Volunteer and deliver basic education in Granada, Nicaragua
88% Rating
(12 Reviews)

Volunteer and deliver basic education in Granada, Nicaragua

Volunteer in Granada, Nicaragua with La Esperanza Granada and help us improve the quality of life in the local communities where we work.

Our focus is on education at a very basic level. The majority of volunteers work in our learning centers or local schools with young children, supporting local teachers or taking English classes. We also need volunteers for translation, communications and promotion in the office, and help with maintenance of the volunteer housing.

An intermediate level of Spanish (or a strong commitment to learn) is required, as all our work in the schools and villages is conducted in Spanish.

We do not charge our volunteers any program fees, although we do expect volunteers to meet their own living costs whilst in Granada (inexpensive volunteer housing is available).

Click on ´Get Started´ for a list of our current vacancies.

Locations
North America » Nicaragua
Length
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Language
English
Timeframe
Year Round
Housing
Host Family
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
There are no fees charged to volunteer with La Esperanza Granada, and you are not required to do fund raising, though of course it is welcomed.

You will have to pay your own cost of living and your own transport costs, and we ask each volunteer to make a $20 contribution to help with administration costs.

Subsidised housing is available.
Other Locations
Granada

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    85%
  • Support
    84%
  • Fun
    90%
  • Value
    92%
  • Safety
    88%

Program Reviews (12)

Default avatar
Paul
Male
50 years old
lisburn
Queen's University Belfast

La Esperanza, Granada, Nicaragua

10/10

I have just had an amazing month here in Nicaragua. I was volunteering with La Esperanza, Granada and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I was teaching basic English to grades 4, 5 and 6 four times a week in El Colegio Mercedes Madragón and Spanish with grade 1 students twice a week in José de la Cruz Mena and I also helped kids with computer games in La Amped 2 times a week. The kids come from all types of backgrounds but are so welcoming and always smiling. I really liked the one on one teaching with the grade 1 kids because they wanted to learn and worked so hard. I was able to help the kids improve a little during my time here and hopefully it will be of help to them in the future. I will never forget this experience and all the kids and friends I have made from all over the world.

How can this program be improved?

I think they could maybe try and setup a sports club or a place for the kids to play sports, which would help the kids stay healthy and they could also learn new skills.

Default avatar
Led
Female
22 years old
Belgium
Other

First experience as volunteer

8/10

I decided to go to Nicaragua because I wanted to do something after my studies.

After some researchers I found this program at La Esperanza Granada where you can become an an assistant for the teachers in the schools. You can participate to English classes, help at the kindergarden,... There is many ways you can help.

As student in communication, I worked at the office and I went to the computer classes 3 days/week.

This was really good to see both sides of the organisation : one more professional and one with the children.

Default avatar
Leandra
Female
21 years old
Freiburg

Scream like a lion, whisper like a mouse

10/10

"MUAHHHHHHH", screamed Kevin, a volunteer in our English team of four and suddenly, a non melodic, but extremely loud choir, consisting of our approximately 40 fourth class students, arose to scream with him. Not only, because we were playing "Simon says" and the game in itself is fun, but because the game allows them to be who they are, cheerful, energetic, crazy, loud and playful kids, or rather, animals. Lions being released.

"Simon says" works as follows:
A volunteer screams into the class room: "Simon says, be a lion!" or "Simon says, be a mouse!" And if the kids have learned the vocabulary of our unit, in this case, animals, they try to mimic whatever Simon told them to be and do. This way, they do not only sit in class and have to copy words from the board, which is great for disciplinary work, don't get me wrong, but not a sufficient tactic for them to actually remember the vocab. Instead, they get to study and learn whole heartedly, with their whole body and more than what you would imagine their whole voice capacity would be.

To teach English by not only being a strict teacher fighting the kids natural urge to move and play, but by finding a balance between the of course necessary discipline, but also the childish playfulness that they scream for without limits, was one of the best, most challenging, educating, frustrating, rewarding and fun experiences of my life. I would do it all over again and recommend it to whomever is interested in screaming out loud like a lion or in whispering silently like a mouse, in challenging oneself and others and in commiting to the craziness of a classroom in a developing country.

How can this program be improved?

This program could be improved by more volunteers who stay longer than the average length of four to six weeks. I've seen more progress when the volunteers have time to get to know the different kids, their different strengths and weaknesses, manipulative games and actual needs and when the volunteers then as a result, can act upon the given challenges better in a more differenciated way.

