Volunteer in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

If you want to change the world you're in the right place. Volunteer tourism or service travel is not a new idea. It's also not new to San Juan del Sur or Nicaragua. For decades now Peace Corp volunteers have participated in community outreach projects, church groups have lent a hand locally and tourists have made valuable contributions while visiting San Juan del Sur.

Our goal with this page is to make these opportunities easily available to you. From small doses of community support that a short vacation allows to longer term commitments.

Read through the projects below, check out our 'Vacation with a Purpose' volunteering tour, listen to your heart and decide how you want to make a real difference to the world.

If you change the world, the experience will change you too.

San Juan del Sur Day School Growing Pains

Day SchoolBack in 2009, the San Juan del Sur Day School was a 1/2 day preschool for children aged 2 to 4 years. Over the last several years we’ve watched it blossom into a quality, international school educating kids from 18 months to 9 years in levels Pre-K thru 4th grade.

The teaching faculty is highly qualified and diverse, with teachers regularly putting in extra hours to re-decorate classrooms, paint playground equipment and develop new, inspiring curriculums.  The student body is growing – both in age and in the number of students per class. A Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) was formed in March 2014 to strengthen commitment and collaboration between families and staff.  And plans for the construction of a new campus are underway. No matter how you measure the history of this school, it’s growing.

[Read more…]

Newton Sister City Project: One School at a Time

PreschoolThe Newton (MA) – San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has been working with folks in San Juan del Sur for over 25 years in the fields of Health, Education and Green Building. The project specializes in providing clean water systems, smoke-free cook stoves and buildings with minimal carbon footprints to families in need.  It also provides secondary education opportunities for those left out of the public high school system and supports numerous schools in the outskirts of town.  The foundation is pioneered by the tireless efforts and dedication of Kathy Knight.  

To get to the heart of the impact the project is having in the region, we interviewed Daniela Rodriquez at the preschool in the El Oro neighborhood. The school is just one of several schools built and supported by The Newton (MA) – San Juan del Sur Sister City Project. [Read more…]

Give to Good this Holiday Season

Christmas in Carizal
From the outside looking in, the holiday season in San Juan del Sur is celebrated with street parades dedicated to Patron Saints, marching bands, nightly fireworks, an elaborate nativity scene in front of the Catholic Church and an impressive array of lights and decorations in the Central Park. On the inside, it’s a cherished time with loved ones, a remembrance of those who are no longer with us and a celebration of faith.

One thing rarely seen in San Juan del Sur is a child’s wish list for Santa Claus. The expectation of lavishly wrapped material gifts is not the highlight of the holidays for children in this community.

However ‘Tis the Season of Giving and here are 5 worthy charitable organizations hard at work in San Juan del Sur. And while the busyness of the holidays can distract from the underlying inspiration of this special time of year, we encourage you to reach deep into your wallet and Give to Good this holiday season. [Read more…]

CHICABRAVA Camp Bella: Where One Week Can Change a Life

Camp Bella 1

Nicaragua’s first, best and most popular all girls surf camp, is raising the bar on the benefits of surfing. CHICABRAVA surf camp is treating the girls in Managua’s House of Hope to a week long charity camp called Camp Bella. Camp Bella is a five day surf-experience camp for female victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. The goal of the camp is to inspire and empower young women by introducing them to the life-changing sport of surfing. In addition to housing and daily surf lessons, the camp will offer confidence building and educational activities for the girls.

[Read more…]

LOOTB is Life Out of the Box

If you can’t stop dreaming about travel. If music is your outlet. If you shine bright like a diamond. If you live young, wild and free. You are LOOTB.

LOOTB Pitaya Fest

LOOTB is the brain child of Jonathon Button and Quinn Vandenberg. In May of 2012, they did what many people only dream of doing: They quit their jobs, packed their bags and got on a plane to Nicaragua to make a positive impact on the world. They created a business model which sells inspirational bracelets hand-made by Nicaraguans to fund the donation of school supplies to children in Nicaragua. They have partnered up with two of San Juan del Sur’s most treasured NGO’s, the Barrio Planta Project and the Biblioteca Movil, to distribute school supplies to children in our neighborhood.
[Read more…]

The Casa Llanta Fund: Tires, Pitayas and Education

What do tires, pitayas and education have in common?  The answer is the Casa Llanta Fund, a non-profit which exclusively serves San Juan del Sur.

