.
*You are not dropped in an isolated rural area alone like other programs. You live on a large ranch which can literally feel like a large family community that you become a part of. Workplaces are on site so you never have to leave.
*You live in a home with 20 volunteers from all over Europe and/or the U.S. which provides for a very supportive environment. This is ideal for having friends with whom you can travel with on the weekends or while on vacation.
*The actual site where you live and work is very safe despite the country conditions. Only when a volunteer chooses to leave the site is their concern for typical travel safety.

I first became involved with NPH in 2004. I then chose to volunteer for 1 1/2 years in 2006. I worked as a caregiver for the youngest 75 children in the home(There are over 600 kids at the orphanage). My job was truely rewarding as I grew quite close with many of the children. After hearing many of the tragic stories of which they came from, it was truely rewarding to join this organization's mission of transforming the lives of these children by helping to provide them with unconditional love, stability, and to help teach them the tools to break the cycle of poverty within their own lifes.

The best part about this organization is they do not allow adoption so volunteering with them literally felt as though you were a part of their family that was continously growing. Each child that arrives at the home stays their throughout their whole life until they graduate from college. With this mission, NPH has literally become my home away from home. I visit each year to see all the same children who are happy and smiling growing up in a safe environment with all their siblings. It's the only place where I have seen ex volunteers of an organization meet up year after year and feel like you are forever connected this this organization. I would absolutely recommend this organization to anyone.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Samantha Fien-Helfman

Samantha, 25, is a Washington, DC native who graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2009. She volunteered with NPH Guatemala from December 2009-January 2011, before going on a 7 month backpacking trip throughout Central and South America. Now, back in DC, she will try anything once - a commitment that has led her to jump out of a helicopter in Switzerland, cut her hair in a mullet, swim with whale sharks in Honduras, and get sick off street food more times than one could possibly count.
Samantha with the girls of Dulce Corazon

Morning: 365 days. A year of service seems like an eternity when you think about leaving the comfort of your friends and family and moving to a foreign country full of unfamiliar faces and a new language. At least, it did for me. I had just graduated college and was far from ready for the stereotypical, dreaded office job that characterizes post-graduation.

I embraced and ran to NPH – still not quite sure if I viewed it as an escape from what I envisioned to be a monotonous post-college lifestyle, or if I was searching for something and hoped NPH could help me find it. Maybe it was a mix of both.

I arrived in December 2009 to the small, farming village of Parramos, where the NPH home is located. Located atop a hill, the NPH property more aptly resembles a college campus with its on-site clinic, school, dining hall, workshop rooms, various houses, and community garden than a “home." Volunteers share three houses on the grounds, all of which are outfitted with comfy living rooms, small kitchens, and outdoor hammocks.

I’d wake up each day at 5am to a town that had already been awake for hours. Fireworks popping. Dogs fighting. Roosters crowing. Music blasting from a one-room house. I’d watch the sun rising the over the nearest volcano, reveling in the gorgeous hues that took over the sky.

Though it seemed the whole world outside was stirring, my immediate house was silent. I’d be the first up and out the door before my seven housemates even woke. I liked those moments of solace in the morning. I would run up the stairs, the waft of fresh bread cooking in the panaderia, rushing by me as I made my way to the comedor for breakfast with the kids.

Afternoon: My service included several key responsibilities at the NPH Home. During the day, I taught English to 5 classes – ranging in age and fluency level from preschool to 8th grade. I had no teacher certification and speaking English was completely different from being able to teach it. I spent countless hours the first few months in the English department, poring over past lesson plans, reading through old textbooks, and trying to formulate a plan for my classes.

Though incredibly frustrating and exhausting at times, teaching was an amazingly rewarding experience that allowed me to work directly with the kids and offered a tangible way to see the results of my work. I spent my evenings with Dulce Corazon de Maria, a section of 21, 14-16 year-old girls to whom I had been assigned to serve as a mentor and counselor.

Evening: Though many of the girls in my group were understandably slow to open up, they eventually became like sisters and daughters to me. And it is the small, simple moments with them that I miss the most: lying on the sofa and offering advice on friend and boy problems, helping with English homework, taking countless photos, playing night soccer on the cancha (basketball court), having spontaneous dance parties, curling up on oversized pillows and watching movies, eating dinner together, learning the words to the newest reggaeton song and playing it over and over again.