Other than that, I think the program does really well and the people commiting to it are incredibly motivated, engaged, solution oriented and reflective of what they do and of what can be improved. They do a great job, especially with the given circumstances and challenges of poverty and the lack of a stable and supportive family background.

Default avatar
Annabel
Female
32 years old
Australia
Other

Providing well needed education

8/10

There is not only a big problem with street children in Nicaragua but due to the poverty level there is a lack of education even amongst very young children. La Esperanza Granada is a great organisation that looks at the holistic picture with regards to education. Ensuring the facilities, equipment and health of the children is developed in line with the volunteer programme, where volunteers support, tutor and teach english in primary schools.

It gives volunteers an opportunity to see and support some of the poorest children in Nicaragua and really make a difference to their future. They provide cheap housing and there is no cost to volunteer, just some dedication and hard work! The social scene is good although maybe more for the younger gap year students rather than post University and the oldies amongst us!

How can this program be improved?

I think that it would be good to educate some of the volunteers a bit more in line with them working in schools. Many of the volunteers are fairly young and some see it as an opportunity to just have fun rather than balancing this with some hard work and dedication to the children. It would be good to educate them on issues in Nicaragua, the impact they could have or may not have if they skip school or only get an hours sleep the night before!

Default avatar
Molly
Female
24 years old
Granada, Nicaragua
Mississippi State University

Needs Improvements

7/10

When you begin this program, you start with a lot of hope. It is a really great idea after all. You will go and assist the teachers in some of the poorest schools in Granada. The only drawback is, unless you speak Spanish, you will do very little teaching. The "Spanish team" is able to provide one-on-one tutoring to the children in these schools where, otherwise, they would barely get one-on-five. The class room sizes are very large and very disorganized because of it. The tutoring is a really great help to the kids who need that extra attention.
The "English Team" and the group that helps in the preschool are more of entertainers than anything else. Maybe a child learns the word "milk" but not much else can really be accomplished.
The best thing for this program is to emphasize the need for more Spanish speakers and more tutors. It is amazing teaching kids the alphabet when you can tell they are far too shy to even ask for the help they need.

How can this program be improved?

More tutoring options. As many as possible. The children need help in all areas. English speakers could maybe help with the infrastructure of the schools. They could all use a little more color and life.

Default avatar
Mariana
Female
32 years old
United States
Emerson College

It's Worth the Effort

9/10

I really wanted to volunteer with an organization that actually needed 'hands on the ground'. I do feel that the work I've been doing here is necessary and important. I'm finishing up week 3 of my 10 week stint in Granada with La Esperanza and while there are challenges, it has been a wonderful experience so far. I spend my days tutoring 1st graders in reading, writing, and math and while the going can be slow, nothing beats the hugs and the smiles. Above all these kids need self esteem, and working with them every day really does give you the opportunity to see that evolve.

I will also say that I am impressed with the quality of the other volunteers here. With so many (we have nearly 40 at the moment!), you'd think you'd run across more bad eggs. But really everyone here is wonderful, the housing is basic but nice, and the community fairly vibrant and supportive. Granada is a great place to base out of for weekend travel, but it's also a city that stands up pretty well on its own.

I would definitely recommend La Esperanza to others looking for a fulfilling long-term, low-cost volunteer placement!

How can this program be improved?

The quality of the ayundantes (local university students placed in the schools to help volunteers) varies quite a bit from school to school. Some of my fellow volunteers rave about their ayudantes, but I've found mine to be pretty useless. It's not so big of a deal to me because I'm a fairly proactive worker, but I think better training would benefit both the ayudantes and the volunteers that depend on them.

Otherwise, the major challenges come from the Nicaraguan school system itself, which La Esperanza stresses in its mission we are not necessarily here to change. I think coming to peace with the 'differences' here is the first step to having a rewarding experience.

Default avatar
Sean
Male
24 years old
U.S.A
Eckerd College

Summer Volunteer

10/10

I volunteered for the duration of two months with La Esperanza Granada. I first arrived in June, they had a taxi waiting for me with a key to my house, since I was living in one of the volunteer houses, there was other people waiting for me upon arrival. I spent two months as a communications volunteer working in the La Esperanza office. I also got to visit several schools during my stay, seeing how other volunteers worked and the difference they made. Every volunteer in this organization makes a big difference by raising the self esteem of kids, especially when motivating and encouraging them. Most volunteers (except those teaching english) work from 8-12 Monday through Friday, leaving the weekends to travel. I lived in one of the volunteer houses with around 12 other people, all around my age (21). Everyone got a long great, we all traveled together, ate together and went out a lot as a group. It is an amazing opportunity to travel to Granada, Nicaragua, with such a low cost, especially to the organization. Most organizations have a high cost to volunteer with them but La Esperanza only asks for a one time $20 fee for administration. It was great to work with the organization (which had about 40 volunteers) It's a perfect opportunity to learn more about Nicaraguan culture, learn Spanish, meet other volunteers from around the world, and travel through Central America.