Tires

Casa Llanta translates to “house of tires” in English. The non-profit attributes its name and inspiration from a house in the community of El Carizal constructed out of recycled bottles and tires.

Solar panels collect the sun’s natural energy which is stored and used to power all electrical within the home. Rain water catchment systems take advantage of Nicaragua’s high quantity of rainfall by keeping it in large cisterns, while water reclamation systems process used water and transport it to green houses filled with fruit trees and vegetable gardens. The house exemplifies sustainable construction.

Pitayas

Pitaya Fest is the name of the annual music festival and fundraiser for the Casa Llanta Fund.  Pitaya is a dragon fruit native to Nicaragua that is rumored to only bloom on a full moon. The music festival is held annually on a full moon in celebration of this natural wonder.

Though Pitayas are not in season during the festival, the name has grown to receive international recognition as one of the country’s premiere festivals modeling sustainability, art, music and surf. The festival is hosted by volunteers and locals within El Carizal, the community that it supports.

All proceeds from merchandise sales, entry gate and parking tickets to beer and rum sales go directly toward the Casa Lllanta Fund as the founding partner and primary beneficiary of the festival. March 15, 2014 will mark the 6th festival.

Education

So what exactly does the Casa Llanta Fund do and where does the money go? The answer to both questions is education.  Here are the key initiatives:
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Barrio Planta Project: Next Level Education

Barrio Planta Project
If you spend enough time in San Juan del Sur, it is highly likely that you will be invited to a Barrio Planta Project (BPP) dance performance, talent show, graduation or fundraiser. It feels as though not a single corner of the community goes untouched by BPP, which is nearly true. Students come from Rivas to Remanso to attend classes in what is gaining recognition as the most advanced continuing education program in San Juan del Sur.

However BPP offers the community much more than just a selection of after school classes. It provides aspiring students the opportunity for intellectual advancement, training in technology, English classes taught by native English speakers and exposure to diverse culture, art, and music. No student is left behind.  No subject is neglected. No charge to students.

[Read more…]

8 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer in Nicaragua

If you want to give back and make a difference in the world, here's 8 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer in Nicaragua. http://sanjuandelsur.org/volunteer-in-nicaragua-reasons/

Photo credit: Justin Courter

Also called service travel, volun-tourism or volunteer travel, there’s a reason why volunteering is becoming more popular in Nicaragua every year. Actually there are (at least) 8 reasons.

Lets take a look at them:

1. Helping people

I thought I’d kick off with the most important reason: dedicating time and energy to less privileged individuals. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (after Haiti) and volunteering with a community organization can make an enormous difference to local lives.

All you need to do is take yourself out of the center and put someone else there instead.

[Read more…]

Fundación Tierra (Earth Fund)

kids

Since its formation in 2007, Fundación Tierra has served, supported and touched the lives of individuals in over 27 communities throughout Nicaragua and primarily around San Juan del Sur. To date the foundation has built 79 latrines, constructed 2 schools, installed 275 eco ovens, distributed 620 water filters, dug 3 wells, and conducted hygiene training clinics in 8 rural communities. And if those statistics aren’t impressive enough, the fund also currently provides salaries for 21 school teachers and continues the ongoing maintenance and training needed to support the water filters that have been distributed to ensure clean drinking water.

[Read more…]

SJDS Biblioteca: A Gateway to Education

Mobile Library
The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Publica is a free public library open to everyone that crosses its path.  Located across the street from Central Park in the heart of town, it’s doors open every day except for Sundays.  The library consists of over 12,000 books, primarily in Spanish, for students and patrons to borrow, browse and return.  The library also hosts free classes covering a myriad of topics including public health, English classes, literacy and crafts for children.  The library offers a safe and healthy place for children to read, learn, study and get lost in imagination.  Upon seeing the walls and shelves lined with children’s art, inspiring posters, educational games and stuffed animals it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular non-profits in town for children of all ages.
[Read more…]