Samantha before a traditional Guatemalan dance

Highlights: I spent many weekends at the home, but used the others to travel throughout Guatemala. Many were spent at Lake Atitlan – a gorgeous, mystical crater lake surrounded by three volcanoes and indigenous hillside villages – and a 3 hour bus ride from the home. It was there, in the large town of Panajachel, that I took up private salsa classes and spent afternoons playing Spanish Scrabble games in my friend Luis’s coffee shop. In the neighboring lake town of San Juan, I took classes in traditional Mayan weaving from a local artist, and in San Marcos, I indulged in yoga classes and cliff jumping.

Each volunteer also received four weeks of vacation, time I used to visit the famous ruins of Tikal in Northern Guatemala; the crystal blue lagoons of Semuc Champey; the Cayes in Belize; and the Bay Islands of Honduras where I received my scuba diving license.

I don’t know what I was looking for when I came to NPH, but it was in my year of service, that NPH and the girls of Dulce Corazon helped me find myself. Despite being the one who was supposed to be “giving,” those girls gave me a greater happiness and contentment with life than I even knew was possible.

I fell head over heels in love with Guatemala – the bright woven fabrics, the jam-packed chicken buses, and the gorgeous vistas, but I fell even more in love with the people: Taxi drivers, women in the market, hairdressers, restaurant and hostel owners who so quickly opened their hearts and showed me just how beautiful this country really is – in its spirit, warmth, and generosity of heart.

And the children at NPH Guatemala, especially those in my classes and the girls of Dulce Corazon, who provided an unexpectedly wonderful home away from home. It’s been a year and a half since my service ended and I can only hope that my next adventure will bring me the same sheer happiness I experienced with NPH.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Vicky Medley

Tell us a little about NPH USA and your role at the company.

Vicky: NPH USA supports Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Spanish for Our Little Brothers and Sisters). Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos raises more than 3,300 orphaned and abandoned children in 9 homes throughout Latin America. NPH is a large family, and children are not put up for adoption; they are lovingly raised along with their siblings in large homes with schools, clinics, libraries, farms and many other children (that we call “Pequeños”). Friends of the Orphans raises funds, awareness and volunteers to help support NPH.

I am the only staff member that works exclusively with our International volunteers, but each of our 6 regional offices supports our International Volunteers before, during and after service.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Vicky: My husband and I were volunteers at NPH Honduras when we were first married. It was an incredible year, and an incredible way to begin our marriage. After our volunteer year we remained active as donors and sponsors, and when Friends became involved in the screening of volunteers the timing was right for me to take the International Volunteer Coordinator job. I love that this job allows me to stay active in the NPH family, and help lots of others serve at our homes.

What makes NPH USA unique?

Vicky: As far as volunteer programs go, I think everyone finds the right niche for themselves. Most volunteers choose us who:

  1. Want to work with children
  2. Want to serve for a year or more
  3. Want to serve in Latin America.

Other unique aspects of our program are that we offer professional placements that keep volunteers on their career tracks. We have volunteers work in healthcare, communication, project coordination, etc. Lastly, we do not charge any fees, aside from a $20 background check once a volunteer has been accepted to serve with us. Volunteers must pay for their transportation, which is usually the largest cost. We pay our volunteers a stipend and provide room and board. Some volunteers choose us because we are a Catholic family, but we accept volunteers from all different faith backgrounds.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

Vicky: Our International Volunteers must have enormous amounts of patience, flexibility and a deep love for children. They need to be easy going, self motivated, humble and very hard working. We prefer volunteers who speak some Spanish or Creole, but we know those skills can be learned. We also prefer volunteers who have traveled abroad.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

Vicky:The volunteers comprise a very small fraction of the NPH staff. Most of the caregivers and long-term staff are local employees, and many of them are Pequeños themselves. Volunteers fill roles that are hard to fill with local staff, including therapists, teachers, tutors, etc. Since volunteers are in the minority at our homes, they learn a tremendous amount about culture and language and service while they serve.

NPH USA is part of a global network of fundraising offices that raise money in a variety of ways, which ensures our sustainability. NPH has fundraising offices throughout Europe, in Canada and New Zealand, and they raise funds in the countries where the homes are located.