Default avatar
Peter
Male
57 years old
London, England
Other

a retiree's perspective

9/10

La Esperanza offers a variety of opportunities for voluntary work. I worked alongside groups coming from other countries who had raised funds for construction work on the schools that La Esperanza supports. As a retiree, although some of the work was physically demanding, it was ery satisfying. In previous years I have helped with the administration of the organisation and with the maintenance of properties used by the charity to house volunteers. For me, the high points include the satisfaction of seeing improvements made in the supported schools and the provision of facilities which would otherwise not exist (the building of a computer room, for example). One challenge was interpreting the instructions of the Nicaraguan builders involved in the projects!

How can this program be improved?

I have been perfectly happy in each of the four years I have worked with La Esperanza.

Default avatar
LSalzwedel
Male
32 years old
Los Angeles, California
Luther College

Great Non-Profit

9/10

This NGO really is a model for how non-profits should be. They really are concerned with making a difference in Granada, and give volunteers an opportunity to make childrens lives better.

In the three months I have been with La Esperanza, I got to work in the office, helping the director Pauline, and the office employees, Karen and Donald. I got to see how they work and how dedicated they are to not only serving the community, but also making sure the volunteers have a good experience here as well. I found Pauline to be very responsive to volunteer concerns, and the staff to work hard to assure the safety and comfort of the volunteers.

Granada as a base is great, because it is very comfortable, albeit hot, city, with most conveniences. The communities that La Esperanza partners with however, are some of the poorest in the Americas, and working with them means working with some of the most impoverished communities in the world. They are super grateful, however and love that we are helping.

As I didn't directly work with the children day to day, I cannot speak much about the schooling side of it, accept to say that it is challenging. The students are pretty rambunctious and playful, and I have been told that teachers really need to engage them, in order to get them to stay still.

My final thought are that, remember to consider that deciding to volunteer means a so much to these children. It is not for everyone, and teaching children can be tough. I can tell you though, that this is a first rate organization. They honestly want to help make the world a better place, and genuinely are do so! Come make a difference with La Esperanza! You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?

La Esperanza does not run any schools but simply aids the Ministry of Education in Nicaragua. As such, it is subject to their wims, which can include extending classes and cancelling classes without notice. It also means, like anywhere that some teacher will be better than others.

Default avatar
Åsa
Female
24 years old
Sweden

A good organization!

8/10

I worked for La Esperanza Granada for two months and had a great time. I was a teacher´s assistant in one of the schools the organization is working in. That means I was in class with the teacher helping her with the kids, making them do their tasks and explain to them if they don´t understand. At La Esperanza, you can either be one of these teacher´s assistants or a part of the English team, that are having only English classes with classes in different schools.

I really like the work, but it´s also very frustrating sometimes when the kids don´t want to work and are just running around instead. It´s hard to see a progress, at least when you are here for only a few months, but our work is very important. Because there are very many kids in each class it´s hard for the teacher to pay attention to all children, and that´s why the work of the volunteers is important.

Usually you work 10 am - 3.15 pm Monday - Thursday/Friday and you have the weekend of. We have been travelling around a lot on the weekends. There are four volunteer houses of different size, and up to 15 persons in each house. You can either stay in a dorm with three more persons, or in private/double rooms. Although the houses are not very clean it´s been very nice staying here. They have a great atmosphere and it´s very nice living with the other volunteers. There is a lot going on in the spare time and Granada is a very nice place to live, it never gets boring.

Overall La Eseranza Granada is a very good organization, and I recommend you to work for them! I would recommend you to stay for at least two or three months, it takes some time to get into the work and it´s also better for the children with long term volunteers, to get to know them better and so that you can actually make a difference!

How can this program be improved?

Because of the school system in Nicaragua everything is always very unsure, and you never know for sure if you have class when you come to school or not. Very often the teacher doesn´t show up, or there is just no school for different reasons. But this is not really something that La Esperaza can do very much about.

I also think that it would have been good with a bit more introduction in the school. Many of the volnteers have never been teaching before, and we were just put in a class the first day, without any introduction of how to teach or work with the children. But in each school there are "ayudantes", local people working as volunteers, and you can always go to them if you have any problems.

Default avatar
Rmendez
Male
32 years old
Chicago, IL
Millikin University

The Day to Day

9/10

Waking up with the sun, you know everyday will be an exhilarating experience. Each day gives you an opportunity to engage intimately with the community you live in and with the communities you work with.

By using the public transportation to get to schools, eating locally, and walking everywhere (literally), you get a glimpse into what the locals experience daily. Then while working with the rural school children you get a chance to influence the countries youth and address some of the inequalities present in world. In the evening, you can relax at your volunteer home or at any of the other volunteer houses since by the end of your second night, you will have made many, many friends within La Esperanza Granada. You also have the option of staying with a local family (screened by LEG). I highly recommend this option, as it gives you insight into the culture, the daily struggles of a typical Nicaragua, and is simply a form of solidarity.

Default avatar
elatimer
Female
24 years old
Victoria, British Columbia
University of Victoria

La Esperanza Granada - Why bigger isn't always better

8/10

La Esperanza Granada is a volunteer program located in Granada, Nicaragua that focuses on childhood education. I am quick to recommend it to all who ask about my volunteer experiences. It is a relatively small organization when compared to some of the volunteer organizations out there, but I believe its advantages are numerous when compared with larger organizations (an experience I have also had). When going into a volunteer situation it is my belief that your purpose there is to give to the community with your time and your skills. You should not have to pay large up front monthly fees to a large, centralized organization who then distributes it to its office within the country you are going to.

At La Esperanza Granada you pay a small administration fee ($20) as well as your weekly rent for a volunteer house ($20/week). On top of this you pay for your own living expenses and any additional travel fees. You can live off of a very small amount of money if you are willing to eat like the locals and buy your food at the market. The bottom line is that it is affordable and reasonable. Your money stays right there in the country.

One advantage of this organization is the lack of overseas staff and focus on keeping the jobs within the community. La Esparanza hires local university students to work at the placements. These "ayudantes" are helpful and passionate people. They know the schools they work at because they are connected to the community. My ayudante lived in the same neighborhood as the school I worked in. La Esparanza helps pay their way through university, which is something that they would have difficulty doing on their own. The office staff is also mostly comprised of locals.

When you volunteer with La Esperanza, you can be sure that you will being doing useful work. The education system in Nicaragua is one that offers no individual help to children who need it. Education is only free up to grade 6. Most kids don't get any higher education. At my school you could see the decline in number of students per grade moving from 3rd to 6th grade. The surrounding neighborhood is extremely poor and their families encourage them them to get jobs as soon as they are old enough to work. This in turn, continues the cycle of poverty and makes it very hard to break out of. As a volunteer you provide one on one tutoring to kids who have been left behind. Those who are struggling with recognizing vowels in the second grade or still have no concept of the meaning of numbers in third grade. You are encouraging them when others have given up and are helping students have a shot at getting an education.

La Esperanza Granada is truely a grassroots organization. You are there to help them. Keep in mind that going into the program it is highly recommended that you have an intermediate level of spanish. If you don't you can also get affordable spanish lessons. Another cool thing about the organization is that a large portion of the volunteers are native spanish speakers as well. If you want a truely immersive experience, there are always people around you who would rather speak in spanish than english. If you are aiming for fluency in the spanish language, this is the program for you. Of course the longer you spend there, the more you will learn and the larger of an impact you will have on the community. There is no greater reward than having kids running up to you in school giving you hugs and seeing their faces light up when they see you.

Taking part in this organization has really opened my eyes. I don't take anything for granted anymore and I see the world from another perspective. Meeting local people and talking to them really helps you realize that your way of life is certainly not the only way. The people there are genuine, kind, and helpful. Although the rural areas surrounding Granada have their share of crime, you have a very reasonable level of safety. You never go to your placement alone. You are always around other volunteers. The houses are located in the city in large, safe collonial houses. As there is a pretty sizable tourism industry in Granada there is definately the infrastructure and modern conveniences comparable to at home. You will get from this experience what you decide to put in. If you come with an open mind and a sense of adventure, you will have a life changing experience.

About The Provider

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Located in Granada, Nicaragua, La Esperanza Granada is a volunteer group focusing on children’s education. ‘Born’ in 2002, we started in one small village on the outskirts of Granada, and now help in seven poverty stricken areas. Our volunteers go out into the rural schools

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